Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Museum of Innocence, A Love Story by Orhan Pamuk

Brukner Apartmanı, 1999 - 2003 Fotoğraf: Cemal Emden

In 1999, writer Orhan Pamuk bought a three story building in Istanbul to interact as a museum with his new novel, "Museum of Innocence," a first of its kind of this application.
He hired an architect, Ihsan Bilgin, before he started the novel to transform the building into a museum where the novel and the museum criss cross each other in a love story between Kemal and Fusun, the main characters. In an autobiographical story, Kemal obsessively collects every object Fusun touches, in remembrance of their complex history into the Museum he builts... After nine years, both Book (Turkish and German print at this time) and the Museum are available.

via; Arkitera.com

"Pamuk describes the relation between the novel and the museum as “The museum is not an illustration of the novel and the novel is not an explanation of the museum. They are two representations of one single story perhaps.”

In a Spiegel interview, Mr. Pamuk answers the question;

And now you are bringing a wonderful new story to the 2008 Frankfurt Book Fair which is called "The Museum of Innocence." It's a novel about love, a wonderful love story about Istanbul of course, and also about museums. And it's the first novel in the history of literature, I think, which has its own museum.

Yes, "The Museum of Innocence" chronicles the love story of Kemal, an upper-class person, a person who is occasionally described as high-society. He is 30 years old in 1975 and chronicles his infatuation with a distant relative, a twice removed cousin, Fusun, an 18 year-old shop girl, but very beautiful. As sort of a compensation for his failure to get her hand, he collects everything he can get that Fusun touches, and in the end he makes a museum of the objects that their story is associated with.

My "Museum of Innocence" is a real museum too, which tries to pin down all these objects. I've been collecting things for this museum almost for six years. I bought a house which is actually where this part of the story has been taking place since about ten years ago. I converted it into a museum so the "Museum of Innocence" is both a museum and a novel.

The enjoyment of the novel and the enjoyment of the would-be museum are two entirely different things. The museum is not an illustration of the novel and the novel is not an explanation of the museum. They are two representations of one single story perhaps.

There is a great interview with the architect as well, yet to be translated to English. However, here is a link to that interview by Burcu Karabaş @ arkitera.com for the Turkish reading visitors.

Other Links to this fascinating construction by the Nobel Laureate:

Deutsche Welle Interview
Masumiyet Muzesi (official web site of the book (Turkish)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Art Post: Martin Kippenberger retrospective at MOCA

'Modell Interconti' Gerhard Richter painting from 1972, wood and metal, 1987(Collection of Gaby and Wilhelm / MOCA) LA Times photo

The other day an Archinect reader was asking a question about; "how can a building be critical?"

A day later I saw this review of Martin Kippenger Retrospective by Suzanne Muchnic in Los Angeles Times.
It was a flicker of a connection to the criticality question that was posed. A seemingly simple re-locating action by the artist setting several 'criticalities' at once.
Now, if only architects were this strategic and artfully critical.
Then again, the buildings are usually designed to escape fire, other hazards, resist gravity and accomodate profits from the planning stage onward.
In most cases, hardly adding 'value' to any criticality whatsoever.

Getting back to more substantial dispositions, a description of the work titled;

'Modell Interconti'

"IN KIPPENBERGER'S 'Peter' sculptures, his first foray into sculpture, he made a body of well over 40 works that were almost dysfunctional design objects cum sculptures. He combined found and newly constructed elements in pieces that refer to vernacular objects, architecture and works by artists such as Reinhard Mucha and Donald Judd. 'Modell Interconti,' which demonstrates his interest in Gerhard Richter, is a small table that he had made, using a small gray painting by Richter as the top. Kippenberger not only turned the Richter into a table, but also transformed it into a Kippenberger. He purchased the painting at a Richter market price, transformed it into a Kippenberger and sold it at a Kippenberger market price, which was much lower."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Interview with Orhan Pamuk; "Winning the Nobel Prize Made Everything Political"

Ahead of the 2008 Frankfurt Book Fair in October with Turkey as the Guest of Honour, Nobel Prize winning author Orhan Pamuk spoke to Rainer Traube about his latest book and unwanted political attention

Rainer Traube- It seems as though you're trying to find a balance in your life between living in Istanbul and traveling, between being a political person and being an artist?

