Building the World

November 9, 2019
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CITIES: Welcome to the Club

“DJs at the club.” Photographer: Malagalabombonera, 2015. Image: wikimedia commons.

The wall fell down and so did a lot of other things on November 9, 1989. “No photos on the dance floor!” is an exhibition documenting Berlin’s club scene since the fall of the Wall. According to Felix Hoffmann, curator, “After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, clubs, bars, galleries, and studios began popping up everywhere, filing empty buildings, factories; the club scene became the driving force behind the city’s rejuvenation.” Hoffman believes that Germany was first reunited on the dance floor. The city was not officially re-united administratively until October 1990; meanwhile, there were yet no rules. Pop-up parties met in forests, drawing together thousands of people who were formerly kept apart. Many believe clubs like Metropol and Tresor fostered a dance and music culture that all people, despite their former differences, discovered together.

In Cities of Destiny, Arnold Toynbee explored the idea that some cities, at moments in history, generate a climate of exceptional capabilities; example, Athens in the age of Pericles or Cyrene. New capital cities, from Baghdad to Brasilia, are built-visions of a nation, offering both governance and culture. In the future, climate change may cause some coastal capitals to move inland; as Indonesia moves the capital from Jakarta, due to sea-rise, what might exemplify the new vision? Dance clubs could be a factor, for another reason:

Floors that give light (and sometimes delight). “Break Dance” by Kalka, 2008. Image: wikimedia commons.

If dance brings us together, Pavegen’s idea does double step: floors that generate electricity when people dance, or walk, over special tiles. Pavegen demonstrated the innovation at the London Olympics when the West Ham Tube station lit itself from electricity generated by 2012 Olympic Games attendees as they arrived at the tube step nearest the stadium. It may not be surprising that Pavegen got their early start in dance clubs.

Be it dance clubs, or floors in schools, or even sidewalks in cities, why not build floors of the future that give light? Perhaps moving because of rising seas, there could be cities with streets paved in a new kind of gold, like the legendary El Dorado. Streets, walkways, sportsways, buildings, and dance clubs generating renewable just-in-time clean electricity may become the foundation for cities of the future.

Building the World. “Jakarta: first capital to move due to sea rise.” 1 May 2019. https://blogs.umb.edu/buildingtheworld/2019/o5/01/jakarta-first-capital-to-move-due-to-sea-rise

Building the World. “Dancing (and Walking) in the Light. 23 October 2015. http://blogs.umb.edu/buildingtheworld/2015/10/23/dancing-and-walking-in-the-light/

Glynn, Paul. “Berlin Wall: ‘Germany was first re-united on the dance floor.'” 9 November 2019. BBC.com

Hoffmann, Felix, curator, C/O Berlin, “No Photos on the Dance Floor! Berlin 1989” 13/09/19 to 30/11/19. https://www.co-berlin/en/no-photos-dance-floor/

“No Photos on the Dance Floor!” YouTube. https://youtu.be/iKAvU9jyl/

Toynbee, Arnold J. editor. Cities of Destiny. Thames & Hudson, 1967. ISBN: 9780500250198.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unpor

April 22, 2019
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Earth (Day) Song

“Earth.” Image: NASA.gov.

Lil Dicky didn’t set out to make history, or even a song about the earth. At first, it was just an idea about animals with creatures voiced by a friends. But with friends like Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Wiz Khalifa, and Leonardo DiCaprio, a song for Earth Day was born. Honoring an occasion with music is not a new idea: the Suez Canal’s opening was celebrated with Verdi’s Aida. Philip Glass composed Itaipú to honor the hydroelectric facility that brings power to Brazil and Paraguay. Glass was inspired for the commission by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra to write a work based on the original Guaraní name for the river’s sound: “Singing Stone.” Paul Winter attended a lecture by Roger Payne at Rockefeller University, hearing recorded songs of whales; with then-governor of California Jerry Brown, Winter helped found “Whale Day” and began making music with the troubadours of the deep. Carl Sagan included cetic songs in the compendium of music sent into space. On this Earth Day, what will you do to honor, celebrate, and save the Earth? Give a listen: Earth.

Burd, David Andrew, aka Lil Dicky or LD, and friends. “Earth” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvuN_WvF1to

Glass, Philip. “Itaipú.” Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with thanks to William Keene. https://philipglass.com/compositions/itaipu/

Verdi, Giuseppe. “Aïda.” Hear the rendition by Luciano Pavarotti with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8rsOzPzYr8

Sagan, Carl. Murmurs of Earth. NY: Random House, 1978. https://books.google.com/books/about/Murmurs_of_Earth.html?id=oD90-PBNyr8C and, for your listening pleasure and inspiration: “Sounds of the Earth”: https://soundcloud.com/user-482195982/voyager-golden-record-sampler-1

Winter, Paul. http://www.paulwinter.com/paul-winter/musical-vision/, and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdv9QJPVPIY.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

March 20, 2019
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Welcome, Spring

“Barsana Holi Festival” by photographer Narender9. Image: wikimedia.

