An Evening of Better Blocks and Futurescapes at RECESS

Last Friday at RECESS in Southeast Portland saw some 100 purveyors of urbanity gather for a collaborative event showcasing intersections of art and science as the technological fabric of cities. Organized by the Futurescapes City Tours and RECESS curator Tori Abernathy, attendees were treated to a number of different installations, presentations, and speakers. The focus of the event was exploring the role that technology plays in shaping the city – and how that technology changes us as users of the city.

From FCT’s event page: We live in a world mediated by technology. We rarely, if ever, get a chance to think about how technologies both old and new affect our lives, our communities, and our cities – and how we might shape technologies in new and different ways so that they better represent the things we care about.

Beyond tech as simply smart phones and media players, the emphasis was on the past, present, and future – how taken for granted technologies are mandatory city mechanisms. Systems as basic as sewer pipes to manage human waste are of vital function in the metropolitan landscape. This point was driven home by Matthew Lippincott, who showcased his custom DIY waste disposal system – ideal for when the Big One strikes Portland.

Screen shot 2014-01-18 at 7.33.40 PMSource: NOOSPHE.RE

Representatives from Know Your City and the FCT Portland Research Team were both on hand to discuss their various ongoing projects, and to draw attention to their work on display in the the small gallery space. Amber Case & Aaron Parecki had on display colorful maps of recent Car2Go travel patterns calibrated from day and night usage. Also in attendance were representatives from the Portland Street Art Alliance.

Downstairs in the lobby, a large white board was been set up for live-painting by artist Kyle Lee. Also staged in the lobby was an installation from Better Block PDX featuring a looped video from their September PARK(ing) Day streetscape make-over downtown across from Ace Hotel. A string of blue Christmas lights lead from the video installation up a wall, then outside to a mini-parklet demo where a table and seats were stationed in the street.

From a statement prepared by Better Block PDX for the event: It’s clear that grander schemes need to be implemented to enact radical change to the technology of the street. Ultimately, the aim is to configure these kind of spaces as permanent, not just as a novelty. New York City has seen tremendous success in doing just that. It’s time for the people of Portland to take street-seats and parklets to the next level. 

Check out the below images from the night’s exhibition. Apologies for the low resolution, my regular camera is in the shop.

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PARK(ing) Day PDX – 9*20*2013

Portland, Oregon’s largest ever PARK(ing) Day. PARK(ing) Day is an annual worldwide event by artists, designers and ordinary citizens. We transform metered parking spots into temporary public parklets. We are temporarily reclaiming the space for people. Filmed and edited by Hart Noecker #parkingdaypdx parkingdaypdx.org/ THINKurban.org RebelMetropolis.org

All images and video copyright Hart Noecker, ANTIPHON FiLMS, and Rebel Metropolis.

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