PresentsThe Glossary of Urbanity
April 2007 / Buenos Aires /Argentina ARCHITECTURE´S CLUB
Pablo Bernard, Mauricio Corbalán, Martín Dipeco,
Sofía Picozzi, Pío Torroja, Marina Zuccon GLOSSARY OF URBANITY
Jane BrodieArchitecture´s Club
The Architecture´s Club is a society that promotes discussions about architecture and emergent urbanism.
The Club generates the discussion about urbanity from a citizen perspective, from somebody who interacts in their own community, shares information, takes decisions, conducts its own research and communicates with others.
The members of the Club are Sofia Picozzi, Pio Torroja, Mauricio Corbalan, Martin Dipeco, Paul Bernard and Marina Zuccon.Glossary of Urbanity
The Glossary of Urbanity is a one of the projects of the Club. This project is about the urban processes and the social practices across a collection of words, which is constructed through the interaction of successive of public conversations with guest of different disciplines .
For every public meeting of the Glossary, the guest receives three words and develops his definition. One of these words is kept for the following guest, who in addition receives two new ones. Thus, a dialogue is created from a similar word defined by two speakers The Glossary of urbanity is completed gradually by the contribution of definitions given by successive guest.
The selection of words corresponds to the Club’s interests in urbanity, try to show the words that are used nowadays to speak about the city.FEAR
ESTRATEGY OF HAPPINNESS
October 11st , 2005
The conversation with Roberto Jacoby revolves around questions related to some of his recent work and linked to some events which have affected the Buenos Aires urban scene.
These questions are DARKROOM
and PROJECT VENUS
/ ARGENTINE CRISIS OF 2001
The first question is associated with the word “fear,” and with an investigation into fear as an urban mental construction that Roberto did in 1986. This empirical research dealt with fear of open spaces and some institutions. After the dictatorship, the topic of fear in the city became more related to catastrophes, accidents, and hence to negligence and corruption, like in the case of the fire in Cromañon.
State terror throughout Argentinean history has produced a tradition of fear of the authority in the population. The State is considered an oppressive device and a generator of fear.
During the dictatorship
that extended from 1976 to 1983, terror was inflicted on the whole population; everyone was a target, though not everyone was directly affected. According to Roberto, this situation has not truly ended. Indeed, he believes that Alfonsin´s
term was a relatively peaceful way of going on with the situation of terror, which continues in the present with the action of the police, police kidnappings, etc.FEAR
In Argentine in 2001, a situation of catastrophe generated solidarity and equality.
The State was widely discredited and had lost its authority. Fear seemed to have been eliminated or, at least, it seemed less important than the feeling of freedom.
At that moment, the police threat affected all people equally; it was not individualized as it had been in the times of the dictatorship, when everyone was a virtual victim but only certain individuals were truly victims.
It is fundamental to work on the state of mind. For example, when a war is lost, what happens? Fear. But what of? To undermine the state of mind of the enemy. Clausewitz explains that it is necessary to destroy the enemy’s will to struggle, not his body, and to destroy that will it is necessary to affect his state of mind. Fear is the mechanism that does this.
Roberto concludes that, with fear, man can do a limited number of things: escape or fight. It’s difficult to be imprisoned by something and neither face it nor run away. This would entail self- paralysis.
Man should reveal the strategies of fear and work on strategies of happiness.STRATEGY OF HAPPINESS
The strategy of the happiness is similar to a possibility Canetti discussed, mainly, metamorphosis. Taken from Greek mythology, metamorphosis refers to the transformation of a creature during a battle in order to save itself and to run away, (for example, when someone is about to be caught but turns into a swan and escapes by swimming).
Canetti speaks about a kind of escape but, in this case, remaining in the same place, what change is only a question of outer form.
Therefore, the strategy of happiness is a kind of metamorphosis, a disguise, a game, a way to establish social relations that are somehow “naïve” in order to preserve oneself.
The strategy of happiness has to do with everything that is usually considered frivolous. A chat with friends, for example.
It’s also the possibility that one of the completely demoralized billions who are going through tremendous catastrophes has the desire to do something different and tries to do it. That is, the strategy of happiness is not putting off the creation of a fraternal, equalitarian, fair place of exchange for other 5000 years.
