Meeting Minutes


March 5

We met at 6 pm at the Olive Garden in Westwood for dinner. We spent much of our time talking about billboard graffiti after Dan showed us today's Daily Bruin and the flap over the Westwood Medical building mural - which used to be an artist's depiction of the Statue of Liberty with a tear in her eye, mourning the loss of veterans buried in the nearby cemetary. The mural was recently painted over and the Walt Disney Company replaced the mural with a huge advertisement of their upcoming film, Pearl Harbor, in the Statue of Liberty's place. Dan is outraged!

We also went over our presentation for next week. As we discussed last week, Jean-Francois will start us off with an overview of our project and then will bring us into the conversation when he comes to our specific areas of interest (Andrea - natural environments; Dan - artificial environments). Andrea will focus her attention on the design of the website since discussing more specifically the content regarding the corporate takeover of nature will be a part of her paper presentation the following week. Dan will provide some samples of advertising invading on public space, i.e. the Westwood mural.

We finished dinner and conversation at 8 pm.

[top of page]

February 28

Tonight we met at 7 pm in the MIT Lab to paste more articles onto the website. The newest additions appear in the resources section. Jean-Pierre added his resources for Virtual Environments.

We discussed our presentation. Jean-Francois will provide an overview, focusing on our initial outline. Andrea, as the web honcho, will show how the website is an attempt at capturing the flavor of our discussions. Dan will choose some real life examples of how our theme has lived with us throughout the quarter ... somewhat reflective of Dan's Outrage!

We're outta here at 8:30 pm.

[top of page]

February 14

What is the Matrix? Or so we ponder.

What an appropriate film for us to watch . . . particularly as it blurs the line between reality and virtuality.

For next week, we'll have our reviews in for the Matrix. Andrea will work on updating the website, while Jean-Francois and Dan will keep working on abstracting articles they come across.

[top of page]

February 7

Tonight we met at the Kerckoff Coffee House, except that it was too noisy. So we headed down to Ackerman and noticed right away how difficult it is to escape from technology. Ackerman has those campus networked televisions all over the place, and it doesn't look like there is anywhere you can sit to escape having to look at one. At least the sound was turned down very low. Just what we all needed was a blast of MTV-style entertainment complete with advertisements.

While we were discussing our website (speaking of advertisements), we were approached by a guy who was giving away Reese's peanut butter cups if we would help sponsor his trip to Mexico. None of us took the bait, but we were amused that the branding mentality in our public spaces is alive and well. It helps keep us focused on our website project.

Tonight we got into defining critical theory in general - Postmodernism, Neo-Marxism, and Feminism. Jean-Francois will develop a bibliography based on a project he did in the past and we'll post it on the website so people can get a better idea of what these theories are.

We also discussed the Adventure Pass program and how there is an underlying agenda in place so that corporate recreation interests can sell the public on their branding mentality.

Next week, we'll watch THE MATRIX.

[top of page]

January 31

Tonight we met at 7 p.m. in the Media Lab in Powell 246 to watch the sci-fi classic film, WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953), except that Jean-Francois was late, so we REALLY started at 7:15 p.m. Thank goodness the film is only 85 minutes long, so we'll have enough time to view it in its entirety before the Media Lab closes at 9 pm.

We were quite taken by the technology ... not necessarily in the film, but that we were watching a video disc version that Paramount put out a few years back. At some point during the middle of the film, it simply just stopped. It took us a few seconds to realize that we needed to go up to the desk and ask one of the students to flip the disc over so we could finish watching the second half. It's amazing how current technologies have conditioned us to expect instant service.

We chuckled a lot during the film. We noticed right away that the lead female was a librarian and a red cross worker and the stereotypical "scream queen." Oh, and she was a nice girl on top of all that.

And do all scientists have to have German accents? (Dan wonders)

Jean-Francois was amused by the fact that the martians took so long to unscrew the hatch from the spaceship.

Andrea thought it was interesting that heading into the San Gabriels was viewed as a way to escape from the martians and their technological superiority. Angelenos head into the San Gabriels even today to escape the busy world of technology.

All of us will write separate reviews of the film and Andrea will post them on the website.

[top of page]


January 24

Our group decided to meet on Wednesdays, 7-8:30 pm


The three of us initially met in the MIT lab where Andrea gave a brief introduction to Dreamweaver and then discussed how we would organize our group website. Our initial thought is to provide a home page containing a table of contents with links to articles, books, websites, and associations. Articles will contain commentary and analysis. Andrea will work on the initial design/set-up.


Our broad topic is: Critical Theory

We first pondered the question of what critical theory entails and came up with a few critical theory -isms.

Feminism - challenges male experience of authority.

Postmodernism - Foucault; idea of eliminating boundaries; in architecture/art, the image of the classical fusing with the modern.

Deconstruction -ism - Derrida; thought as literal; the idea that when we wrtie we don't write down our true expression; speech is the only true means of expression as thought is contemplated directly.

Neeo-Marxism - Marx, Engles; finding conflict between the individual and a class-structured society.

Our Point of View:

Brainstorming session on technologies and their impact on public spaces.

Internet - both as a public space and a substitution for public spaces; a move away from physical space to virtual public space.

New communication technologies increases control on communities.

Technological Determinist - an engineering mentality. Jean-Francois recommends looking at Michel Calon's Actor-Theory Network.

Three distinct models: Natural public spaces - not human-built; Artificial public spaces - engineered by humans; Virtual public spaces - spaces that don't exist.

New technologies displace public spaces - affects/transforms public spaces.

Our focus:

Impact of new technologies on public spaces.

[top of page]

Return to Critical Theory home