Color is associated with spring, perhaps nowhere more brilliantly than in India. In the land of the Taj Mahal, the iconic edifice famously inlaid with jewels like lapis lazuli and rubies, spring’s celebration of Holi invites people to bedeck each other with color and sometimes scented water. Dating to a 4th century poem, and featured in a 7th century play written by emperor Harsha, Holi is celebrated on the last full moon day of the Hindu lunisolar calendar month of Phalguna; in 2019, the holiday is 21-22 March. The holiday has spiritual roots: some relate it to the love of Krishna and Radha; others, to the story of Hiranyakashipu, Prahlada, and Holika, whence the holiday takes its name. Are you feeling spring in the air?  Wear, or exchange, a bit of color to welcome spring. The vernal equinox 2019 occurs in Boston on 20 March at 17:58:00.

Suri, Manveena. “Why India celebrates Holi: The legends behind the festival of color.” 19 March 2019. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/travel/articlel/holi-festival-india/index.html.

India Times. “Consent is important; even on Holi.” https://www.facebook.com/indiatimes/videos/622357941510873?sfns=vmo.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

September 4, 2018
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Preserving World Heritage: Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel, World Heritage Site. Image: wikimedia

Abu Simbel, site of the great temple built by Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II, in 13th century bce, crowned the Nubian valley bordering Egypt and Sudan. Nearby, the Nile River flows through Aswan to Cairo. It was just a few decades ago that engineers and archeologists saved Abu Simbel from a watery grave, somewhere at the bottom of Lake Nasser, reservoir formed by the 1960 construction of the High Dam at Aswan. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) rushed to save Abu Simbel: the temple was taken apart piece by piece, and moved to a site where it was reassembled like a giant Lego construction. February 22 (day Ramses took the throne) and 22 October (Ramses’ birthday) were highlighted by the alignment of the temple so that dawn’s light would illuminate Ramses’ statue, enshrined within. In September 1968, fifty years ago, the project stood completed as one of the premier World Heritage Sites. Success bred success: World Heritage sites followed including Cyrene, Angkor Wat, Lake Baikal, Stonehenge, the Taj Mahal, and the Statue of Liberty.

Kiniry, Laura. “Egypt’s exquisite temples that had to be moved.” 10 April 2018. BBC. http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20180409-egypts-exquisite-temples-that-had-t0-be-moved.

UNESCO. World Heritage Centre. https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

August 27, 2018
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Art of Change

Times Square, New York City. Image: wikimedia

Climate change can be difficult to picture. That may be why, in part, politicians and citizens alike find it hard to grasp, and even more challenging to take action. But what if Mel Chin‘s “Unmoored” caught your eye? Displayed in Times Square, New York City, the artist’s work addresses the prediction that by the year 2100, six feet of water may slosh the great white way. Urban denizens, and tourists, can download the app, pointing a phone camera at various structures to see which ones will be afloat, and where boats may replace taxis and other vehicles. Will lessons from the Netherlands be part of the solution?

Will Miami soon be underwater? Image: wikimedia

Or maybe you prefer winters in Florida. This December, Xavier Cortada‘s “Underwater HOA” campaign invites residents of Pinecrest to place signs on their lawns showing how many feet of water will need to rise before inundating their property. Watercolor paintings that serve as background on the signs will be made with the very melted glacier water that the campaign hopes to stop. The installation opens in December. One month later, January 9, 2019, the signs will come down but the work will start: a citizens’ organization will meet at Cortada’s house to address climate change in the area of Miami. Can the invisible be made visible? What is the art of change?

For more: “12 Artists On Climate Change: A dozen artistic responses to one of the greatest threats of our time.” By Zoë Lescaze. 22 August 2018.  T AGITPROP The New York Times.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

June 22, 2018
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Migrants and the Renewal of Culture

“Detail of Cyrene bronze head, circa 300 bce.” Image: British Museum and wikimedia.

Migrants have been a source of change, and renewal, throughout history. Cyrene, founded in 630 bce, several miles south of the Mediterranean Sea in Libya, became the first of five flourishing cities called the Pentapolis of Cyrenaica. Cyrene’s migrants brought fertile minds to a new land: it was here that Earth’s circumference was first determined by Eratosthenes. Fresh thinking, fostered in an atmosphere promoting science, technology, and art, produced an early map of the stars, the mechanics of doubling a cube, and research that developed prime numbers. The poet Apollonia was also a resident of Cyrene. What policies and cultural practices fostered such innovation? In today’s world, with migrants on the move and in the news, can we draw inspiration from Cyrene to build a better future?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

June 15, 2018
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Voice of the Future 2018: Stephen Hawking

15 June 2018, Westminster Abbey, message sent: 15 June 5518, 1A 0620-00, message received. As Stephen Hawking’s mortal remains were interred between Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, the visionary physicist’s words were sent, with music composed Vangelis for the occasion, to the black hole closest to earth, 3500 light years away.

Stephen Hawking, Voice of the Future. Image: European Space Agency.

Hawking’s Voice of the Future is “a message of peace and hope, about unity and the need for us to live together in harmony on this planet,” stated Lucy Hawking, the physicist’s daughter.

