Thursday, November 10, 2011

There's no 'there', there: LA films LA

There's no 'there', there: LA films LA
Wed, Nov. 16th

Goethe Institut LA
5750 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 525-3388

7 - 9 pm

Big City Forum presents a film screening curated by Saskia Wilson-Brown, Founder and co-director of Cinema Speakeasy. The evening will feature short films that examine what LA means to those that inhabit it, in a program and discussion about our public urban identity. We will be screening pieces that capture the complexity and reality of living in our de-centralized - yet mythical - metropolis.

Before you moved here, and you thought of Los Angeles, what came to mind? Hollywood? Getty Center? Strip malls and traffic? Urban sprawl? Hardened cops? Gang warfare? Chicks in bikinis filing their nails under towering palm trees?

LA is the constantly shifting metropolis constructed entirely for mass consumption by fantastical and fevered minds with nary a glance at the rich complexity roiling beneath its shimmering skin. From gritty downtown cop dramas to technicolor Hollywood fantasies, it has been omnipresent in American celluloid, but rarely truly captured. It is, in short, the most filmed yet least understood megalopolis in modern American history.

Filmmakers will be on hand for a post-screening discussion about their sense of place, moderated by Saskia Wilson-Brown and Big City Forum.


Part 1: LA Isn't a Real City, It Just Plays One on Camera (Observations)
'I Hate LA' by Suzy Barrett (TRT 2.5 min)
'Los Angeles: A Love Poem' by Dylan King (TRT 2.25 min)
'Not West of Western' by Clay Dean (TRT 13.5 min)

Part 2: Interlude (Moments)
'Javelin @ Bob Baker Marionette Theatre' by Alex Pelly, Dublab (TRT. 10 min)
'Mall Mania' by Joel Fletcher (TRT 4.5 min)
'Intolerance' by Lisa Marr and Paolo Davanzo (TRT 2.25 min)

Part 3: A Manufactured Narrative (Stories)
'Untitled (Perlman Place)' by Vera Brunner-Sung (TRT 1 min)
'Dos, Por Favor' by Fabian Euresti (TRT 15 min)
And a special surprise by Austin Young (TRT 10 min)

Saskia Wilson-Brown is an independent film advocate, curator and artist. On the art side, she is currently collaborating with designer Micah Hahn under the nom-de-plume à deux 'Mr. and Mrs. Hahn'. She is also the founder of Cinema Speakeasy, a regular film screening series that showcases independent films and arts in Los Angeles and San Francisco. She runs Cinema Speakeasy with her colleague Georgi Goldman, out of LA (with independent events in San Francisco, and now Palm Springs!)

Big City Forum is an interdisciplinary project that facilitates the exchange of ideas through gatherings, symposiums, exhibitions, and special events that provide access to forward-thinking creative projects. As an incubator of ideas Big City Forum promotes the arts and imagination as powerful tools for community and civic transformation. In addition it seeks new ways to map and understand what creative acts of imagination mean to people and places. By bringing together creative visionaries and community/civic leaders, Big City Forum aims to build a platform for collaboration and partnerships that promote a more active sense of cultural vitality and engagement.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

X Ten Biennial

"Who are your top ten favorite artists of all time – and why?"

A cross of sorts between a Desert Island Discs list and a PechaKucha, X Ten Biennial is a live happening where ten creative visionaries will each have ten minutes to present their lists of ten.

How each participating artist, writer, designer, architect and curator chooses to spend those ten minutes is up to him or her.

Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011 from 7-9pm
ARTBOOK @ Paper Chase
7174 West Sunset Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 90046

The scheduled participants:

Jane Brown
York Chang
Tierney Gearon
Bill Kelley Jr.
Ana Llorente
Joshua Machat
Holly Myers
Steffie Nelson
Claudia Parducci
Yosi Sergant

X Ten Biennial is collaboration between Big City Forum (founder: Leonardo Bravo), writer Jeremy Rosenberg, and the participants and audience members.

"X Ten Biennial provides a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the culture makers of our time, to understand what motivates them, inspires and drives them to impact the world around them,"

"X Ten Biennial is the ideal platform for participants to engage with creative visionaries in meaningful ways and connect this to an active sense of social and personal transformation."

Leonardo Bravo

RSVPs are required and will be accepted until venue capacity is reached at or via the Big City Forum Facebook page.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Big City Forum: Edgar Orlaineta - Solar Nothing

Charles and Ray Eames, Solar Do-Nothing Toy (1958)

Big City Forum in conjunction with Steve Turner Contemporary presents a panel focusing on the myth and impact of Southern California Design.

