Saturday, 29 October 2011

Preemptive Customs House

One customs officer, two tradespeople. Two suitcases exchanged, hidden behind the propped-Palladian facade.

An attempt to create an ad-hoc environment to facilitate the government-approved suitcase trade between Turkish and Russian traders. Architectural fragments are combined to create internal environments, whilst abandoned or confiscated objects inform an ever-changing representation of the trade.

All Hallow's Eve

Size Matters

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Iftar Gate

- a video of a model that I've built using steel, foam, plaster, twine, plastic, cheese, dates, olives and a tulip. This is really a collage of several ideas at different scales, trying to reconcile the ascetism of Ramadan with the world's largest communal Iftar feast, attempted in Istanbul last year. This is set against the background of the Tulip Age, a period in the early 18th century that has been framed as a volatile and productive first flirtation of the Ottoman Empire with Western European modes of consumption. I'll see where this leads . . .

A story of Still life

Still life

We are in the shanty town bellow Istanbul. It resembles the cave that was recently discovered in Vietnam. The smell of light and rain is sitting on the first row of the cinema hall. We, are far at the back. Solar shafts have migrated here for one and only reason. To please the eye of Leigh-Cheri, the liberal, environmentalist princess that once fell in love with Bernard Mickey Wrangle, the terrorist. She made her world in a cave under the earth, so that it's not round and so that it has an end. In that way she could follow her lover “to the ends of the earth”. A dry moon, suitable for paper birds, hangs from the top of the tallest tree column in the garden, tomb of Bernard. Leigh-Cheri and the cyborg grandmothers buried him inside the tree many years ago. And now they make wise ruined birds out of it. “This is how love stays”, she says. The cave would have been rocky and greeny and boring like all landscapes and jungles, without Leigh-Cheri's shanty town that hosts the poor cyborgs and people who lost their houses in the earthquake of 2030. Every now and then she stitches the paper moon that sails over the cardboard sea which is covered with cellophane to reflect the birds. She is not melancholic, because all melancholy got sank in Bosporus since forever. She believes that her present is the most violent moment in time, because of the nostalgia of the future. Thus death becomes purely aesthetics. All of the princess’s birds have escaped from the ancient Mariner. That's the myth they grow up and live with till one of the inhabitants decides to make a toilet extension in his house and use them as a roof. The birds are wise because they are romantic. And they are romantic because they have never seen the moon. Leigh-Cheri finds her solitude romantic and has a wing on her arm that makes her feel like Odette. Her hands though, drink the pulp of rotten vegetables like mosquitos in the hot summer nights, while she wonders weather Ferhan Mimar is ever going to finish the construction of her palace. She remembers the time she got buried in a pyramid with Bernard by her jealous Egyptian husband, and had to make a bomb and blow herself up to open a hole and save her beloved terrorist. They both ended up deaf. By the first quarter of the twenty second century, the vegetarian princess will have eaten the jungle.

My story and characters are taken from and inspired by:
Tom Robbins- Still life with Woodpecker*
Samuel Taylor Coleridge- The rime of the ancient Mariner
Ettore Scola- Brutti, Sporchi e Cattivi (Ugly, Filthy and Mean)**
Pier Paolo Pasolini- Uccellacci e Uccellini***
Michel Gondry- The science of sleep

*more specifically: the characters of Leigh-Cheri and Bernard, the fact that they were trapped in a pyramid by her husband and she had to blow it up, the fact that she wanted to follow her love to the ends of the earth, the cardboard sea and one or two more ideas are taken from this novel. Also, the book adresses the issue of "how to make love stay". Robbins says that the answer is: "through mystery".

**this film tells the story of a family that lives in a very poor shanty town in the periphery of Rome.

***Pasolini says for this film: Hawks and Sparrows was my movie that I loved and I love more, first of all because it is "the poorest and the most beautiful". One of the three main characters in this film is a raven, an intellectual of the left before the death of Palmiro Togliatti.

Also: I am not vegetarian.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


Someone asked today how you comment on posts. A very good question, as we need more comments!
Click "X comments" just below the post and you get to type in what you feel like sharing.
I have changed the colour of the background slightly to make the camouflaged yellow a bit easier to see.

AA Friday

Press button.

Monday, 24 October 2011

The bird and the story

These are some "I've pushed the levels too much in photoshop" pictures of my model.. I will hopefully manage to animate it (greenscreen it etc..) by tomorrow evening and start building its environment. The story around it will be a continuation of the story "Still life with Woodpecker" by Tom Robbins. It's a fairytale (some call it postmodern, i think it's contemporary always..) about a vegetarian liberal redhead princess that falls in love with a terrorist inside a packet of Camel cigarettes. The quotes that follow are picked from Wikipedia (as my book is in greece and in greek and can't reach it at the moment..) The bold words are the ones i like best and i'll link to the project.