During the 2001 crisis in Argentina, new social situations of exchange were generated. Part of the population got together to try to solve some urgent problems without mediators. Examples of the elimination of traditional means of representation were the direct representation assemblies and the barter clubs where goods or services were exchanged without the mediation of money.ENERGY
Buenos Aires is a city that has its outbreaks of individualism. It is sceptical and this scepticism is a part of its energy. In this sense, Project Venus went through a metamorphoses while using the energies of the people of this city.
"Free trips" are a spontaneous movement and a social phenomenon that is the opposite of activity, mobilization, generosity, etc. For example, think of four neighbours who get together to make the local square prettier, and then some other neighbours do not contribute. They throw their garbage there, even though their children enjoy the square. This leads to the demoralization of the group of four neighbours, so the place eventually disappears. It would be interesting to find mechanisms to detain this entropic force.
It is necessary to understand when we work as a group that great productivity can be ruled by the individual. It seems that one of the things that destroys the groups is the supposition that the individual must disappear. The possibility of putting collective creativity at the service of a certain individual is not considered.
ESTRATEGY OF HAPPINNESSENERGY
October 25th, 2005
Marcelo Corti is an architect and the creator of the site www.cafedelasciudades.com.ar. He imagines this website as a product of the Argentinean crisis in 2001, a moment when a succession of individual catastrophes completely changed the sense of the city.
In 2002, Marcelo worked as a journalist, but when he lost his job and had a lot more time, he began to write a newsletter that eventually became a monthly magazine. The publication has a permanent structure and makes use of the internet’s endless ability to forge connections.
In café de las ciudades there is an interest in bringing together two aspects of the city: a technical aspect of urbanism as a discipline, considering environmental, economic and political issues, and a cultural aspect of the city.
For the conversation, Marcelo prepared a selection of newspaper articles for each word.
For the word “energy,” the article selected had to do with the market for the right to emit gases responsible for climate change:
Article published on November 24, 2002 in EL PAIS Sociedad (part)
" I sell tons of CO 2 at a good price "
The EU will open up a new market to gain money by reducing pollution. The market for the right to emit gases responsible for climate change is very close at hand. This mechanism was developed by the United States to stimulate the application of technologies that reduce emissions.ENERGY
Energy in the city has two different aspects.
The first is physical: it relates to resources and what moves industry and services. That is to say, energy as what allows the city to produce and consume . There is certain consensus in considering the city one of the major energy consumers in the world. Some believe that resources are largely consumed by cities. As a defender of cities, I would rather say that a great deal of the wasted resources that generate this energy (which, in many cases, are not renewable, are misused or cause terrible environmental damage) is related more to the anti-city than the city . Many of the anti-urban tendencies (dispersion, moving to the suburbs) generate the need to consume energy for transport, which is one of the major threats to environmental sustainability.
The second type of energy, which Jacoby spoke about, is human energy. It is the way we give ourselves to the city every morning and the way the city leaves us when we return to our homes, both in a measurable and quantifiable way (biological energy), and in an intangible way (energy: desires, self-esteem, fears, affects, memory, hope). The city has the virtue of generating that energy, while consuming it. It generates it by the excitement of interpersonal exchange, which is possible thanks to the mixture and concentration of people. Professional, financial, affective, sexual, academic and commercial exchanges.
I always quote Catalan architect, Oriol Bohigas, who said that in the city you look for something that you may not find, but sometimes you find something that you are not looking for, because in the city you can find anything. I think that it is a source of energy.
About the word “catastrophe,” Marcelo Corti proposes two points of view: one entails considering the city a true catastrophe, and the other thinking of catastrophe as a possibility. That’s what this newspaper article represents.
Article published the November 12, 2005 in Clarín (part)
Debates about the danger of the poultry flu
The risk of a pandemia brings to discussion the subject of medical patents and the production of generic drugs.
Even the most mainstream knowledge in the collective imaginary tends to be saturated when impotence empties out its content. One clear case is the common phrase, “every crisis is an opportunity,” when incoked after any disaster or tragedy.