Orhan Pamuk: Yes, I have to do that. I'm not an exile for example, and they try to pigeonhole me as an exile. "No," I say, "I'm not an exile." I go outside of Turkey by myself, if I want I can live here 365 days a year if I enjoy it.

Living in New York during the semesters that I stay there and traveling is a nice thing, but I don't want to undermine and make a victim of myself. One reason perhaps is that I come from a culture that was never colonized and never victimized. I don't enjoy representing myself as a victim of international powers, nor the victim of a Turkish state. I am on my feet, happy, living, enjoying writing books, and so on. That is how I look at my life.

Full interview at qantara.de

Monday, September 15, 2008

56 Leonard Street, Where Public Art Is "F.....g Self Reflection"

A specially commissioned sculpture by Anish Kapoor at the entrance of hi end real estate. Via Dezeen

What makes Anish Kapoor farting public art in New York?

Public art couples with property sales and marketing.
Art loses.
Sculpture with cubic yard value or something like that. Or, art as decoration, as package deal, as 'it comes with it'.., on your corner, on your face.
See your reflection and size yourself against the multi million dollar dwellings...

Here is a quote from the article regarding culture and profits;
"Fully integrated into the architecture itself as if to say that culture and the city are 'indivisible,' Kapoor’s massive, reflective stainless steel piece – an enigmatic balloon-like form that appears to be combating compression from above – will be a new cultural landmark in Tribeca and the artist’s first permanent 'public' work in New York City."

'Indivisible' we stand, buddy...
Condo prices of the development will flactuate between 3.5 million to 33 million. Hurry. It is our culture.

On the other hand;
They should increase the fees and get the real deal Jeff Koons.
He could make a nice shiny doggy style fuck in front corner. Very appropriate about what goes on upper floor sales.
The 'public' would really like that.

"...Damn, without public I am so lonely in my glass palace..."

Full Coverage @ dezeen

Saturday, September 13, 2008

ART: Ayşe Erkmen

Ayşe Erkmen, Chambal, 1999, Video Still: DVD (PAL), Farbe, Ton, 00:00:14 Min., Loop, Edition von 5 + 1 A.P. © Ayşe Erkmen, Courtesy Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin.

BERLIN.- Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart - Berlin presents Ayşe Erkmen - Weggefährten, on view through January 11, 2009. This exhibition has been made possible through the generous support of the Capital Cultural Fund in Berlin. This exhibition presents a comprehensive solo exhibition of works by Ayşe Erkmen. Taking the spatial features of the museum's architecture as the starting point, the conceptual artist will forge a "path" from the building's exterior to its interior.

Through interventions and installations - including a work specially created for the façade as a prelude - she will interlink the various spaces leading to the actual exhibition site on the first floor of the east wing. She creates irritating situations by staging subtle references to the specific conditions of the exhibition site and the metaphorical associations it evokes. Along with sculptures and large installations, her film oeuvre will be shown.

Born in 1949 in Istanbul, Ayşe Erkmen graduated from the sculpture faculty of the State Academy of Fine Arts in 1977. She took part in the Istanbul biennales of 1989 and 1995 and was invited in 1993/94 to join the Berlin artists programme run by the DAAD. Numerous solo and group exhibitions, for instance in Germany, Sweden and Switzerland (Kuckuck, Kunstmuseum St. Gallen) have followed, while she has also contributed to a number of biennales. Besides her astounding contribution to Skulptur. Projekte in Münster 1997, in 2001 she caused a stir with her Shipped Ships project in Frankfurt am Main, conceived for the Deutsche Bank's art series Moment - Temporary Art in Public Space. In 2002 she was awarded the Maria Sibylla Merian Prize of the Ministry for Science and Art of the Hesse state government. Beginning in 1998 she has taught at the University of Kassel and from 2001 until 2005 was appointed professor at the Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main. The artist lives in Istanbul and Berlin.

Ayşe Erkmen, no time/no flower, 2008 Metal, lacquered, width: each ca. 323 cm © Ayşe Erkmen, Courtesy Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin, photo: Jens Ziehe

via artdaily.org
Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart - Berlin

Monday, September 8, 2008

Where have the bees gone?

It has been a year or two since the media let the story out on the bees disappearing mysteriously from the farms in alarming numbers.