Edgar Orlaineta
Solar Nothing

Monday, Oct. 3rd
7 – 9 pm

Steve Turner Contemporary
6026 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036 (across from BCAM at LACMA)

Please join us for a lively conversation focused around the solo exhibition Solar Nothing by Mexico City-based artist Edgar Orlaineta that uses Charles Eames Solar Do-Nothing Toy (1958) as a starting place to comment on issues related to diminishing resources, activating history, and modern design as related to aesthetic and social values. Alongside Orlaineta the panel will include architect John Southern, design and architecture writer Sam Lubell, and LA based artist Bari Ziperstein. The conversation will be moderated by Marissa Gluck from Design East of La Brea (DeLab) and further explore ideas around California design and how this has become a currency to convey a myth or sense about LA history.

Sam Lubell
Edgar Orlaineta
John Southern
Bari Ziperstein

Moderated by:
Marissa Gluck

Marissa Gluck As co-founder and managing partner at media research firm, Radar Research, Marissa Gluck is a writer, speaker and consultant covering the marketing and media industries. Marissa became interested in Los Angeles' architecture as she was completing her master's thesis for The London School of Economics and USC. Thus began a love affair with LA's buildings, sushi and sun. In her spare time, Marissa writes about LA real estate, architecture and urban planning for Angeleno, The Architect's Newspaper, and LA mag, volunteers as a docent for the Schindler House in West Hollywood, and chases after late night taco trucks. Follow her at @marissagluck

Sam Lubell is the West Coast Editor of the Architect’s Newspaper. He has written four books about architecture: Paris 2000+ (Monacelli Press), London 2000+ (Monacelli Press), Living West (Monacelli Press) and Julius Shulman Los Angeles: The Birth of a Modern Metropolis (Rizzoli). He has written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine, Architectural Record, Architect Magazine, Angeleno, Travel+Leisure, New York Magazine and other publications. He studied Architectural History at Brown University.

Edgar Orlaineta Born in Mexico City in 1972, Edgar Orlaineta received an MFA from Pratt Institute, New York (2004) and a BFA from Escuela Nacional de Pintura y Grabado, Mexico City (1998). He has had solo exhibitions at the Casa Estudio Luis Barragan, Mexico City; Galería de Arte Mexicano, Mexico City and Sara Meltzer Gallery, New York.

John Southern is principal of the Los Angeles architecture firm, Urban Operations. The office specializes in design/build projects, installations, and research endeavors which seek to expand critical discourse within the design profession. Urban Operations has extensive experience in collaboration and focuses on a variety of practical topics and conceptual avenues within contemporary culture. The firm’s work has appeared in galleries and publications in both Europe and the United States. Recent projects include a pocket park designed and built for the Los Angeles neighborhood of Silver Lake, an experimental hillside home affectionately called DONUT, as well as a pair of CNC-fabricated formwork pieces entitled Diamond Dogs. The firm has also just released its 4th pamphlet on the American skyscraper entitled “Wilshire Starmaps”, through its research division,

John holds a Masters of Architecture from the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles (SCI-Arc). He is a Professor of Practice at Woodbury University in Burbank, California where he teaches both design studio and theory courses. As a journalist John has written for, Loudpaper, MONU, Junkjet, and Form Magazine- publications specializing in the field of urbanism and design. He is the editor for, an ever expanding archive of cultural criticism, documenting metropolitan life in Los Angeles and beyond.

Bari Ziperstein's work explores America’s perverse love of excess and desire to collect through inventive site-specific sculptural tableau. Utilizing a collage aesthetic, her artistic practice draws attention to the way various built environments, ranging from architectural to consumer-oriented constructions, relate to desire and aspiration. A selection of recent solo shows includes Santa Monica Museum of Art (2010); Las Cienegas Projects, Los Angeles (2010); Project Space, Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art at Chaffey College(2010); See Line Gallery, Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles (2009); and (This Isn’t Happening) Popular Hallucinations For Your Home, Bank, Los Angeles (2007). Her exhibitions have been reviewed in publications including: The Los Angeles Times, Flash Art, X-TRA, Los Angeles Weekly, Artnet, and Art Papers. Ziperstein holds an MFA from CalArts and double majored at Ohio University to receive a BFA in painting and a Women’s Studies Degree.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Big City Portrait: Bjarke Ingels

Bjarke Ingels, Too BIG to Fail
BIG founder talks with AN's Sam Lubell, published in conjunction with the Architects Newspaper

You’ve certainly catapulted into elite status. You’re the man of the hour here. How do you see this recognition?

