mardi 6 septembre 2011

Potent Drug., Interactive Map of Shanghai, 2011.

3.General 3.1 The Generic City is what is left after small sections of urban life crossed over to cyberspace. It is a place of weak and distended sensations, few and far between emotions, discreet and mysterious like small spaces lit by a bed lamp. Compared to the classical city, the Generic City is sedated, usually perceived from a sedentary position. Instead of concentration - simultaneous presence - in the Generic City individual "moments" are spaced far apart to create a trance of almost unnoticeable aesthetic experiences: the color variations in the fluorescent lighting of an office building just before sunset, the subtleties of the slightly different whites of an illuminated sign at night. Like Japanese food, the sensations can be reconstituted and intensified in the mind, or not - they may simply be ignored. (There's a choice). This pervasive lack of urgency and insistence acts like a potent drug; it induces a hallucination of the normal. 3.2 In a drastic reversal of what is supposedly the major characteristic of the city - "business" - the dominant sensation of the Generic City is an eerie calm: the calmer it is, the more it approximates the pure state. The Generic City addresses the "evils" that were ascribed to the traditional city before our love for it became unconditional. The serenity of the Generic City is achieved by the evacuation of the public realm, as in an emergency fire drill. The urban plane now only accommodates necessary movement, fundamentally the car; highways are a a superior version of boulevards and plazas, taking more space; their design seemingly aiming for automotive efficiency, is in fact surprisingly sensual, a utilitarian pretense entering the domain of smooth space. What is new about this locomotive public realm is that it cannot be measured in dimensions. The same (let's say ten-mile) stretch yields a vast number of utterly different experiences: it can last five minutes or forty; it can be shared with almost nobody, or with the entire population; it can yield the absolute pleasure of pure, unadulterated speed - at which point the sensation of the Generic City may even become intense or at least acquire density - or utterly claustrophobic moments of stoppage - at which point the thinness of the Generic City is at its most noticeable. 3.3 The Generic City is fractal, an endless repetition of the same structural module; it is possible to reconstruct it from the smallest entity, a desktop computer, maybe even a diskette. 3.4 Golf courses are all that is left of otherness. 3.5 The Generic City has easy phone numbers, not the resistant ten-figure frontal-lobe crunchers of the traditional city but smoother versions, their middle numbers identical, for instance. 3.6 The main attraction is its anomie.

Rem Koolhaas & Bruce Mau, Generic City in S,M,L,XL, Monacelli Press, 1995, p.1250-1251.

The interactive map of Shanghai (as well as other major chinese cities) can be seen here.

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