‘A Septic Turn in the Space of Appearance: a brief for a city with elites in decline‘
5pm – Second Floor Evolution House
Followed by discussion, drinks and nibbles
ABSTRACT: Paul Guzzardo is returning to Scotland to present this lecture and discussion at PROKALO on his current work, which is part of the public exhibition ‘The City is a thinking Machine.’ He will discuss his work at the exhibition as well as A Septic Turn;
A Septic Turn offers a contemporary update on Geddes’ citizen survey and Civic Exhibition. The installation details an ongoing lawsuit between the plaintiff Paul Guzzardo and two defendants: Grand Center – a private corporation with statutory development powers in St. Louis, and Washington University – a bio-science research institution. Unlike Charles Dickens’s Bleak House the transactional is secondary here. This is about the role of digital media in collective consciousness and how media shapes the relation of people to places. It’s also about Marshall McLuhan’s role in the intellectual formation of St. Louis, and how Geddes’ synoptic vision got muscled out by a sycophantic one. Project journals and looping multimedia tell the story. The journals contains press, legal pleadings and testimony. Guzzardo’s documentaries and video depositions comprise the multimedia. The documentaries are buildbetterbarrel, the cartographer’s dilemma, and posses | protocol | perp walks. The deposition witnesses are: Emily Pulitzer, collector and founder of the Pulitzer Foundation of the Arts; Heather Woofter, teacher and chair of graduate studies at the Washington University School of Architecture; and Paul Guzzardo, lawyer and media activist/artist.
‘Town plans are no mere diagrams, they are a system of hieroglyphics in which man has written the history of civilization, and the more tangled their apparent confusion, the more we may be rewarded in deciphering it.’
-Geddes, Cities in Evolution
The exhibition of which this presentation will discuss is a research project whose aim is to evaluate Geddes’ thinking at a time when city regions are under increasing pressure to accommodate new populations without losing sight of their natural heritage and sustainability. Sir Patrick Geddes, the polymathic Scottish planner and botanist, published Cities in Evolution in 1915. This seminal text on civics promoted his Cities Exhibitions which he organised from 1910 onwards. He also proposed local Cities Exhibitions as permanent institutions in each city centre which he argued were a necessary condition for participatory democracy. This important exhibition on Geddes’ thought and work has three parts: city plans from Geddes’ touring Cities Exhibitions; his thinking and lecturing diagrams, drawn from the Archives at the Universities of Dundee, Edinburgh, and Strathclyde; and recent architecture and planning projects by affiliates of the Geddes Institute for Urban Research at the University of Dundee. Geddes’ diagrams have not to our knowledge been exhibited or published before, nor have these plans been brought to the public view since the Outlook Tower closed in 1949.
Lorens Holm, director of the Geddes institute says ‘Geddes sought to transform lives and transform environments. This exhibition is important because it brings together Geddes thinking machine diagrams – a key to this thought on civics and cities – with the exemplary city plans he collected for his Exhibitions, at a time when our cities are under increasing pressure to accommodate new populations without losing sight of sustainability and citizenship, the key principles for well-being in the built environment.’
THE EXHIBITION WILL TAKE PLACE SEPARATELY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF DUNDEE 19th OCT – 11th DEC.
BIO: Paul is a Fellow at the Geddes Institute for Urban Research at The University of Dundee. He is a media activist, designer, and lawyer based in St. Louis and Buenos Aires.
He has published papers in Urban Design Journal and AD: architectural design, and co-authored with Michael Sorkin and Mario Correa Displaced: Llonch+Vidalle Architecture. His installations and theatre pieces have been exhibited and performed in St. Louis, Buenos Aires, New York, Macomb, Illinois, and Newcastle and Dundee. His lecture, ‘A Septic Turn’ and video installation focus on the role of digital media in collective consciousness. He maps the devolving state of the American public sphere.
He is interested in epistemology and where urban designers, traditional creative practitioners and collectors fit, and or don’t, in a zoomed out digitized culture. His research is out on the street. It’s where he designs protocols for data sampling. He uses the street as a platform to assemble networks to critique the network. And he looks to the street as the place to probe how we’re being changed by the sweep of information technologies. His design praxis includes: nightclubs, outdoor multimedia projections, street-front media-labs, street theatre, remix concerts, gallery installations and documentary film. He exploits these venues and disciplines to design epistemic gear _ maps_ for navigating through this digital minefield. His writings have appeared in blogs, academic monograms and popular journals, including AD Architectural Design, Urban Design (UK), and Displaced with Michael Sorkin and George Ranalli. As a Fellow, Guzzardo has been involved in Exploring the Digital City and the Cartographers Dilemma, in which, with Lorens Holm, he has been working on recursive urbanism.