Recently, the real story start to emerge on the same pages of the newspapers. On Tuesday, August 19, 2008 San Francisco Chronicle writer Jane Kay reported that The Natural Resources Defense Council filed a suit against The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, claiming The Agency is refusing to disclose records about a new class of pesticides that could be playing a role in the disappearance of millions of honeybees in the United States.

The article continued to report that;

“In the last two years, beekeepers have reported unexplained losses of hives - 30percent and upward - leading to a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder. Scientists believe that the decline in bees is linked to an onslaught of pesticides, mites, parasites and viruses, as well as a loss of habitat and food.”

Of course, the situation is not concluded on the rising honey prices. As we know, the honey is not the main thing bees achieve...

SF Chronicle article continued;

“Bees pollinate about one-third of the human diet, $15 billion worth of U.S. crops, including almonds in California, blueberries in Maine, cucumbers in North Carolina and 85 other commercial crops, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Not finding a cause of the collapse could prove costly, scientists warn.”

As the article states, the real alarm is about the pollination.

So what is causing all this? A pesticide, article continued,

Clothianidin is the pesticide at the center of controversy. It is used to coat corn, sugar beet and sorghum seeds and is part of a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids. The pesticide was blamed for bee deaths in France and Germany, which also is dealing with a colony collapse. Those two countries have suspended its use until further study. An EPA fact sheet from 2003 says clothianidin has the potential for toxic chronic exposure to honey bees, as well as other pollinators, through residues in nectar and pollen. The EPA granted conditional registration for clothianidin in 2003 and at the same time required that Bayer CropScience submit studies on chronic exposure to honeybees, including a complete worker bee lifecycle study as well as an evaluation of exposure and effects to the queen, the group said. The queen, necessary for a colony, lives a few years; the workers live only six weeks, but there is no honey without them.”

Article goes on to detail defensive EPA and pesticide company and finally lands on the below sentence where I start mine.

“Honeybees, which pollinate everything from almonds to apples to avocados, began abandoning their colonies in 2006, destroying about a third of their hives.”

I have noticed an increasing number of wasps (not necessarily a honeybee) in my own environment which is in the middle of an urban situation a block away from a major street and within a half mile from couple of very busy freeways. Not necessarily, you would think a thriving beehive business would be located.
Several wasp colonies growing under my own home’s roof overhangs, and over the garage door awning of my office only two miles away.
This is not the extension of the growing bee colonies of course, after all, there have always been bees around.
Though, what got my attention, wasn’t the colonies I have seen in my house and office.
I have also start to encounter bees and wasps in places I go to and friends’ places I visit. And my theory start to shape.

I decided to call Terminix extermination Co. and talked to an expert. As expected, they have recorded some increase in urban areas calling for termination of unwanted bees.
I then contacted a company called The Bee Specialist and talked to Ron "the Bee Guy" O'brien who removes bees from residential and commercial properties in Los Angeles area.
According to Mr. O’brien, a bee specialist with the company, there has been an increase on live bee removals but he attributes that to awareness of people regarding bee disappearances, which have been reported in recent years.

So, be prepared to modify your wardrobe soon.

Where have the bees gone? They might have moved to inner cities.

Internet Picture of the Day: Robot Spider

Commuters arriving at Liverpool's Lime Street station were greeted by a 50ft (15m) high mechanical spider clinging to a nearby redundant office block. It has been built by French company La Machine, which in 2006brought the streets of London to a standstill with the Sultan's Elephant. The spider is believed to be "waking up" on Friday. It will descend from its current position on the side of Concourse House on Thursday to be moved to the city's new arena, before coming to life on Friday. The creature will then begin exploring the city later that evening.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Brian A. Murphy in Cross Town Traffic

I don't surf. That does not mean I am not from shore somewhere. Indeed, I was born in a harbor city and was never more than three irregular blocks from the sea. The ancient Smyrna, the contemporary city of Izmir, Turkey. The salt of the water unifies people as they say. The sand of the beach and the salt of the water were my first nature friends.

However, this story is not about me...

This is about Brian A. Murphy, often called BAM among friends.
Brian is an architect whose work proved to pass the test of the time and whose work has chipped out a niche of its own, which is hard to do in a profession with a large 'pool of talent.'

Many years ago, I remember him say, “If my architecture can put a smile in somebody’s face, I feel I have done a good job.”

