7 books | in the movingcities mailbox

Empires, Ruins + Networks | edited by Scott McQuire & Nikos Papastergiadis

MovingCities loves books. We like to read, receive and review them. We buy them [first-hand, second-hand, from all kind of hands] and we get them. During the past months our mailbox [see contact] digested seven diverse titles. All dealing with topics we’re curious about: urbanism, architecture, media, crisis, Beijing 深圳, construction and urban screens. It’s thank-you time to Scott McQuire, Xuefei Ren and Josep Lluís Mateo for sending, and Archined for the opportunity of reviewing. architecture book review

Empires, Ruins + Networks

We met Scott McQuire [Associate Professor & Reader – School of Culture and Communication | The University of Melbourne] last December in Shenzhen 深圳, during the 2010 Shenzhen International Conference and UNESCO Creative Cities Network-conference. Shortly after he send us three of his recent books. Empires, Ruins + Networks is a collection of essays seeking to engage with the shifting forms of cultural identity and new modes of cultural production in contemporary society:

Empires, Ruins + Networks  [edited by Scott McQuire & Nikos Papastergiadis] examines the place of art in a world that is being deliberately polarized by the fear of terrorism. In the wake of September 11 the global political imagination has been gripped by a need to build defensive measures against unknown threats. This collection of In place of the politics of fear that is supporting a new militarism, these essays build bridges supporting new cultural flows across the south and speak against the silencing of indigenous and immigrant communities.


URBAN SCREENS READER | edited by Scott McQuire, Meredith Martin and Sabine Niederer

The URBAN SCREENS READER [edited by Scott McQuire, Meredith Martin and Sabine Niederer]  is the first book to focus entirely on the topic of urban screens. In assembling contributions from a range of leading theorists, in conjunction with a series of case studies dealing with artists’ projects and screen operators’ and curators’ experiences, the reader offers a rich resource for those interested in the intersections between digital media, cultural practices and urban space.

In conjunction, check out Scott McQuire’s Spatial Aesthetics-website and the Large Screens and the Transnational Public Sphere-project which aims to test the use of large video screens as a communication platform for an experimental transnational public sphere.

The Media City | by Scott McQuire

The Media City | by Scott McQuire

I just finished reading the highly interesting book The Media City by Scott McQuire. It is a philosophical approach to the role of media in the experience of the city. I found two insights worth sharing here.

The first is that McQuire sees media not as a means of representation, but rather as a technology that co-constitutes the experience of the city. In other words, what is interesting is not so much how a movie or tv show represents the city. What is interesting is how media can provide new frames for making sense of the city; how it provides new ways of experiencing the city.

Second, I liked his approach of technology: McQuire is interested in the way in which new technologies are incorporated into everyday life, how they are turned from ‘disembedding technologies’ into embedded media practices: when new technologies are introduced – be it the telegraph or the internet – they are usually seen as disruptive technologies that will ‘annihilate time and space’ and disembed existing social relations. However, usually after a certain period of time, some of these technologies have become so normal that we do not even notice them anymore. They are so embedded in our everyday practice that we simply can’t imagine what life would be without them.

Full review on The Mobile City. Read The Politics of Public Space in the Media City [by Scott McQuire] on First Monday.

Building Globalization | by Xuefei Ren

Building Globalization | by Xuefei Ren

Xuefei Ren [Assistant Professor – Department of Sociology and Global Urban Studies Program | Michigan State University] is the author of Building Globalization – Transnational Architecture Production in Urban China. In this book, she scrutinizes the growing phenomenon of transnational architecture and its profound effect on the development of urban space in China:

Roaming from construction sites in Shanghai to architects’ offices in Paris, Xuefei Ren interviews hundreds of architects, developers, politicians, residents, and activists to explore this issue. She finds that in the rapidly transforming cities of modern China, iconic designs from prestigious international architects help private developers to distinguish their projects, government officials to advance their careers, and the Chinese state to announce the arrival of modern China on the world stage.

In 2008, Xuefei Ren contributed to Urban China #33 | Counter-Mapping Creative Industries [edited by Ned Rossiter & MovingCities] an essay called “Holes in the Net? State Rescaling, Creative Control and the Dispersion of Power“.

AFTER CRISIS | ETH Zürich Chair Prof. Dr. Josep Lluís Mateo

After Crisis | ETH Zürich, Chair Prof. Dr. Josep Lluís Mateo

Last year we got contact by Xusheng Huang from the team of Prof. Dr. Josep Lluís Mateo [architect, Professor of the Architecture Department at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic in Zürich (ETH-Z)] with the question if they could use some extracts from our “Local Hero | An interview with Wang Shu“-publication [Mark Magazine#19]. Now, pieces of it are part of ARCHITECTURAL PAPERS V called AFTER CRISIS Contemporary Architectural Conditions:

Architectural Papers V concentrates around the new conditions for architectural practice and around the new epistemologies that may inform it in the next future. That is, in the period after the financial bubble has collapsed and living and working conditions have significantly changed. Essays, studies and interviews, along with a selection of indicative projects, tackle the actual issues of growth and shrinking, economy and ideology, craftsmanship and social space in the city, materiality and sustainability in architecture. In a logical sequence, they depict the current reality of architecture.

Koolhaas in Beijing & Re-inventing Construction| reviews on Archined

Archined has been, since 1997, publishing independent information about developments in the field of architecture, urban design and landscape architecture in the Netherlands. The site is mainly in Dutch, but has an interesting small Archined English-section as well. During the past few months Bert de Muynck reviewed ‘Re-inventing Construction[book review in DUTCH] by Ruby Press and ‘Koolhaas in Beijing[also in DUTCH] by Edzard Mik.

MovingCities INQUIRIES

Are you an academic, architect, urbanist or artist? A writer, photographer or psychologist? Are you dealing with urbanism, media, networks, cultures, globalization, architecture, people, re-inventing the world, interventions and observations, the culture of craftmanship [before or after the global crisis] or anything else that could be of MovingCities-interest? Are you also interested in sending a copy of your book to China? [contact us for interest, suggestions and details]

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