Capturing the Moving Mind

CMM by BdM | Trans-Siberian Train, 2005
‘Capturing the Moving Mind: Management and Movement in the Age of Permanently Temporary War’ an Ephemera conference on the Trans-Siberian train
(Moscow – Novosibirsk – Beijing, September 2005)

In September 2005 a meeting will take place on the Trans-Siberian train from Moscow via Novosibirsk to Beijing. The purpose of this meeting is a ‘cosmological’ one. We would like to gather a group of people, researchers, philosophers, artists and others interested in the changes going on in society and engaged in changing society as their own moving image, an image of time. Spatially moving bodies and bodies moving in time (through the different time zones) could create an event, a meeting that not really ‘is’ but ‘is going on’.

CMM by BdM | Trans-Siberian Train, 2005

Abstract by Bert de Muynck

The mechanics and evolutions in the form and organization of capital cities have always been associated with concepts of representation, power, nationalism, control and exposure. The City has expressed these in institutions (economic, religious, political and social) and infrastructures leading to forms, morphologies and organizations as squares, churches, axis’s, palaces, ramparts, obelisks and others. If we look at capital cities within Europe, one can easily see that under the influence of a growing shift in the mechanics and demands of (over)population and industrialization these cities from the 20th century on started loosing their ‘old war’-function of defending those living in the city. The reason? A horizontal threat became a vertical. The building of the capital rhetoric became in Europe from the mid of the 20th century a different one, on both sides of the curtain growth, history and economy lead to the expansion of the capital city. The nation state lost on both sides, due to different reason, the interest in planning, urbanism and architecture for the public, the nation, the monument, the continuity and representation. Seemingly the City became since 1950 the battlefield of either capitalistic permanently temporary territorial wars (in program as business center, hotels, airport,…) or either communistic permanently temporary wars (in temporarily building technique and organization as the plattenbau). Today, it seems that within one Capital City, one can find all concepts for the Contemporary City: sprawl, congestion, preservation, modernism, mobility, representation…

CMM by BdM | Trans-Siberian Train, 2005
Starting from a selection of a historical analysis of the growth, expansion, psychology, forms of nationalism and representation within European Capital Cities during the twentieth century (Brussels, Berlin, Paris, Boecharest and Rome), this paper and presentation wants to explore their history, evolution, framework that lead to an analytical framework that will be used to discuss the start and end point of the Ephemera conference, Moscow and Beijing. Being both object for the representation of political ideology during the 20th century (Moscow from 1918 on, Beijing from 1948) their urban history, proposals, structures and theories reflect the influence of ideology, the slow war of urbanism and the recent shift into a booming temporarily urban and architectural war for consumption, media representation, office space and capital function. From Stalin’s Moscow to its contemporary temporarily change into a palace for gamblers, from its circular metro to die-hard real estate promoters, from traditional Chinese City into a social realistic USSR infill, from revolution and Forbidden City to CCTV and the Olympic Games. Both struggling and exploiting their circular structure. What are the issues and ideologies, motives and ambitions at stake that give these City a new direction, a second life, a renewal, both in form and organization (Beijing) as in program and investment (Moscow)? The urban history, theory and politics of both Moscow and Beijing will be discussed as representation of new or old ideas on Capital Cities, temporary corporate, urban and architectural wars, mechanics of control and freedom. Being start and endpoint of the conference, the discussion will be explored between two field researches, conscious or not.

What does form, representation, organization, direction, investment, growth and change means, intends and express within a moving condition? Moscow and Beijing will discuss and explore, by the exchange between members participating in the conference the possibilities, difficulties, needs and demands, rejection and proliferation of these questions. It will be discussed by insight in their evolution, motives, failures, ambitions and realities.

Ephemera conference information