It is fair to ask where that opportunity is if -as stated by the PNUD in its most recent report– the annual income of 500 people in the world is more than the income of hundreds of thousands of the world’s poorest?
Last year’s devastating tsunami and the huge Caribbean hurricanes of 2005 –so far Katrina has the dubious honor of being the worst storm, if Wilma doesn’t end up exceeding it– turned into alleged incentives for the governments to invest in a regional system of tectonic submarine early detection. It also led governments to reconstruct a devastated New Orleans by means of a project that makes it safer to inhabit, in the face of the infinite power of nature.
Sobre la palabra catástrofe Marcelo plantea dos visiones, por una lado la idea de ver la ciudad como una catástrofe y por el otro pensar la catástrofe como una oportunidad y sobre eso habla la nota periodística seleccionada.
Based on the analysis of an economist who studied the issue of expropriation and its influence on cites, architect Aldo Rossi studied his own city, Milan,. which had been bombed during the war. And he came to the conclusion that the bombings did not cause anything new that would not have happened anyway; instead, these catastrophes accelerate processes that normally take many years. In a period of 50 years a city renews itself completely. In fact, catastrophe does not bring about a new way of acting on the city, but makes processes become possible, processes that would take place anyway. The idea is that to evolve the city must destroy some of its history. In normal conditions, this would take decades, but catastrophe accelerates it.
There is another point of view regarding catastrophe in the city, mainly considering the city as a catastrophe. In speaking of New York, Le Corbusier said “One hundred times I’ve said to myself that New York is a catastrophe, and fifty times I’ve answered, but it’s a beautiful catastrophe.” Huge cities are deemed catastrophes. When speaking of Mexico City, people speak of a monster.
I don’t agree with this idea of the city; I think that the answer lies in the city, and that the real catastrophe is the anti-city, the dissolution of the city. I consider that an environmental, political, social and cultural catastrophe.
Cyber café or internet café, locutorios
and public access to internet have developed in interesting ways and been very important to Buenos Aires. Internet access in underdeveloped countries is a way to keep in touch with the rest of the world despite the marginalization of certain social groups. Further, this new sort of urban space has produced a new ambiguity between the public and the private.
The chosen articles comment on locutorios in Buenos Aires and poor people’s access to Internet in São Paulo, Brazil.
Article published the December 20, 2003 in Clarín (and a piece from rebelion.org)
Through locutorios, the Argentinean middle low class is connected to the Internet.
The neighbourhoods with the most online shops are Downtown, Once and Flores. The phenomenon is redefining the local internet surfer . Nowadays, more people get connected from the street than from the office.
Of great interest to communications theorists who consider them a unique phenomenon, locutorios have made it possible for the poor to have access to the Internet, something that in other countries was possible through State policy.
Free Internet for the poor in São Paulobulmalug.net
Leftist city counsellors from San Pablo have promoted a laudable initiative: opening in the poor areas of the city nearly one hundred free cybercafe, called Telecentros, where unemployed – estimated to be 20 % of the population of these areas – will have up to one hour a day of Internet free of charge.http://www.rebelion.org/cibercensura/031212tc.htm
There are places to connect to the Internet in any city in the world, but in Buenos Aires it isn’t just a downtown phenomenon for tourist; it is in every neighbourhood of the city and in the suburbs as well. It is one of the ways the middle and lower classes keep in close touch with the world.
In my opinion, these places play an intermediate role between the public and the private: they are neither fully private nor fully public.
Roberto Doberti says, “This would lead us to a deep theory of public and private spaces, which since beginning of the modern city have been constituted precisely by endowing private spaces with a certain measure of publicness. What’s good about cities, in my opinion, is that not everywhere, but certain areas are private. Public space exists insofar as it is connected with the private. Private acts like eating or having a coffee are made public by the coffee bar”.
In that sense, I find hybrid places such as the CC very interesting. The CC could be the very elementary cell of public space of our times that we still need to define.
Many different types of individuals come together in the same place and that is stimulating; I wouldn’t say that it is the great public space of our times, but it is possible to think that just by adding something to the “cybercafé” it could become a civic centre. Like the socialist library in the 20s, a place of exchange or meeting or its alternative, the church.
