Tag Archives: los angeles

Molotch, H. (1996). LA as Design Product: How Art Works in a Regional Economy. In _The City: Los Angeles and Urban Theory at the End of the Twentieth Century_, A. Scott & E. Soja, eds. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

In this chapter of Scott’s and Soja’s LA School exegesis on why the study of LA is relevant to all postmodern urban studies, Molotch explains it is the very essence of Los Angeles that permeates the city’s — and the world’s — commercial industry.

“Using Los Angeles as a case study, I investigate how local aesthetics…affect what businesses produce and market. Local art is a factor of production” (225).

Molotch discusses the intersection of high and low arts and its interpretation (e.g. Bertoia claims Nude Descending a Staircase as his inspiration for his steel rod chair), and LA’s diverse cultural makeup on creation. Since 1990, LA has been home to as many “creative occupation”-holding (Zukin, 1995) professionals as New York City.

LA’s characteristic playfulness, optimism, topography, and weather have all been brought to pioneering bear in the film, tourism, apparel, architecture, design, and automobile industries. These industries stay here, says Molotch, because there is inherent and irreplaceable value in their geographic association with LA. Moreover, since Southern Californians are so notorious for their lack of brand loyalty, this is a prime marketing testing ground for new products.

“The mistake is always to bracket art from production, and to think of the artistic, whether in material form or human, as defining the opposite of the practical” (264).

LA’s competitive advantage is based on its cultural production.

Leave a comment

Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Cultural Economy, Minor Field, Research Fields

Hayden, D. (1995). _The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History_. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Dolores Hayden, M.Arch from Harvard University, is Professor of Architecture and American Studies at Yale University. She is the president of the Urban History Association; a former Guggenheim, Rockefeller, NEH, NEA, and ACLS/Ford fellow; has taught at MIT, Berkeley, and UCLA; was founder and president of The Power of Place in Los Angeles from 1984 to 1991; and has published six award-winning books about the character and design of American cities.

Hayden’s is a feminist architectural historian’s perspective, brought beautifully and thoughtfully to bear in The Power of Place. In it she examines the terrain of urban landscape theory and history, as well as tells her story of negotiating the terrain of urban practice, sharing various projects undertaken by The Power of Place non-profits arts and humanities group. She believes we must claim the “entire urban cultural landscape as an important part of American history” (111) and that urban preservation “must emphasize public processes and public memory” (ibid).

“It all comes back to community process” (75).

She asserts that cultural geography, architecture, and social history intersect to create the history of cultural landscape, the production of space and human patterns — cultural identity, social history, and urban design are inextricably linked. Hayden follows Lefebvre (1991), who connected the sense of place felt in the cultural landscape (e.g. biological reproduction [body], reproduction of the labor force [housing], and reproduction of social relations [public space of the city] to the political economy. More, the territorial histories are based concretely and critically in race and gender, as space shapes and constrains social reproduction.

Place is especially important because studying it encourages a reclamation of history and recovery of memory. She advocates for architectural preservation, vernacular especially, because those sites are often where conflicts over power were undertaken, “counter-space.” In addition, she argues for environmental protection and landscape preservation, and public art for public memory. Relevant public art engages the historical and material, and has a “new kind of relationship to the people whose history is being represented” (76).

Hayden speaks of the invisible Angelenos, and the workers’ landscapes and livelihoods. She recounts the stories of and The Power of Place projects for: Biddy Mason, the Latina union leaders of the Embassy Auditorium, and Little Tokyo on First Street. She believes in the power of “shared authority” (Michael Frisch, 1990), and explains the rewards for undertaking the difficult tasks of collaboration for historical preservation:

  • urban history is the richest source for historical study
  • attaching history into city design is quite inexpensive
  • designation of incredibly important places obviates any need to separate out constituencies into academic categories — all are welcome.

“Any historic place, once protected and interpreted, potentially has the power to serve as a lookout for future generations who are trying to plan the future, having come to terms with the past” (247).

Leave a comment

Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Community Development, Major Field, Planning Theory, Public Space, Research Fields

Crawford, M. (1995). Contesting the Public Realm: Struggles Over Public Space in Los Angeles. _Journal of Architectural Education_, 49(1): 4-9.

Margaret Crawford, PhD Urban Planning from UCLA, is Professor of Architecture at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design. Her research focuses on the evolution, uses, and meanings of urban space. She is known for her work on Everyday Urbanism, a concept that promotes the quotidian as the basis for urban theory and design.

Following Fraser’s (1992) “Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy,” Crawford argues we’re not seeing an end to public space. Rather, our conceptions of public space and the agents who constitute them need to change. Here, the two populations most designed against are street vendors and the homeless. The splintering of democracy and attendant contests/tensions provides us with opportunities. Counterpublics comprise women, immigrants, workers, and they demand their rights outside the Habermasian public sphere. They blur the lines between private and public in their modes because they adopt unconventional practices, including acts of civil disobedience, in concert with the accepted legislative processes.

And following Holston’s (1996) “Spaces of Insurgent Citizenship,” these democratic uprisings take place in public arenas, whether Sorkin, Davis,  et al. choose to recognize it. Counterpublics affirm their is not one place that can adequately convey an inclusive, democratic space. This is because “public spaces are constantly changing, as users reorganize and reinterpret public space. Unlike normative spaces, which simply reproduce the existing ideology, these spaces, often sites of struggle, help to overturn it” (5). In the civil unrest of 1992 and in the time hence, marginalized groups have reclaimed the streets, sidewalks, and vacant spaces for their purposes, democratic, economic, and participatory. While no one calls them public space in full, their actions “reveal an alternate logic of public life” (6).

Leave a comment

Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Community Development, Major Field, Public Space, Research Fields

Don’t you wish this was real? Me too.

pinwheels

Pretty pinwheel project. Photo by Brettany Shannon.

Leave a comment

Filed under Quotidian

About/By/In Out the Window

Out the Window is the first of its kind participatory learning experience for young people and the Los Angeles Metro ridership. A collaboration among four of Los Angeles’ media arts organizations – LA Freewaves, Echo Park Film Center, Public Matters, and UCLA REMAP (Center for Research in Engineering, Media, and Performance) – and Transit TV, the project engages youth and community-based artists in producing relevant and meaningful videos about their neighborhoods and lives. The project is divided into two phases: the first involves the work of students from East Los Angeles, Echo Park, and Historic Filipinotown, and the second adds videos by LA artists, activists, and storytellers. All work aims to engage and inspire the LA Metro ridership.

I hope this is a representative, if not comprehensive, report of the works achieved and things learned over the course of Out the Window’s implementation.

Leave a comment

Filed under Out the Window, Presentations

Nobody walks in LA

I wonder how long ago this happened and yet I also know it doesn’t much matter. I also don’t agree with my post title, but see tags. Photo by Colin Peeples.

Leave a comment

June 15, 2012 · 3:51 pm