Feb 23, 2020
Placing Words: Symbols, Space, and the City
Posted by William J. Mitchell

Reflections on architecture and the exchange of information in the spaces and places of the city, from the necessity of skyscrapers in an age of Web sites to cities as talent magnets, from architectural bling to the neo minimalism of the new MoMA.The meaning of a message, says William Mitchell, depends on the context of its reception Shouting fire in a crowded theaterReflections on architecture and the exchange of information in the spaces and places of the city, from the necessity of skyscrapers in an age of Web sites to cities as talent magnets, from architectural bling to the neo minimalism of the new MoMA.The meaning of a message, says William Mitchell, depends on the context of its reception Shouting fire in a crowded theater produces a dramatically different effect from barking the same word to a squad of soldiers with guns, he observes In Placing Words, Mitchell looks at the ways in which urban spaces and places provide settings for communication and at how they conduct complex flows of information through the twenty first century city.Cities participate in the production of meaning by providing places populated with objects for words to refer to Inscriptions on these objects labels, billboards, newspapers, graffiti provide another layer of meaning And today, the flow of digital information from one device to another in the urban scene creates a digital network that also exists in physical space Placing Words examines this emerging system of spaces, flows, and practices in a series of short essays snapshots of the city in the twenty first century.Mitchell questions the necessity of flashy downtown office towers in an age of corporate Web sites He casts the shocked and awed Baghdad as a contemporary Guernica He describes architectural makeovers throughout history, listing Le Corbusier s Fab Five Points of difference between new and old architecture, and he discusses the architecture of Manolo Blahniks He pens an open letter to the Secretary of Defense recommending architectural features to include in torture chambers He compares Baudelaire, the Parisian flaneur, to Spiderman, the Manhattan traceur He describes the iPod like galleries of the renovated MoMA and he recognizes the camera phone as the latest step in a process of image mobilization that began when artists stopped painting on walls and began making pictures on small pieces of wood, canvas, or paper The endless flow of information, he makes clear, is not only pervasive and efficient than ever, it is also generating new cultural complexities.

  • Title: Placing Words: Symbols, Space, and the City
  • Author: William J. Mitchell
  • ISBN: 9780262633222
  • Page: 337
  • Format: Paperback
  • Placing Words Symbols Space and the City Reflections on architecture and the exchange of information in the spaces and places of the city from the necessity of skyscrapers in an age of Web sites to cities as talent magnets from architectur

    Jill

    I picked up Mitchell s book purely for the title Placing Words Symbols, Space and the City The title, blurb, even the intro, sounded fascinating how cities provide the canvas and the context for words and symbols to re create, convey and change meaning I didn t realise that the book was really just a collection of Mitchell s monthly columns for the Royal Institute of British Architects Journal from Feb 2003 to May 2005 with one article originally published in the Scientific American The problem [...]


    Michael

    A collection of short essays, mostly written as monthly columns for the RIBA Journal, Mitchell here seems to emulate the prose of the late Stephen Jay Gould His weaving of popular culture and current political references to enhance or construct certain observations about architectural urbanist culture is, ultimately, less convincing than much of Gould s evolutionary science for the lay person contributions to Nature magazine though, as one with a propensity to listen to rap music, I was surprise [...]


    Christo

    Some strong hits and a few stray misses in this collection of essays about urbanism, network technology, fashion, and architecture I enjoyed the variety in the essay styles the perverse satire of Architectural Principals of the Torture Chamber to the comparative essay of the prison experiences of Marquis de Sade and Martha Stewart in Camp Cupcake Blues The collection reminds me of the cultural analysis of Roland Barthes in Mythologies mixed with the techne society criticism of Marshal McLuhan Le [...]


    Will

    in theory, i should love this stuff, but as it s a series of essays, it merely touches on a lot of interesting ideas without really exploring them there are some solid insights, but it never goes beyond casual observer, and i expect from the dean of mit s architecture school i d still like to go and study there though


    Kevin

    atrocious self deception when a jingoist like this calls farenheit 9 11 understated, you know the man lives to convince others, not really comprehend knowledge the technocrats might all be guilty like this.


    Matty

    Brilliant, sometimes humorous, sometimes perverse, essays on social behavior and the role of architecture both in the physical and digital We make the buildings, then the buildings turn around and make us.



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      William J. Mitchell