Quotes from “Still life with Woodpecker”

  • I sense that the novel of my dreams is in the Remington SL3 - although it writes much faster than I can spell.
  • This baby (the Remington SL3 typewriter) speaks electric Shakespeare at the slightest provocation and will rap out a page and a half if you just look at it hard.
  • There is a similarity between juggling and composing on the typewriter. The trick is, when you spill something, make it look like a part of the act.
  • Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.
  • Her surname resembled a line from an optometrist's examination chart.
  • Society had a crime problem. It hired cops to attack crime. Now society has a cop problem.
  • They'd be no threat to me. I have a black belt in Haiku. And a black vest in the cleaners.
  • There are essential and inessential insanities. The latter are solar in character, the former are linked to the moon.
  • Sharks are the criminals of the sea. Dolphins are the outlaws.
  • She lunched on papaya poo poo or mango mu mu or some other fruity foo foo bursting with overripe tropican vowels.
  • There are two kinds of people in this world : those who believe there are two kinds of people in this world and those who are smart enough to know better.
  • He looked at her with that kind of painted-on seriousness that comedians shift into when they get their chance to play Hamlet.
  • The man and woman firmly shook hands. The solution to the overpopulation problem might rest in such handshakes.
  • If you're honest, you sooner or later have to confront your values. Then you're forced to separate what is right from what is merely legal. This puts you metaphysically on the run. America is full of metaphysical outlaws.
  • Something has got to hold it together. I'm saying my prayers to Elmer, the Greek god of glue.
  • "I'll follow him to the ends of the earth," she sobbed. Yes, darling. But the earth doesn't have any ends. Columbus fixed that.
  • Any half-awake materialist well knows - that which you hold holds you.
  • Funny how we think of romance as always involving two, when the romance of solitude can be ever so much more delicious and intense.
  • It's never too late to have a happy childhood.
  • Albert Camus wrote that the only serious question is whether to kill yourself or not. Tom Robbins wrote that the only serious question is whether time has a beginning and an end. Camus clearly got up on the wrong side of bed, and Robbins must have forgotten to set the alarm.
  • If you believe in peace, act peacefully; if you believe in love, acting lovingly; if you believe every which way, then act every which way, that's perfectly valid— but don't go out trying to sell your beliefs to the system. You end up contradicting what you profess to believe in, and you set a bum example. If you want to change the world, change yourself.
  • "It's only a paper moon/Sailing over a cardboard sea." The moon can't help it if the best toys are made of paper.

Friday, 21 October 2011

The Phallus: Sacred Symbol of Male Creative Power

Anders and Gabriel, found the book we were discussing, a very interesting history of the phallus.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Unit 12 now in English!

I was not aware that everything was written in Norwegian for everyone.
But it has been changed now. And while I was at it I changed the time zone from somewhere in the Pacific with +11 to standard GMT.


Friday, 14 October 2011

Ferhan Mimar and the cyborg Grandmothers

In the Summer of 1924, the turkish war of independence for the formation of the Republic of Turkey was finally over. The President and founder of the Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, had just transferred the ownership of the Dolmabahçe Palace to the turkish state, transforming it from the house of a Sultan, to a symbol of the urge of Turkey to synchronize itself with a modern identity. Apart from some of the most important state works being enacted in Dolmabahçe, Ataturk also used it as a place of residence during the summer, where cultural events took place next to the Portals that fenced the limits of power and opened up to Bosporus and light. Five years later, on July 6th 1929, a theatrical piece exalting Ataturk's achievements would take place in front of the Dolmabahçe Portals. The “ulusal tiyatro” (national theatre) administration would for the first time allow young student actors to perform in such a public event, viewed by the wide and complex audience of Istanbul, including socialists, liberals, fascist nationalists, Islamic extremists, Islamic moderates, the military, the secret service and the police. Talik Mimar, was a famous architect and poet of the time, realising the “Republican's People Party” aspirations for a “Westernised Turkey”. In his essay “Ideoloji Ve Cultur” (Ideology And Culture) that was finally published in Ankara in 1952, he writes: "I am about to direct a play at Dolmabahçe this July. My young actors seem to be the only tool for a different future of my architecture. I will give them a white cloth to cover Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassicism and other kinds of powers. I'll tell them to wave the fabric and reveal it's mass in fragments of wind, turning the building into an ephemeral monument. The cloth will fall on people's heads, covering them all from the safety valve of their God. Shoes made out of steel will be tapping on a wooden floor around the public, which will make them frustrated and anxious, thinking that another earthquake is coming! They will tear the cloth apart and pull their heads out to look towards the sea. There will be no authority in front of their eyes, only the sound of explosions around Istanbul. As Bakunin said quite recently: “The liberty of man consists solely in this, that he obeys the laws of nature because he has himself recognized them as such, and not because they have been imposed upon him externally by any foreign will whatsoever, human or divine, collective or individual.” A woman's voice will show the Portal to Bosporus. Everyone will be relieved to see it once again standing more broken than ever. A real monument. I have to make plans for this play. I have to draw the scaffolding around the Palace, the wooden floor and the stairs. Or maybe not, i'll put a ramp, the sun will be disabled tomorrow.” Talik Mimar put up this play on July 6th 1929. He only managed to cover the front elevation of Dolmabahçe Palace because of the limited budget. The young actors got the idea of performing away from religion and politics, but the white cloth got torn from the wind before falling on peoples heads. Instead of performing as a soft symbol, it revealed Dolmabahçe Palace more powerful than ever. The explosions took place in ruins scattered around the city, no one ever found the exact spots. The audience finally turned their eyes to look at the sea and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk clapped his hands.

