06.Dec.2014 DR Vol. 12: Multimedia Presentation

Wizzerds of Rhyme and yours truly (Gary River) are very proud to present:

Try to find 10 examples of SIGNS that are not signs. #SIGNS.




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28.Nov.2014 Volume 12

SIGNS turned out to be an extraordinarily dense and challenging subject.

Volume 12 is still happening.

Just taking a little longer than expected.


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05.Jul.2014 Some Remarks on Half Lives’ Deep State EP


The Deep State EP by Half Lives (aka artist/musician Steve Wright) is a composition in the truest sense. Sure, the word “composition” is regularly used to describe any number of artistic forms: visual, written, acoustic, gustatory, aromatic. It does not require sustained reflection to realize that every song is a composition, “an aggregate; a composite substance.” Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 207 (1916). But in the case of Deep State, the word, composition, is particularly appropriate. These songs are aggregates along several different axes. Along the first and most obvious axis, they constitute an exuberant and curated collection of sounds, samples, blips, beeps, and thumping beats. Along the second axis: the sounds are so pushed, pulled, layered, repeated, slowed down, and sped up that second order features start to emerge. But a third axis of aggregation: the revelry encoded in the generation of second axis. And a fourth axis of aggregation: temporal. Whereas in Country Bears and Hazerai, Wright’s guitar is draped over – complimenting perfectly – a hurtling chaotic engine, in Deep State, the structural roles are reversed!  Wright’s guitar parts still hover, but here they are more like the cables of a suspension bridge, the protective netting in a beehat, the nylon in a fish tank scooper. The sonic collection playing the part of the roadway, the beekeeper, the fish. This deeper structure only apparent with the advent of time and context.


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15.Jun.2014 A Strip Mall Semeiotic


The vast parking lot is in front not at the rear, since it is a symbol as well as a convenience.”
Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour, Learning from Las Vegas: The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form (1977) at 9.
[DRv12 is in the works].


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17.May.2014 Marc Carver — NOT HERE

As i sat in the town centre square
thinking about another opportunity missed
some students came and sat opposite me
They seemed to be waiting for someone.
Ten minutes later the beggar came down the street
and the students got excited.

Two of them went over to him
and he gave them something
and they gave him something
and then they both went their own ways.
Like magic they were gone.
as simple as that.

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15.May.2014 Volume 12: Signs


The first deadline for Volume 12 (“Signs”) submissions is here.  You know what that means: it is time to start work in earnest.  For my part, I’ve been deep in research.  If you’re interested in contributing, get in touch.  But soon!


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12.Apr.2014 Goods & Services: {Indicate type, e.g., electric, flat, steam} irons


Irons; Flat Irons; Electric Irons; Steam Irons:  Nested concepts.  One: Irons are devices that use heat to mold a fabric into a certain shape.  Two: Flat irons are irons heated by an external source (e.g. a stove) and are used to press fabric.  Three: Electric irons are similar to flat irons, but instead of being heated by an external source, heat is generated by electricity.  Four: Steam irons are electric irons that emit steam from the iron surface.

Flat Irons (Disambiguation):  Some use the term “flat iron” to also refer to an implement for straightening hair.  DR nomenclature recommendation: refer to flat irons for hair as straightening irons.

Smoothing Versus Wrinkling: Most sources agree that the wrinkle is the sworn enemy of the iron. This enmity is unwarranted. Some irons actually create wrinkles. See the goffering iron. Goffering irons were used to form the frills on Elizabethan ruffs.  Also known as the Italian iron. Also known as the tally iron. See also waffle irons (creating wrinkles in heated batter).

Early Streamlined Designs:   During the early 1930s, sleek, streamlined designs started to seep into the marketplace.  An ad for one of the earliest (if not earliest?) streamlined models (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright collaborator Alfonso Iannelli) states,  “‘Beautiful utility has universal appeal.  People desire that which is useful and pleasing.’ AND, the very utilitarian electric iron proves it.  It sheds its Cinderalla garb…takes a beauty treatment…and steps out to win housewives and sales.”

Flatwork Ironers: Industrial ironers.  “If you need to solve problems with washing and drying of big amount of towels, blankets, bathrobes and mops, you are at the right address.”

Iron Drop Testers:  “[T]o check the mechanical strength of electric irons by repeated drop.”  For a demonstration see.


