we wish you a.....

I am sitting in the transit area of Hong Kong airport, drinking Carlsberg ???? beer (after three months of excellent aussie ales, this is a sad comedown) and being lulled by robotic versions of anglo-euro-american christmas songs on the airport sound system. If Santa Claus is coming to town, I wish he'd just get on with it then f*** off! Anybody want to start an "I Hate Xmas" blog?

But anyway, goodwill to (most) all men & women. But lets send all the useless politicians of the world to a melting icecap or to the scorching interior of Australia where the chances of rain seem to be diminishing by the day. Let them ponder how much time, energy and money they wasted doing nothing in Copenhagen.


season's greetings ...

People powered propeller reduces the ecological footprint.


Hunting Gonzo Architecture !

HUNTING GONZO ARCHITECTURE! - a MASTER TVERR KURS at BAS organized by DAV project teacher Ron Sluik in week 45 / 2009:

A workshop at Bergen Arkitekt Skole / Norway. The project is now kind of documented in a series of weblogs. The aim was to create new personal options in looking ahead more than finding another perfect and final solution for future urban developments.


Surrealist Activity on streets of Leeds

The latest ( print) edition of Phosphor includes an article by Peter Overton about surrealist group activity, including object making, in " lumps of urban fabric shaken well and dropped randomly, or just abandoned and left to silt over..."

Details of mag at:


Google's ghost town

Owing to quantum instability, this town is invisible:



Migrant shopping trolleys

An image from a growing collection of photographs of shopping trolleys encountered in various locations around the world. A daily sight in most cities, and sometimes in more isolated places. It would be interesting to know how and where they migrate, and how often. With electronic tags / tracking devices it would be possible to follow their progress as they move around the city. Somebody could presumably write an iPhone application that would do the trick!

I wonder what the economic consequence of shopping trolley migration actually is? One thing is for sure - the supermarket chains are not interested in allowing disappearing trolleys to eat into their profits, which means that the cost is presumably passed on to us, their customers. A further extrapolation of this thought  leads one to conclude that it is therefore us, the customers, who own this fleet of migrant shopping trolleys that is distributed throughout the cities of the world. Since this distributed ownership is extremely diffuse and impossible to formalize or co-ordinate, it follows that co-owners must all all have equal rights of access and shared responsibility for the fleet. So what should it be used for? A few simple suggestions for guidelines:

Fair Use:
1 - Homeless people who use the trolleys to transport their positions from place to place: this must be considered a priority, on the basis of need.
2 - Racing: an ecologically sound alternative to motor sport: races to be arranged along the lines of 2 man bob sleigh events, on the main streets of major cities, which would be closed to motor traffic.

Unfair use
1 - Drunken yuppies who fill  the trolleys with booze, use them as mobile bars, then abandon or even destroy the vehicle when the party is over: to be actively discouraged, with extreme prejudice, if necessary!
2 - Prototype submarines; it is blindingly obvious that this is never going to work, so submerging the trolleys can only be considered a useless and antisocial act.


A few links to wake up BUU!

The blog has been pretty dormant recently. Everybody is presumably occupied with other projects at the moment. In the meantime, a few things have popped up that are relevant and interesting. A seminar entitled "Photography as Alternative Urbanism", happening in London on November 10th. looks like an event designed for BUU! Hopefully someone involved in this discussion will be able to attend.

My current neighbourhood, Woolloomooloo, Sydney, is an inner city neighbourhood with a rich, colourful and not always peaceful history. It was a site of conflict in the 1970's, when developers wanted to flatten the district to make way for more high rise buildings. Local residents and unions managed to prevent this happening, and the stories of these conflicts were recorded in a series of murals - a few of which still survive. There is a blog devoted to the murals, with some photographic documentation. Wikipedia also has a substantial section on murals, graffiti and street art in Sydney.

I continue my wanderings around the city, gradually moving out into less central areas. The last few days have been spent seeking out Ballardian urban landscapes around expressways, subways and gaps between concrete buildings. I've been trying to find out if there has been any "hardcore" psychogeographic activity around Sydney, but all I came up (via google) with was an example of the kind of "psychogeo light" that the media do periodically and some rather lacklustre academic papers.


