Unlimited Free Space: Comprehensive Waterfront Plan
Apparently, USI feels in need of some theoretical adjustments...
||We have two more questions. The reason we ask all these questions before we like to say - you have the advantage of having heard the manifesto - we try to ask these questions before we say what we think. Otherwise, it becomes another agreement or disagreement and that's too limited. The language itself is limiting but - do you feel you have the required qualities to become an unlimited specialist?|
I have a hard time grasping the knowledge of unlimited space
and - I can imagine it in a spiritual sense. And then, no. Because I think
of a specialist as being more of a professional...|
I met this guy and he wanted to get this point across that we are so specialized that we are destroying ourselves. I think specialization is great and beautiful. It can prevent a lot of problems to be specialized because you can't do - you don't have common sense, you don't have common knowledge if you're specialized. Some people are made to be more specialized and they can handle that really tunnel or very vertical kind of existence. Other people are made more where they can just do many things. I think it depends more on the person. For me personally, I've never been able to - I don't think I've been able to specialize very good. Too many things interest me. I get tired of doing one thing. Or maybe I am specialized and I just don't know what that specialization is.
||Maybe you're an unlimited specialist. A specialist in what's not limited.|
||Maybe it's a great thing to become a specialist and then to quit it|
||Like a little sprite... It's a severe word, specialist. It's very severe. It's not about family. Specialist is work-related or war-related.|
||It's like the story of the atom bomb. It was in fact a specialist that pushed the button. Maybe he was so specialized, he didn't realize what he was doing. The way to do that is to have this distance from reality. To fly over it and push this button. I think the only possibility to drop an atom bomb is to be a specialist - so that you can forget what you're doing.|
||But he didn't forget. He went mad. And the guy who built it became one of the strongest opponents of nuclear weapons.|
||His brother was the director of the exploratorium in San Francisco.|
||I think for anyone to press that button, it would be amazing not to go crazy. I can't imagine not realizing the consequences of this terrible slaughter.|
||I really appreciate specialists when I want a specific task done. I'm glad there are specialists. If I would like my electricity to be done, I would want a specialist to come in here and do that. Rather than someone who kind of knows - who would miss some details.|
||I think there are possibly some differences between specialists and craftsmen. Someone skilled at what they do. I mean - yeah - people who put shoes on horses all their lives...|
||Aren't they a specialist?|
||Maybe. Maybe not.|
||The entire nineteenth century - most of the inventions were made by the kind of people who put shoes on horses - as opposed to all the specialists in the scientific academies who were constantly sitting around saying that all the things the craftspeople were doing couldn't be done. Because they were so busy sitting in their specialized theoretical seats of inactivity. They couldn't really conceive of the possibility that something in the physical world could actually be changed. They were busy studying Cartesian geometry two centuries after the fact. Whereas it was Faraday - who was basically not one of these kinds of people - who figured out that light was not rays but waves. The nineteenth century age of invention was basically the work of craftsmen as opposed to the specialists in the academies. People like Humphrey Davy and these kind of people who started off in their fathers' carpentry shops and blacksmith shops and boat building shops - they started their own engineering societies that dealt more - and were more open when some guy came in and said, "I don't know who Descartes is but, I just invented this." They would say, "Come on in and join us.' Whereas, if they went to the scientific society, the Royal Academy of Science, they would just say, "Get out of here. You don't have a degree from Oxford. So, you can't hang here."|
||And I think of specialists as being a particular species of animal. Specialized. Which is a really different kind of specialist than what you're talking about. There are very fragile forms of species - especially in the rain forest - where they get so specialized. This frog will eat only this kind of thing - and that's all they can do - that's what they do... When I first think of it, I think of the TV show, 'The Specialist."|
||When we say unlimited specialist, we are addressing this division of work and disciplines. Like, how we split everything up into small parts and create all kinds of different disciplines within the arts, within the sciences, within everything. For the last 200 years, this has been happening. People wanna make all these divisions and become very, very specialized in a very narrow part. Then you understand that in the totality, the relationship between all these different kinds of specialists is getting lost.|
It's the assembly line model on all kinds of work. When you go to
Microsoft you meet this Lara Stein. Then, the next group of people who say
"We're it." But then, you're meeting the next people, who are meeting the
next people - and somehow, there are all these barriers of specialization
that are very firm - they're higher than concrete walls - that lead all the
way to Bill Gates. It becomes difficult to accomplish anything.
same in Bell Laboratories. |
But then you have three kids in a garage somewhere who put together "DOOM." Then all these big corporations get five hundred people trying to make some pale imitation of it. That's because they're unable to break down their narrow conception of what they're doing. The one guy's programming how the animals turn right, while the other guy's programming how they go up. Then, they're both programming different ways - so you have to get a third guy to come in there and make the two programs work so it can go up and right. And then, another guy has to make it go left - it becomes kind of difficult.
