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Urbanizing the Mojave Desert: Las Vegas
Publisher: Jovis Verlag
Date Published: Dec 2008
Stock Code: 63934
Total votes: 0
In "Learning from Las Vegas" Robert Venturi and Denise Scott-Brown focused on the glamour of the Las Vegas Strip, analysing the city for its postmodernist qualities while ignoring the Mojave desert immediately beyond. Exploring the city at the same time as Venturi and Scott-Brown, the renowned architectural historian and critic Reyner Banham focused his attention on what he saw as the strikingly modernist spaces of the Mojave desert and disregarded the postmodernist lure of the Strip.
Urbanizing the Mojave Desert: Las Vegas presents neither a modernist nor a postmodernist view of the city and its environment. The text and images do not project ideals of urban development, nor do they solve social and environmental problems. Rather, they present a hybrid landscape shaped and reshaped by practices of everyday urbanisation for a city now characterised as the "first" city of the 21st century. They offer a "third site", exposing the complex but often interstitial spaces of everyday production and consumption tied to physical and virtual place making as well as con-temporary local and global investment. This perspective reframes the seamless surfaces of draped neon lights, curtain walls, and landscape features layered onto the Mojaveʼs stark topography, uncovering distinct strata that respatialise the social, cultural, and environmental implications of urbanising a fierce yet fragile desert.
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Desert America: Territory of Paradox is a survey of the extreme uses and activities that take place in the area roughly encompassing Nevada, Utah...
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Review by Peter Carl, University Senior Lecturer, University of Cambridge.
… transcend(s) the customary generalisations and statistics we deploy when attempting to compre-hend rapid urban growth. It also transcends what Denise Scott-Brown termed the "semiotics" of life-style gratification in the most famous treatment of the city, 30 years ago. … Stern and Huber do not preach; rather they have found a way in which the images capture the primordial drama and the text leads the viewer into the depth of the issue. This exhibition has the potential to make vivid what has so far eluded scholarship, development literature, architects' pronouncements: what is the true significance of the topography of mass-capitalism, how do we understand it, what is our stance with respect to it. This exhibition is about more than Las Vegas, and deserves every support.
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