Infrastructural Opportunism, A Manifesto

Mimi Zeiger presents an Infrastructure of Manifestos at Storefront

[Mimi Zeiger presents an Infrastructure of Manifestos at Storefront on 28 January, 2011.]

Thanks to those that came out to Storefront for Art and Architecture on a chilly Friday in late January to celebrate the publication of Pamphlet Architecture #30: COUPLING and to hear provocative / entertaining manifestos as delivered by some of the brightest minds we know. This was part of the series called MANIFESTO and the theme was Infrastructural Opportunism, which came out of Pamphlet subtitle. Through collaboration with Storefront, we asked each participant to include 10 images and 10 (concise) manifesto points on the challenges and opportunities facing infrastructure in the 21st century. This led to a 100-point collective  manifesto. Our dream team list included: MIMI ZEIGER on manifestos  // INTERBORO on exclusion  //  DIANA BALMORI on realignments  //  PLANETARY ONE on stripping down  //  LYDIA KALLIPOLITI on remedies  //  ANDREW BLUM on tubes  //  JOYCE HWANG on interventions  //  MAMMOTH on expanding fields  //  JANETTE KIM on highjacking  // and we put our money where our mouth is too ... INFRANET LAB on contingency

Joyce Hwang on interventions, with images of work by Sergio López-Piñeiro.

[Joyce Hwang on interventions, with images of work by Sergio López-Piñeiro.]

mammoth on expanding fields, gave a fictional account of an infrastructure

[mammoth on expanding fields, gave a fictional account of an infrastructural meta-narrative.]

Mimi has already published her Infra-Opp manifesto, so we thought we would follow suit with ours. After all, what is an un-disseminated manifesto?

1. Know That There is a System of Systems

Arthur Jensen, played by Ned Beatty, in the 1976 film Network said: You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I wont have it, is that clear?! You think you have merely stopped a business deal -- that is not the case! The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back. It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity, it is ecological balance! You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations! There are no peoples! There are no Russians. There are no Arabs! There are no third worlds! There is no West! There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multi-variate, multi-national dominion of dollars! petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars!, Reichmarks, rubles, rin, pounds and shekels! It is the international system of currency that determines the totality of life on this planet! That is the natural order of things today! That is the atomic, subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And you have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and you will atone!

2. Architects as Expert Generalists Buckminster Fuller, labeled a dilettante and a dabbler in his age, was instead the forerunner of a new breed of designer / thinker that we like to call the expert generalist. Long live the new expert generalists!

3. Be Alert to What Has Just Happened; Be Entrepreneurial.

[photo by Shiho Fukada for The New York Times.]

After a multi-day traffic jam in Hetaocun, China, Andrew Jacobs of the New York Times wrote: Stranded drivers chain-smoked, stomped their feet against the chill and cursed the government for failing to come to their rescue. As the night wore on, fuel lines froze and cellphone batteries died. The residents of Hetaocun, however, saw the unmoving necklace of taillights from their mountain village and got entrepreneurial. They roused children from their beds, loaded boxes of instant noodles into baskets and began hawking their staples to a captive clientele. The 500 percent markup did not appear to dent sales.

4. There is Always Missing Information, Use it. Donald Rumsfeld’s infamous 2002 speech yielded a term that now has its own Wikipedia entry: unknown unknowns. He said: [T]here are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we dont know.

5. Agile Maneuverability Rewrites Protocols

[from There Will be Blood!]

Daniel Plainview, played by Daniel Day-Lewis in the 2007 film There Will be Blood says: Drainage! Drainage, Eli, you boy. Drained dry. Im so sorry. Here, if you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and I have a straw. There it is, thats a straw, you see? You watching?. And my straw reaches acroooooooss the room, and starts to drink your milkshake... I... drink... your... milkshake!

6. Software Can be Big and Physical, Like Hardware

The Medusa Bag was conceived in 1988 to meet the anticipated requirement for large scale water imports to California as well as to Israel, Jordan and Palestine. Others at the time were looking into tanker conversions and pipelines, but no practical economic embodiment of these ideas was found. The bags size and shape have been optimized and the first prototype bag will be built using industrial polyester fabric and special straps. A bag containing 0.5 gigaliters of water would be 465 meters long and 110 meters wide, while a 1.5 gigaliter bag would be 670 meters long and 160 meters wide.

7. Be Resourceful

Thilafushi Island in the Maldives has grown at the rate of a square metre a day, as more and more rubbish is dumped here. Mountains of rubbish – plastic, metal tins and rusty oil barrels – extend as far as the eye can see. Unlike the adjacent resort islands, the only visitors here are the Bangladeshi workers who wade through the sludge and brave the stench to burn the tonnes of refuse that arrive at the island every day. Spotting the potential to generate revenue from the mushrooming island, the government decided to lease part of it for industrial purposes. Additional terrain was created using white sand and now giant cement cones, oil drums and the skeletons of future boats can be seen dotted around. Metal compactors compress junk into blocks for sale to India. Each tonne sells for US$175. The island has grown to such proportions that it now has a café, a restaurant, two mosques, a barbershop, a clinic, a police station and rather unexpectedly, a makeshift zoo.

8. Measurements Can be Misleading, But Oh So Fruitful

Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves is a book about a book about a movie about a house. A series of surveying measurements initially reveal that the house is larger on the inside than on the outside. The discrepancy is less than an inch, but is a sign of things to come. One day a small, closet-sized room appears in the home, although the outside dimensions remain unchanged.

9. Scalar Indifference

A thermokarst lake, also called a thaw lake, refers to a body of freshwater, usually shallow, that is formed in a depression by meltwater from thawing permafrost. This landscape operates by scalar indifference as pools appear and disappear under freeze and thaw.

10. Live By Strategy, Play by Tactic The Russian chessplayer Savielly Tartakower said: Tactics is knowing what to do when there is something to do, strategy is knowing what to do when there is nothing to do.

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InfraNet Lab

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