Monday, June 04, 2007

Post-Postopolis! Blues

[Image: The Postopolis! crew: (l-r) Joseph Grima, Jill Fehrenbacher, Geoff Manaugh, Bryan Finoki, Dan Hill, and Gaia Cambiaggi (photo by Nicola Twilley)]

So, I’ve finally awoken. I think this is the first time I have done so in the last week. And I am no longer in New York City, in that killer studio on the upper west side, or in the truly bunker-esque subtopian gallery space that is the Storefront. No, I am no longer in that place we called Postopolis! for one full week, seven surreal days now that will surely slip further into the precious realm of future daydreams as I sit here at my little tabletop in San Francisco again, an all too familiar chunk of space, and try to make sense of it all, try to reassure myself that I was actually in New York City for the first time, that it was really me standing in front of a bunch of people embarrassingly babbling my incoherent head off about border fences and floating prisons, that it was actually me meeting some of the coolest people I have ever met in my entire life, putting faces to words, matching web monikers and emoticons to physically tangible smiles and the sounds of chuckles that poured out from behind them, while trading beers for business cards and wiping the sweat off my brow, forgetting to eat lunch almost daily for being so ridiculously engaged in what has to be one of the coolest weeks ever in the crazy times of Bryan Finoki’s rambling silly little ongoing world of worlds.

[Yours truly rambling through pseudo-captions to wacky collection of images at a million miles an hour hoping I could go fast enough so that no one would notice I might not actually be making any sense. Postopolis!: Pecha Kucha: Subtopia, Photo by Joseph Grima.]

Like my partners in crime in all of this I am incredibly torn suddenly being back home. It’s over. Like a line in a cheesy melodramatic soap opera break up, "It’s over." In fact, I didn’t want to come back home at all, but was hoping that Sunday was merely a break in between the action and that come Monday Postopolis! would some how resume its normal programming, and that without a hitch (aside from the normal resident and truly charismatic hitches that go with the territory) that the show would go on! On one hand, my energy tank has been so simultaneously drained and re-filled again as a result of the whole thing that I am incredibly sad it has come to an end, but am also feeling like I might in some obnoxiously hippie kind of way be ready to in fact take over the world as a result of it.
Now I don’t want to get weird and sentimental about this, but seriously – this was one of the best times of my life. I know, crazy! And I can’t even express that enough. Not nearly. For all the talk about blogs and their effect on conversation (real life or otherwise), this measly blog post right here forming under my jittery fingertips seems ironically and indefinitely inadequate right now to describe just what an amazing time I had.

[Image: The facade of the Storefront. Photo by Bryan Finoki.]

I will, of course, be relaying in a fractured narrative of some sort over the next couple of weeks, maybe even month, much of what transpired from some subtopian angle of sorts, but for now, there is much personal stuff to say and get off my chest.
So, first. Thanks to all who made it out to the event and helped make it what it was. I think we are all feeling thunked over the head by just how damn fun, engaging, diverse and expansive it was, just how planned and yet perfectly accidental it was. I hope all you who attended and participated thought that it was a giant success, too.

[Image: Photo by Dan Hill.]

And (without turning this into a mock award speech of thank you’s and I’d just like to say, kind of a thing), I do just want to say – it was truly incredible meeting everyone. From those nutty blogger partners of mine (Geoff, Jill, and Dan) who were ballsy enough to work with my crazy hyper-enthusiastic ass, to all the speakers we invited who were some how as excited as we were to participate in this thing, to the whole Archinect crew (John, Susan, Quilian, Aaron, Enrique, Larslarson, Futureboy, Marc), to all the bloggers who also came out to play [Miss Representation, Enrique Gualberto Ramirez (aggregat456), George Agnew (Architecture of Fear), Chad Smith (Tropolism), Abe Burmeister (Abstract Dynamics), John Hill (Archidose), Ryan McClain (Architecture.MNP), Alec Appelbaum (NY Magazine), Quilian Rilano (GSD School Blog)], to all the long time friends I had not seen for years who suddenly showed up to see me squirming like an anxious freak in front of people pretending to be savvy, all the way to the all those random New Yorkers in the street who watched and laughed at me as I obviously fell in love with their bad-ass city before their eyes and who was unable to stop himself from expressing it to them in drunken fits of Bfunk passion.

[Image: The Archinect crew on a panel discussion. From top to bottom: Aaron, Enrique, Susan, John, Quilian. Photo by Bryan Finoki]

Seriously, I’ve never participated in anything like that before, and -- talking about a convergence of things -- I could not have imagined that so many elements would have come together the way they did, or the sheer firing on all cylinders that took place like that in order to some how engineer Postopolis!. I think I slept one night last week and made more genuine connections with people in that time (that I will definitely follow up and collaborate with in the future) than I have in the last two years here in San Francisco. Oh New York! Oh Postopolis! where for art thou!

[Image: Geoff conducts a live telephone interview with Mark Wigley on blogs and architectural discourse for all to hear at the Storefront.]

