Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Sunday, January 26, 2014

From "Man with a movie camera" 1929

I'm not a fan of silent movies, but what can I say about "Man with a movie camera" ? That's great, absolutely great. This is an experimental, documentary film from 1929, directed by Russian director Dziga Vertov, edited by his wife Elizaveta Svilova. The film depicts the everyday life of these Union Soviet cities: Odessa, Kharkiv and Kiev.  
The film has no plot, it's just a record of places, people, situations, objects, even graphic design, the habitat and life of progressive crowded cities, filmed by a man who goes everywhere with a big camera that cant' be hidden. And somebody is recording him for the movie.
As the images have double exposure, one doubts if they are really to be trusted, but the overall impression is that of a progressive country where Communism doesn't show up; everybody is happy, working, enjoying the beach, the games, smiles everywhere.

This is one of the few images of the Communist built environment

An upside down view of a building, think about it! A shot from 1929

What's even more, the film that has not a continuation in scenes, it shows images that are pretty out of the standard in those years: a woman giving birth to a child, half naked women, and lots of surrealist shots.
Needless to say, the camera is everywhere, taking people in surprise and in the most weird places: up in towers, in scaffoldings, in train tracks (let's say in a hole between the tracks), the cameraman is trying to achieve his balance on the doors of a convertible car. It's impossible to avoid smiling while watching the absurd situations. And in the meantime, we enjoy the old cities.

What is interesting is the effort to show a connection between the theatre, the literature and cinema, non existing at that time.
Finally, the camera has a life of its own. It shows up at the theatre, "walking,"  greeting everybody, bowing itself, that's a funny sequence.
Then the airplanes, remember it was between wars, and the faces of emotioned people, at the theatre, of course, watching this " must see" movie.

For further reading:

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Festival of Flowers in Little Saigon, Westminster

In the preparations for the Tet celebration, let´s say the Vietnamese New Year, the Festival of Flowers is one of the events in Little Saigon, in the city of Westminster, Southern California. And I was lucky to be present at this urban event, to visit the stands, specially for the beautiful orchids that were on display.
I was somehow confused because I knew about the Chinese New Year which is celebrated in Chinatown Los Angeles, and had to read in Wikipedia the meaning of the celebrations, that I reproduce here:

¨Tết (Northern Vietnamese, Southern Vietnamese), or Vietnamese New Year, is the most important celebration of Vietnamese culture. The word is a shortened form of Tết Nguyên Đán (Nôm: 節元旦) , which is Sino-Vietnamese for "Feast of the First Morning of the First Day". It celebrates the arrival of spring based on the Vietnamese calendar, a lunisolar calendar, which usually has the date falling between the months of January or February. Tết is celebrated on the same day as Chinese New Year, though exceptions arise due to the one-hour time difference between Hanoi and Beijing resulting in the alternate calculation of the new moon. It takes place from the first day of the first month of the Vietnamese calendar (around late January or early February) until at least the third day. Many Vietnamese prepare for Tết by cooking special holiday foods and cleaning the house. There are a lot of customs practiced during Tết, such as visiting a person's house on the first day of the new year (xông nhà), ancestral worshipping, wishing New Year's greetings, giving lucky money to children and elderly people, and opening a shop. Tết is also an occasion for pilgrims and family reunions. During Tết, Vietnamese visit their relatives and temples, forgetting about the troubles of the past year and hoping for a better upcoming year. They consider Tết to be the first day of spring and the festival is often called Hội xuân (spring festival).¨

Enjoy the pictures, I took them all with my cell phone last Saturday. Please do not reproduce them without my permission.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Is Mc Donald´s flag comparable to the USA flag?

When my husband is driving and I´m next to him, I usually read, and look through the window to learn  more about cities and inhabitants. Last weekend, I took this quick shot of the well known fast food chain, because I was surprised to see the three flags together: United States, California and Mc Donald´s.
And I was laughing at the implicit meaning, so, the three of them have the same symbolism, are they equal or similar in their importance?
Or is it showing a food ideology for the whole country?
At least the USA flag was in the middle :) Welcome, this is America!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pictures of the Cristo Redentor: the restoration works

I´m sharing these wonderful pictures of the restoration works at the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, from the link below, which also has a brief explanation in Spanish.