I think moving to New York and opening an office there has given us more presence on this side of the Atlantic. It’s amazing how big a divide the Atlantic is in terms of architecture. In Europe it’s shocking how little you know about American architecture except maybe the Case Study Houses and the work of a select few like Frank Gehry. I think the same divide goes the other way. Being here now and starting to do stuff in the Americas has probably created a little more attention.

You describe your work as pragmatic utopian architecture. A combination of sculptural forms with practicality.

One of our latest ideological pursuits is the notion of hedonistic sustainability. What if sustainability actually becomes a way of increasing life quality? For example, in our waste to energy plant in Copenhagen we’re using the sheer mass of a power plant to explore the fact that Copenhagen doesn’t have the topography for skiing. By installing an elevator we can create a man-made ski slope and save people the eight-hour bus ride to Sweden. It’s a decent hill, 350 meters tall, so you can actually do some serious skiing there. Factories aren’t just places for work. They actually turn trash into electricity and can serve as a giant park.

A lot of people hope sustainable architecture will evolve and be more inspired. Do you think what you’re doing is the next evolution of sustainable architecture?

For quite a while the notion was that sustainability was so important that it had to happen at the expense of everything else—this Protestant idea that it has to hurt to do good. If everybody gets the idea that sustainable life is less fun than normal life then it becomes a very undesirable proposition. Who wants to opt for something less nice?

You have these formal plans that are very practical. In this day when everything moves so fast and attention spans are so short how do you fight the urge to focus too much on form?

I think the level of sobriety in our work is that we’re committed to the fact that our buildings look differently because they perform differently. It’s the spark that triggers the design. They respond to completely different conditions, they answer completely different questions, they solve different problems and they exploit different potentials. The architecture is less an expression of our preconception than it is an expression of the specific qualities or ideas that that project is pursuing. The Figure 8 building in Copenhagen looks like a distorted 8 because it allows the townhouses and the apartments to gravitate toward the sun and the view. It allows the commercial spaces to be as deep as they want to be. As a result you wind up getting this path that lets you bicycle all the way to the top of the building. The distorted skew of the building is not a result of some sort of craziness. It’s a result of some very practical optimizations of the conditions for each program and the facilitation of this public invasion.

Some people complain that there’s now a global style divorced from its region. Do you think that’s a bad thing? Or do you think it’s more important to respond to the immediate site?

I think both are important. Each project needs to understand its climatic context, its cultural context, its urban context, its infrastructural context. A lot of our early work was dealing with the culture and the conditions of Copenhagen. As a result it’s a series of projects that try to develop the local typologies one step further. Now that we’re doing projects in Shanghai and Shenzen and Astana and Athens and Hamburg and Stockholm and New York and Vancouver and maybe in LA, we’re having some interesting conversations. Each time it’s an opportunity to understand the possibilities and the limitations of the specific urban typologies and of the local lifestyle and culture.

A lot of architectural discourse is run in academia. Sometimes it can be removed from the constraints and realities of everyday life. Do you think academia can have too large a role in the discourse of architecture?

I think when academia is too removed from the actual conditions that architecture faces, it loses its role. I think the interesting thing is of course the overlap (between academia and practice). Essentially I’m always trying to use academia as a way of, at a slower pace, pursuing ideas that interest our office in general.

Who have been your biggest influences?

An incredible amount of architects have been very inspirational. Right now I’m reading Buckminster Fuller’s Oblivion. And Le Corbusier’s Towards a New Architecture. A major part of the book is talking about building closets and stuff like that; it’s so down and dirty pragmatic. It’s got a blatant proposition of: don’t look at all these different elements of art history and architectural history; look at organizing the practicalities of human life. Look at the movements of the housewife through the kitchen and use that as the driving point of your design. Which back then must have seemed ridiculously profane.

In the U.S. a lot of architecture is driven by developers. Do you have thoughts on how architects can return to prominence in terms of getting their role back as the leaders in building?

