TJ - LA an urban paradigm (or proof to my wife that it was a business trip)

This past weekend Miguel Escobar and my self took a trip to Los Angeles to take a look at the event “New Cities New Media”, organized by the University of Southern California, School of Architecture and the School of Cinema-Television. We visited the exhibit on Friday 17 and sat on two of the lectures/presentations on Saturday 18.
The permanent exhibit was titled, The Labyrinth Project, Expanding the Language of interactive Narrative. This exhibit was made up of two different interactive video installations on opposite sides of the room. The first one by Norman Klein called Bleeding Through: Layers of Los Angeles 1920-1986 is literary novel collaged with urban images of the city of Los Angeles. The story takes place in an area of 3 square miles near downtown LA, an area that has been represented in different films. These accounts are remembered by film photos, and interview of residents. “Out of this, users must decide what to include and what to leave out so that their own version of the story will become legible” In this one I saw people using the interface( mouse) to select scenes and photos they wanted to include and others to leave out. The graphics were interesting and the installation was very simple, it consisted of a small rectangular tall table were the mouse was the interface a hidden digital projector and a screen, I didn’t see where the computer was. Very interesting and simple design, where the content was the most important thing. The other installation was the one I participated a little more on. Tracing the Decay of Fiction, by Pat O Neill. The installation consisted of the same format and elements as the other one, the only variant was the context of the piece. It worked the same way; you interacted with it through the mouse. The DVD-ROM explores the Hotel Ambassador, built in 1920 an important landmark in LA. The narrative traces the events that occurred in the Hotel, such as the assassination of Robert Kennedy, and other histories that where part of the life of this building. Using footage of the building, now in ruins, the artist montages footage of the past events in the different rooms and hallways of the building. You could wander, with help of the mouse, into the video that the artist took of the building and see the ghost like events of the past (archival film) which are been played out, creating an interesting historical narrative between cinema and architecture. This is the one that most interested me because it was done impeccable. Sometimes the two videos would become one and you could not tell the new from the old. Event and building of a different time came together to make a story, where you could choose different combinations to create your own narrative.

Then the next day, we sat on a lecture/discussion titled: Body, Form and the Virtual. The speakers where, Galia Solomonoff, Princeton, Brian Cavanaugh, architect-LA, and Mark Donohue from CCAC. Mark Donohue paper was entitled Seamlessness, Continuity and Simultaneity: Topology and the production of a new space paradigm. An interesting view of the similarities of a topological form, cinema and architecture. He discussed three topological forms which have the characteristics of seamlessness, continuity and simultaneity . He discusses these forms as parallel organizations with films such as memento, pulp fiction others. The topological forms are usually shapes that have a continuous surface, therefore they don’t have a beginning or end. These ideas become evident in film by the directors decision to begin the film in the middle of the story and then proceed to the last part and finishing up with the beginning. The other way is to have a movie that does not have an ending and it is open to many possibilities on how it ends. Then he compared this to real 3 dimensional spaces. He chooses architects such as Greg Lynn, Ben Van Berkel, and FOA as examples of topological forms for building. He argued that these examples show the use of topology in form and also in the manipulation of program elements of a building. The talk was very interesting, yet this is something that has been already read and discussed in architectural discourse in the past five to six years. But it was interesting to hear the speaker say that cinema is doing research on topology and architecture is not far behind.

During our stay (I want to thank to Eduardo "Ochoa" for his hospitality) we visited Culver City where Eric Owen Moss has a complex of buildings, Sci-Arc and its new building ¼ of a mile long, they say, its pretty long, in downtown LA. The new form zero book store, where the new owner was interested in the possibility of showing, OTRA, the exhibit of architecture firms from Tijuana. We also went to Hollywood with its vareity of stuff, saw a new house by coop himemblau in Santa Monica, and finally just before leaving when we where buying coffee in a Starbucks, I felt like taking a pee and went to bathroom, I didn’t lock the door and while I was doing my thing somebody opened the door and before I reacted I heard “oh sorry” in woman’s voice. When I came out I realized that it was Mrs. Tommy Lee, Pamela Anderson, I love LA!

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