My 2011

This has been a busy year for me. Yet, looking back on my entries for 2011 it seems like only a small portion of what I actually did made it into this space. Partly it was because of my busy work schedule; partly it was because I’ve been trying to find new ways of capturing and presenting what I think is interesting. I don’t want to turn One-Way Street into a link-a-minute blog. While most of what I write about here originates in material elsewhere on the Internet, I try to provide some commentary and context. At the same time, I’m still for a way to fulfill Walter Benjamin’s ideal of a purely presentational writing without any commentary of my own. I continue to work on it even though Benjamin himself never found a good balance.

Back in January I redesigned One-Way Street to allow for a more varied presentation. The wider main column allows for larger images and greater flexibility for video presentation. I’ve also introduced entries written in Storify. While the application has its limits, I like the idea of presenting a story as it develops. Perhaps as Storify develops I will be able to make better and more frequent use of it.

Today I want to review some of the key blog entries from 2011. These aren’t necessarily my best entries or the most popular. They’re also not a “best of” list. Other people have compiled some excellent best-of-the-year lists. The most interesting one is the Million’s Year in Reading feature.

The entries below captured a moment when I learned something and I was doing my best to convey what I had learned and why it was significant.

  1. The Seven Year Itch: The rebirth of public art in Chicago. For better and for worse.
  2. The Art of Fielding: A perfect balance between realism and literary allusion.
  3. Hugo: An updating of the cinema of attractions, it’s the film I watched with the most personal pleasure this year.
  4. The Good and the Ghastly: Our world, half-reborn again. It’s a world of commodities drained of all metaphysical trappings.
  5. The Cronocaos exhibit: Rem Koolhaas’s provocative and cogent argument against preservation.
  6. The battle for Prentice Women’s Hospital: It’s still standing, but now I know why historically significant buildings get torn down.
  7. Reveal: Jeanne Gang’s elegant account of how a small architectural firm develops their ideas. Gang won a MacArthur Genius grant this year.
  8. Roads of Water: August Contento’s languid, mesmerizing look at life on the Amazon. Like no other documentary I’ve ever seen. The soundtrack is by Ken Vandermark.
  9. Enrique Sobejano’s lecture on architecture as landscape: A patient explanation of some of architecture’s more obscure principles.
  10. Visitation: Jenny Erpenbeck has created a great political novel about a piece of land in eastern Germany. It’s a sort of Yoknapatawpha County of the GDR.

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