Article on Ballard, Iain Sinclair & urban space

The Ballardian website features this interesting article by David Cunningham:



Laneways: By George! Hidden Networks

"Laneways: By George! Hidden Networks" is the title of a temporary public art project currently on show n Sydney. It forms part of the larger public art showcase "Art & About" which is, in turn, part of a month-long festival of food and culture entitled "Crave Sydney".

Produced by Steffen Lehmann, an urban designer, author and curator, the project aims to bring art to hidden, forgotten or overlooked urban spaces, while challenging understandings of the roles of architecture and art. A map published in the guide brochure for "Art + About" and also available online, allows visitors to navigate to a series of narrow alleyways between George Street and Pitt Street in the downtown business district of central Sydney. The projects are all the result of collaboration between groups that include artists, architects, designers, urbanists and others. The project has high ambitions in terms of the discussions it hopes to provoke about urban regeneration, sustainability, our understanding of public space, etc. Whether it will achieve that goal is questionable, but what it does succeed in doing is to create a series of "incidents" that will certainly arouse curiosity, and, at best, provide the accidental visitor with a stimulating and intriguing experience.

All of the individual installations are interesting in the way they interact with a particular urban environment, though the quality varies considerably, and only a minority would stand up to sustained critique as autonomous works of art. Several of the pieces come too close to the kind of "event scenography" that could just as easily belong to an advertising campaign or an elaborate outdoor party, and thereby lose any critical edge that may have been intended.

For me, the single most successful piece is "Forgotten Songs", an installation consisting of a large number of bird cages suspended about four metres above the street, incorporating several loudspeakers that play back recordings of birdsong. The work changes the environment subtly rather than dramatically, and creates a sense of enchantment that draws in the spectator. Another project that aims to bring nature into the midst of the urban environment is "Infinity Forest" which is not so much a forest as a very small grove of silver birch trees inside a mirrored box. The mirrored walls create an illusion of profuse growth, but this is undermined by the fact that the trees are growing in black plastic bags, and they are saplings rather than full-grown trees. So the effect is more like being in a psychedelic display at a garden centre than being in a forest. The result is mildly amusing, but hardly challenging.

A more unsettling experience was to walk through Bridge Lane where a series of strange, pink, hairy sculptures appeared to be growing out of the brick walls. It felt not so much like a dialogue with the space, as an invasion by alien life forms. In the middle of the day these grotesque items had a kind of gothic comic effect, but encountered unsuspectedly at night they could prove to be seriously disturbing to the faint-hearted.

Forgotten Songs, not to be forgotten!

The Infinity Forest - not very infinite and not quite a forest, but an amusing diversion.

The Urban Barcode - an installation of white fluorescent tubes in a dark alleyway. Quite effective, though not quite the "Giant Barcode" promised in the brochure. And the "pocket-sized open air cinema" that goes with it seemed to be turned off.

I Dwell In the City And The City Dwells In Me. Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid!

The Meeting Place, a Serra-esque sculptural installation in yellow nylon material that changes the architechtural space of Little Hunter Street, narrowing it to a small gap that would encourage physical contact between passers-by.

Seven Metre Bar which, according to the publicity should "combine the landscape of weather and topography with the architecture of a catastrophe and the interactive technology of video games. Seven Meter Bar highlights inaction on climate change" But actually, it looks like a small piece of a Jason Rhoades installation that has just been dropped into the street.

Conclusion: full points for a good initiative and for the intention of creating productive disruptions in the urban environment, but not more than 5/10 for the result; most of the works are just not good enought to stand up to the ambition of the project's mission statement.


Stabilising in Sydney

I am currently in Sydney, and will remain here until the middle of December. I will be posting entries to a new blog that is specifically about this trip. The address is http://jaysyd.blogspot.com/. Meanwhile, in the spirit of BUU, here are a few images taken in the vicinity of Artspace, Sydney.