I was lucky to see it myself, long years ago, 1987, in a vacation trip to Brasil, and it´s amazing.
That´s weird that today I have some patches of memories, but they are not focused on the Christ, but on the Corcovado Morro where it stands, and I can also remember the beautiful design of sidewalks, the exuberant vegetation in the morros, the artisans´ fair, the religious objects left in some corners, the happiness of people singing and playing drums, the bright white sands, and the sun, so hot to burn the skin. For some reason, though I was already an architect, I didn´t pay too much attention to the colorful slums, maybe I was too busy enjoying the vacation.
I hope I could go back some day and enjoy the city as an architect, not a tourist!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Images from the book Fantastic Ornament

I am sharing today some beautiful illustrations from the book Fantastic Ornament 100 Designs and Motifs, by Michel Lienard. They are my screen shots from the preview, except the last one that I´ve downloaded from Google images. Enjoy!

Monday, January 13, 2014

My pictures from the Mission of San Juan Capistrano, California

The story begins in 1775, when Mission San Juan Capistrano was first founded by Father Lasuen, on October 30th. But just a few weeks after the party of padres and soldiers arrived, they received word of the revolt occurring in San Diego. The founding padres, and soldiers decided to leave San Juan Capistrano, and go back to San Diego to help there. Once things had settled in San Diego, Father Serra personally led a party to re-found Mission San Juan Capistrano on All Saint’s Day, November 1, 1776.
Mission San Juan Capistrano, became the seventh of twenty-one missions to be founded in Alta California. Like the previous six missions, San Juan Capistrano was established to expand the territorial boundaries of Spain, and to spread Christianity to the Native peoples of California. Unlike the British colonies on the East Coast of North America, who brought people from their homeland to form colonies, the Spanish believed they could transform the Native peoples into good Spanish citizens. (.....)

After 1812, the Mission began to decline. Many factors were involved in the Missions decline including the earthquake in December of 1812 which caused the Great Stone Church to collapse, the decline in birth rate, the increasing mortality rate of the population due to disease, the inability of Spanish government to adequately protect and supply the Missions with needed goods.
By 1821, Mexico won its independence from Spain, which made Alta California a territory of Mexico. Under new governmental direction, the Mission faced continued decline. By 1834, the Mexican government decided to end the mission system entirely. Soon after the decree of secularization, or the ending of the missions, the land holdings of Mission San Juan Capistrano were divided and sold to 20 prominent California families. By 1845, Governor Pio Pico even sold the Mission itself. The Mission was sold at auction to John Forster, Governor Pio Pico’s brother-in-law for $710, when it was valued to be worth more than $54,000. For the next 20 years the Mission was a private ranch property of the Forster family.
Mission San Juan Capistrano, like California, saw yet another government take over California, when the United States won the Mexican American War in 1848. As part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, California and other western territories were ceded to the United States. With the Gold Rush beginning, and millions of Americans moving to California, Mission San Juan Capistrano would see another great change.

Only a few years after acquiring the territory of California, the United States declared it a state 1850. Many California dioceses and parishioners petitioned the government to have mission buildings and lands returned to the church. People were saddened at the state of the missions. Some mission buildings had been turned into stores, bars, inns, or even stables. Most were falling apart and not maintained.
President Abraham Lincoln responded to the petitioners by giving back the missions to the Catholic Church. By the 1870s and early 1900s, artists, photographers, and visionaries took interest in the abandoned missions. Many wealthy individuals formed groups to campaign for restoration. The Landmarks Club, led by Charles Lummis and resident padre Father John O’Sullivan were Mission San Juan Capistrano’s greatest proponents of preservation. Throughout the 1910s-1940s a great amount of preservation work ensued.
The Mission continues efforts in preservation, with the help of donations each year. Although the Mission is owned by the Catholic Church, it is run by a non-profit organization. This means, Mission San Juan Capistrano does not receive any funding from the Catholic Church, State, or Federal Government for operation or preservation. It depends entirely on the generous contributions of visitors and benefactors. (...)



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