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  • seandodson 2:43 pm on August 25, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: architectural graffiti, , bruno taylor, , , , guerrilla gardening, , london olympics, olympics, subversive architecture,   

    Subversive architecture: how urban ‘guerrilla’ artists have designs on a better city 

    Subversive architecture: the growing practice of taking over public spaces in order to make political points. The name is derived from the Office for Subversive Architecture, a small practice in Berlin. Among their many projects is a recently installed “viewing platform” designed to help you look over the wall onto the site of the London Olympics (Flickr photoset here).

    Also in London is the work of Bruno Taylor (left), who recently installed a swing in a bus stop (video here) at Exmouth Market in Clerkenwell. Behind the visual gags of both projects is a serious attempt to improve the life, no mater how temporarily, of city dwellers. Also working to similar ends is the Polish artist-known-only-as “Truth” who adorns (often abandoned) buildings with a three-dimensional graffiti made from blocks of polystyrene. Like the movement of Guerrilla Gardeners before them, these artists seek to offer a wry commentary on city life by deploying the tactics of the graffti artist and a political theory clearly influenced bt Situationist International of the late 1950s.

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  • seandodson 12:14 am on August 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , olympics, ,   

    Naomi Klein: You are being awed by China’s sheer awesomeness 

    I’m a little late posting this, but after a week of the Olympics, I think Naomi Klein is bang on the button again. We are being dazzled by the games.

    “The games have been billed as China’s “coming out party” to the world. They are far more significant than that. These Olympics are the coming out party for a disturbingly efficient way of organizing society, one that China has perfected over the past three decades, and is finally ready to show off. It is a potent hybrid of the most powerful political tools of authoritarianism communism — central planning, merciless repression, constant surveillance — harnessed to advance the goals of global capitalism. Some call it “authoritarian capitalism,” others “market Stalinism,” personally I prefer “McCommunism.”

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  • seandodson 1:33 am on August 13, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , fake, jean baudrillard, olympics, philosophy, post-modernism, theory   

    Jean Baudrillard: it’s not why we fake the Olympics, it’s why we burn the flame 

    The faking of the Olympics reminds me of both Umberto Eco’s notion of the absolute fake and Baudrillard’s visions of hyperreality. Julian Baggini’s thoughts on Comment is Free capture the matter well.

    But there is something else perhaps: why we burn the flame. Here I found this quote from by Baudrillard’s Vanishing Point, an essay from his travels in America. It’s beautiful and strangely poignant after a night of watching all those pictures of all that light.

    “The skylines lit up at dead of night, the air-conditioning systems cooling empty hotels in the desert and artificial light in the middle of the day all have something both demented and admirable about them. The mindless luxury of a rich civilization, and yet of a civilization perhaps as scared to see the lights go out as was the hunter in his primitive night.”

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  • seandodson 10:48 am on August 11, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , how to pronounce Beijing, how to say Beijing, mandarin, olympics, ,   

    How to get your mouth around Beijing 

    A few years ago, while enjoying an after-dinner drink at a hotel high up in the Arctic Circle, a really nice Swedish lady politely taught me how to pronounce Beijing with a hard J (as in Jack) rather than the softer J (as in Jacques).

    I naturally began to notice how many of us also mispronounce the name – including most major news networks. The BBC uses a hard J, but Channel 4 News and Sky offer a more confusing message. This got me wondering: why is there this dichotomy in the West? So I looked into it and, seeing that it was time for the Olympics, I wrote a small article in today’s Media Guardian on the politics behind the pronounciation.

    Here’s the blockquote:

    In the old days it was much easier, as the capital of China was Peking (K as in king), but since 1949 the Chinese authorities have been asking us to use Beijing. This was routinely ignored until the 1980s when the request became more insistent and the Chinese began enforcing the new name on all flights, sea routes and official documents.

    The first indication of this change for many was on the news – and the newsreaders began to shift the J into something that sounds vaguely French. According to Zhao Shangsen at the Chinese embassy in London, there is no softer phonetic J in Mandarin. This makes the use of the French-sounding J sound a bit like an affectation; an attempt to sound grand.

    Even so, pronouncing Beijing with a hard J is still only an approximation. To say the name like a local you need to be able to handle the tonal shifts of Mandarin.

    With the Olympics now in full swing, isn’t it time that our news presenters tried their best? After all, the old excuse for mispronouncing the names of foreign places – that they arrived here through a system of, well, Chinese whispers – is no longer valid in the age of instant communication.

    There’s a helpful explanatory video here, if you want to learn how to pronounce the name of the capital correctly.

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    • Jonathan 1:19 pm on August 11, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I’m glad lots of people are picking up on this now. I particularly like the “affectation; an attempt to sound grand.” That’s what I’ve been trying to say about it. Not only is there no such sound in Mandarin, there isn’t in English either!

    • seandodson 9:04 am on August 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      There was a bit of follow-up in a couple or Readers letters in yesterday’s Media Guardian.

  • seandodson 2:20 pm on July 2, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: athletics, camelot, culutre, Daley Thompson, decathlon, lottery, olympics, ,   

    Daley Thompson: an often overlooked Olympian, despite his handlebar moustache 

    I rarely (if ever) post about sport. But today’s piece by Simon Hattenstone on the great double Decathlon gold medalists, Daley Thompson, struck a chord. Hattenstone is astounded that Thompson has been overlooked in the poll of greatest British Olympians by the UK lottery operators, Camelot. Daley, something of a childhood hero, didn’t even make the shortlist. Hattenstone asks: how come?

    “The man not only won gold, he won it twice. He not only won it twice, he won it at the toughest event – the decathlon. Over 100m, 400m, 1500m, 110m hurdles, high jump, pole vault, long jump, discus, javelin and shot put, he beat the world – time and again. His 1984 Olympic record stood for eight years and is still a UK record, and he was the first athlete simultaneously to hold Olympic, Commonwealth, European and world titles in a single event. He might have won a third gold in 1988 if he’d not been injured. Amazingly, he achieved all this with a handlebar moustache.”

  • seandodson 5:50 pm on January 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: aquatic, , , , , , olympics, , water cube   

    Beijing’s life aquatic 

    Dodgy politics aside for a moment, at least this summer’s Beijing Olympics will be remembered for one thing: some of the most exciting new architecture of the 21st century. The design blog today Kitsunenoir has posted a wonderful photomontage of the new National Aquatic Centre in Beijing. Known as ‘The Water Cube’ (or even more fashionably as [H2O]3) the buildings fascinating structure is based on the natural formation of soap bubbles, which gives the building both its random and organic appearance.The centre doesn’t open until the summer but already Flickr has been flooded with images of its construction. And where it stands in relation to the “Birds Nest” Olympic Stadium. Both make London’s 2012 efforts a little dated.

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