Lesson 4: Utopia Part 2.

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Lesson 3: Utopia Part 1. 

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Oct 1 2015

R-Lab/ lesson Utopia= the Stage: city making..

  1. Utopia = urban community
  2. Evolution of the city,
  3. Braudel, the long duree, settlements in the mountains, highlands, plains and wetlands, coastal areas along the Mediterranean.
  4. Vitruvius, Grazing sheep and testing their livers
  5. Centralized cities, like Rome, vs decentralized regional cities
  6. Decentralized regional cities with regional self sufficient sustainable economies, beginning in the Etruscan era…
  7. Rome as a power center of an Empire
  8. “Dark Ages”500-900
  9. Rise of the merchant class in medieval Europe: the creation of sub-urbis
  10. The return of the regional cities, Padova, Treviso, etc.
  11. Good and Bad Government
  12. The invention of the fortified bastions, Siena, Peruzzi.
  13. The split between the architecture and engineering, buldings and city infrastructure
  14. The birth of the utopian town plan, the Ideal City.

The Five Continents of utopia:

  1. The Lost Continent
  2. The Ghost Continent
  3. Virgin Continent
  4. The Dark Continent
  5. New Zenlandia
  6. Archipelago of Heterotopias
  7. Heteropias, definitions by Michel Foucault: Enclaves, prisons, cruise ships,
  8. States of Exception, Camps, transit zones, non citizenry, sovereign and non sovereign…

Minor Utopias….

  • Futurists, Surrealists, Dadaists, Lettrists, Situationists International, Archigram, Superstudio, Archigram…. Stalker

r-lab talk 2

R-Lab Talk 2. Diagrams and Maps: Methods in Visual Research.

(you will need a PW to hear the lecture recorded on September 10, 2015.)

Notes pertaining to the Talk September 10:

the first part of the Talk reviewed the R-Lab website, and provided an overview on what kind of blog each participant should create for this course. Please scroll through both the About R-Lab and R-Lab Fall Workshop: the Magic Circle @INDEX. I presented these two sites as examples of what to put up on your own blogs: texts, references, videos (using a captured image from the video and linked to the video) audio…

In general you can be very free with the type of content you assemble, i suggest finding common themes and relationships between references that you chose to feature for your site. you can also write commentary on why you chose a particular link or article.

About the First Assignment for Magic Circle, due when we meet back in October, i have asked everyone to go over the blog dedicated to the assignment, and read or click on each topic. again, this should give you an idea of how to create associations between references, citations and other observations.

Choose your game subject: from your childhood, something you are obsessed with or something you have been interested in, through a film or video game, whatever. NOTE: once you have a game in mind, you should investigate its history, understand its community of players, and search for references in popular culture. For this first assignment i recommend you begin working on your graphic analyses> diagramming, mapping, visual notations etc. the Video on Talk 2 provides you with a number of pointers covered in our last class about visual studies.

To get things started here is a good Wiki text on Roger Callois’ definitions for Play:

Man, Play and Games (ISBN 0029052009) is the influential 1961 book by the French Sociologist Roger Caillois, (French Les jeux et les hommes, 1958) on the sociology of play and games or, in Caillois’ terms, sociology derived from play. Caillois interprets many social structures as elaborate forms of games and much behaviour as a form of play.

Caillois builds critically on the theories of Johan Huizinga, adding a more comprehensive review of play forms. Caillois disputes Huizinga’s emphasis on competition in play. He also notes the considerable difficulty in defining play, concluding that play is best described by six core characteristics: it is free, or not obligatory; it is separate (from the routine of life) occupying its own time and space; it is uncertain, so that the results of play cannot be pre-determined and so that the player’s initiative is involved; it is unproductive in that it creates no wealth and ends as it begins; it is governed by rules that suspend ordinary laws and behaviours and that must be followed by players; and it involves make-believe that confirms for players the existence of imagined realities that may be set against ‘real life’.[1]

Caillois argues that we can understand the complexity of games by referring to four play forms and two types of play:

  • Agon, or competition. E.g. Chess is an almost purely agonistic game.
  • Alea, or chance. E.g. Playing a slot machine is an almost purely aleatory game.
  • Mimicry, or mimesis, or role playing.
  • Ilinx (Greek for “whirlpool”), or vertigo, in the sense of altering perception. E.g. taking hallucinogens, riding roller coasters, children spinning until they fall down

Games and play combine these elements in various ways. Examples:

  • Poker features both alea, the random shuffling of cards, and agon, the strategic decisions of discarding cards and betting.
  • Collectible card games combine alea (the random shuffling of decks and the distribution of cards in booster packs), agon (competition with rules and strategies) and mimesis (cards refer to imaginary beings the player controls in a fictional world).
  • Dancing is an ilinx activity, which can be combined with mimesis to portray characters, or with agon in competitive dance.

Caillois also places forms of play on a continuum from ludus, structured activities with explicit rules (games), to paidia, unstructured and spontaneous activities (playfulness), although in human affairs the tendency is always to turn paidia into ludus, and that established rules are also subject to the pressures of paidia. It is this process of rule-forming and re-forming that may be used to account for the apparent instability of cultures.

Like Huizinga, Caillois sees a tendency for a corruption of the values of play in modern society as well as for play to be institutionalised in the structures of society. For example agon is seen as a cultural form in sports, in an institutional form as economic competition and as a corruption in violence and trickery; Alea is seen as a cultural form in lotteries and casinos, as an institutional form in the stock market and as a corruption in superstition and astrology; mimicry is seen as cultural form in carnivals and theatre, as institutional form in uniforms and ceremonies and as corruption in forms of alienation; and ilinx is seen as cultural form in climbing and skiing, as institutional form in professionals requiring control of vertigo and as corruption in drugs and alcoholism.


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