As natural as a smile feels, architecture is not an art form one can easily dare to attempt and achieve it just like that. Putting a smile on somebody’s face is not an architectural style they teach you in school and give you a license for. That kind of building concept is a pure intuitive invention. It is rare. It requires originality, courage and expertise. I often wonder if sea salt contains those virtues!

2; 00 pm

In this warm November afternoon Brian and I are going to drive Mt. Washington area North of Downtown Los Angeles, in a combo trip, taking care of few things at once and create a script for this article.
I knew this was going to be a special few hours to look at the city, drive by buildings, take pictures and talk about the world in general.
Original plan was to drive to Newport Beach and see a project BAM is recently working on. That did not happen partly due to the absence of his Prius hybrid car, which is on loan to his brother Tim who in turn left his big truck for him to drive around.
Yes, a large spread on a journal like this was less important than a carbon print with a Dodge truck, or something like that! Take note.
Nevertheless, this is even better. Myself, as a few miles radius max. city dweller, I haven’t been in Mt. Washington for a long time.
This city is 'so close far away' sometimes.
Los Angeles is one of those cities that you can see its other parts from distance, reminding you that you are a part of a much larger metropolis.
Before we start driving towards our high destination, we did cover few anecdotes on architecture itself, ie.;
The definition of sustainability according to Brian, is using his paper coffee cup on average one week per cup. The same coffee cup, that is.
Landfills, pollution and two men chorus quickly moving onto politics.

I took few snapshots picturing some waterfront culture related elements in and around his office, which is located half a block from his beloved Pacific Ocean on Channel Road, in Santa Monica Canyon. I shot his picture and he smiled as he did when I photographed him with his mother some years ago.
The office is surrounded by potted urban planting, piles of tumbled brick and glass Brian collects from the beach, turning his office a well-known icon on the last stretch of Channel Road just before the surfers and the beach goers hit the PCH underpass to the ocean.

For those who do not know who Brian Murphy is as an architect, let me just briefly remind;
He is one of the stars of Los Angeles School of architects who were spearheaded by Frank Gehry in the 70’s and throughout the following decades all the way to today.
A genre which featured names like Thom Mayne, Michael Rotondi, Eric Moss, Robert Mangurian, Coy Howard, Fred Fisher and others. All of them helped to shape the architectural landscape here in So Cal, and, yes, abroad. Los Angeles school showed the world that it supported free moves. I saw it all, it happened here. The Venice Beach, to be more precise.
Brian Murphy’s transition from being a lifeguard to carpenter to a well known architect was no accident, he could ride that wave because of his artistic talent. His work among the other names I have just mentioned was a total outsider coup.

How an architecture school dropout could be considered among the ground breakers, ivy school graduates, grid busters, stucco cannibals and space chasers? I know few others tried hard in the group, but for Brian, it was mainly being himself. How great is that for an architect...

The original bad boy, named for his ironic moves of transparent walls, undulating roofs, charcoal drawn fireplace surrounds, ‘s’ curved concrete walkways defying direct line, drafting triangle sconces, clip on chandeliers, see through glass floors, was quickly picked up by no other than ultimate badling Dennis Hopper, at that time almost forgotten between Easy Rider and Blue Velvet, to design his house/studio/workshop in less than glorious inner Venice.

Alright, let’s start the drive...

I offer,
“I can drive but we have to stop and get some gas.”
“No, let’s just go, I’ll drive. You be the author”

Off we go. First PCH then 10, switch to Pasadena Freeway get off at Exit 52.
In between;
W Bush cook and shoot out,
Downtown Cesar Pelli skyscraper window details,
Really bad KPF designed Wedbush Building with several Greek temples on top is thrashed by architects like us.
We talked about my mother and his and I asked how the lemon tree that I gave Brian after his mother passed away is doing. It is apparently doing great.
We talked about his late father showing up as a dolphin when he surfs. I asked him if he has seen him recently. He said, “yes,” he did.
As we approached Downtown, I brought up my article partially titled “La Citta Capitalista Revisited” and as we approached Chinatown, the conversation switched to
Pasadena Freeway itself and its impact on Los Angeles. If I tried to transcribe this fast shop talk about architecture and urban planning, you’d have to insert four more pages here between the Convention Center and Lincoln Heights Exit. Fast talk...

