weeknote 18

I’ve been back in Princeton for just over a week and the heavy air of late hurricane season finally gave way to crisp autumn evenings. It’s my favorite season and it smells wonderful outside — a mix of Lake Carnegie and trees, a chorus of lazy crickets as the soundtrack.

Coming back gave me an opportunity to meet up with Christine Boyer (my advisor) and Ed Eigen (my first reader) about the research I did at the Cedric Price Archive and in Nicholas Negroponte’s personal archive. They’re not surprised to hear that I’ve discovered my original dissertation proposal contains about 5 dissertations, and they’re happy to hear the direction I’m going. Christine told me to retheorize, so I’ve been reading Paul Edwards’ The Closed World as a model of writing about imbricated information-technology-society hybrids. I will start writing an introduction of sorts this coming week, using it as a fulcrum to get into the architects I’m writing about. Having Janet Vertesi in town is quintuply amazing in this regard. She’s in Princeton’s Society of Fellows for a three-year fellowship and is just the right person for me to talk to about the history of technology aspects of my project. She’s also become a very close friend and on top of that, she and her boyfriend Craig live blocks away — a great mix of work and pleasure.

I also started digging into Richard Saul Wurman’s work in the 1970s. My last blog post mentioned some of what I’m curious about: the 1972 The Invisible City theme at the Aspen Design Conference and the 1976 AIA Convention, “The Architecture of Information.” It would be great to interview him as I did Nicholas Negroponte a few months ago and even better if he has archival material: the AIA has been of little help and I’ll need a trip to Chicago to get the rest of the material on the Invisible City conference.

Other things this week:

A lovely trip to New York with numerous meetings with friends. Richard Nash and I finally met face-to-face for breakneck-speed breakfast after numerous near misses. Alex Deschamps-Sonsino was in town with her good friend Karola and we wiled away a lazy afternoon in Brooklyn. Jennifer Brook and I saw the most excellent Sarah Sze show at the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, made a trip to Printed Matter and connected with Christian Svanes Kolding for a quick bit at the Standard. Alex Wright and I met up for the first time in a few years to catch up about the history of technology, babies, marriages, and relationships and meditation.

Mark Wigley came to the Radical Architecture Education seminar — the PhD colloquium — to talk about Buckminster Fuller, John McHale and the design department at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. It was great. Bucky was loved and hated: the students all had to be reprogrammed after his stays on campus. He has a history with Princeton, with 9 visits in the 50s and 60s (and one in 1929). They built tensegrity domes here on campus near the architecture lab. McHale is an interesting figure to me, especially with his work in futures studies.

Coming up this week: I’m extending my stay in Princeton and am looking forward to getting a lot of writing done. Jorge Pardo, who just won a MacArthur “genius grant” is speaking at the architecture school. On Saturday, Axel Kilian is organizing a robotics seminar and I’ll be a critic. There are birthday parties and good dinners and a lot of things to do.

One Reply to “weeknote 18”

  1. Glad you liked John McHale, my father’s work at SIU.He also taught an innovative art/design installation course at SIU called the “ME/I project”, prior to his collaboration with Bucky Fuller on the World Design Decade. Bob Hunter and Harold Cohen were involved in the SIU Design Dept are still alive and probably could tell you more.Bob still lives near SIU and has been working on archiving the era, Harold who was the inspirational Dept. Chairman- from New Bauhaus-now lives in Buffalo.All the best from, John McHale the son of the father of Pop art.

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