Materials and Thomas’s workshop

Giuseppe Penone was the sculptor who’s name I couldn’t remember, revealing the hidden nature of a tree…

Thanks for your contributions again this week. Again, it was good to see everyone prepared to table something and talk about it. Critical feedback is food for thought and to drive you forward, not hold you back so use it constructively.

Dayantha’s piece gets the honour of urban ecology blog publication for his eloquent prose.

Welcome to the Blog, Thomas and thanks again for the incredibly valuable and intense workshop. All the documents on the widget for download. I look forward to your critique of the lafarge document.

Two radically opposite takes on understanding materials, from our discussion this morning. Both bizarre, beautiful and ugly at the same time. take your pick.

David Nash RA

Supplier and the supplied

‘The most significant aspect of the metropolis lies in this functional magnitude beyond its actual physical boundaries and this effectiveness reacts upon the latter and gives to it life, weight, importance and responsibility. A person does not end with the limits of his physical body or with the area to which his physical activity is immediately confined but embraces, rather, the totality of meaningful effects which emanates from him temporally and spatially. In the same way the city exists only in the totality of the effects which transcend their immediate sphere.’

(Simmel, p17)

The image too portrays this condition that Simmel talks about in his essay. The framework that sustains the metropolis does not only extend to its physical boundary, but far beyond. In the foreground, a water treatment plant, high tension electricity lines all feeding invaluable resources to the city. The metropolis in the background is represented in one of most celebrated forms in London by the rising Towers of Canary Wharf.

The towering buildings are fuzzy in this image due to the low pixels on the picture mode of my video camera which was used to take this picture. But to my advantage it communicates my idea better because of the difference in clarity of the foreground to the background.

The birds lined up along the water, the water treatment tanks, the trees and greenery that signify a separation between the supplier and the supplied. However, the foreground of the image is much darker than Metropolis in the background, pushing it backwards. It is like the arguments Simmel shares with us of how there is no clear physical boundary to this relationship.

Simmel also talks about how our mind affects our decisions, and just like in our walk from Lee valley to Stratford city, where upon seeing the Olympic stadium even from a far my sense of location was almost unclear. Standing alongside the greenery and the lake running by and at the same time seeing the dominant Skeleton of the Stadium is equivalent to the contrasting image of Canary Wharf in the sub-urban back drop of the picture.

Following on from our session on 14th October

caption competition for next week....

Hello everyone.

Thanks again for your efforts with the photographs.  If the maxim that an artist is the worst person to talk about their art, then I guess that was our biggest critique of the day, but at least that makes you all artists!  now you have to become real critics, which is much harder….

I was also pleased that you had really read into Simmel and reflected on it; try to keep this same focus as you read more and as we discussed with Abdou, its good practice to try and look at every piece of text from both a positive (re-inforcing) and negative (critical) perspective.  Recommendations from the ‘City Reader’ book are (in no particular order):

Ernest W. Burgess

Mike Davis

Walter Benjamin

Henri Lefebvre

Richard Sennett

Michel De Certeau


and most importantly, the introductory chapters.  I also recommend listening to Radio 4 as often as you can, in particular the following (often available as a podcast from the website):

‘More or Less’

‘Costing the Earth’

‘The Moral Maze’


and any politics programme.  To get you started, try this: 10-minute ‘point of view’ by Will Self on wind turbines

I also mentioned New Scientist.  Here is a selection of articles I found interesting all from one week’s edition.   Please take note of the warnings about referencing journalistic sources such as this.

see you next week

Roland and Alan