Although, again, there's - like you say - you may need the electrician to come to do the electricity rather than to have someone like me come who doesn't know so much - even though he could do the job - but where it would take me two weeks, it might take him two days.
||I think you were saying that you would like to have more wind wheels and different kinds of technology that is more awake. But it's more energy complication. We have electricity, we have energy. But it's not working in a way that you would like to see. Like you were saying that we live in New York and people have their windows open.|
This is the result of specialist activity. Because it's not in the
interest of people to change their routine - to change the way that things
work. That would mean getting new educations. |
Even when I was thirteen years old - I was shocked that there was this energy crisis - which I was also studying in high school physics. They were saying the level of energy in the universe is constant. I cannot be created or destroyed. So, I'm like, "They're saying there's an energy crisis." I was like thirteen years old but to me it was obvious that there wasn't an energy crisis, there was an intelligence crisis because people were too stupid to realize that even if there was no more oil, there would be some way to change the source of energy. At that time there was the possibility for electric cars. That was thirty years ago. They could have made electric cars - those cars could have been solar powered but the specialists of the oil industry, etc...
It's not even that. The oil is not finished. It's just a question of
the people who sell the oil didn't get as much money for it as they were
used to getting. It was lots of oil, still. It's the crisis becomes such
that "We'll sell less oil so, we'll get less money, so we're not going to
do that." It's basically a question of economical consideration. A lot of
people are profiting from this division. |
Also to be a specialist promotes this whole alienation thing. You don't know how to repair something anymore. You have to get a specialist in to do it. You don't understand your everyday devices and the way they operate. When a specialist comes in, it maybe a very, very simple task. It's just that you haven't had the time or the knowledge to look into it and understand it.
The Nuba tribe. Riefenstahl photographed them. They had no specialist
doctors or anything like this. But it was part of everyday language of the
tribe. They were very much into fitness and health. They were naked all
the time and they could identify another person as a silhouette on the
horizon. They could name every muscle in the body - because they had a word
for every muscle in their everyday life - because they were that aware of themselves
and of each other. |
But we have doctors. So, we know nothing of our bodies. we're taught from very young that even the doctors are specialized - so that if you want to know about your teeth, you go to the dentist, if you want to know about your eyes, you go to the ophthalmologist, if you want to know about your feet you go to the podiatrist, if you want to know about your back you go to the chiropractor. Even your body is broken down into specializations of which you can really know nothing about. But, somehow, these "primitive" people do know all about their bodies and do know how it works and which muscle is located to where. Most of us can't even do that little song when you're kids, "Your backbones connected to your -" You know... what?! It's far away because specialization has invaded so far into what we are.
In a way, the idea - or theory of unlimited free space that we've come up with is theoretical at the level of finding some verifications of it. There is this borderline of unlimited free space - because many people talked about the unlimited free space in the mind or in the spirit or in the body. The exterior begins to pose problems.
We're not really approaching it this way but, it is sort of a spiritual practice that says you get in touch with the infinite. You go inside and then everything outside becomes more open. Although, what we're saying by posing this theory of unlimited free space - which is already a theory that's already been posed in other forms - either religious or theoretical, socio-political, whatever you want to call it - by posing it and continuing to investigate it, we are like the craftspeople. I like to say we're not like the Wright brothers or daVinci who got famous for their little designs of how to fly and things like that. We're more like that guy who had like the two second film clip in the movie on the history of flight that jumps off the cliff. Somehow, he contributes to the fact that now we can go from here to California in three hours or from here to London in six hours.
Like when Tesla came up with electric current, Edison was totally against it. His interest was not against it - he probably knew that alternating current would work and it was better but - he had invested so much in the battery, in direct current, that he knew that there would be an economic problem for him. He would lose out on all these contracts if alternating current worked. But alternating current works to this day. Consolidated Edison eventually profited from it.
But then Tesla went beyond that and said something else could work with electricity and no one would ever have to pay for it and everyone could generate their own. J.P. Morgan had replaced Edison with Tesla. But at the moment Tesla said that no one would have to pay for electricity, Morgan said, "Well you're fired." His name has now been barred from the history books and when people think of electricity they think of Edison. Many people at Bell Laboratories - electrical engineers - never even heard of Tesla. They know what a Tesla coil is and think that that's all he did. He had a lot more going on.
What we're looking for is "Where does the boundary between theory of unlimited space - unlimited meditation, unlimited abundance of food, unlimited peace and love - where does the difference between nirvana and paradise and heaven and all these things - at what point does the boundary between this idea that everyone has and can have everything arise to become "No! You can't have that really"? "It'd be good if you could but you can't." Why do these theories exist and why does the reality not exist?
It's interesting because when people are on this borderline - on the waterfront of Manhattan - they're looking for that. We didn't really know that but, it seemed that when we talk to people on the waterfront, that they're looking for free space. And so, they speak about it openly and immediately and they have less questions about it. When we meet people inland - we went to this bar - that other guy last night, Jose - when we meet the people inland - away from the actual waterfront - they're not really in contact with this search for free space. They're more in contact with living space, private space, survival space, some kind of fragmented, specialized space.