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06.Mar.2014 #SochiProblems as Glitch

Dover_elevator_passenger_controls_(3_floors)-1One remarkable thing about #SochiProblems was the extent that it focused on goods and services and the built environment.  Recall that many of the pictures that ran rampant were of toilets, curtain rods, coat racks.  Showers and elevator buttons were there too.  It was almost like when Gum, Soda, Popcorn, and Candy all go to the lobby in Let’s All Go to the Lobby, except this parade featured flooded corridors, trashed hotel rooms, and manhole covers.

The failures and accidents spotlighted by #SochiProblems were, in a sense, glitches.  Visual artist and theorist Rosa Menkman refers to glitches as an, “(actual and/or simulated) break from an expected or conventional flow of information or meaning within (digital) communication systems that results in a perceived accident or error.”  Glitch Moment(um) at 9.  Menkman is a thoughtful and eloquent interrogator of glitches in the context of art and culture.

In the context of #SochiProblems, two side-by-side toilets are an actual break from the expected flow.  This break results in a perceived accident or error — albeit not in a digital communication system.  We expect that side-by-side toilets should be separated by some sort of divider that affords users with at least the appearance of privacy.   A hallway full of coat racks is an actual break from expected flow because coat racks are typically solitary creatures.  And so on.

The presence of a #SochiProblem is just the starting point.  Menkman  urges us to, “[u]se the glitch as an exoskeleton of progress.”  Glitch Studies Manifesto.  And “[r]ather than creating the illusion of a transparent, well-working interface to information, the glitch captures the machine revealing itself.”  Glitch Moment(um) at 30. In other words, that an elevator has two “up” buttons leads us to ask questions about elevators and buttons.  What other arrangements are possible?  One large button?  Five buttons — two buttons that control direction, and three that control other aspects of the elevator, like lighting, temperature, or sound?

In any event, a rigorous understanding of glitches is an important tool for truly understanding goods and services or the built environment.  And this presents an interesting example of a glitch outside of the strictly technological context.


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19.Feb.2014 Gave Blood — Drew Smith

Rajidae_swmimmingSkateboarding is as a tight a culture as exists.  The obligatory nod when skaters pass one another on the street, the instant recognition of a tail tapping the concrete, or the clack of the wheels rolling over the serrations of sidewalk is in every major metropolitan area worldwide.  The world itself is transformed into a playground as seemingly mundane stairs, rails, ledges, and embankments hold potential energy and become the canvases of kinetic street art.  It’s a culture oft overlooked by the average observer mistakenly viewed as a world of slackers and deviants. But, skateboarding is the art of the city; a modern interpretation of urbanity in its purist form.  It shuns those who don’t belong and elevates those that do.

As a skater in the late 90s I gravitated to the companies that represented both me and the culture at large.  From shoes to board makers, these companies were owned by skaters and acted as a beacon of counterculture.  If one crossed over into the mainstream and forgot its roots, it was cast out (Airwalk, Element, Simple, etc).  There was little acceptance of anything perceived to be outside the circle.  Enter Nike (the most mainstream shoe brand of all).  After a 7 year hiatus from skateboarding it was surprising to find Nike had not only penetrated but now dominates the skate shoe industry.  The company had been trying, and failing, for years to break in, but virtually no self-respecting skater would have been caught dead skating a pair of Nikes.  What had changed?  How had a company not connected to skateboarding broken into the inner sanctum and started giving sermons?  After talking with shop owners, professional skaters, clothing brand owners and friends it was clear Nike’s strategy was calculated and genius.

Read more ›

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09.Feb.2014 Handbook: Industrial Parks; see also Mythologies

The mythologies of wine have been well-studied.  Barthes observed that “wine supports a varied mythology which does not trouble about contradictions.”   And while well varied and potentially contradicting, the myths in which wine are steeped are decidedly pastoral.  It “is the sap of the sun and the earth.”  So much so that wine channels the earth almost directly with the concept of terroir.  Literally, land.

On the other hand, the mythologies of the industrial park have been less well studied, although possibly just as varied and contradicting.  If wine is “the sap of the sun and the earth,” industrial parks are the sap of plastic orthodonture wholesale and auto glass repair.  They exist almost with the sole purpose to thwart sun and earth.  This deserves intense additional study.

Yet, despite (and perhaps, due to) the blunt opposition of connotations, a colony of wine tasting rooms thrives in several industrial parks just north of Seattle in Woodinville WA.  They are wildly successful.

See the following for evidence:

IMG_4688   IMG_4693 IMG_4695 IMG_4724 IMG_4714   












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