004 – Theory-Parkour – Lamb on Parkour, Architecture and the Body – Urban Cultural Studies Podcast

urbanculturalstudies

UCS 004 Lamb on Parkour, Architecture and the Body (12 August 2013) Conversational interview inspired by scholar Matthew Lamb’s article “Misuse of The Monument: The Art of Parkour and the Discursive Limits of a Disciplinary Architecture,” forthcoming in the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies (1.1, 2013). Pitched at a theoretical level (complementing the specific place-bound analysis of  Monument Circle in Indianapolis found in the article) discussion centers on the origins (and varieties) of parkour–an athletic engagement with the built environment (misuse through climbing, dropping, vaulting, jumping…)–and the conditioning of the body in place and as subject to architectural and urban forces.

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Spiral coast

Paul Dobraszczyk

Spiral near Charmouth, Dorset Spiral near Charmouth, Dorset

Leaving the busy pub directly above the beach at Seatown, in south Dorset, I begin my 3-mile walk back along the coast to Charmouth. Just like the previous three days, the December sun in a cloudless, calm sky felt unseasonably warm; the shingle beach sloping steeply into the gently rolling waves at high tide. Behind, a low wall of  grey Eype clay cliffs visibly crumbled, leaving piles of debris at their bases. Approaching these unappealing mounds, and with keen eyes, you see them: the tell-tale spiral forms of ancient molluscs, the ammonites. Prize open some larger pieces of this mud and you find more, some in a miraculous state of preservation, others crumbling away before your eyes – lost forever.

Seatown shingle Seatown shingle

Cliffs flanking Seatown beach Eype clay cliffs flanking Seatown beach

This is the world of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, where ancient sedimentary rock and mud, laid down when the dinosaurs ruled…

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# MAPS /// The Age of the Drone: No-Fly Zones and the Future Fear of Blue Sky

There’s some interesting work being done at the moment on drone theory, particularly in the light of Grégoire Chamayou’s thought-provoking publication, Théorie du drone (2013). Along with the piece below, originally published on thefunambulist.net, I recommend reading Derek Gregory‘s reflections on Chamayou’s work, which can be found here.

The Funambulist

Fragment of a US map showing no-fly zones for drones by Map Box

In the recent days, two similar incidents were reported around the presidential residencies of France and the United States. On January 16, a small drone has been seen flying above the Élysée (French presidential palace), revealing a breach in the security of the complex, only two months after photographs of President Hollande inside the gardens were published, leaving the presidential staff clueless about whether these photos had been taken by a drone or not (the magazine denied using one). Two days ago, a similar incident occurred this time in the vicinity of the White House in Washington DC, when a 2×2-foot commercial drone crashed in its gardens. The spectacle of the American news channels exacerbated this almost non-event (it was candidly piloted by a drunk government worker) to the point that CNN anchor Wolf Pritzker suggested to set up the equivalent…

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Painting a picture

A fascinating blog post that speaks precisely of the area in which we are making Furnace Park. It’s a strange serendipity that on the 1873 map, the space occupied by what is now the Furnace Park site is marked out in a red pen…. We have also done a little research on the Jewish community that lived in this area in the 19th century. See https://occursus.org/2012/06/15/quiet-flows-the-don/

In search of Harris

After leaving Russia[1], my great-grandparents’ path of travel would have likely taken them through Austria-Hungary or Germany to the nearest railway station whence they would have crossed Europe to a North Sea port in Germany, Holland or Belgium.  There they would have boarded a ship for England, probably travelling third class where conditions were hardly luxurious, but adequate for the two-day crossing.

Many such migrants passed through Sheffield on their way from Hull to Manchester, Liverpool and ultimately America.  Some decided to stay and set up as watchmakers, jewellers or tailors. [2]  My great-grandparents were among them.

Typical of migrants in a strange land, new arrivals often went directly to members of their own family who had already settled in England, or else to people from their village back home. [3]  The Jewish community, which grew from a base of about 60 in the 1840’s to…

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An end….and a new beginning

A fascinating blog post that speaks precisely of the area in which we are making Furnace Park.

 

In search of Harris

After my great-grandfather’s death in November 1876, it seems that there was little reason for his widow and infant son to remain in Sheffield.  Within two years, they had left town and, to my knowledge, they would never return.

Capture Shepherd St, Google Maps, 2012

I’d always wondered what had happened to Shepherd Street and its surrounding area in the 10 years since I’d first visited.  And thanks to the wonders of Google Maps and Street View, I did not have to make a trip to Sheffield to find out.

From my desktop several thousand kilometres away, it seems that the area has deteriorated further and some businesses have closed their doors.  If it had all looked rather dreary in 2003, then it is even more so now.

However, there is a ray of sunshine on the horizon.

My earlier hunch about the area being ripe for urban renewal has proved…

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Rwanda : post-traumatic landscapes

At the moment I am working on a paper about images made by photographers and photojournalists in Rwanda in the years following the 1994 genocide. As part of my research, I have watched two interesting documentaries, the first by Jean-Christophe Klotz, Des images contre un massacre (2006) and the second by Bernard Bellefroid, Rwanda, les collines parlent (2005).

# WEAPONIZED ARCHITECTURE /// The Banlieue Archipelago: Cartographic Inventory of the Cités Around Paris

The Funambulist

Maps created for the purpose of this article / Download them here in high resolution (6.6 MB)
(license: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-ShareAlike 4.0)

As I recently wrote in an article about Mathieu Kassowitz’s La Haine, I will probably write a lot about Paris’s banlieues in the coming year(s), as I will be soon returning to live on that side of the Atlantic ocean. I spent the last weeks elaborating documents to illustrate what these “banlieues” really are. This is as useful to people who are not so familiar with Paris’s geography as for people who live in the center of the city, since most of the latter rarely venture in the suburbs. The maps presented above, associated with the list of illustrations below, therefore attempt to present a geographic inventory of the “Cités” and “Zones Urbaines Sensibles” (Sensitive Urban Zones) that exist in the first four zones of Paris’s region’s public transportation system…

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# CINEMA /// Banlieues and Police: La Haine’s Famous Tracking Shot

The Funambulist

Still from La Haine by Mathieu Kassovitz (1995)

If, like me, you were a French teenager in the 1990s, you probably have a powerful remembrance of Mathieu Kasovitz’s La Haine (1995), in particular of the tracking shot that starts from the back of DJ Cut Killer mixing Assassin and NTM’s (the historical reference of Parisian hip-hop) “Nique la Police” (Fuck the Police) and Edith Piaf’s “Non, je ne regrette rien” (I do not regret anything) and slowly flies over the Cité des Muguets in the suburbs of Paris (see the successive stills assembled below). This film remains a narrative reference to the situation of the Parisian banlieues (suburbs) where the most precarious populations, which include an important part of the North and West African first and second generations of immigration from French former colonies. It is in my plans to expose how technocratic urbanism has lead to the systematic spatial…

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