Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Showing posts with label Urbanism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Urbanism. Show all posts

Monday, February 13, 2017

Boomer Legacies: An Urbex Valentine

Video Source: Youtube.

The blog is on a break, but for Valentine's Day, see Dan Bell's urban exploration videos of the abandoned resort love nests in the Poconos, a mountain range in northeastern Pennsylvania once popular with swingers in the 1960s and 1970s. As for the abandoned heart-shaped hot tub below, one Youtuber wrote: "I was there in 75 my name is Linda, Joe are you out there , we have a daughter conceived in the hot tub .. get in touch ..lol." See Dan Bell's whole series: Forgotten Poconos: Abandoned Resorts.

Video Source: Youtube.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Hallowe'en Countdown 2015: Enter the Underworld

Image Source: Saya in the Underworld.

Daily existence requires a tacit denial of death. When people do contemplate mortality, the denied Underworld offers up secrets. This is why all cultures have legends and rituals around facing that fear, crossing that line between life and death, and returning with knowledge that proves essential to a longer, better life. The 'Descent into the Underworld' is so universal that it is known as a mytheme, an irreducible, unchanging element of all stories.

This mytheme runs back thousands of years; there are actual geographic locations which are historically considered gates to the Underworld. Modern technology provides new portals. An autumn equinox wiccan ritual visits Persephone "in the time of global warming" and allows participants to exchange knowledge with "the darkness" of the Underworld through New Age meditation. One rumoured Japanese Millennial rite involves locking oneself in a darkened house and unlighted bathroom, calling spirits from the Underworld via the toilet or bathtub with one's mobile phone, and controlling them with salt.

Another Japanese creepy pasta (an online urban legend) claims people can enter the Underworld using an elevator. The elevator ritual instructs the individual to ride an elevator alone in a 10-storey building to floors 4 -> 2 -> 6 -> 2 -> 10. One is then supposed to take the elevator to the 5th floor, where a young woman will enter. This is the sign that things have gotten weird, since it is forbidden to speak to, or look at, the woman, who is supposedly not of this world. The principal then presses the button for the 1st floor, but if the ritual has worked, the elevator will instead go to the 10th floor. At that point, you are on your own. The elevator ritual has also appeared in South Korea, where there are instructions on how to return to reality. Below the jump, see videos of attempts at the elevator ritual, and a VICE report on how near death coffin experiences became a Millennial fad among careerists in South Korea.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Detroit and Technology: Race by Any Other Name

Music, the soul of Detroit. The Supremes: Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard and Diana Ross (1964).  Image Source: Gilles Petard / Getty Images via HuffPo.

When Canadian philosopher and communications theorist Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase, "the medium is the message," he provided an elegant shorthand for our present and future realities.

Technology has revolutionized how we communicate. But does the change in how we communicate with technology really leave its stamp on what we communicate? Does the way we are using technology as a medium transform how we understand eternal questions, such as those of race, class, gender, religion, love, government or politics?

"Music is the missing link in Detroit's recovery." Eminem on the cover of Rolling Stone (no. 962, November 25, 2004). Image Source: allposters.

As an example, take race and Detroit. I could have picked any topic in relation to tech communications: class in London, language in Quebec, religion in Saudi Arabia, human rights in China, the economy in Singapore. But given that today is a day of prayer to honour Nelson Mandela in South Africa, I chose race. In 2012, John K. Bennett wrote for HuffPo:
It's no secret that southeastern Michigan for many decades stood as one of the most segregated and racially polarized communities in America.
There is no way here to explain how huge race is as an issue in this bankrupting city and how it has related to other factors which contributed to Detroit's collapse: the economy, deindustrialization, globalization, class, corruption, drugs, crime, political and institutional breakdown, policing and education.

But the focus of this post is not to get into all of that, and instead ask if technology, used as a communications medium, changes the understanding of that picture?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Countdown to Hallowe'en 26: Crowd-Funded and Bit Torrented Horror

The Tunnel (2011) poster. Image Source: Tribute.

Today for the countdown, see a very Millennial scary Australian film The Tunnel, which took Urbex to a dramatic level. The film begins with urban legends and conspiracy theories about unused train tunnels underneath Sydney. The plot hinges on the typical Millennial confusion between fiction and non-fiction in this faux found footage 'declassified' horror-mentary, complete with "candid interviews with the survivors." The story is very much Blair Witch meets Creep.

Plot aside, this film is also interesting because of its funding and distribution model: the film was partly crowd-funded and the film-makers altered its copyright to release the movie directly to DVD and the Internet. The film "garnered much attention for its unconventional release through BitTorrent. The Tunnel is the first Australian film to be distributed and promoted legally through the BitTorrent internet downloading platform, a release strategy which could potentially expose the film to tens of millions of people, for free."

The film-makers ask viewers to buy one frame of the film for one dollar, in exchange for a possible share in the profits: "On a date yet to be determined by the Producers, one of these frames will be selected at the sole discretion of the Producers to receive a 1% profit share in the movie. The 1% profit share will only produce revenue once the project is deemed to be in profit. Profit occurs after the US$135,000 to complete production has been recouped and all costs associated with further exploitation of the movie and other elements of the project have been reimbursed. The recipient of the 1% share will be contacted via email or telephone."