Right across the street from Artspace is Harry's Cafe de Wheels, a fast-food trailer that even has its own website, worth checking out for its extensive photo albums, scrapbook page and history of the cafe. Among the numerous pictures of Harry's customers is this one of Big Paul from American Chopper!


Okin Apartment Project in Seoul

Okin Apartment was originally built in 1971, by the City Metropolitan Government near the Palaces- is the biggest and most spectacular Palace in Korea, and it was the Main Palace of the Chosun dynasty. Okin Apartment will be torn down soon to make a Green Park around Inwang mountian. Inwang mountain literally means "Benevolent King Mountain". It is located south of Bukhan mountain and from it you can see the Palace and the presidential house.

A few weeks ago We (group of artists from Seoul) organized a holiday event at the Apartment where most tenants are moved out but some are not given either an apartment or enough money to move other places and still negotiating for the right of tenants to move new places. This issue is not solved yet but the City Metropolitan Government started to tearing down the apartment.  I think it is actually very meaningful place for us artists involved in.  We will be having talks, walking tours and events, in terms of exploring and excavating an intimate relationship with architecture, history as well as art expression.

Check this out  http://okinapt.blogspot.com/.


Radial Citizens and the Bureau

My short fiction "Radial Citizens" can now be read at:


The story is a part of a sequence developed in response to a brief from Bureau Coordinator Jeremy J. Welsh. There is no resemblance intended between the Bureau described in the work of fiction and any other Bureau, including this one. Please do not call your attorneys. Thank you for reading this announcement.


Video screening in Cologne 29 august


Par Hasard, 2009, by Bull.Miletic, trt: 5’45”

Whir, 2002, by Bull.Miletic, trt: 12’00”

Spatial Traces, 2008, by Jeremy Welsh & Robert Worby, trt: 4’00”

The Go, No Go Detector, 1997, by Jeremy Welsh & Robert Worby, trt: 6’00”

Moving Target, 2007, by Farhad Kalantary, trt: 2’00”

The Day of Removal, 2009, by Farhad Kalantary, trt: 6’00”

Shiva, 2003, by HC Gilje, trt: 8’00”

mekanisk <-> organisk, 2009, by Ivar Smestad, trt: 5’06”

Uten Tittel (Untitled), 2003, by Amanda Steggell, trt: 5’00”

Merkur & Psyche go to the cinema, 2009, by Amanda Steggell, trt: 2’55”

Mais 68?, 2009, by Camilla Haukedal, trt: 1’45”

Motholic Mobble Part 4, 2009, by Kaia Hugin, trt: 6’33”

Screening presented by BUU in collaboration with Kjubh Kunstverein.
Special thanks to Doris Frohnapfel.

Glasstraße 83, 50823 Köln-Ehrenfeld, Saturday 29 August at 21.00

supported by OCA (Office for Contemporary Art Norway)


Ultra Modern, Very Social

The Camels are Back in Town!

Just outside the Botanical Gardens in Oslo Circus Merano are preparing for their annual show. I had the pleasure of walking past the site for a couple of days on my way to rehearsals at Black Box Theatre, and while there is a lot to be said about keeping animals in captivity I have to say that the camels seem to enjoy their mobile lifestyle.

They travel in style - with their own personnel to take care of their daily hygiene and massage needs, after which they have morning hay together, and all out in the fresh air.

Next one please Camel spa Conversing camels Grazing camels


re-burbia.com: reimagining the suburbs

An announcement from a JG Ballard mailing list, forwarded by Paul A. Green:

With the current housing crisis, the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, and
rising energy costs, the future of suburbia looks bleak. Suburban
communities in central California, Arizona and Florida are desolate
and decaying, with for sale and foreclosure signs dotting many lawns.
According to the US Census, about 90% of all metropolitan growth
occurred in suburban communities in the last ten years. Urbanites who
loathe the freeways, big box stores and bland aesthetics
stereotypical of suburbia may secretly root for the end of sprawl,
but demographic trends indicate that exurban growth is still on the
In a future where limited natural resources will force us to find
better solutions for density and efficiency, what will become of the
cul-de-sacs, cookie-cutter tract houses and generic strip malls that
have long upheld the diffuse infrastructure of suburbia? How can we
redirect these existing spaces to promote sustainability,
walkability, and community? It’s a problem that demands a visionary
design solution and we want you to create the vision!
Calling all future-forward architects, urban designers, renegade
planners and imaginative engineers:
Show us how you would re-invent the suburbs! What would a McMansion
become if it weren’t a single-family dwelling? How could a vacant big
box store be retrofitted for agriculture? What sort of design
solutions can you come up with to facilitate car-free mobility, ‘burb-
grown food, and local, renewable energy generation? We want to see
how you’d design future-proof spaces and systems using the suburban
structures of the present, from small-scale retrofits to large-scale
restoration—the wilder the better!

The 20 finalists are now on show and open to public voting -
- sadly, none demonstrate great Ballardian insight. But the suburban
airships are cool.

Urban Screening / Outdoor Projections

The next BUU event is a screening of artists' film and video work to take place at an outdoor location in the back yard of a house in a former industrial area of Cologne on Saturday 29th. August. The event is programmed by Synne Bull and Jeremy Welsh and is hosted by Doris Frohnapfel and Kjubh Kunstverein an independent association of artists and curators. The event will feature short video works by HC Gilje, Amanda Steggel, Ivar Smedstad, Farhad Kalantary, Kaia Hugin, Camilla Haukedal, Bull Miletic, Jeremy Welsh & Robert Worby. Full details of time/place and programme to follow!

Amsterdam in Letters

Amsterdam in Letters is a photo book by Dutch photographer Maarten Helle, documenting typography on buildings throughout the city of Amsterdam. In particular, the book concentrates on typography that is integrated with the architecture, and it is divided into sections that deal with lettering realized in metal, stone and ceramics. The book covers both historical and contemporary sites and is in part an archeological project, looking at the remnants of businesses or institutions that are no longer, but that are remembered through the signs and slogans that remain. The site changes identity, the text remains, the relationship between building and text becomes destabilised, mysterious, maybe even unintentionally ironic.

The book includes an introduction/contextual essay by Willem Ellenbroek, in both Dutch and English. It is visually rich and is an interesting contribution to the ongoing research into urban environments.

More information on Maarten Helle's work can be seen at his website, and there is a short video on the same subject (in Dutch, but it's also quite visual) on You Tube.



SILLY WALK COLOGNE 19.7.2009, from DOMPLATTE to FRITZ-SCHRAMMA-HALLE, here at the corner of the Dom (Cathedrale), Museum Ludwig and Römisch-Germanisches Museum, than 1. lecture at RHEINHALLEN (Old Trade Fair) and 2. lecture at ZOOBRÜCKE, Deutz-Mühlheimer Hafen. http://www.koelnerkomment.de


Digging rubble at Leipzig Fockeberg

Leipzig Fockeberg is an artificial mount in the city built with the rubble of WWII destroyed houses. Many towns have such hills, they are "renatureated", used as parks.


Drammen is the place to be

Drammen Bank

Drammen Shoppingcentre

Drammen Take Away

Drammen Hotel

Drammen Train station

I had my first encounter with the town Drammen last week. It is a town near Oslo. I had some hours to kill waiting for a train to bring me from Bergen to Grimstad. I fell in love with this place. It is the perfect town for waiting. It seems that it had (has?) a bad reputation. A high amount of new developments and new building is going on. Not sure if it works however. There are some nice leftovers of urban archeology from the last century I would like to share with you. I would furthermore like to suggest to BUU to have the next conference in this town. It is the perfect environment for it!


Collective Databank Workshop

I made link with BUU on the blog Collective DB workshop which im running with my students during this summer in Korea. its all written in Korean but at least you could follow some pics and will post videos(final outcome of the workshop, hopefully) soon. This workshop is collaborative ongoing project-ish. we are talking about urbanism/Precarious, hidden cities/forgotten part, memory, creative exchange(with immaterial skills) with ideas of collecting, tracing, following, How does one occupy public space? etc. As part of our ongoing investigations into public and private places; play, Non-Art, and interaction. we are going to construct some events(will be videoed) to explore these notions. Each event can exist at multiple times and is an ongoing event in which everyone can participate and which could (and hopefully students will) extend beyond the limits of this workshop.


and another way of looking at it.

