Thursday, May 01, 2008

Type City

The Web has created fascinating new communication spaces, as passionate designers deploy specialized talents to delight and inspire new audiences. Once the domain of a relatively small number of specialists, typography has taken on new life. The connections among the style and personality of type fonts, the cultural vitality of the city, and the representation of urban form are powerfully expressed in this illustration.

Happy May 1

Washington's Other Monuments

Washington is both the public face of America and a city without Congressional representation. The formal landscape of public Washington is a space where America can make sense of itself, the materiality of museums and places for public gatherings supporting a dialogue that bridges the past and the future. The blog Washington's Other Monuments documents the memorials that family and community members construct to remember individuals like,

15-year-old Ryan Travon Harris was shot in the head and killed Sunday March 16, 2008, about 2:00 AM in Washington, DC. This shrine, near his grandmother's home in the 3100 block of Apple Rd NE, is near the spot where he was found dead.

Banksy was Here

The British grafitti artist Bansky encapsulates all of the ironies associated with the postmodern city. He is both famous and anonymous, high culture and low culture, transgressive and conformist, trivial and profound, a sellout and a radical critic. Drawing on a long tradition of vernacular approaches, Banksy does manage a few innovative salvos of urban communication.

Nomads at Last

The Economist recently wrote an article about the impact of wireless communication and urban nomadism. The term nomad is deeply misleading. Despite the focus on nomadism as a distinctly urban phenomenon, the citation of Manuel Castells, and examples that are all located in advanced urban areas--the term nomad is used to conjure a kind of nostalgic freedom.

Much like the image of the Marlboro Man (the single most valuable brand image ever created) was used to project a lifestyle of ruggedness, independence, freedom, and vigorous, healthy masculinity to a demographic under a great deal of economic (and health) pressure, the image of the nomad is also used to sell a lifestyle.

Urban nomadism requires a highly specialized, capital-intensive infrastructure which is continually evolving. Traditional nomadism requires not only limited, lightweight tools, but more importantly, vast areas of under-populated land not subject to private ownership and control. Urban areas aren't inhabited by nomads, but by individuals with the talents, capital, and ability to negotiate highly privatized spaces.