Saturday, October 18, 2008

The 14 Provocations

"...setting out from there, I will put together, piece by piece, the perfect city, made of fragments mixed with the rest, of instants separated by intervals, of signals one sends out, not knowing who receives them. If I tell you that the city toward which my journey tends is discontinuous in space and time, now scattered, now more condensed, you must not believe the search for it can stop."
1) "In the square... old men sit and watch the young go by... Desires are already memories."

2) "the relationships between the measurements of its space and the events of its past: the height of a lamppost and the distance from the ground of a hanged usurper's swaying feet."

3) "Outside, the land stretches, empty, to the horizon, the sky opens, with speeding clouds."

4) "the way your gaze runs over patterns following one another as in a musical score where a note can be altered or displaced."

5) "The pinnacles of the skyscrapers come into view, the radar antennae, the white and red windsocks flapping..."

6) "...the people who move through the streets are all strangers. At each encounter, they imagine a thousand things about one another; meeting which could take place between them, conversations, surprises, caresses, bites."

7) "... it is a colorless city, without character, planted there at random. But this would not be true, either: at certain hours, in certain places along the street, you see opening before you the hint of something unmistakable, rare, perhaps magnificent."

8) "...the network of routes is not arranged on one level, but follows instead an up-and-down course of steps, landings, cambered bridges, hanging streets."
"It is more difficult to fix on the map the routes of the swallows, who cut the air over the roofs, dropping long invisible parabolas with their still wings, darting to gulp a mosquito, spiraling upward, grazing a pinnacle, dominating from every point of their airy paths all the points of the city."

9) "And what a variety of windows looks down on the streets: mullioned, Moorish, lancet, pointed, surmounted by lunettes or stained-glass roses."

10) "... how many kinds of pavement cover the ground: cobbles, slabs, gravel, blue and white tiles."

11) "an avalanche of unmated shoes, calendars of bygone years, withered flowers, submerging the city in its own past, which it had tried in vain to reject, mingling with the past of the neighboring cities, finally clean."

12) "Those who look down from the heights conjecture about what is happening in the city; they wonder if it would be pleasant to be in Irene that evening. Not that they have any intention of going there... but Irene is a magnet for the eyes and thoughts of those who stay above."

13) "The downtown streets displayed goods, packages, signs that had not changed at all."

14) "...every city has at its side another city whose inhabitants are called the same names... the cemetery."

15) "It is more difficult to fix on the map the routes of the swallows, who cut the air over the roofs, dropping long invisible parabolas with their still wings, darting to gulp a mosquito, spiraling upward, grazing a pinnacle, dominating from every point of their airy paths all the points of the city."
"The catalogue of forms is endless: until every shape has found its city, new cities will continue to be born. When the forms exhaust their variety and come apart, the end of the cities begins. In the last pages of the atlas there is an outpouring of networks without beginnings or ends, cities in the shape of Los Angeles, in the shape of Kyōto-Ōsaka, without shape."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Welcome CityStory Participants!

Welcome to the CityStory blog. Our first test project kicks off on October 11, 2008, and will run for 14 days. During this time, you'll be gathering video from your city by responding to daily SMS messages we'll send to your phone using Twitter. Once you've gathered all your video, you can upload it to our FTP server, or deliver it to us in person, depending on what works best for you.

The messages we'll be using for this phase of the project are drawn from Italo Calvino's excellent novel, Invisible Cities. We've selected fourteen passages from the novel that will hopefully provoke you into capturing compelling, imaginative video clips about the urban spaces you inhabit.

Participating in CityStory is easy. Here's how:
  • Follow “citystory” on Twitter [account deactivated, 12/09]. If you don't have a Twitter account, set one up here.
  • Add Twitter alerts to your mobile phone (once you've logged into Twitter, go to Settings -> Devices to activate updates, then make sure that Device Updates are ON for CityStory by visiting the CityStory Twitter page).
  • Every day for 14 days, beginning on October 11, 2008, a new provocation will be posted on Twitter (and will arrive on your phone, if you've activated Device Updates).
  • For each provocation, respond by shooting a continuous (ie, uncut, single shot) video clip less than 30 seconds in length. Use your imagination. Try to find something in the part of the city where you live, work or play that relates to the ideas and imagery contained in the provocation. You can see how we did it with some simple provocations by viewing the sample video.
  • You can shoot more than one response to each provocation; just make sure that each response is an uncut single shot less than 30 seconds in length.
  • All video must be shot in 640x480 resolution. This is the native resolution of the Flip cameras that some of you have been provided with. For those using cell phones or other cameras, make sure your video is set to 640x480. Please don't shoot at any other resolution -- we won't be able to incorporate other sizes into the final project.
  • Save and keep track of your video files. We're going to need to know which provocations your files are responding to when you submit them to us. Once you transfer your videos off your camera or phone onto a computer, label them with the corresponding number of the provocation they are responding to -- e.g. 1_stein.mp4, 2_stein.mp4, etc. This number will appear in the provocations that are sent out via Twitter.
  • All videos must be received by 10:00 AM PST on Monday, October 27, 2008. We will update you here and via Twitter on your options for submitting. Those of you at USC and Keio may want to simply deliver your videos to us in person; anyone working at a more remote location will be provided FTP access in order to upload your work via the Internet.
  • The full set of submissions will be part of a CineGrid Workshop presentation in December 2008. You will receive a credit as part of a crowd-sourced filmmaking experiment, and we'll make sure to keep you updated about future phases of the project!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sample Grids

We gathered some preliminary footage over the past few weeks and composited it into this demo grid to give you a basic sense of how the final project will look. The simple provocations we used for this demo are printed above each set of videos.