Rain causing urban instabilities at main entrance Sletten shopping centre Bergen.

I will add a few words. I think it is worth considering creating more temporary urban art. Too much art in public space is (sort of) permanent. One could think of circulating art, monuments and buildings over the town. Or to have art under specific circumstances. Like this Muttian Fountain i videoed at the main entrance of a shopping centre. It only appears during heavy rain. At moments when nobody is leaving or entering anyway because of weather conditions. A spontaneous fountain is an outcome to kill the time! ... or is this building just spontaneously crying for us ...


Another way of looking at global urban unstability.

Here is a picture of the city of Bergen one evening this week, made while I was up Løvstakken mountain. There, right in the middle, that white thing is a huge boat from some Russian billionaire who came to visit Norway incognito. No, it is not Noah's boat. It is a yacht designed by poor Philip Starck and it is also not called 'Arc' but just 'A'. Should I write more or is the picture of the world we live in clear enough?


After the frog's gone

Tullinløkka, Oslo, the dead space behind the National Museum, the place where the new museum will not be. Car park. Temporary art space. Hole in the city. The cigar box on legs that was once part of "Kiss The Frog" (the frog got kissed and departed long ago) now seems like a forlorn reminder of all that might have been but never was. Now they have tried to reinvent and revitalise the place with this summer's big stunt "affektert veggmaleri akslererende faenskap assume vivid focus", a post-psychedelic labyrinth that spills out, through a fanged vagina/mouth with inflatable tongue onto the sad and lonely car park that tries to look like a carnival ground. Entering the installation I think "this is a bit like acid rock". Only without the acid and without the rock. There has been a lot of post- or neo psychedelic art in the past few years, while the original stuff has also been re-examined through exhibitions like Tate Liverpool & MoMA's "Summer of Love" and the recent Allan Aldridge retrospective at The Design Museum in London. It's a tendency I've observed with some interest, especially in the work of younger artists who have picked up the references without being burdened by historical baggage or by a sort of calvinist guilt that shuns the decorative and decadent surfaces of psychedelia. But in this case it just felt like a pastiche of a pastiche, overblown, overdone and, simply... over. It's too late, baby. It's like the museum has found itself trapped inside a Bony M song - "crazy like a fool / for Daddy Kool". But D. Kool is nowhere to be found; Daddy Kool has left the building.I wandered alone through the labyrinthine installation thinking "where's the party?" and feeling a bit foolish carrying around the collage mask with red/green lenses that is supposed to let you see the exhibition in vivid 3d. (you don't) 

The brochure/exhibition guide is a lexicon of drivel including such gems as "the group remixes a floorsticker from Central Park in New York producing a "carpet" that covers part of the outdoor area". Meaning that they have painted some grafitti-like stuff on the asphalt. It's about time the word "remixed" was erased from the vocabulary of permissible terms; to say it has become overused would be a massive understatement.

The brochure concludes 
"avaf mixes up a cocktail with elements from Brazilian carnival to prog-rock album covers to Norwegian textile art, to children's colouring books to Tibetan devotional art. Enjoy!" Sorry. I'd like to, really, but it makes me feel nauseous, like too much bad, sweet ice cream.

A couple of kilometers away at the LNM gallery there is an exhibition called "Wall to Wall" with wall paintings by six contemporary Norwegian artists. Proceed there directly, avoiding Tullinløkka. You'll save time and feel better.


TV-Tower at the horizon

a shepard with her flock approaching the city



Testing, Testing / Post-Post  / Bench Bitch


"Synfull" subway and city sounds

Hello BUUs,

there is a thread on an email list for people with synaesthesia I follow that is currently discussing various synaesthetic responses to sounds of the city. I am posting a couple of comments by list members that might be of interest, but as it is a closed list, the responses will have to remain anonymous:

"Whenever I travel on the London Underground system, I always get the unmistakable and very strong taste of rhubarb. Squealing vehicle brakes bring on the taste of very tart and sharp tangerines. One of my Labrador's bark tastes like what I can only describe as cold custard."