It was like a couple of architects talking in crosstown traffic.
Call it ’Asphalt Chats.’

Around BAM's office and on the road to Lincoln Heights

3;00-5;00 pm

Around Lincoln Heights, the scale of architecture changed as we exited the freeway and start to talk about smaller parcels, unique whiff of the neighborhood, roof overhang details, strange but original residential architecture conditions, yards, entrance doors, building colors, drainage configurations and folk art.
Once again, the built environment as an endless gallery of conversation pieces. Architecture does provide those for you.
Brian has very keen eyes to pick on the bizarre, expressive, human and real stuff.

Suza's House, she built herself on a shoe string budget

We go to our friend Suza’s house, which she built herself. Nice house, great job. Great use of economy, she is East German. There, we meet the Irish framing contractor who takes us to a beautiful house he is framing nearby. For Brian and I, it is like going to a gallery show. In no time, he picks couple of framing detail conditions that is almost impossible to see to most trained eyes like me but I recover my brownie point by pointing to a hard to see plumbing mishap.
Ah, the beauty of architecture before the wrong furniture arrives.
The house is beautiful and perfectly sited. We appreciate that. And, still don’t know who the good architect is...
The construction of the house is looking over the train yards and away to West. Again, the scale of architecture changes along with the sunset time light bouncing as reddish gold from the construction grade press board sheathing, volumes become exaggerated perspectives. BAM points to the patch of ocean view from the cardinally located Mt. Washington.
That means it is time to go home.

Beautifully sited nice house looking over train tracks

We hit the road before Los Angeles starts its Saturday night partying.
If you ever do anything with Brian, you can be rest assured that you will never be late anywhere, you won’t get caught in the traffic, and you will leave the party on exact time that you should.

As we pass by the limos and slowly accumulating rush hour back up, all the buildings we talked before are turning their lights on.
I offer driving back but he is too nice of a person to let me not enjoy the passenger seat and keep talking about Istanbul...
I have been driving around town and looking and talking architecture and other things with Brian many a dozen times, each conversation transversing a great range of territories with their own energy.
This time, I was going to write about it.
We both had to laugh when I remembered that my digital recorder was running all three hours.

On the way back...

5;00 pm

Back in West Channel Road;
“See you later Brian, thanks for driving. I really enjoyed the afternoon, you guys call me when you want me to bring tacos from Gallegos for lunch”
“Si, Gallegos... Say hello to Tina”

By Orhan Ayyüce, Nov. 2007. Photos by the author.
Originally written for 'aborted' Spring 2008 edition of H2O Magazine

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Cities at Night

Chicago at night

Chicago during day

To an observer in space, humanity’s footprints on the surface of the Earth are large and varied. They include the regular patterns of irrigated cropland, straight lines of roads and railways running across continents, reservoirs on river systems, and the cement rectangles of ports and seawalls along coastlines. But what about humanity’s signature footprint—cities? By day, cities viewed from space can blend into the countryside, or appear as gray smudges, depending on the style of development and size of the urban area.At night however, city lights present the space observer spectacular evidence of our existence, our distribution, and our ability to change our environment.
A few years ago, NASA and NOAA joined forces to present the first world map of the nighttime Earth using 9 months of data collected by the DMSP (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program) satellite from an altitude of 830 kilometers (1 kilometer is 0.62 miles) above Earth. That “Night Lights” map, widely distributed on the Internet, helped many people visualize the world’s distribution of people and cities.

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Study/CitiesAtNight/ and many other cities at night. Earth never sleeps...

Orange sodium vapor lights illuminate the port facilities of Long Beach, California, supporting the round-the-clock operations of one of the world’s busiest commercial cargo ports.

Empty Quarter of Arabic Peninsula

NASA image created by Robert Simmon, using Landsat data provided by the United States Geological Survey.

We are now used to hearing futuristic developments taking a place in the neighboring UAE (United Arab Emirates) and the abundance of everything from ocean front apartments to snow skiing under the insulated roofs.
Nearby a vast sea of sand exists, equaling the size of France, Belgium and Holland combined.
Below is a picture perfect story of the said geography via NASA Earth Observotary and Ulrich Munstermann's Flickr account.

