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Friday, October 29, 2010

Blogging by a Fountain - La Fontaine Contemporary Art Centre...


The weather here in the Gulf has been amazing for the past weeks, particularly here in Manama, Bahrain, where I've been for the past few days discussing a few projects and having some preliminary discussions regarding an upcoming exhibition here at the La Fontaine Contemporary Art Centre. As the center's name suggest, the main, and perhaps most recognizable, feature of the place (which is built within the seven meter tall walls of a over century old mansion) is an enormous fountain, which occupies the central position in one of the center's two main courtyards. Since arriving here I've been doing most of my computing by this fountain, which has provided a truly unique and different, call it, ambience and setting for working, something that has work-wise been quite catalytic in its own right. There have been of late some arguments made (particularly regarding some of the new schools and academies built in Britain during the past few years) that ones environment doesn't have an impact on the quality and outcome of ones work, something I'd, based on my empirical experiences of late, would like to vigorously dispute...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

QR Coding in QataR...


I've been playing a bit with QR Coding here in QataR... It's an interesting little ditty of a means for coding and transferring information such as a web-page, phone number, SMS, or up to a 250 character text...

The black & white pattern within a square provides an entertaining medium to play and explore with, through which various 'what if' queries can be posed and tested. One can go a bit 'Alice in Wonderland' with the whole thing - splitting, scaling and positioning segments of the code-square at different locations which only match (form a coherent and unified image) when viewed from a specific point. It can be stretched and angled to form an anamorphic image (see Holbein's Ambassadors) which needs to be read through a foreshortened view. It could thus even, as suggested in some of the images below, be used as promotional tools on painted rooftops or even city-blocks, where the code could be read from airplanes or even satellites, to promote and advertise various places or functions... Will the potentials for fun never cease..?!

A free QR Code reader can be downloaded for free through most smart-phones. A QR Code generator can be accessed by clicking here...



Matching two, different scale, halves of a QR code...

Two halves of the QR Code split...


A roof top painted as as a QR-Code (to be read from an airplane)...


A few city blocks adjusted to accommodate a QR code (to be viewed from a plane, satellite, space)...



QR Code in Perspective - Click on the image and lean over your laptop or computer screen whilst aiming your smart-phone at the QR Code to 'neutralize' the perspective. This could be used on a street, airport, train-station, etc. to convey information...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Other Salhiya, Kuwait...


Salhiya, an area in downtown Kuwait, is usually affiliated with its 'uptown' mall and hotel complex which contains the 'creme de la creme' of international (mostly French and Italian) fashion-retailers within its, somewhat hermetic, confines. However, only about a hundred meters outside, crossing the street by the main entrance and heading towards the back of the row of up-market coffee-shops and restaurants, a completely different universe of retailing and socializing takes place. On an area that only covers a few city blocks and is mainly defined by a commercial spine stuck between a multi-storey Brutalist parking garage and a stretch of abandoned apartment blocks a truly mixed (both culturally & commercially) and 'buzzing' (and perhaps gritty) neighborhood practices its daily trade. This mixture (and physical proximity) of individuals from a variety of places and social stratum is truly unique occurrence in Kuwait. It's the only urban locale in Kuwait that, at least for me, sounds, smells, feels like a city. A place for casual conversations, people-watching, a quick cup of tea or Turkish-coffee, that do not necessitate one to adapt ones mannerism to the more regimented social confines set by the persnickety establishments around the corner. In its droll and density it embodies the anonymity and individuality that a truly cosmopolitan city needs to contain. Places like this are difficult to design, and are usually the result of planning related ennui rather than something intentional, something designed. However, as suggested by people like Jane Jacobs and other thinkers of her calibre and genre, places like this are what make a city so attractive to many of the urbanites that occupy its various nodes and arteries... These back-streets of Salhiya, rather than the gilded shops nearby, contain the true life-blood and character of Kuwait City. They should be celebrated rather than lambasted. Let's hope the nearby city-planners have the astuteness to let this neighborhood be and thrive, rather than neutering it (in the name of 'progress') with yet another lifeless shopping mall...


The main venue is stuck predominantly between a Brutalist multi-storey parking garage and an abandoned apartment complex...

An internal stretch of shops selling anything from plastic sandals to perfumes...

A stretch of abandoned apartment complexes flank the shopping district...

A, roughly, 180 degree, panorama showing (to the far left) the narrow entry leading to the buzzing (workers) shopping district, and the more grand entry (on the right) to the more high-end shops within the interiors of the 'Salhiya Complex'...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mud Brickin' in Nizwa, Oman...



A short video of one of my former students, Khaled, making a, roughly 1/3 size, Omani mud brick. For related postings of the projects earlier phases please click here, here & here...

The aim is in the not too distant future to also show the eventual test piece, a wall, that we made from the, about 720 or so, we (hand) made bricks...