Here is where our future projects (interventions, speculations, events, or what have you) will go, right underneath the flying pigeon logo, in place of this text. This text that was not easy to write. Writing about one's own existing projects is problematic enough, not to mention projects that don't exist yet. But rest assured they will, and we can only hope that they will intriguing, compelling and just clever enough to pique your interest and cause you, dear reader, to be dazzled by our ingenuity, and maybe even start to see the city in a new way, and even join up. But until then this text will have to do. Now, if your interest is in fact piqued - and we sincerely hope it is - at this point you should be asking yourself a set of questions. The question that is all but unavoidable and that you should probably be asking first is: Just what type of projects will be going here? This should be followed by a secondary set of concerns that are no less valid and would include the proceeding: Why and what am I being encouraged to join? Why “DUB?” Why is there a pigeon set to take off and where could she (we tend to think of all pigeons - as opposed to rats - as "she’s") be heading?
Unfortunately, the short answer is we really don’t have any particular responses to elucidate this excellent set of questions. We’re still formulating our own answers. But rest assured that the projects that go here will, through a modest mix of self-made and self-guided humor and creativity explore the possibilities for an alternative engagement with our urban environment that move beyond the culturally irresponsible tract architecture has taken in failing to confront the excesses of our consumer culture. Our alternatives will exist as a sort of game, in the liminal, unstable urban spaces - a type of terrain vague where overlapping bureaucratic landscapes render space forgotten, and allow the construction of speculations on architecture. The projects that go here will begin to define the boundaries of that game, but in lieu of those projects, like we said, for the time being we’ll have to make do with this text.
But first, we should briefly mention the urban, the “U” that holds the middle. To get a sense of where we’re coming from, try to imagine an urban environment where the dividing line between art and advertising has collapsed, and where all motivations become suspect. The throw-up on the wall is not innocuous graffiti but rather screaming for attention and grasping for viral fame. The interactive art display that you play on the sidewalk and pass everyday on your way to work was just an elaborate game to sell you shoes. Buzzwords come and go, but they all exist for the sole purpose of hoping you’ll consume something. A walk through any public space becomes an exercise in selective processing of what’s trying to be sold and what’s offered for free. This contemptible environment not only represents our natural habitat, but also the possibility for an expanded territory of critical practice. For too long we’ve ceded more and more territory to contrary interests, whether through apathy or outright collusion. We don't propose to be perfect, far from it, we expect to fail as much as we succeed, but we can try, and we need your help. When the institutional structures of authority began to exercise their power and collaborate with the scale of the street the potential emerges for architecture to operate as an undermining force.
Which is where the “Betterment” part comes into play. It is not a particularly profound statement to say that our urban realm has been developing for the worse. We’re reminded of this daily. The paternalistic top-down strategy of traditional urban planning has failed, a waste of heroic labors, succinctly stated courtesy of Horace: “The mountains will be in labor, and a ridiculous mouse will be brought forth.” Or to put it in a more blunt way: the central office has no brain. Through a means of distributed, uncertain projects, that praise disorder, chance and ambiguity, we can find programs that intervene and transform the fixed prejudices of urban planning and discover new opportunities for architecture to provide an un-architectural sense of relief for even a couple local people in our community. We can match modest labors with exceptional gains by turning even a few of our neighbors into consciously critical observers. After all, active engagement, not just spectatorship, is the whole point of citizenship.
The most important part here, then, is that all interventions should be built. The whole betterment thing defeats itself if it is merely image based and speculative. No one would argue that fictional realities aren’t interesting, but testable realities are more rewarding. Only the tangible matters, the intangible works pretty well for speculative design blogs, but at the expense of the local.
So at this point we’re left with no clients, zero budget and programs only restricted by ingenuity. Not out of necessity, out of choice. A liberating set of limits that can have an amazing impact, a refreshingly welcome situation where our labor is our art and the streets are our playground.