It's interesting that that momentary thing happens. It's almost like - to me - it represents the way that people actually work in space, function in space. What's inside your body, all the rules and regulations that we've been told, all the infirmities you've attained over the years. What's outside is where you can still move because the air is not blocking you - you come into contact with other people. There is some recognition that, in most instances, you don't have a violent encounter. No matter what it is. There is a point - somewhere at the level of the skin - where this imaginary boundary has the potential to be like the waterfront.
Finally, I agree with what you said before - that the center would be everywhere because everyone would be the center and every place would be the center. That's probably what real unlimited free space would be - but it would be some kind of total physical, total spiritual event that would happen everywhere.
It's purely a theory - subject to modification.
It's a nice thing that space - in itself -
has the potential for this claim
that we put. Because space itself doesn't hinder the idea of unlimited
free space. It's just a question of what you do with space, what you
produce in it or, how you produce space itself. |
For example, one striking thing is that the professional architects claim to call themselves city planners. In fact, that's not true. The city is planned by the whole society. Not one profession, like the architects. It is interesting why the architects call themselves city planners. What does it come from? They just put instructions or plans on how to organize cities. That's how it takes place. That's the thinking of our profession. That you just distribute space. That the people that are "down there" can be organized by that. But, it's much too specialized for me, this kind of theory. That's what we're doing.
No one ever poses the question of if it's right that we call ourselves city planners. You can study it. It's the only discipline based on city planning. The architectural field.
||And engineering too? Engineering also?|
Engineering - yeah. People who are in this technical field study
engineering. What I think you can see here is what kind of consciousness
of space there is in our society. It's just a sort of void that we have to
distribute. To make parts of it. To divide it into lots. |
That's what this theory is for. Space is much more. It's not a passive container waiting for occupation by plan. Then, the idea of unlimited free space also extends. Unlimited free space doesn't mean "without plan" or "the infinity of the universe." It's a sort of mood you can attempt, a sensitivity for the everyday, the act of communication.
This potential of unlimited free space in peoples' minds and the
communication space around a table, the awareness of this space is also
the articulation of it, that's why we try to ask ourselves what could
this mean. When we talk to people we try to address - to ask "What is it?"
All of us have some kind of wish for this unlimited free space in a much
broader sense. A wish for society and everything to transform over time
until you have a situation where you have that. The first step in that
direction has been taken many times - and is happening all the time.
It's important to have this awareness. If we're not aware, it would take a
lot longer to get anywhere. |
That's why it's interesting to talk to people because you can really - when you first talk to people - you're saying you never thought of it. But, ultimately people think about it a lot. And after conversations with people, you realize in some way or another, this wish for - people call it different things but - it's interesting to see what kind of borders and irritations people feel there are that prevents this from happening. There are even some people who don't want it because it's sometimes a quite scary concept. For us, it is an investigation, a kind of research into where the awareness is and how different people relate to it.
Even this guy's paranoia is an affirmation
of free space. [Jose, from 207th Street] He was just
like, "Danger! Dangerous! Everything danger! Dangerous!" And he was
walking around blocking people as we go across the street. His total
paranoia of this space became a representation of the fragmented behavior
that people generally tend to have. |
One woman said, "I'd like it to be safe, I really want it to be safe." She kept saying how safe she wanted it to be. She was interested in the "quality of life" and all this. She had all the TV, political terminologies for dealing with space, security in space. Then I said, "Have you ever been the victim of any crime?" And she was a New Yorker and she said, "No. But, I get harassed sometimes in the city." "Criminal harassment or guys just whistling at you?" She was never the victim of any crime. I'm sure guys whistle at her on the street - ike in New York where they go "Hey, baby." But she hasn't been a victim of an actual crime. The way some people want it, that could be a crime, of course.
||Eliminating every kind of feeling for the possibility of danger.|
||He's not alone in this. People are all the time talking about [TV announcer voice] "How much CRIME there is!"|
The guy from yesterday was interesting in terms of the mastering of
space. I thought what he was doing was to try to be in charge of the
space. He came from this neighborhood and he sees us in these yellow suits
running around, he feels that he can be the master of
[missing transcript due to computer malfunction]
that. They have to figure it out. I don't stop people and tell them they should turn around but I definitely do think it. Because there's something that is asking for confrontation.
That's what that guy felt. That we were so out of context that he had to protect us.
||Saying something to those women who are likely targets is different from that man, who's getting paranoid about this place being dangerous.|
||He wasn't worried for himself. He was just worried that if we should sit down and have a barbecue, that somebody would come up to us with a knife or punch us in the face and take our money.|
||Maybe he wanted to take your money and ended up not doing it.|
||I think he's kind of a former criminal. He's homeless. He was in the Latin Kings, he said. The thing about criminals is that they do tend to be rather young. He's probably at that age where he's no longer a criminal. But he's perpetrated crimes. In that sense, he's highly aware of the potential of what can take place. Now, he's kind of afraid that that may happen to him.|
||That's a way of telling someone something you know and they don't.|
Yeah. He's a specialist criminal... |
It appears that specimen number ten has escaped from its bag.
||We'd better clear out of here so that Tennessee can work.|
||Yeah, I'd better.|
||And we can get on with ours.|
Modified December 23, 1997