By addressing issues that actually matter to people in general. By actually making sense. I think essentially the idea of the starchitect as the creative genius that makes weird and impossible and spectacular stuff has been good in the sense of creating a popular appeal for architecture. Projects like the Guggenheim Bilbao and Walt Disney Concert Hall have really achieved that. And I think the good thing about the star system is it makes people attracted to something at first because of something maybe superficial, but eventually they’ll develop a more profound interest. It’s probably been not so constructive in the sense that it created the idea that architects are people you call if you have an absurd amount of money and you want a lot of attention. You can actually create some kind of crazy icon that is technically difficult and expensive to realize, but it will put your city and its new icon on the cover of the international media. But you wouldn’t really call an architect if you wanted to solve a problem. I think [it’s about] reacquiring that trust to be somebody who can actually turn all the real concerns and demands of people into interesting propositions for future cities and buildings.

Your firm has built a lot of work recently. But with the amount of notoriety you’ve received and the scope of commissions you’re now receiving, there may be questions about your ability to match your current recognition with accomplishments. Are you worried about being what some called Zaha and Rem before they started building a lot—the so-called “paper architects?”

We started building quite early. Our first building commission was the VM House, a 250,000-square-foot apartment building that we got through the luck of running into a developer who actually had the courage to give us this commission based on the trust that we developed in the design process. This was at a point when we had not even built a dog house.

We’ve been very committed to real world issues and building from day one. We never did wonderful and impossible oil paintings. I think in that sense the project always starts with the performance of the building, and then it explores “what experience does the performance generate?”

For some the greatest innovation in architecture is being able to bridge disciplines—visual arts, sciences, new media, technology— and new ways of thinking. It seems like that’s something you’ve been able to exploit, the multi-disciplinary approach.

I think the fact that given architects never build for themselves but for everybody else, we always need to—in the design process—plug in intelligence from these different professions. Architecture gets informed by the various specialists who actually have the requirements that we need to incorporate into the architecture. We need to somehow be able to communicate these ideas to the outside world. If you can’t relay your ideas to the clients, to the consultants, to the city architects, to the politicians, to the neighbors, to the community board, it will never get built. In that sense you really need to exercise a discipline that allows you to transmit ideas across the boundaries of professions.

I read you didn’t always want to be an architect? So you have sort of an outside perspective.

My family is completely devoid of architects. I wanted to be a graphic novelist originally. I enrolled in the Royal Danish Art Academy. The Architecture school was the easiest one to get in. Then I had a plan that once I hatched out how to do it, I would return to my original trajectory of becoming a graphic novelist. Then I sort of got sidetracked for 15 years. Then with the publication of Yes Is More we found a way back into graphic novels, just a different kind than originally envisioned.

You came out of Rem’s office. Are there any areas that you strongly part ways with him in outlook?

Obviously I learned a lot there. I think he’s a great writer and architect. He is evidently the Le Corbusier of our times. I think we have a radically different atmosphere in the [BIG] office. I think the social conditions are quite different and probably more Scandinavian at BIG.

My reading of Rem’s work is probably different than everybody else. But often people see something dark and cynical in OMA’s work. Whereas our work is never really ironic. It is this idea of turning pleasing into a radical agenda. Having this sunny social and environmental outlook on things. Instead of having a discourse that is negatively driven having one that is positive. I like the Schopenhauer quote that you can do what you want, but you cannot want what you want. Each project has a propensity to become something, and if you try to force it into becoming something else you’ll ruin its potential. And it’s the same way with an architectural practice. We couldn’t really choose to be anything other than what we are.

Do you have any dream projects?

Right now I’d love to do something in LA. We’re actually having two interesting conversations here right now. What I’m interested in is the fact that the climate here is the climate in the world that is most suited for human life. It is the climate in the world where you actually have the least need for buildings in order to live. So therefore it holds an incredible potential for a radical approach to sustainability, because you hardly need the building.

Interview by Sam Lubell
Photographs by Anais Wade

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Big City Forum: Writers Edition

Big City Forum in conjunction with LAAA/Gallery 825 present an evening about the written word. Join a group of LA's most talented up and coming authors as they explore the ways in which fiction shapes our thinking about personal and collective narratives.

Los Angeles Art Association
Gallery 825

825 N. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90069

Wed., May 18th
7 – 9 pm


Harold Abramowitz is a writer and editor from Los Angeles. His books and chapbooks include Not Blessed (Les Figues Press, 2010), A House on a Hill - Part Three (Slash Pine Press, 2010), A House on a Hill - Part One ( Insert Press, 2010), and Dear Dearly Departed (Palm Press, 2008),  Harold co-edits the short-form literary press eohippus labs (, and co-curates the occasional experimental cabaret event series, Late Night Snack (  He also writes and edits as part of the collaborative projects, SAM OR SAMANTHA YAMS and UNFO.