ESTRATEGY OF HAPPINNESS
November 22nd ,2005
Judith Villamayor speaks of her intellectual education from the point of view of her relationship with Internet and technology. She largely disseminates her work by means of Proyecto Venus´s web page, mailing lists, etc.
She studied at the University of Fine Arts in Bahía Blanca but she expanded her education by means of the Internet. For example, she took part in a lecture on Latin American thought in the Lund University in Sweden. She found it interesting that, rather than a teacher-pupil relationship, this university was based on a forum to exchange thought.
Judith is interested in the net not only as a means of communication, but also as a space for education and as an alternative to the formal educational system.CYBER CAFÉ
In his conversation, Marcelo Corti had left a band of Internet users that generally have broad band, who use cyberspace as habitat. I understand the Internet habitat as an extended reality. All experiences are processed in the brain, and so for the mind a net experience might be familiar.
This interests me due to what I experience and what my children experience in cyberspace. It has a direct relationship to the way of raising and educating them.
I had noticed that they have more stimuli and that they have established a connection with role-based games. When they play these games, the learning process means something, and thereby they learn much faster than in a formal experience.
It seems to me that the self-taught education works better than vertical education, which has no meaning for the children who are being educated.
Judith thinks that personal ties are not affected by these media. They can be represented as different spaces for exchange, for example the Internet, a public space like a square, or an institutional space.
While conscious of the political problematics that these projects entail, Judith proposes the occupation of these media through aesthetic experience..
Two of Judith's works were on the subject of occupation. One of them was Cojamos Buenos Aires (Let’s Fuck Buenos Aires), located in the Plaza Congreso
and the other was Social Worms, an invitation to artists not selected to participate in the Kuitca scholarship
to take part in the program.OCUPATION
A joint work with Ezequiel Romero, Cojamos Buenos Aires took place in the Plaza Congreso. It consisted of occupying the plaza with tents and living there for one week. The idea was to practise a wild urbanism in an archetypal zone of the city like this one.
On the other hand, Social Worms was an institutional occupation of the Kuitca Scholarship.
This edition of the scholarship began in 2003, but during the summer most of the participants were away and the building was largely empty. I thought that it was necessary to make the most of the scholarship, so she formed a subprogram, which was active for one and a half months. Twelve guests could use the facilities whenever they wanted, and their webpage was exactly like the original one. The attractive thing about this invitation was the possibility of taking advantage of resources that were not being used.
There is a question of occupying a space or occupying a time: it might be the sharing of space or the sharing of time. Or using something that is not being used. We occupied the space of the scholarship and thought that everybody agreed with us. But occupying is actually to impose yourself somewhere by force.
The word “paternalism” is in Argentina inevitably related to Perón
and the idea of a protective State. Judith examines the possibility of generating a non-protective State where the notion of justice, for example, is innate to individuals.
Besides, she relates the idea of paternalism to formal education because it involves an idea of hierarchy. But she imagines the possibility of a structure where one can recognize the other person as a teacher without that necessarily entailing a power relation.PATERNALISM
I associated paternalism with hierarchy and with recognizing that someone knows more than oneself. I don’t agree with paternalism, but I do agree with a hierarchical system where the person who has an idea assumes the role of project director at the moment of carrying out that idea.
I am interested in the difference between a protective paternalism : I take responsibility for you because you don’t know, and paternalism as a means of guidance in a collective work: I have an idea, I carry it out and you help me.
ESTRATEGY OF HAPPINNESS
November 22nd ,2005
In Argentina the word paternalism has basically negative connotations.
Rafael wonders if it is the same as paternity and which institutions of power produce paternalistic situations.
Paternalism is linked to relationships where power is established, for example in education, and in state institutions like the police.PATERNALISM
The relationships through which knowledge is conveyed in this country are usually very paternalistic. In theatre, certain generations have claimed to be the owners of a sort of knowledge and hence consider themselves entitled to pupils or disciples. But this is very vague in the field of theatre because the audience changes so much, and besides creators and audiences have other types of knowledge..
But this positive plane –conveying knowledge- is not the only level on which paternalism exists. It also exists in institutional situations, like the police or the justice system. It seems to me that this question doesn’t have much to do with paternalism, but rather with dogmatism.