Black Hole 1A 0620-00 calls home a binary system with an orange dwarf star. According to Günther Hasinger, European Space Agency’s Director of Space, “when Stephen Hawking’s message reaches 1A 0620-00, it will be frozen in the event horizon.”

Ave atque vale is a phrase credited to the Roman poet Catullus, who wrote in elegy numbered 101: Atque in perpetuum, frater, ave atque vale, meaning “And for eternity, brother, hail and farewell.” In 2018, the poet’s words rang along with the chimes of Westminster.

Stephen Hawking, who wrote A Brief History of Time, may have changed the definition of the temporal dimension.  For Hawking’s TED Talk, “Questioning the Universe,” click here.

More:

Hawking, Stephen W. A Brief History of Time. 1988. ISBN: 9780553380163.

Stephen William Hawking, 1942-2018. http://www.hawking.org.uk.

Vangelis, Chariots of Fire. The Hawking CD, beamed into space 15 June 2018, was given to those attending services at Westminster Abbey. The public will soon find the album beaming worldwide.

Westminster Abbey. “Ashes of Stephen Hawking buried in the Abbey.” 15 June 2018. https://www.westminster-abbey.org/abbey-news/ashes-of-stephen-hawking-buried-in-the-abbey/

June 1, 2018
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Hello Kitty: making transport fun

“Hello Kitty” image by Iamzette2493, 2016. Wikimedia commons.

Shinkansen, Japan’s high speed bullet trains, made transport fun as well as profitable, both financially and environmentally. When the transport line opened, Japanese National Railways invited the public to name the new trains. Nominations totaled 700,000, making the so-called bullet (referring only to shape) trains instant celebrities and profitable from Day One, Winning train names included Kodama (Echo), Hikari (Light) opened for the Tokyo 1964 Olympics. A sign of the times, Tokyo-Kanazawa line added in 2015 was named Kagayaki (Glitter). Now, a new Shinkansen line will debut: Hello Kitty. Creator Sanrio, branding airplanes as well as every form of apparel, is partnering with West Japan Railway Company to showcase regional attractions and products, also for sale on the trains. Terminals feature Instagram-ready Photo Booths. Book a ride on the Hello Kitty Shinkansen.

Shinkansen “Eva” livery, celebrating Neon Genesis Evangelion. Image: wikimedia.

Shinkansen presented another special livery for anime series Neo Genesis Evangelion that proved so popular it was extended, leading up to the coming Hello Kitty debut. The Beijing Subway introduced bar codes linked to works of Confucius and other philosophers, offering free downloads to read while riding. Attracting greater public use of environmentally beneficial forms of transit may in part be encouraged by making transport fun again. What are your ideas?

Hello Kitty Shinkansen. http://www.jr-hellokittyshinkansen.jp/train/.

Maggie Hiufu Wong. “World’s cutest bullet train? Hello Kitty Shinkansen unveiled in Japan.” 29 May 2018. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/hello-kitty-shinkansen-train-japan/index.html.

Pinker, Joe. “What 50 Years of Bullet Trains Have Done for Japan.” 6 October 2014. The Atlantichttps://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/10/what-50-years-of-bullet-trains-have-done-for-japan/381143/

Sanrio. Hello Kitty Cafehttps://www.sanrio.com/pages/hellokittycafe

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

March 24, 2018
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Earth Hour

Sky Tower goes dark (red lights remaining for aircraft) in recognition of Earth Hour. Image: Kaihsu Tai, wikimedia

Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand, and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, joined other iconic structures in observation of Earth Hour on 24 March 2018. Usually illuminated, the monuments went dark for 60 minutes to raise awareness of preserving the earth’s environment. What did you do to honor your hour of darkness?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

January 13, 2018
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Statues as Exchanges

“William Whitner extends a hand.” Image: hmdb.org

Need a winter coat? Hat? Check the statue. Anderson, South Carolina, residents hang a spare coat or hat upon the extended arm of a statue of William Whitner. The South Carolinian is known to energy historians: after conferring with Nicola Tesla, Whitner harnessed power in nearby Rocky River shoals, soon expanding to the Portman Shoals of the Seneca River. The Portman Shoals Power Plant became Duke Energy. Whitner sided with alternating current champions Tesla and Westinghouse (and against direct current advocate Edison) in the “current war.” As a result, Anderson, SC, became known as “The Electric City” becoming the first urban center in the United States with a continuous supply of power. Later, the TVA would do so on a broader basis. Whitner is immortalized with a statue in the center of Anderson (other monuments in town could also serve). When Carey Jones, Main Street Program, saw homeless people lacking winter gear, he extended a hand by hanging a coat on Whitner’s bronze arm. Soon, town residents emulated the practice, making warm clothing readily available to all. Cities have an opportunity to combine public art with sharing outreach. Is there an extra coat in your closet? Maybe a statue near you might extend a hand? In Boston, could sculptor Nancy Shön’s “Make Way for Ducklings” serve as an exchange for children’s clothing?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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