Grace Krilanovich's debut novel The Orange Eats Creeps, published by Two Dollar Radio, was a finalist for the Starcherone Prize and the Believer Book Award. The novel, called "Bizarrely charming" by Newsday, "Beautiful and deranged" by Bookforum, and "One of 2010's small-press triumphs" by The Week, made year-end lists at NPR, BlackBook, Largehearted Boy and Shelf Unbound Magazine, in addition to being named one of Amazon's Top Ten Science Fiction/Fantasy Books of 2010. Grace is a MacDowell Colony fellow and was a National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" honoree for 2010. 

Margaret Wappler
is an arts and culture staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, and is finishing a novel that explores environmentalism, the suburban landscape, and alien spaceships.

Lauren Strasnick is a graduate of Emerson College and the California Institute of the Arts MFA Writing Program. Her debut novel, NOTHING LIKE YOU (Simon Pulse/S&S, 2009), was an RWA RITA award finalist in two categories, Best First Book and YA Romance.  Her second novel, HER AND ME AND YOU (Simon Pulse/S&S in October 2010), will be out in paperback this July.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Design/Social Action/Change

Touch "Uniendo Puntos" installation

TOUCH showroom

Aguiniga installation at CAFAM

Tanya Aguiniga

Big City Forum in conjunction with Marine presents Design/Social Action/Change. You are invited to an intimate conversation with a leading contemporary designer, Tanya Aguiniga, and a curator and product developer, Zoe Melo, as they share their work using design as a transformative tool for social, community, and personal interconnectedness.

Thursday, April 28
7 - 9 pm

A Contemporary Art Salon
716 Marine Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405


Tanya Aguiñiga (b. 1978) is a Los Angeles based furniture designer and artist who was raised in Tijuana, Mexico. She holds an MFA in furniture design from Rhode Island School of Design, and is a current faculty member at Otis College of Art and Design. She created various collaborative installations with the Border Arts Workshop, an artists' group that engages the languages of activism and community-based public art. She recently founded the group, Artists Helping Artisans, through which she helps spread knowledge of craft by collaborating with traditional artisans. Her work has been exhibited from Mexico City to Milan and she was named a United States Artists Target Fellow in the field of Crafts and Traditional Arts.

Zoë Melo is a co-founder of TOUCH, a brand that develops, markets and promotes social and sustainable design projects. She also consults designers and brands on a variety of projects worldwide. Over her career, Zoë has collaborated with some of the most talented and renowned designers, photographers and art directors in fashion, art and product design. Her work has received worldwide attention and media coverage. In 2008 Dwell recognized Zoë as a Nice Modernist for her work in social and sustainable design. She has organized and curated important design events and exhibits, such as Inter-Connected, a showcase of Portuguese and Brazilian design during New York Design Week in 2010. She also co-curated "Uniendo Puntos" during Valencia Design Week, showcasing designers and products from Latin America held in the fall of 2010. She was a featured speaker at TEDx Amazonia in November of 2010. Recently she has been implementing the operations of TOUCH in Brazil.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Big City Forum: Detroit - Brooklyn - Los Angeles

Big City Forum in conjunction with SUPERFRONT LA presents an architecture panel in response to the exhibition DETROIT: A BROOKLYN CASE STUDY.

This event is an opportunity to expand upon the themes of the DETROIT: A BROOKLYN CASE STUDY exhibit with a dynamic group of LA-based architects and theorists. This engaging conversation will ask participants to consider Los Angeles as an additional set of circumstances in which the ideas ...of post-industrial transformation, the shrinking city, and other terms of the DETROIT: A BROOKLYN CASE STUDY exhibit can be understood.

Saturday, March 26th, 2011
1 - 3 pm

Pacific Design Center # 208

8687 Melrose Avenue | West Hollywood, CA | 90069

Featured Presenters:

DANA BAUER has recently launched a design practice based in Los Angeles, groundup LLC. Current projects span domestic and urban realms and include a new residence in the Hollywood Hills and the re-imagining of a Los Angeles strip mall for a start up design community. Her prior experience includes award winning work at Michael Maltzan Architecture in Los Angeles on such projects as MoMa QNS, the UCLA Hammer Museum and Kidspace Children’s Museum. At Gensler, in New York, her work for HBO and ESPN received numerous accolades. In addition to her 12 years practicing and teaching architecture, she has professional experience in set and costume design, fashion and photography. Working between design disciplines has enabled her to explore concepts across diverse venues and a wide range of audiences. By exposing unlikely and underlying socio-cultural mechanisms, her work proposes ways in which urban and social solutions may be represented, communicated and implemented.