In these cases, it is a question of the hidden, of keeping the truth secret to maintain the status quo. Certain systems depend on the denial of fundamental questions, and they have to do with establishing power.
Theatre has a very special relationship to power, because it constructs a dialogue with reality, which theatre tries to destroy. Theatre demonstrates that reality is a fictitious construction, like any other construction. But in certain situations, when there is a community or social agreement, it is decided that this construction is more realistic than other possible constructions, and it is considered the true version of reality.
Boredom is often a ghost of certain forms of social representation where there is supposed to be amusement and a simulation that something is fun.
To speak about boredom you must think about fun and, therefore, about humour.
According to Rafael, humour is the point where expectations are broken and commonsense fails. This failure - like humour – makes us think that many things are not as we thought they were.BOREDOM
The word diversion (in Spanish divertir) comes from divert (in Spanish desviar). Extremely interesting: to entertain is to change. It is to change logos into myth, to make into myth what logos tries to explain through categories. For me, then, any diversion is desirable in fiction.
This change constructs entertainment as different from other ways of being, of perceiving the world. A situation is most entertaining if it is diverted from any logic and from commonsense.
I think the origin of our hybrid sense of humour and lack of pure forms has to do with immigration. There must be historical reasons for this: the idea of pastiche is fundamental to our sense of humour. Argentinean genres are very hybrid, for example the tango. The tango is a joke. It is the staging a passionate thing with which we identify. It is a very impure and weak form. Not “weak” in a pejorative sense, but as something irregular that does not answer to rules. Those are the things that constitute our imaginary today, and they really work.
Other cultures -I believe- are more represented by strong ideas. The United States seems to me the clearest example. The history of the United States is a lying construction of Hollywood.
We have an enormous appetite for the absurd because it seems to represent our reality more faithfully than something not absurd, something rational.
According to Rafael, Buenos Aires has very interesting theatre because our relationship with representativeness is very troubled, for example, with democracy and its forms of representation. We believe that in representation there is a relationship with evil.
To speak of representation, Rafael chooses to talk about its opposite: reality or the real.
If any Argentinean is asked " What is reality?" he will answer by explaining what he believes is happening below appearances. Especially in the area of politics. Since politics is precisely the modification of reality.
But Argentineans have forgotten this, because those who do politics professionally, that is, politicians, hardly modify reality; they just manage what exists, the possible.
We would say, then, that regrettably politics is reduced to the public administration of images. And images are representations that begin to generate social iconology.REPRESENTATION
We usually think of reality as something that happens, but that is a secret under the surface. Like a simulation. The idea of simulation is inherent to the Argentinean being (if there is something like "to be an Argentinean"). And those who construct this simulation are the powerful.
And so reality, in our country, has come to be just one version of many. A construction in language. But reality cannot be constructed or represented since it is the opposite of language.
We tend to think that no Argentinean event is an innocent construction. It is, rather, a manipulation of things and therefore of reality.
The function of the intellectual, then, would be to separate appearance from reality.
The Argentinean philosopher Eduardo Del Estal suggests that "Reality is things’ resistance to any symbolic order .".Their resistance to what it is said about them. At the same time, for me reality would be the part of what happens that language cannot capture, while appearance is just one more construction in language.
On the other hand, we perceive and deal in languages.
I imagine that language must work hard to order the things in these discursive chains that it tries to show to be "reality." And that reality refuses "to be said."
In Argentina, where we have been deprived of any naiveté, "to think" is to observe what happens and to try to recognize a reality, a will different from events. It is not only to tie one thing to another; it is to discover the trap. And for the Argentineans, there always has to be one trap or another.
ESTRATEGY OF HAPPINNESS
José Fernández Vega
August 31st, 2006
It is possible to think that the secret of modernity lies in the definition of the word “representation,” when representation is considered in terms of art, politics and religion.
José takes a definition from the dictionary:”To do something with words or figures that the imagination retains”. And also “To substitute someone or to perform his function... To be the image or symbol of something, or to imitate it perfectly”.
According to Walter Benjamin, the leaders' selection of the parliament does not consist of choosing who can best represent the people but of choosing the best performer.
