Polar Inertia: Migrating Urban Systems (L.A. Forum) Ted Kane
          Review By Mario Cipresso

        • In a critical look at current state of mobility and the ubiquitous and multitudinous methods and venues of networked communications, Ted Kane thoughtfully analyzes and documents the resultant transient communities as they manifest themselves in Los Angeles. Kane makes an obvious nod to Paul Virilio's notion of 'polar inertia' where Virilio contends that rapidly developing technologies have the ability to create an instantaneous present that effectively supplants conventional notions of space and sovereignty of territory through unprecedented connectivity.

          Through several essays and some quite rigorous photojournalism, Kane focuses on the phenomena of migrating cities and emergent urban systems. Along with constantly evolving networking and communications systems, Kane identifies the increasing popularity of the Recreational Vehicle as an enabler of nomadic societies. Within the 8.8 million RVs on the road live an estimated 1.5 million people, on a full-time basis. Kane argues that the freedom associated with this lifestyle redefines our ideas of community and challenges our conceptions of cities as fixed settlements. Data and communications networks stretch far beyond the freeways and blazed trails, liberating the individual while continually providing that crucial connection to the city.

          Although Kane looks primarily to Los Angeles, he acknowledges parallel developments in nearby Las Vegas and Phoenix. Those familiar with the southwest United States will likely think of Quartzsite, Arizona. A small town with a permanent population of approximately 2,000 people, it swells dramatically during January and February as it receives over a million visitors in thousands of RVs for its mineral and gem shows. Quartzsite though is a desert condition where Kane emphasizes the urban. He cites the prevalance of urban street camping in Los Angeles where individuals, for a variety of reasons, live full-time in an RV. In many cases it's not preferred shelter, it's a necessity borne of the sheer economic disparity between income and the astronomical cost of housing in Los Angeles.

          The elegant book design, by Henri Lucas & Davey Whitcraft of Los Angeles, is of note as well. Printed in China, half of the publication uses a heavy, brown Chinese postal paper as stock which contrasts nicely with the black text. The extensive photos, which comprise one-half the book and surely required a significant effort, are presented in full-color depicting both urban and desert ideals.

          (Published by the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design and may have limited availability.)

        Your Comment:
        (maximum 250 characters)