DAVID FREELAND is principal of FreelandBuck in Los Angeles and adjunct faculty at Woodbury University. With over 10 years of experience in architecture, he has worked on award winning projects with a number of offices in New York and Los Angeles including Michael Maltzan Architecture, Roger Sherman Architecture and Urban Design, RES4, AGPS, and Eisenman Architects. He is a graduate of University of Virginia and the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design.

ALI JEEVANJEE has a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Cornell University and a Master of Architecture degree from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. Ali has taught architecture at Cal Poly Pomona and at USC, and is also serving on the editorial team of the internationally recognized website Archinect.

Prior to founding LOC with Poonam Sharma, Ali worked in the office of Frank O. Gehry where he worked on The Art of the Motorcycle exhibit, on which he worked closely with the Guggenheim Museum, and the Vincor Winery in Ontario, Canada. Prior to this, Ali gained extensive experience with the Los Angeles office of Ellerbe Becket, where he worked on several large-scale sports and entertainment projects. He also worked very closely with landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson on the bridge and garden terrace at South Coast Plaza. Prior to which he was a studio assistant to Venice based artist Laddie Dill.

KAREN LOHRMANN is a Los Angeles based urbanist, artist, educator and researcher. Previously located in Berlin, she initiated Lorma Marti focusing on studies of spaces, cultural manifestations and resultant landscapes, together with Stefano de Martino in 2002. Their work is published and exhibited internationally, most recent books are Update: All Possible Worlds (2008), How we spent it (2009) and Waiting Land (forthcoming 2011). She is co-editor of Clear Skies with Patches of Grey (2003) and the periodical Correspondents (since 2009). With a focus on urban studies and related scenography, she places her work at the crossroads of disciplines, from site to non-site. Educated at Aachen University, ETH and University of the Arts Zurich, she graduated from the TU Berlin School of Architecture, Urbanism and Society.

Currently on the faculty at UCLA she teaches the Suprastudio Culture Now - The Contemporary American Condition, together with Thom Mayne. She has been a visiting professor at the University of Innsbruck (2003-2010) focusing on environments, landscape, urban and cultural studies and an assistant professor at the Institute of Architecture and Urbanism TU Berlin (1998-2003).

is an architect and founder of Zago Architecture in Detroit and Los Angeles. He is design faculty at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, has taught at UCLA, the Ohio State University, Cornell University and the City College of New York.

Moderated by:
Mitch McEwen/Chloe Bass

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Making a Case for the Book in the Digital Age

“The book has a bulk, a weight, a set of textures, a physical signature, and even a smell, in addition to the extraordinary elasticity and expressiveness of its typographic imagery and layout…”
—Rick Poynor, Print Magazine

In conjunction with D.A.P. I ARTBOOK and Paper Chase Printing, Big City Forum presents:

Making a Case for the Book in the Digital Age

Wednesday, March 2nd, 7-9 pm

ARTBOOK @ Paper Chase

Please join us for a lively conversation with David Ulin, book critic for the Los Angeles Times and author of The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Are So Important in a Distracted Time; Lisa Pearson, publisher of Siglio Press, and Lorraine Wild, renowned book designer and founder of Green Dragon Office.

All three presenters advocate for the primacy of the physical book, even as contemporary culture continues to charge towards an ever-changing constellation of digital media. Ulin, Pearson and Wild will discuss books as physical artifacts, and the inherent qualities that cannot be replicated in other media.

D.A.P. I ARTBOOK is located in the Paper Chase Printing Building,
7174 West Sunset Blvd, on the corner of Sunset and Formosa, Hollywood.
Phone: (323) 969-8985

David Ulin is the book critic for the Los Angeles Times. His new book, The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Are So Important in a Distracted Time, explores the particular importance of literature today, blending commentary with memoir, and addressing the significance of the simple act of reading in an increasingly digital culture. Previous books include The Myth of Solid Ground: Earthquakes, Prediction, and the Fault Line Between Reason and Faith and the anthologies Another City: Writing from Los Angeles and Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology. Ulin has written for The Atlantic Monthly, The Nation, The New York Times Book Review, LA Weekly, Los Angeles, and NPR’s All Things Considered. He is a professor in USC's Masters of Professional Writing program.

