Project 3

U of M and SYR

It’s too bad we didn’t have class today because I felt very rushed in class last week to decide on what our final project will be. I think we should meet before class Tues the 22nd to get some ideas together. To SYR and U or M, Becky and I talked about doing a project related to communication. Communication could possibly be the theme of a curated exhibition at the Store Front (the Store Front is a space that is operated by the Architecture program in downtown Syracuse, we use it to get the word out on projects we are working on). Like Becky’s last post, I think it would be interesting to show work from U of M students in Syracuse, since Detroit and Syracuse are in a similar situation in many ways. From project 2 that I worked on with Secil, I am really interested in how Architecture for Humanity is held responsible for what they do. It was very hard to find critical information about AFH besides smiley, color saturated photos. They are responsible to the local government, which could be opposite of the needs of the clients. Also they are responsible to their funding from businesses like Google. The evidence I found that AFH uses to show their funding support is images with smiley kids suggesting AFH has solved everything and there are no problems now. So the responsibility that they are held to is very narrow with limited visibility. I think communication could raise accountability. I am interested in how the communication gap could be closed between client/NGO/funding, something similar to the bridging that the Center for Urban Pedagogy project, that Carla and Peter worked on, is about. A project that could cross language boundaries and leverage the ability of architects (and artists) to distill complex information into legible graphics. This idea it still very general and I would like other people’s input. I would also like to hear about what other people are interested in working on even if they don’t want to work in collaboration of some degree.



Kenneth Russell


  1. I think if we can use the storefront, it begins to take the idea of the Center for Urban Pedagogy to a different level. I’m not sure if it’s a better level but having a location definitely adds to the availability of the project outside of Slocum and especially outside of campus. I definitely think whatever we do should be off campus. The concept of providing information allows for design to be incorporated, which is something I think a lot of people thought could have been more prevalent in the projects we saw in Detroit. That gives us a chance to explore some of the obstacles our Agents from last week may have ran into and allows us to see what we can do besides the cheery pictures Nate was talking about. The one thing that I think could be an issue with the storefront space is the fact that it’s downtown. This makes it accessible to a very specific demographic and I’m not sure it’s the one we want depending on what the project shapes into. For instance if the project we do had to do with I-81, then maybe it’s a fine location, but if the project we do is related to the Near Westside then I would say that the Storefront is the wrong location. I guess we need to decide the project and then pick the proper venue.

    I definitely think a collaboration is the way to go. We’ll be able to get more done if we all have a common goal rather than a whole bunch of small groups. I think meeting before class on Tuesday will be good, too.

  2. I think this is a great idea – in terms of working on a project related to communication. If we do stick to this idea one of the things I think would be interesting to look at as Danielle had mentioned in her comment is location. The class I took over the summer took us on a tour of the Near West Side. La Casita Cultural Center is in the heart of that neighborhood (to some extent) and that could be a possible location. If we choose this as our location for example it is within walking distance of some of the other sites we visited were WCNY []. During our visit they said they do rent out spaces (some of their larger studios) for one night conferences or events. I think these are also potential sites for us to consider.
    I am all for collaboration.

  3. Dear Syracuse,
    Thank you for initiating such an intriguing discussion for the third project, I would like to add some ideas.
    -First of all, I guess we need a new methodology in order to re-assemble all the knowledge and critique that we have gathered up to now on the way of structuring what we need for the 3rd project, revolving around “nongovernmentality” and “Detroit”.
    1-Critical Lexicon –critique of the discourse/language-
    2-Agents and tactics –critique of the agencies/practice-
    What we have done through these two projects can basically be interpreted as an over-reading of two meta-worlds, “theory” and “practice”. However, this can be a reductionist interpretation. Because what we have seen in some cases of NGO practice is the merge of theory and practice. (for ex.AbM –and issue of engagement or issue of “violence”-)
    The first question to me can be about “how to use those knowledge that we reproduced through 1st and 2nd projects”.
    -Secondly one of our major keywords at the last class was “representation”. All the agencies that we saw in Detroit and the NGOs that we worked on have a “representation” and a more intricate structure or a form of organization beyond it (good or bad). What Nate referred is so important in terms of the “gap”. However, what do you think if we open up the same discussion on behalf of a problematique of “representation,” instead of “communication”? Communication refers to the relationship between the “image” and the “receiver,” but I think, in order to understand this relationship, we need to look at the “intent” of the agency reproducing the image. Also, at this point we should ask the same question to ourselves: how we would like to represent the 3rd project? What would be our basic intention? Your discussion in terms of place –storefront- refers to such an important questioning. And as we see through the 2nd projects, “how to represent” means “how to politicize” your body in most of the cases, or “how to engage” in real-politics.
    -Thirdly, in this context, the 1st and 2nd projects can be evaluated as transitional phases for the 3rd project. So, now, it may be the time to derive/abstract some major concepts from those investigations and apply them as filters/lenses of critique in order to look at/analyze Detroit. However, the last –which should be the first- question: “to what we will look at in Detroit?” May be, before questioning “representation,” we need a “material layout” on which we would project our abstracted lenses/perspectives. At this point, I think, what Will proposed and suggested to analyze in the last class can be regarded as a provocative way of investigation for the 3rd project:

    What about “money”? If we can follow the flow/mobility of money through the agencies/spaces of Detroit –what I understood from his discussion- what kind of a mapping emerges? – Even this question in itself can pose the basic/huge theme of the third project, because it is such a confusing network: “money-money-money” – “not M-C-M or C-M-C of post-industrial/industrial eras, but M-M-M cycle of neo/post-neo liberal urbanization modes as exemplified in Detroit, which means money reproducing money through space. and I guess, “money” as a basic theme can be fragmented into multiple cases of investigation/multiple temporalities, which can logistically simplify our work, expected to be done in two months. (money as agency, money as food, money as art, money as racism, money as time or money as power and money as violence…) SO, what do you think about the “REPRESENTATIONS OF MONEY IN DETROIT”? (I am just speculating and still thinking and need your perspectives.. as one of my professors in the history department, dario gaggio emphasizes/reminds a few times in a week during class, with regard to Marx, “Money as ultimate for of alienation”… Those words are resonating in my mind… I just wanted to share with you. So, how can “nongovernmental act” be re-defined through this ultimate form(s) of alienation which is visible in Detroit?

    Lastly, to be honest, I am really alien to the US context, so, please forgive me if I deflected the discussion from its way.

    • Secil, thank you for your comment. Sorry it took me so long to respond. I think representations of money incorporates for me the most important themes of the seminar: What is good? (becomes mush more complicated when money is involved), What is the relationship of an NGO to the government? (just outsourcing or a puppet for capitalism?), and Who is the NGO responsible to? (This heavily influences how the NGO represents themselves acutely and globally on the internet).
      As the Syracuse group we have decided heavily draw from our experiences in Detroit but to focus project three locally in Syracuse. You will see posts from different teams regarding NGOs that deal with different issues from food, education, vacancy, etc. .

  4. I like the idea of working collaborative towards one representative/communicative goal (however we define it). From what I understood of Secil’s description as money as a theme it seems like a good starting point of investigation due to the multiplicity of the concept of money itself. It brings up the question of sustainability, which in a lot of cases, the ability of something to sustain itself is a measure of its success.

    As far as the storefront, I do think it’s an intriguing idea. But I’m wondering if something less centralized (posters, pamphlets, mini exhibitions?) could be an easier way to attempt to reach more people.

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