Tag Archives: self-governance

Zukin, S. (1989). _Loft Living: Culture and Capital in Urban Change_. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Sharon Zukin, PhD Political Science from Columbia University, is Professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College and at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is an expert in consumer society and consumer culture (particularly shopping and urban change), gentrification, arts and economic development, and ethnic diversity.

In tracking the emergence of loft living in 1980s lower Manhattan, Zukin tells a larger story about gentrification and the diminution of manufacturing in the postindustrial city, asserting that we are “at a historic turning point in urban political economy” (176). She opens by arguing that loft living does not, in fact, encourage mixed use, nor is the city benefited by industry’s exodus or robust developer subsidies. The loft terrain, instead, is the site of the annihilation of manufacturing and generation of social group conflict.

Loft conversion happened because of the confluence of three things:

  1. The “loft lifestyle,” a mélange of the democratization of art (thus, increasing its commercialization and the associated lifestyle), the domestication of the “industrial aesthetic,” overall changes in perceptions towards artists, and the personal and state patronage provided them.
  2. An eager investment climate, wherein the smaller developers were pulled toward the attractive profit margins and larger developers pushed from the ballooning costs of their traditional endeavors.
  3. State intervention, each technique testament to the state’s role of speculator in response to deindustrialization and revalorization, as well as institutionalization of codification, socialization of consumption, and socialization of failure.

The Artistic Mode of Production (AMP): (1) assists in the evolution of productive urban space to nonproductive, (2) changes the local labor market, (3) decreases people’s expectations, (4) obscures current and pressing concerns by focusing on “picturesque” (180) historical aspects, and (5) makes a conversion back to industrial use nigh-on impossible. Thus, the three issues to consider in evaluating the AMP’s impact on the urban political economy: the base, the costs, and the contradictions.

Zukin draws four conclusions: (1) investors, not consumers, are the agents of change; (2) agents at all levels of investment are involved (“investment hierarchies” [191]); (3) negotiations regarding the urban terrain bespeak groups’ curious concepts of property rights; and (4) arts patrons and middle class historic preservationists play critical mediating roles.

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Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Community Development, Cultural Economy, Major Field, Minor Field, Research Fields

Sack, W. (2011). Aesthetics of Information Visualization. In _Context Providers_, M. Lovejoy, C. Paul, and V. Vesna, eds. Bristol and Chicago: intellect.

Walter Sack, software designer and media theorist, explores online public space and discourse theories and designs. He is Chair of the Digital Arts & New Media MFA Program and Associate Professor of Film and Digital Media at the University of Santa Cruz. He has an S.M. and PhD from the MIT Media Laboratory.

Here Sack takes issue with Lev Manovich’s (2002) characterization of digital visualization as “antisublime,” privileging user-friendliness and utilitarianism over aesthetic beauty. However, Sack says, there already are examples of the sublime (e.g. John Simon’s “Every Icon” [1997]) and the uncanny (e.g. Alex Galloway’s packet sniffer “Carnivore” [2002]), and proposes we regard information visualization’s artistic contributions not in terms of visual, but conceptual arts. This is a particularly salient approach, if we take conceptual art’s history of reiterating industrial and bureaucratic modes to engage with and critique them.

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Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Media Arts, Minor Field, Research Fields

Castells, M. (1983). _The City and the Grassroots: A Cross-Cultural Theory of Urban Social Movements_. Berkeley and Los Angeles: The University of California Press.

Arguing upfront that sociologists and urban studies experts know much about what constitutes city form and the city’s problems, but nothing about the cause of social change, Castells sets about elaborating “a provisional, theoretical framework” (xvi) of how social change happens. Taking a express departure from Marxism’s preoccupation with production, he reasserts the city is a social social product and a site for collective consumption. Moreover, its innovations generally arise from grassroots efforts, the most successful among them, “urban social movements.”

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