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Detroit Renaissance

William Livingstone House, designed by architect Albert Kahn, was demolished in 2010. Image Source: Urban and Transportation News.

'Detroit Renaissance' is a term that has been kicked around since the early 1970s. The expression may finally live up to its promise. With all the doom and gloom about the economy, it's hard to find any promise for the future. Detroit seemed a harbinger and poster child for this downturn, and was stuck in a relentless decline over several decades. But times change. In the last couple of days, some reports have circulated that Detroit is set to undergo a massive renaissance in the next five years. American automobile makers face an uphill climb, with well-publicized problems, but they may turn the corner in the Motor City. From Auto Observer:
Detroit-based automakers will hire more than 30,000 new workers in the next four years, reversing years of declining employment in the ranks of Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and the Chrysler Group LLC, said Kristin Dziczek, director of the labor group for the Michigan-based Center for Automotive Research. Data from CAR indicate total employment of the Detroit Three automakers will increase from today’s 171,000 to 201,000 by 2015 and that auto-industry suppliers will need to add from 100,000 to 150,000 new workers over the same period. But the research group’s projected 2015 total employment figure for the Detroit automakers still pales in comparison to the industry’s heyday. In the late 1970s, the Detroit Three employed more than 1 million workers in the United States.
This is a story of Millennial hope. Detroit's decline was one of the saddest stories of industrial collapse in the late twentieth century United States.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Wonderful World of Millennial Bathtubs

Whirlpool Glass Bathtub.  Image Source: Dvice.

And now for something completely different. Here's a sign of the times - the crazy shit designers get up to with different consumer goods when money is no object.  Today's focus: Millennial Bathtubs (plus a couple of shower cabinets).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Centres for Future Times

Ode to M. C. Escher (2010). © By Tabasco-Raremaster. Reproduced with kind permission.

Universities are starting to establish special institutes dedicated to studying concepts of time and popular consciousness of the turn of the Millennium.  There are also think tanks and consultancies popping up that are dedicated to understanding the Zeitgeist, for a price! Here's a list of a few (out of many) places where people are devoted to thinking about the future and our place in it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Generation X Goes Back to the Future 2: Urban Exploration

English Urban Explorer, Phill Davison.

Urban Exploration (Urbex), stretches back about twenty years in its current form. With the aid of photo-sharing sites like Flickr, a whole generation of intrepid Urban Explorers are uncovering corners of history in our cities and sharing them with us. They enter sealed properties, abandoned locations, forgotten dwellings, shut up institutions, and closed industrial sites; they photograph neglected infrastructure and crumbling transportation networks.

In Britain, this is a movement that recalls amateur exploration of municipal development in the nineteenth century, which became the founding inspiration for many important charitable organizations, such as the Fabians and the Salvation Army. Today’s explorers are not driven explicitly by politics and religion, as their nineteenth century forebears were. Some Urban Explorers are interested primarily in the aesthetics of abandoned places, others show civic devotion to their own municipalities. Still, their work provides a key to new sensibilities. They reject the ‘throwaway’ mentality of rampant urbanization. They are witnesses of recent urban developments that are undocumented in the archives – and largely unexamined by the universities. Of course, urban decay is a trend that, for the most part, civil and institutional authorities are not keen to share. Urbex covers the ‘secret history’ of our cities over the past few decades and show the end results of recent municipal policy-making. The decline of old institutions, schools, railways, barracks, asylums and many other public buildings and structures is a trend that few people grasp as a general phenomenon. Yet Urbex is a growing pastime in many developed countries precisely because that decline is a general problem.

When Urbex images appear in Survival Horror videogames and movies such as Silent Hill, younger gamers likely don’t realize that they are looking at images taken from reality, not fantasy. Their games transmit a grim, largely unacknowledged problem in many cities.

Today, I’m privileged to interview Urban Explorer Phill Davison, who hails from Leeds and who has devoted his considerable talents as a photographer to capturing the concealed areas of that city and abandoned parts of Northern England. Phill has already enjoyed press coverage by the BBC; in the Yorkshire Evening Post (see the story online here) and at the blog The Post Hole.

Phill has over 1,800 photos posted on his website at Flickr here; his My Space page is here, with his main explorations listed here.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Shanghai Time Capsule

Nanjing Road – From Series of Views of Shanghai (post 1932).

Today, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco ends its exhibition entitled Shanghai. As part of the profile for the exhibition, one of the Museum's bloggers did a post Nanjing Road, Then and Now, juxtaposing identical views of the city's famous street from the 1930s and from 2009.  The clock tower and historical building opposite make up a time capsule around which everything else changed.  The 1930s picture was used for the exhibition catalogue.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Retro-Futurism 5: Dreams of the Metropolis

Poster for Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927).

I've found a great collection of retro-futuristic pictures of urban concept art at Dark Roasted Blend.  These are speculations about a future in which "living in mega-cities was considered a privilege. That gleaming Metropolis on the horizon? - Something to aspire to, the glorious destination to dream about, to shape your life accordingly and reach it as the utmost reward... Such ideas were popular in the infant days of futurism, in fantastic literature on both sides of the Atlantic. Thankfully the 'mega-urbanism' dream is replaced today by quite the opposite idea of an affluent living in the country."  Mega-cities are a futuristic concept from the 1920s that shaped much of the twentieth century's idea of cosmopolitan life.