The Arabian Peninsula’s Empty Quarter, known as Rub’ al Khali, is the world’s largest sand sea, holding about half as much sand as the Sahara Desert. The Empty Quarter covers 583,000 square kilometers (225,000 square miles), and stretches over parts of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. The Enhanced Thematic Mapper on NASA’s Landsat 7 satellite captured this image of the Empty Quarter on August 26, 2001.

The area shown resides in southeastern Saudi Arabia, midway between the United Arab Emirates to the north and Oman in the south. Parallel rows of salmon-pink and white alternate to create a rippling pattern. White salt flats, known as sebkhas or sabkhas, separate the dunes. These salt-encrusted plains vary in hardness, in some places creating a surface strong enough to drive a vehicle over, in other places disappearing into sand. The sand dunes soar above the salt plains between them.
Caption by Michon Scott.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

QANTARA Interview with Paul Böhm

Paul Böhm is the architect of controversial Cologne Mosque which recently got the go ahead from the authorities amid the protests of the German nationalists and anti-islamists. Following is an interview by Thilo Guschas with the non muslim architect who was commissioned for the work. The project's integration with the existing urban fabric is particularly noteworthy.
The interview was published in Qantara.

"Muslims Should Not Try to Hide"

In order to find an architect for their mosque, a Muslim community in Germany conducted an open tender process. Now the German non-Muslim Paul Böhm was awarded the first prize for his model. Thilo Guschas interviewed the architect

Mr. Böhm, how does one design a mosque?

Paul Böhm: This was the first time we worked on such a project, and it was an exciting challenge! Until now, my father and I had only amassed experience building churches. First, we thoroughly studied the history of mosque architecture. As to our design – you go from the street up a flight of steps leading to a courtyard, which stretches out over two levels. The courtyard serves on the one hand as a meeting place, and on the other hand as an interface between the hectic city and the actual prayer room, which is meditative and calm. All areas can be reached from the courtyard. Next to the prayer room one can also find event rooms, stores, a restaurant, and so on.

Are modern church buildings similar to traditional mosques?

Böhm: Yes, you could say that. One exits the hectic of the city and enters a meditative space where one can find tranquility. This is the same for mosques and churches.

Are you personally religious?

Böhm: Religious, yes, but I am not a practicing believer. And I am also not a Muslim. I am often faced with this question. Yet, you don't have to be a criminal to build a prison or be sick to build a hospital! Instead, what is important is the art of empathizing with the needs of those who will later use the building being designed.

Did your religious convictions play a role in the awarding of the contract to build the mosque?

Böhm: No. Recently, an old developer congratulated me. He said, "I take my hat off to the Muslim community for conducting such an open tender process! We were only allowed to hire a Catholic architect for our church construction project."

Does this openness also reflect itself in your design?

Böhm: Yes, this is why there is a large, inviting staircase coming up from the street. Even the dome, which is made of three leaves and looks like clasping hands, reflects this openness. Although one shouldn't over interpret the gesture, the thought was that here was a place where religions could meet.

How concrete were the guidelines of the competition, for example, as to how to portray the sacred character of the mosque?

Böhm: There were certain functional guidelines – the direction of the prayer room, the division of rooms for male and female visitors to the mosque, and a vestibule where people could take off their shoes. One condition in the competition struck me as being particularly important – the mosque is meant to be a forum that is open to all confessions. This applies primarily to the secular areas, such as the event halls, the Hammam area, the stores, restaurant, and so on. The developers also wanted to attract non-Muslim fellow citizens. We actually hope that our design can help to reduce the great anxieties, which, to some extent, still exist.

In your design, the dome and minarets can be seen from afar. Was this a condition?

Böhm: It was an expressed wish of the competition that there should be two minarets. The dome was not specified as a condition, but was mentioned as a classical element. This is a mosque and it should clearly and consciously present itself as such. Muslims should not try to hide. Every community should be able to present itself outwardly. Signs and symbols are required to present oneself as different. A mosque certainly isn't a Catholic church.

How do you feel about having the mosque being built in a relatively central location in Cologne?

Böhm: For years now, I have regarded the situation of Muslims in Cologne as painful. It took me a long time to realize that some abandoned storefront locations were actually mosques. Prayer rooms in back courtyards certainly leave one with the impression that something forbidden is going on there! Some 100,000 Turks and Muslims live in Cologne. They are all respectable citizens and they require a space where they can pray together.