Lisa Pearson is the founding editor of Siglio Press, an independent Los Angeles publisher dedicated to books that live at the intersections of art and literature. Artists and writers on the Siglio list include Joe Brainard, Danielle Dutton, Robert Seydel, Nancy Spero, Keith Waldrop and Denis Wood. According to a recent review by Ulin, “At a garage studio in Eagle Rock, Lisa Pearson is publishing books with the skill of a craftsman, framing the printed word as a work of art. Her books' physicality is part of their function; they are meant to be held as well as read. "

Lorraine Wild
is an award-winning graphic designer and the founder of the influential graphic design firm, Green Dragon Office. She is the cofounder of both Foggy Notion Books and Greybull Press. Wild helped form Cal Arts' renowned graphic design program nearly three decades ago, and has remained on the faculty since 1985. She has designed monographs and exhibition catalogs on Richard Prince, Mike Kelley, Gabriel Orozco, Mies van der Rohe Daniel Libeskind, Semina Culture and WACK! among many others. She has received awards from the ACD, AIGA and I.D., and has also been a recipient of the Chrysler Award for Innovation in Design. Her publication designs were the subject of exhibitions at SFMOMA, and the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Big City Portrait #3: Benjamin Ball & Gaston Nogues

Ball-Nogues Studio
interview and images by Anais Wade

What has influenced your work personally and historically?

Gaston: the process of making has always interested me, so understanding the a to z steps required to go from concept to reality have always been important to me, it gives you the freedom to ask the question “what if?”

Environments fascinate me. Since childhood, I’ve spent a lot of time wandering and observing places. I make a kind of mental inventory of what I see.

What are the advantages and challenges of working together?

Gaston: Well, the most obvious advantage is that we can be in more places at the same time because there are two of us and as such we can get more work done, the challenge then for us is more about communication than anything else...we usually don't disagree about color or form since the work is not just about those types of endeavors.
Benjamin: It’s a relationship; it’s a marriage. I try to consider each step as a negotiation. The advantage of working together is that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. We are a bit like two sides of the same brain, each having its discreet functions but inexorably linked to the other side. Each side is necessary for the other side to function within the whole. Ideas flow back and forth and we are able to critically assess them quickly and to an extent that would not be possible were we working alone. It is about having different skills and proclivities but sharing values and aesthetic sensibilities.

How do you see your work in relationship to building community and greater participation?

Having been trained as an architect you spend a lot of your time balancing programmatic requirements as formal manifestations, so the program then becomes a sort of narrative about use and experience.

They are very important. We are interested in expanding the potential for making physical spaces and all that this entails in terms of techniques, aesthetics and design, but we feel strongly inclined toward yoking these interests to human interaction. We give each project a purpose related to human activity. The work has to stand on its own in a public (City) or quasi-public (gallery or museum) setting. There is also a community aspect to the production and disassembly of the work.

Your heroes in real life.

I don't have any real life heroes...but if I had to choose heroes I might choose Craig Breedlove, the land speed racer. He had a long racing career but in the mid sixties he and another racer named Art Arfons were involved in an epic battle trading land speed records between them and going through 400, 500 and 600 miles an hour speed barriers...imagine that! You have to be totally confident in your abilities as well as somewhat fearless or totally crazy to want to go that fast and since there is no money to be made in land speed racing it is truly about passion and dedication to the vision.

Benjamin: I’m too embarrassed to say this publically . . .

Why Los Angeles?

I didn’t make the choice of living here as an adult, I just wound up here as a kid. My family moved here, and so this became home. That’s the accidental why. But as an adult I chose to stay here for many reasons and also because I think this is the ideal place were you can make work like ours happen.

Benjamin: Los Angeles was never somewhere I imagined living. I landed here because of school and I never left. I’ve learned to like it. The city still embodies, in a great way, some romantic notions of the West I absorbed when growing up. It is a space of potential. In terms of producing work, the availability of space is essential; we probably couldn’t be based in anywhere else. I’m also really interested in the creative communities here: art, design, film, music, performance, and technology. Some people can almost afford to live here and produce their work!

I’m not an apologetic Angeleno, New Yorkers can kiss my ass if they trash Los Angeles. I think a lot of negative clichés about the City come from Hollywood. The difficulty of living Los Angeles is something I think about and try to embrace; I try to modify my habits and expectations about living to live here. It takes energy and awareness to find the good parts; it keeps me on my toes and forces me outside my comfort zone.

Why architecture and not another discipline?

G: My dad is an aerospace engineer and so as a kid I was exposed to that type of work, during summers he would take me to the hangar with him and as such introduced me to everything from his engineering drawings to the machinists that made the airplanes and parts. That was a huge influence for me, after High school when I visited SCI-Arc the place really resonated with me reminding me of those childhood work trips with my dad right down to the “hangar” environment.