And the best performer is the one who does best before the camera, because the parliament is a representative space in the theatrical sense of the term.
The result, says Benjamin, is that parliament, like the theatre, is deserted because politicians do not speak for other members of parliament. In this social selection, charisma triumphs, the dictator and the movie star. Or the person that best manages the media.
When the authority of representation of politicians falls, the literalness of exchanges remains, that is, links that are only vaguely symbolic. The crisis of representation seems to join art and politics. Because both members of parliament and works of art lose the authority of representation. Hence, art becomes demonstrative, hyperrealistic, anti-representative.
It is common to mistake the definition of strategy with a certain operability.
Strangely, the word “strategy” is much more fashionable in the world of business than in politics, though it comes from war, an activity tied to politics.
Strategy, according to Clausewitz, entails questions not always linked to cognitive perception or to general knowledge, because it is affected by random and moral forces, like moods. So, war looks more like a game of chance than a science. It is difficult to link the idea of strategy to an aspiration to rule since strategy can occur in a particular case.STRATEGY
Delbrück, one of the first important military historians, distinguishes between two ideals of strategy: the strategy of exhaustion and the strategy of destruction or annihilation. This distinction is very productive for political debate, as it shows two ways of acting, one a slow and gradual corrosion, and the other a fast shock that looks for a decisive result.
The notion of strategy is addressed to power and to war. According to Clausewitz, man can see war as the ability to dominate and tolerate the enemy, to have power over the other, to stop him from fighting, to discourage, to disable, to disarm and to defeat.
The dictionary definition emphasizes the idea of the leader as creator, saying:
The art of directing military operations, the art of directing a topic
Both definitions begin with art, so it is possible to think of strategy as an art in the sense that Perón (see page 32) uses it. He says that the strategist creates principles and that strategy is not an exact science. An art, then, as opposed to an exact science. Art is something that cannot be precise, because it is not based on a mathematical rule, but an intuition based on practice. It is the art of taking decisions and, in order to be considered an art , it can not be pre-determined because that would be just entail the application of rules.
The word “pigeonhole” seems a bit neutral, but it can connect the last three words, since pigeonhole is related to the word “classify.”.
Jose uses it to think and to say something significant.CASILLERO
On the word “pigeonhole,” I have two phrases. First, Bourdieu's definition:
Nothing classifies us any more than our classifications in the sense that your criteria of classification are like a definition of yourself.
The other is taken from Marcel Schwob,
Art is in the contrary of general ideas,
or the art of strategy cannot be an object of general ideas.
It only describes an individual thing, a concrete case.
(Art) only desires the unique.
This means that the general or the strategist has to face a new thing, and he tries to recognize familiar things in the new. So, in that sense, he is an artist.
Art does not classify; it disqualifies
The Darkroom is an experimental work of art presented in museums and galleries. It consists of a device by which visitors enter a dark room with an infrared camera..
On December 30, 2004 there was a fire during a concert at a place called República de Cromañón. This fire caused the death of 194 young people and left more than 700 injured.
Also known as Project V, this is a self-managed micro-society, a network of groups and individuals who want to exchange goods, services, skills and knowledge. It is also an economic game and a political experiment.
In 2001, in the face of the massive flight of capital, the government froze bank deposits, a decision which culminated in a wide-reaching social crisis and the resignation of the president on December 20: a true political and social emergency.
- On March 24, 1976 putsch took place, initiating the self-proclaimed Proceso de Reorganización Nacional (Process of National Reorganization). During those years, people were systematically “disappeared” and tortured. It is estimated that approximately 30,000 people are missing as a result of this process. This dictatorship ended with general elections in 1983.
Raúl Alfonsín was elected president in 1983 and resigned in 1989, before the end of his term.
Locutorio, a place with telephones booths and computers that you pay to use.
Plaza Congreso, located opposite to the parliamentary building, is used as a place of protest and political demonstrations..
Organized by the artist Guillermo Kuitca, this is a program that trains young artists
Juan Domingo Perón was an Argentinean politician and military officer. He was elected president in two consecutive elections (1946
), and again in 1973
. He built the Peronist movement.