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In the process of attending an architecture lecture I recently experienced some of the disjunctions that make L.A., well, L.A.  First of all, the lecture was fun, with rich, concise ideas followed by a boisterous, mostly friendly discussion amongst an audience of architecture acolytes.  Oh, and second, it was in a storefront in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard surrounded by clubs with lines and bouncers, restaurants, tourists and those stars on the sidewalk.  Hollywood and architectural theory lectures- they just go together like peas and a powder puff.

Anyway, briefly, the talk was about mapping and plotting land for planning purposes.  Once upon a time, surveyors walked and experienced the land when measuring and recording distances and features.  Gradually with the use of photography and then computer systems originally developed to guide weapons, sites for architecture are now mapped without human contact.  Which raises a question: How does this impact the design process of a building?

During the discussion afterwards I especially enjoyed John May's comparison of the failure of modernism to the failure of feudalism- it may take centuries to develop new structures for society.  And I thought someone would just invent some post-something and all would be solved in a few years.  He also pointed out that our use of more and more advanced computer systems to gather information has not really solved any of the problems that existed before we could command these increasing powers of accuracy.  For example, the proudly trumpeted Doppler 9000 used by smiling news teams across the U.S. still can't tell us if it will rain next thursday.

THREE LECTURES ON ARCHITECTURE AFTER NATURE "The Site Automatic" by John May, a Lecturer in the departments of Geography and Architecture at UCLA, and an Assistant Researcher at the Institute of the Environment. His essays on the history and theory of technology and urbanism have appeared in various journals, including Perspecta, New Geographies, Thresholds, and Verb: Crisis

This was the second lecture in the series hosted by the L.A. Forum for Architecture and Urban Planning.  They sponsor lectures, events, architecture tours, publications and competitions.

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