In 2030, generations later, Talik Mimar, architect and poet known for his writings in “Ideoloji Ve Cultur” (Ideology And Culture published in 1952) and recognised as the first anarchist ever lived in Istanbul, has created in his absence a new plan for the Dolmabahce Palace. His grandson Ferhan Mimar, also an architect and a cyborg model “Forest_189”, has formed a group called “The Gateway” aiming to reorganise the plan of the city of Istanbul for the formation of communities that will host the people and cyborgs that lost their houses in the earthquake of 2020. Seeing the Palace as a symbol of power that needs to become softer, Ferhan Mimar lives and works with ten cyborg grandmothers in his laboratory built on one of the Palace's Portals that look towards Bosporus. The site to build his house and laboratory was given to him from the government under the condition of him having to design and make a bicycle and ten thousand cookies per week, that would be donated to the Dolmabahce gardens, helping the system for tourism. Ferhan and his group of cyborgs, behind the curtain of bicycles and cookies, are forming a new community, the first of their urban plan, expanding in the foundations of the Palace and under the sea.

Le Corbusier; Marseilles (France) Unite d'Habitation 1948-54

One of the buildings Le Corbusier enters most convincingly into the great and true tradition of architecture as he understands it. Close up of the balconies and brise-soleil.

('New Brutalism Ethic or Aesthetic' Reyner Banham 1966

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Taq-i Kisra, Ctesiphon, Iraq

The only visible remaining structure of the ancient city of Ctesiphon, Iraq.

Arthur Ganson


Penitence in a Secular Society

The True Story of Saint Daniel Stylite of Constantinople

Constructing Stories

The Temple of Seasons

When Constantine consecrated the new Roman capital, Constantinople, on the 11th May 330 AD, 6
years of hectic construction had occurred, but it was not only new buildings that started appearing.
In fact, many of the new monuments and buildings were moved or copied from other parts of
the Roman Empire, for example: the Milion, the Curia, the Chalke and the new Golden Gate in the
Theodisian Wall.
    One of the city's old monuments that was demolished to make way for the new, was the
Temple of Seasons – Naos ton Epochonhad. It had the appearance of a park, or rather, it contained
a park and was in turn contained by one. Along the edge of the monument was a wall to separate
the inner park from the surrounding one. This edge of the monument was a path, which could be
seen as the monument itself – the object was the edge that defined it.
    Prof. Alan K. Bowman, at the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents, has studied Herodotus'
‘The Histories’ at length, together with other texts describing the old city of Byzantine. He
claims its location, most likely, is where the Grand Bazaar is situated today.
    Walking along the monument you would encounter four humble temples, describing the
four seasons, and in between these temples the wall and path shifted – turning from line to place.
Winter was situated, according to Herodotus' ‘The Histories’, at the northernmost point. The layout
of the other temples followed the movement of the sun – spring placed to the east, summer
resting in the southern part, leaving to autumn the view of the sunset.


In Hagia Sofia you can still see a thousand year old
inscription reading “Halvdan carved these runes”.
Halvdan was a warrior in the Varangian Guard, a
Scandinavian regiment of bodyguards for the Byzantine
Emperor and served under the regiments captain,
Harold Hardrada.
    Harold Hardrada died, as you all know, in the
battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066, but his journey
towards this end started when he was 15 and witnessed
his half brother being cut down and killed in a battle
for the Norwegian crown. The exiled Harold travelled
eastwards, through Gardarriket, modern day Russia,
and then south to Miklagard, also known as Istanbul,
Constantinople or Byzantine.
    During his service for the Emperor in the
Varangian Guard, he quickly rose to the title of Akolouthos,
leader of the guard, and fought in more than 18
major campaigns, from Sicily to Northern Africa, all in
all capturing over 80 cities for the Emperor. The Guard
was, under his leadership, renowned for their battle
prowess (“the brutal nobles”), excessive drinking
habits (“the wine kegs of the emperor”) and loyalty,
but this loyalty was only towards the living and each
time an emperor was killed the Guard would loot the
palace for all its treasure. This happened three times
and might have been the reason why Empress Zoë
Porfyrogenita arrested Harold, although the legend
also say that the Empress was an overly jealous person,
and Harold had fallen for her sister.
    He managed, however, to escape and on a ship
laden with treasures and navigated by his most loyal
men, he sailed across the Mediterranean Sea, passed
the Gibraltar, and was finally, after 13 years away, on
his way home.
    When he made landfall on the shores of Norway,
he was most likely, with all his Mediterranean
treasure and battle experience, the wealthiest and
most powerful man in the country. He managed to
conquered the Norwegian throne, but after spending a
lifetime re-enacting the memories of battles, settling
down was not part of his plan, and with the last of his
spoils he rounded up 300 ships for the invasion of
England, where his final re-enactment was crowned
with success.