25 November 2007

what lies beyond the spectacle?

From Metropolis: Stephen Zacks on Dubai.

Interpreting the Dubai phenomenon through an uncritical lens of neoliberal economics, the article comes off as pure naivete, bordering on journalistic negligence. Zacks celebrates Dubai's Disney veneer, without cracking the surface even a little bit to expose the shaky foundations that buttress the boomtown's explosive growth. An example: Zacks glosses over the whole human rights / slave labor problem, referring only fleetingly to the 60% of Dubai's population that lives and works in substandard conditions, perpetually under the threat of immediate deportation, as "guest workers." This is dangerous talk, peddling Dubai as some sort of oasis of liberty, sustainability, and social harmony in a Middle Eastern sea of instability—a tourist destination that offers all the perks of consumer capitalism. This isn't Wallpaper, though; it's Metropolis. One expects more from the magazine (and Zacks, I should add, whose writing typically offers a more critical perspective).

My recommendation: a healthy dose of Mike Davis.

link: "Beyond the Spectacle" by Stephen Zacks, in Metropolis

19 November 2007

so long, new frontier

Via Design Observer: the destruction of the New Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas last week. I (perhaps perversely) find it amazing how the demolition industry in Vegas has become a spectacle, an ecstatic ritual set to the tune of Tchaikovsky. I particularly love how the Wynn towers in the background, presiding with complicit and knowing consent...