Archive for the ‘Finds’ Category

The best photography bookstore in Pittsburgh

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Spaces Corners 2

Spaces Corners 1

I love this store. It made my day when I met Melissa Catanese, its proprietor, a photographer and book lover who moved back to Pittsburgh from New York in early 2011 and opened Spaces Corners a few months later. The second floor of 3803 Butler Street is a quiet and serene space for book buying and perusal. Don’t miss it during your Lawrenceville outing, but if you do, check out their booth at the upcoming Pittsburgh Photo Fair.

P, Public Enemy, Pittsburgh

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Pop City Media – Pittsburgh just sent out the link to the new Public Enemy song & video, Everything. First reason to watch it: an unexpected song for Public Enemy (not sure if it isn’t kitsch though). Second reason to watch it: a lot of it is filmed in Pittsburgh and it renders some of the city’s mood. I always argue that Pittsburgh is a real city with real people (and no boring boutique town) and it pretty much looks like it is in this film. Love it!

Demosplash 2012

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Second Reality

Still from Second Reality, by Future Crew, 1993

With artists Cory Arcangel and Jacob Ciocci, I entered the world of the demoparty. The first night of Demosplash 2012 kicked off with pizza, soft drinks, and a screening of Second Reality, perhaps one of the best known and most imitated demos in history by a Finnish group called Future Crew. For those not in-the-know, demos are short, real-time videos played directly on a computer that feature prismatic color graphics, 3D-like spatial effects at times mesmerizing and dizzying, and catchy techno sounds that make you feel like dancing.  Old computer demos are artworks in themselves. Feats of technical skill meant to showcase and stretch the hardware of a computer through the prowess of programming, like Second Reality (originally released as a PC demo in 1993), set the rhythm for Demosplash’s weekend-long events hosted by the 30-year old Computer Club of Carnegie Mellon. On stage that evening was the Club’s collection of antiques made miraculously functional by a band of miked expert/commentators wearing Demosplash t-shirts running back and forth trading cables between various pieces of hardware, including the Commodore 64, the Amiga, Atari 8-bit, and both the Apple II and Apple’s Lisa to name a few. Sadly, the chiptune rave was postponed due to technical difficulties—all the more reason to come back next year.

For Lovers Of Book Covers

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Book covers by William Burroughs

Covers of books by William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady and John Clellon Holmes and David Goodis

Where the Nation Was Built

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Washington Park playground (Hill District, Pittsburgh), c. 1907

Children playing at the Washington Park playground (Hill District), c. 1907

At the turn of the last century, it wasn’t the aim of playgrounds to provide fun for children. Back then, playgrounds were part of a clear social and educational agenda. The Playground Movement and the American Settlement Movement (an important progressive reform initiative at the end of the 19th century) fought both for the improvement of the mental and physical health in lower-income classes and immigrants.

The Playground Association of America, founded in 1906, spread the idea of structured play in the American cities. As Boston reformer Joseph Lee declared in 1907, “organized recreation is one of the building blocks of the republic. Properly equipped and run by a good leader of  ‘a high personal type’ the playground is ‘a school of all civic virtues.’” Streets were described as a “school of crime.” Playgrounds were therefore perceived as tools to civilize children. Other instruments included gymnasiums, educational storytelling, and free and fresh milk for schoolchildren. In the case of Pittsburgh, the city placed the management of its playgrounds in the hands of the Playground Association of America. The organization’s Third National Congress took place at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland in 1909.

In the 1930s, this approach with its emphasis on physical and moral education moved gradually into what would become the vision of creative playgrounds. Developed by Scandinavian urban planners and landscape designers (and then taken over by many others), the new concepts stressed the conviction that a child is not simply an incomplete adult, but an individual with creative potential.

Gabriela Burkhalter just moved from Basel to Pittsburgh, but still runs Architektur für Kinder (Architecture for Children), a homepage dedicated to the history of playgrounds.

Quotes from Linnea M. Anderson’s “‘The playground of today is the republic of tomorrow’: Social reform and organized recreation in the USA, 1890-1930’s,” 2007, from The Encyclopaedia of Informal Education

Photos from the Historic Pittsburgh Image Collection