Archive for June, 2010

June 30, 2010

London in the long 18th century online: London Lives

It’s the Old Bailey archive all over again: London Lives, 1690-1800. Keyword search page.

There are more than 200,000 pages of manuscript material from parish, criminal justice and hospital records, transcribed and marked up for searching.

Maritime Compass points out the maritime applications (and BTW check out their blogroll).

So. WHEN will someone do the same with the VOC archives? (Hint: sometime after the Infernal Snowsuit and Ski Gear Company’s IPO).

June 16, 2010

navy board models for current modelers

Architectural historians can generally count on occupying the position of holders of rather obscure but absolute hieratic authority within their field of study. Architects work as theurges, performatively shaping their universes, but for the most part not as theologians, guardians of esoteric knowledge and the traditions. It’s the architectural historians who guard the keys to their treasure cupboards of specialised language and wisdom. So they get to hold that Foucauldian power-knowledge close to their chests.

In maritime studies that position is divided between maritime historians (who have unquestioned authority over naval biography and record-keeping) and model boat builders. These last are the grognard wargamer technical conscience-bearers of shipbuilding history. Woe betide the earnest historian with his eye on the big, theoretical picture who trespasses on the Napoleonic battlefield, for there lurk in the redoubts platoons of men ready to cut him down for dressing his cuffs in the wrong stripe or carrying his musket wrongly. Those men yield grudging respect, though, to the boat builders, who truly know the mysteries of riders and trenails and chain wales. For in that world, there is no absolute authority, no book that’s better than fairly good and thorough, no item of knowledge that does not contain within it the seed of disgrace and shame, that cannot be trumped by another’s deeper understanding.

As an architectural historian doing ships, you can see that I’m a little worried about these guys.

So I’m glad to have found the Navy Board Models website. Which I hope may help me avoid the more egregious boners.

June 16, 2010

Mary Beard on the Canonisation of monuments

I missed this first time around: bldgblog interviewed Mary Beard, author of The Roman Triumph, back in 2007.

On editing the Wonders of the World series of books:

How much thought goes into choosing the actual sites?

Quite a lot. This started off by me wanting to write about the Parthenon… we want to range from the absolutely bog-standard, normative greatest hits that would be on anybody’s idea of a Wonder of the World, while, at the same time, we want to increase the range of those Wonders. There’s a trade off there, between not wanting to be boringly predictable, and, on the other hand, not wanting to be maverickly odd. …But I don’t know how far you can go down that line of being subversive. …One of the things that I’ve often said is: I wonder what happens if you do Auschwitz? Can you do sites of horror? Can you turn wonder around in that way? It would be hard to know how to do that in the series in a way that isn’t mawkish or that, in some way, makes the monument tawdry. It’s hard to know.

…I want these books to open up culture and history, as well as dissent about culture and history, through the contested life stories of individual monuments and wonders – real or imaginary. I think it’s about using a single object – a single monument, a single wonder – as a kind of window onto not just culture and history but also the controversies of culture and history.

Do you see the series going on to include non-European sites?

We have got the Forbidden City coming up, and the Taj Mahal, too – but there’s a striking lacuna… America, North or South… I’m also interested in natural wonders: the Grand Canyon is only made a natural wonder by cultural re-appropriation. Without that, it’s just a canyon.

…but, in the end, if all you did was invest in the margins, without re-looking – and I think it is a radical re-looking – at some of the things which seem more familiar, it would be a bit of a waste.

On choosing authors:

…I think the key is the kind of marriage you make between the writer and the monument – how you can make it work by getting the pairing right… it’s about being a kind of dating agency.

who the books are for. …I call them the intelligent ignorant.

Part 2

June 15, 2010

beyond the star-shaped redoubt: defensive urbanism in the renaissance

Indirect streets and narrow walkways could be put to use, Castriotto and Maggi argued, as agents of spatial disorientation, leading an invader everywhere but where they actually wanted to go. It was a kind of urban judo, or the city as martial art.

Geoff Manaugh on the deeper arts of fortification.

His links, to CCA’s old Geometry of Defense show, Architecture and the crisis of modern science by Alberto Pérez-Gómez, and Feral cities – The New Strategic Environment.

Also: where does architecture begin?

June 15, 2010

How many pirates off Somalia?

Allegedly something like 3000. More are being countered/captured, but many more are going on the account. I guess it takes a while for crazes to take off.

June 2, 2010

gaza flotilla raises the question: where were you on the ship?

I’m interested in this because the question is exactly what my PhD dissertation is about: where were you when it happened? And what can that tell us about the space of the ship? (I have no axe to grind and no dog in the fight where Israel and Palestine are concerned. I realise I’m supposed to have a moral responsibility somehow about this, but I also don’t know if Sukarno or Suharto was right, or who to support in the current Thai civil war, or who’s right in the Congo, or Somalia. I refuse to be drawn into a position here if I can get away with not taking one there.)

Alas, the BBC World Service totally dropped the ball when their eyewitness Knesset-member interviewee wanted to adjust their rather obviously tilted framing. Here’s what I’ve found so far from trawling their site:

Eyewitness accounts cast doubt on Israeli narrative. Rerereporting of eyewitness accounts. I think this might be the broadcast I heard where the interviewee was interrupted.

CBC actually allowed their eyewitness to speak. Also reporting at the time on attack.

RT video.