Property Rights and the Right to the City

Property Rights and the Right to the City

I was recently rummaging through some old files looking for the above cartoon by Richard Guindon. Back in 1990, I had used it as the frontispiece for an essay I wrote about Idaho’s Land Use Planning Act. I was a conservationist on Boise’s first foothills planning committee. The Idaho Conservation League, which in 1977-78 had employed me as its first field organizer, had been instrumental in the enactment of the act in the mid-1970s, the new group’s first legislative victory.

In addition to “Let’s Read the Local Land Use Planning Act,” my rummaging brought up

From 1979 to 1981, I lived in the foothills about eight miles outside Boise, Idaho, as caretaker of the Hawkins Ranch, which sits out on a ridge a half-mile above the city. In 1981 I moved back into the city on N. 2nd St. less than a mile from the Fort Boise Military Reserve, the city’s first open-space reserve. In 1986 we bought a home adjacent to the reserve in Aldape Heights, one of Boise’s first foothills subdivisions.

There’s more to this story and our efforts to, once again, truly engage citizens in planning Boise’s future. TO BE CONTINUED

A bit of doggerel from the past

A graveyard worker sleeps

Posted on the door of my apartment when I worked the
night shift at the local 24-hour service station.
Lone Pine, California, 1975

A graveyard worker sleeps within,
Whose days are over when yours begin.
All night at Al’s ARCO he toils
Selling, while burning, the midnight oils.

This dubious commerce pays him well,
But without sleep his days are hell.
In order to amend this plight
He must convert his days to night.

He values friends who’re up all day
And hopes they feel a similar way.
So if you think your business’ll keep,
Come back later, and let him sleep.

But if, perchance, you’re from afar,
You just might find the door ajar.
Or if stalled plans just won’t work out,
You’re welcome, too, without a doubt.

If you leave, or decide to stay,
Remember this along the way:
As your days wane and his begin,
A graveyard worker stirs within.

Death Valley Days

Here are some panoramas of Death Valley; be sure to click on them to enlarge to full-screen for the full effect. Each has been stitched together for several shots:

Zabriskie Serenade, 1974–2011

 

Edge of the Dunes, Mesquite Flats, Death Valley, 2011

 

Mesquite Flats, Death Valley, 2011                                                                                                                     Panamint Range, left; Grapevine & Funeral mountains of the Amargosa Range, right

Photographing Death Valley, 2011

Dust Storm, Mesquite Flats, Death Valley, 2010

France 2004

Rummaging through Gallic adventure memoiries, I recalled a slide show I pulled together a few years ago for friends headed to France. They are images from my most recent trip to France, 2004:

dscf0419_r1

Republique Francaise

France2show

It takes a while to download, but I think it’s worth the wait. If you download and run the slides on Acrobat Reader, I think it’ll run like a slide show. I have not put a soundtrack to it—yet. Let me know what you think. Please report technical difficulties. I’m looking for ways to make this site more “media” friendly, suggestions invited.

Shape-shifting

Each month the Carnegie Museum of the Arts Hillman Photography Initiative invites response to an interesting, sometime provocative image.

The image for March, 2015 is Sara Cwynar’s Girl from Contact Sheet 2 (Darkroom Manuals), 2013, accompanied by this question, “How has photography’s shift affected you? This month’s photo, Girl from Contact Sheet 2 (Darkroom Manuals), shows an uncertain history of manipulation or data loss. Look closely. Its digital blur suggests what happens when photography straddles two worlds. How has the dramatic shift from print to digital impacted you? What does this image say about the gains and losses of this transition? Respond to this picture and our questions with text, photos, videos, or audio files, and we’ll feature your response on our website.”

Girl from Contact Sheet 2 (Darkroom Manuals)

Sara Cwynar’s “Girl from Contact Sheet 2 (Darkroom Manuals),” 2013. Courtesy the artist and Foxy Production, NY

My immediate, almost visceral, non-verbal response was to post a copy of The Wave of the Future, a 1983 poster that struck me at the time as a brilliant depiction of the digital revolution about to sweep society.

The poster pictures Katsushika Hokusai’s 19th-century Great Wave off Kanagawa, its surf breaking into pixels that, in turn, transform into a digital map of an even larger wave. The image reads like a historical scroll; it was prescient.

http://www.grafik.com/uploads/2011/04/Wave-of-the-Futurea_RGB-042111.jpg

Judy Kirpich, a creator of The Wave of the Future tells the story of how it came to be. Ironically, the startlingly perceptive vision of the future of digital imaging was actually produced entirely by hand. Digital image-mapping was prohibitively expensive in 1981; there was no Photoshop or Illustrator. A team of designers and illustrators spent days creating six separate overlays, hand-coloring each little square on acetates spread over the original lithograph and inking in each line of the digital wave.

The poster was published right around the time I acquired my first personal computer, a Kaypro “luggable” that had a nine-inch, green monochrome screen whose display relied entirely on keyboard (ASCII) characters. While a clever programmer could do some amazing things with such a palette, it would be almost a decade before I would have a computer with a truly graphical interface. However, I had gotten hints of the graphic potential of digital imaging a few years earlier.

In the 1960s and ’70s, Bell Labs was doing research into human perception, computer vision and graphics that underlies today’s high-definition computer and video graphics. In 1973, Leon Harmon, a leading researcher of mental/neural processing of what we see, published “The Recognition of Faces,” the cover story in the November issue of Scientific American.SA-Nov73cvr

In his research, Harmon overlaid a 16 x 16 grid of squares on the portrait of  Lincoln etched on the US five-dollar bill, the uniform color of each square averaging the color of all the points within it.$5Lincoln-oval-maskedAbe-Harmon

The result is an image that up-close resembles a black and white Piet Mondrian print, but from across the room looks like a blurry image of Honest Abe. It went as “viral” as an image could in those analog days.

Within a year, Salvador Dali incorporated not only Harmon’s photo-mosaic technique but the Lincoln image itself into a painting of his wife—Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at a distance of 20 meters is transformed into the portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko).

Lincoln_in_Dalivision,_Salvador_Dali_

Lincoln in Dalivision

Gala-Contemplating-the-Mediterranean-Sea-

Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea, which at a distance of 20 meters is transformed into the portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko)

The painting was displayed at the Guggenheim in New York during the US Bicentennial in 1976. That same year, Dali published a slightly different version of the image as a lithograph edition of 1240: Lincoln in Dalivision. Within three years, both Harmon’s and Dali’s images had gone around the world.

These analog images illustrate a photo-mosaic presentation of visual information that would become fundamental to digital graphics—from arrangement of photon sensors and interpretation of their signals in our cameras to the pixels of color on HD TVs, computer screens and patterns of ink spots printed on photo paper.

 

 

 

 

To be continued…