I know you were probably expecting me to blog like a madman about the whole thing so I am sorry if I let you down in that regard. But, I think the real value has been in somehow bridging the virtual world of bloggerdom with an actual node in physical space where people could come together out from behind their anonymous virtual identities and just talk, and listen, and smell each other and raise a glass to some shared idea and space in the sultry New York heat.
(And I’m also sorry if this is turning into one of those annoying super-personal self-indulgent awfully narcissistic diary-like blog entries, but this was truly one of the best times of my life! For other special reasons, too – I mean, I was completely overwhelmed by my romance with the city, with ideas, with future possibilities, with a beautiful woman even!! It was one crazy-ass bubbling over of good times that now seems crammed into my head like an overstuffed archive, or a frozen filmic spree of snapshots and random emotional imprints that I can’t seem to verify as actually having registered in real time.)
Ok. I promise - I will try to move on.

[Image: Jill leads a discussion panel on sustainabile design with Susan Szenasy, Graham Hill, Allan Chochinov.]

Now it seems like a shame to not consider what should become of it next. We have talked some about it already and have gotten enough response from everyone who was there that Postopolis! should indeed turn into a regular event of some kind. Whether replicated yearly in New York or as a migrating event around the world, the sense that Postopolis! could and should become a kind of place, a permanent space, a hybrid little city of ideas and exchange within itself, part café by day, part bar by night, frothing like an intellectual arcade through out the day – I think that would be so fucking cool! Postopolis! ongoing, traveling, unending, unfolding, widening the range of architectural topics, a ceaseless conversation about all things spatial. That just never stops!

[Image: Joseph Grima, the man behind the Storefront enjoys a little suds action.]

Of course, before we get carried away, there is the biggest thank you of all that I owe, and that is to Joseph Grima and the entire crew at Storefront (Camilla and Jess and all the others – forgive me if I forgot your names!). It was a brilliant juggling act of seat-of-your-pants tinkering with gears and machinery and tangles of cords and on-the-fly puppet master artistry. Joseph worked the place like the transparent behind-the-scenes inner workings of a street side magic show, climbing ladders twirling knobs, tending to this informal architectural animal that he somehow managed to tame in order to convert the Storefront into an absolutely perfect Postopolis!-defining space. And, in the end, I can’t really see this event being initiated anywhere else.
So Joseph – dude, man….I can’t tell you how awesome and inspiring this has been, and how truly excellent it was to collaborate like that. As you say, “this is just the beginning”, and well – needless to say, that was one helluva start.

Some initial Postopolis! Coverage with an Ode To Dan Hill – The “He-Man Stenographer of Postopolis!"

So, like I said, I will be posting bits and pieces of what really stood out for Subtopes in the near future, as I know the others will, too, but in case you are looking for some coverage right away let me offer a few quick sources.

[Image: Dan Hill, A blogger on a rampage at Postopolis! Photo by Bryan Finoki]

First and foremost, let me point you to Dan’s own brilliant coverage, in case you haven’t come across it yet. The man was incredible, sitting there in front of the whole show, with his laptop propped up on a little fold out chair, his fingers working quadruple time, each with a mind of its own, coordinated finger sculptures that pressed down on short cuts and keyboard commands like pieces of handmade architecture, nomadic over sprees of lettering. I have never seen anyone like that listen so intently to the speakers, getting it all down in the computer, interpreting, editing, adding images, pulling links, moving text all around, breaking to ask questions, resuming some display of stenography that has surely evolved the science of blogging. Just check out City of Sound. The entire event blogged in real time. I called him the “He-Man of Postopolis!”. It was incredible. I was blown away. That dude simply has an intellectual eye-and-hand coordination I will never possess.
There is also a great collection of YouTube videos of most of the presentations on the Storefront website, that are really excellent. We tried to record everything so it could be archived in some way and we are still working out how we might add to this in the future. There are only ten minutes worth of each presentation online but still they give you a good insight into what and how it all went down.

[Image: The closing party on Saturday night of Postopolis! June 2, 2007. Photo by Bryan Finoki.]

Then there is this great thread on Archinect. A piecemeal collection of random thoughts, snippets, reflections, postings by editors Aaron Plewke, Quilian Riano, some sweet pics by Susan Surface, and random extracts by many other observers.
In case you need more pictures, we started a Flickr pool here, which has some great collections of shots and scenes as it unfolded.
So, take a look.
Of course, watch BLDGBLOG and Inhabitat for future stuff, too. But that should hold your curiosity in the meantime.

[Image: While this is only a rendering for the proposed facade at the Storefront, and not an original photo, it still shows you pretty much the way it looked. With that, I leave us to imagine the future space of the next Postopolis! Image by Joseph Grima. Click here for a larger version.]

So, with all of that finally said, I also just need to say thanks to everyone again: Geoff, your energy for all of this was truly inspiring, I found myself just trying to keep up at times. Jill, so cool to finally meet, but honestly I can’t think of any better circumstance for doing so. Dan, like I said, you’re the man.
Now all that is left to say I think is - let’s do it again!


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