"As a student in Boston years ago, I had to stay focused on where I was walking near the subway. All of the high pitched noises upon train arrival would block my vision so that I couldn't see where I was going. It's similar when I walk down a street; I just stay focused on what's ahead by a few feet just in case my sight is blocked by cars and trucks."

"Driving, for me, is always a gamble. You have colors and shapes whizzing by you. Round, all encompassing, colored sounds blaring from people's horn honks (I live in Houston; loads of traffic). Then there are other road noises combined with my own radio's shapely and colorful music I try to drown out all the outside noises with. When I first get in the car and start driving, everything is okay. But, once the shock runs through me the first time I almost run into someone's bumper or don't see someone cutting me off - the realization that all of these distractions are interfering with my own and others' safety -- anxiety takes over.

These distractions, without anxiety, happen in settings where there are large groups of people in close proximity, too. In these settings, it's not so much dangerous or potential meltdown material but it is uncomfortable and a bit mind-boggling. I've become separated from the friends I'm there with or forgotten altogether momentarily where I was originally headed. I'm sure this is more annoying to the folks I'm with more than myself. But, one thing is for sure: it's not social anxiety. It's the overload of too many sounds, shapes and colors."


iPhone painting

The current edition of The New Yorker has a cover made by artist Jorge Colombo using an iPhone application called Brushes. Below is a short video from The Guardian website documenting the use of the Brushes program. (Apologies for the advertising clip that comes first. There's no way to remove it.) Article here.


unstabler and unstabler still

Exploring new heights (depths) of self referentiality. This road goes nowhere (or just goes round). Unstable city as mark, cipher (a sort of poetics).


Shake the foundations!

In response to Amanda's post below - a city built on Dub would shake its own foundations and rock its inhabitants to their core!  I have just watched the dvd of "Dub Echoes" a documentary on the evolution of dub, directed by Brazilian film maker Bruno Natal. The film includes interviews with musicians, producers, engineers and dj's, including some old originals like U-Roy, Lee "Scratch" Perry and Bunny Lee, as well as representatives  of the current wave of post-dub electronica like Kode 9 and Roots Manuva. The sonic engineering of dub is explored and explained as a structural principle of much, if not most, electronic dance music, hip hop and other forms of contemporary urban music. See also an edition of the online publication Vague Terrain dedicated to digital dub - including several downloadable MP3 files, articles and interviews, including DJ Spooky, who is also featured in Dub Echoes.

On an almost entirely different note, another short video to watch is The Guardian's report on a tour of London by Peter Blake's Art Bus. In the sixties, (Sir) Peter Blake was known as one of the originators of British Pop Art, along with Richard Hamilton and Eduardo Paolozzi, and the designer of the album cover for Sgt Peppers. Later he was also known as the former teacher and inspiration to Ian Dury. Here he visits sites related to famous album covers he has designed or contributed to.


Following a nudge from Rennee Turner who I have had the pleasure of working with here in Bergen, I couldn't resist posting this image :-)
- source: www.media.typetees.com

I think that Brandon L. should get one to wear next time he presents music videos that reflect the vibe of the city as he did at the "Cities re-imagined" conference last weekend.

In a similar vein, I revisited Serge Gainsbourg's New York USA, 1964

The Stockholm Exhibition

The Stockholm Exhibition is (currently) an online resource leading toward an actual exhibition to take place in 2013. The exhibition will
set out plans and visions for the development of a 21st. century urban environment. Architects, urbanists and curators have been
engaged to formulate the exhibition and to develop discussions on the website. Click on the poster icon "What is the Stockholm Exhibition?"
to bring up an interactive slideshow that describes the exhibition, its premises and some of its sub-themes.


Recent Discoveries

Images from recent forays into the urban or (sub) urban environments of Bergen, Trondheim and Melhus.