Mar 31, 2009

Some Sight

Augusta Atla posted this picture of a Robert Smithson (check, check, check) None-site. I like Smithson very much and the idea of the Non-site:

'The Non-site (and indoor earthwork) is a three dimensional logical picture that is bstract, yet it represents an actual site in NJ (The ine Barrens Plain). It is by this three dimensional metaphor that one site can represent another site which does not resemble it - thus the non-site'
Robert Smithson, 'The Collected Writings', p. 364

But looking at it this time, I got the feeling that I'd be much more interested in the surrounding information and documentation. About the actual place and proces. Though Smithson defines the Non-site as a 'three dimensional' 'metaphor' which 'does not resemble' the place it represents, he has not kept from adding that other layer. And that is the part I suppose I would dwell by the longest. Explore and dig out facts about the site and background. And perhaps create a world of my own. Which is something I don't feel the Non-site allows or invites me to do.

Someone who've done something like this is Christoph Niemann - an illustrator who blogs - Abstract City - for NYT. Here's how he introduces I Lego NY:
'During the cold and dark Berlin winter days, I spend a lot of time with my boys in their room. And as I look at the toys scattered on the floor, my mind inevitably wanders back to New York.'

I think there's quite a bit of Non-site in that. But what he does is more like the detailed documentation hanging next to (and is part of, of course) Smithsons piece. He takes known and less known characteristivs of New York, and describes them in Lego, through different types of representation:

Some are practical and instructional:


Diorama depicting a specific situation

Wellknown phenomenon:

Unlikely juxtapositions of scale and subject:

It's brilliant I think - see the rest. He lights his subject from numerous different angles. Which reminded me of something I read by Edward Tufte recently ... actually I think he said it in his review of the iPhone (worth watching):

'To clarify - add detail'

Of course - clarification might not be the goal exactly, but I like the principle. Tufte is the great guru of infographics, and I've been following some of his different advice lately. His website can be labyrinthic to explore, but is full of interesting stuff focusing on the visualiation of information. Fx. this piece about image annotation, consequenty used with the above pictures.

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