Do you feel yourself pushed into the middle of a conflict between different interest groups, i.e., the client, city administration, and political parties?

Böhm: The tender was an anonymous competition judged by an independent jury, which consisted of politicians from all parties, church representative, and, to a lesser extent, developers. As such, we did not encounter any tension. Of course, there are those who are fundamentally against the construction of such a mosque. My hope is that our Muslim fellow citizens will find greater acceptance. You don't achieve this when you have to hide away to pray in some dive! When you present yourself in the right building, perhaps you also create more trust.

Every religious community should be able to present itself outwardly, Paul Böhm says

Original article @ qantara.de, via archinect.com, related article

Monday, September 1, 2008

Mini BIG BANG Might Cause The End of All

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a gigantic scientific instrument near Geneva, where it spans the border between Switzerland and France about 100 m underground. It is a particle accelerator used by physicists to study the smallest known particles – the fundamental building blocks of all things. It will revolutionise our understanding, from the minuscule world deep within atoms to the vastness of the Universe.

On September 10, Hadron collider will be activated and smash atoms to re enact the Big Bang. The six billion dollar experiment designed to cause no harm but one German scientist, Otto Rossler, went as far as saying, "My own calculations have shown it is quite plausible that these little black holes survive and will grow exponentially and eat the planet from the inside. I have been calling for CERN to hold a safety conference to prove my conclusions wrong but they have not been willing."

As some other sceptical scientists say this could be the end of the world, they have also sued the experiment in the European Court of Human Rights.

This is what will happen according to CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research)

Two beams of subatomic particles called 'hadrons' – either protons or lead ions – will travel in opposite directions inside the circular accelerator, gaining energy with every lap. Physicists will use the LHC to recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang, by colliding the two beams head-on at very high energy. Teams of physicists from around the world will analyse the particles created in the collisions using special detectors in a number of experiments dedicated to the LHC.

Artist's impression of the Big Bang, the titanic explosion which cosmologists believe created the Universe about 15 billion years ago.

There are many theories as to what will result from these collisions, but what's for sure is that a brave new world of physics will emerge from the new accelerator, as knowledge in particle physics goes on to describe the workings of the Universe. For decades, the Standard Model of particle physics has served physicists well as a means of understanding the fundamental laws of Nature, but it does not tell the whole story. Only experimental data using the higher energies reached by the LHC can push knowledge forward, challenging those who seek confirmation of established knowledge, and those who dare to dream beyond the paradigm.

CERN photographs: Mona Schweizer

Critics say the LHC could create a black hole which expands until it swallows the Earth

This is a statement by the CERN scientists concerning "your" safety;

Concerns have been expressed from time to time about the safety of new high-energy colliders, and the LHC has been no exception. The LHC Safety Assessment Group (LSAG) was asked last year by the CERN management to review previous LHC safety analyses in light of additional experimental results and theoretical understanding. LSAG confirms, updates and extends previous conclusions that there is no basis for any conceivable threat from the LHC. Indeed, recent theoretical and experimental developments reinforce this conclusion. In this Colloquium, the basic arguments presented by LSAG will be reviewed. Cosmic rays of much higher effective centre-of-mass energies have been bombarding the Earth and other astronomical objects for billions of years, and their continued existence shows that the Earth faces no dangers from exotic objects such as hypothetical microscopic black holes that might be produced by the LHC - as discussed in a detailed paper by Giddings and Mangano. Measurements of strange particle production at RHIC constrain severely the possible production of strangelets in heavy-ion collisions at the LHC, which also present no danger - as discussed in an addendum to the LSAG report. On a different note: although the LHC is no danger to the Earth, it may reveal the fate of the Universe by probing the nature of the vacuum.

Let's just hope that CERN is right on their calculations and no black hole build up is as big as the one which could swallow the earth...

Internet Picture of the Day: Dorothy Counts

World Press Photo of the Year: 1957 Douglas Martin, USA, The Associated Press. Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, 4 September 1957. Dorothy Counts, one of the first black students to enter the newly desegregated Harry Harding High School. About the image Reporters and photographers bore witness and recorded the violence that erupted when Dorothy Counts showed up for her first day at an all-white school. People threw rocks and screamed "Go back where you came from". They got their way - after a string of abuses, Dorothy's family withdrew her from the school after only four days.