I kind of think of our work engaging a lot of disciplines. Our discipline involves lots of disciplines. I can’t seem to make myself think within the disciplinary boundaries of art or architecture. We are interested in a lot of different things; some of them are at the edges of architecture. We contribute to architectural discourse, but the work isn’t necessarily architecture in the conventional sense. I thought about architecture a lot as a child, and then it dropped off of my radar until I was in college. I wanted to find a school that could support my shifting interests. Sci-Arc seemed right to me. I wanted to develop a personal approach to architecture, one that enabled me to indulge interests outside of the boundaries of the field. I’ve always been fixated on creating environments; there was always more to it than just architecture.

How would you define space?

B: X, Y, and Z, with a question mark in the middle. Our work is a way of finding answers to your question.

G: I like to define space the same way that a french mime usually does.

What is your dream project?

G: We consider ourselves to be pretty fortunate to have gotten so many opportunities, but we also work hard at what we do. We take every project very seriously, and every one of them is a bit of a dream project, or a dream challenge. Some aspects of them can be a big pain in the butt too!
© 2011, Big City Forum

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sustaining Communities: Forging Collective Memories

Big City Forum in conjunction with Cal State LA's American Communities Program presents:

Sustaining Communities: Forging Collective Memories

Monday, January 31st, 2011
4:30 - 6:30 pm

Cal State LA
University Student Union
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA

Join scholars, cultural theorists, and artists as they explore the ways and rituals through which specific communities are performed, remembered, memorialized, and narrativized.

Presenters include:

ELIZABETH CHIN Elizabeth Chin has a BFA in Drama from NYU where she trained with Anne Bogart and Stella Adler; she has a PhD in Anthropology from City University of New York where she worked with Delmos Jones and Vincent Crapanzano. She has studied, taught, and performed Haitian Folklore for over 20 years, both in the U.S. and in Haiti. Her teachers include Jean Leon Destiné, founder of Haiti’s national ballet, Emerante de Pradines Morse, Mona Amira, Florencia Pierre, Elle Johnson and Katherine Dunham. A professor of Anthropology in the department of Critical Theory and Social Justice at Occidental College, she is at work on an ethnographic project examining contemporary dancers, race, and the preservation of Dunham Technique.

DAVID DELGADO SHORTER David Shorter was raised in New Mexico, USA, and studied Religious Studies and Women’s Studies at Arizona State University for both his Bachelors and Masters degrees. He then attended the University of California Santa Cruz. After receiving his PhD in the History of Consciousness, he went on to teach in American Studies at Wesleyan University in Connecticut and then in Folklore at Indiana University in Bloomington. Currently a professor at the University of California Los Angeles, he lives in Los Angeles. His first book, We Will Dance Our Truth, evolves from decades of learning about indigenous lifeways, primarily among the Yoeme communities in northwest Mexico. Dr. Shorter's work explores other-than-human relations and the myths and rituals of native people around the globe. Among his favorite classes to teach are "Tribal Worldviews," “Indigenous Film and Video,” and “Ethnographies of/as Colonialism.”

KIANGA FORD Kianga Ford works primarily with sound and environment. Her installations and site-specific projects like The Story of This Place, are often grounded in narrative and ask questions about the relationship between physical and cultural proximity. In the increasingly considered field of sound art, she has worked collaboratively with a range of international composers from Toronto to Berlin. She has been working on The Story of This Place since 2003 and has completed stories for Los Angeles, North Miami, Bergen, Norway, and Alexandria, Egypt and is currently developing new works for Italy and Turkey. Her work has been shown at venues including The Studio Museum in Harlem, Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, The Banff Centre (Alberta, Canada), USF Verftet (Bergen, Norway), The Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami, and the 2006 California Biennial at The Orange County Museum of Art.

ARI KLETZKY Ari Kletzky works on integrated projects that draw on a variety of disciplinary perspectives based on the topic. This approach is informed by an interplay between theory and function or efficacy. In 2007, he founded Islands of LA, an evolving project that uses pedestrian accessible traffic islands to explore the desire and possibility for assembly and voice in publicly owned space. It has been on the cover of the LA Times calendar section and, more recently, in Cabinet Magazine. He graduated from UC Berkeley with dual degrees – BA in Rhetoric and BS in Business Administration – and from CalArts with an MFA in Art.

moderated by:
MICHAEL WILLARD, Professor, Department of Liberal Studies
Cal State LA