Electromagnetic Test Town

[Image: An otherwise only conceptually related photo by Steve Rowell shows the LAPD's Edward M. Davis Emergency Vehicle Operations Center & Tactics/Firearms Training Facility in Granada Hills, CA; courtesy of the Center for Land Use Intrepretation].

I was fascinated to read yesterday that a cyberwarfare training city is under construction, to be opened by March 2013, "a small-scale city located close by the New Jersey Turnpike complete with a bank, hospital, water tower, train system, electric power grid, and a coffee shop."

I envisioned whole empty streets and bank towers—suburban houses and replica transportation depots—sitting there in the rain whilst troops of code-wielding warriors hurl electromagnetic spells from laptops against elevator circuit boards, sump pumps, and garage doors, flooding basements, popping open underground gold vaults, and frying traffic lights, like some gonzo version of The Italian Job wed with the digital wizardry of a new sorcerer class, the "first-line cyber defenders" who will be trained in this place, our 21st-century Hogwarts along the freeway. Then they clean it all and start again tomorrow.

Alas. Although this, in many ways, is even more interesting, the entire "test city" truly is miniature: indeed, the whole thing "fits in a six by eight foot area and was created using miniature buildings and houses, [and] the underlying power control systems, hospital software, and other infrastructures are directly from the real world."

Nonetheless, this 6-x-8 surrogate urban world will be under near-constant microcosmic attack: "NetWars CyberCity participants, which include cyber warriors from the Department of Defense and other defenders within the U.S. Government, will be tasked with protecting the city's critical infrastructure and systems as they come under attack. Cyber warriors will be presented with potential real-world attacks; their job is to defend against them. Missions will include fending off attacks on the city's power company, hospital, water system and transportation services."

Which means, in the end, that this is really just an enlarged board game with an eye-catching press release—but there is still something compelling about the notion of an anointed patch of circuits and wifi routers, accepted as an adequate stand-in—an electromagnetic stunt double—for something like all of New York City, let alone the United States. A voodoo doll made of light, animated from within by packet switches, under constant surveillance in an invisible war.

(Via @pd_smith).

Drawing Building Hearing

There are at least two events tonight, Tuesday, November 27th, that are worth stopping by if you're in New York.

[Image: "Salvage Architecture" by production designer Paul Lasaine from Matt Bua and Maximilian Goldfarb's Drawing Building archive].

While I will be busy co-hosting a book release party for Matt Bua and Maximilian Goldfarb—who just published a collection of images from their Drawing Building online archive of "works that convey architectural alternatives, by-products, expansions, or critiques of our inhabited environments"—at Studio-X NYC, 180 Varick Street, Suite 1610, at 7pm, I also wanted to post a quick note that there is an interesting sonic event happening nearby, at 291 Church Street, for a new project by Marc Weidenbaum's Disquiet Junto exploring the sonic universe of retail sounds.

Weidenbaum is a highly prolific, Bay Area-based collaborative producer of always surprising music, sound, and noise projects, including a soundtrack for the city of Lisbon and Instagr/am/bient, which produced "25 sonic postcards" inspired by musicians' images on Instragram.

Tonight's event—part of an exhibition curated by Rob Walker called As Real As It Gets—will be "an exercise in sonic branding," as the participating musicians "will gather to perform speculative sound works that employ as source material documentary audio from retail establishments." Each "will present imagined soundscapes inspired by Émile Zola's characterization of the department store, in his novel The Ladies' Paradise, as 'a machine working at high pressure.'" (Read an interview with Weidenbaum about the project at the Free Music Archive or Rob Walker's essay on the project, "Listening to Retail").

Retail soundscapes will buzz, hum, and sing starting at 6:30pm at 291 Church Street, and, a half-hour later, up the street at 180 Varick Street, Suite 1610, we'll be kicking things off with Matt Bua and Maximilian Goldfarb. Stop by both if you can.

The Cell and the Pyramid

The structure pictured below is a "microscopic pyramid," New Scientist explains, "a cage for a living cell, constructed to better observe cells in their natural 3D environment, as opposed to the usual flat plane of a Petri dish."

[Image: A pyramidal "cell trapping device," via New Scientist].

It was constructed "by depositing nitrides over silicon pits. When most of the material is peeled away, a small amount of material remains in the corners to create a pyramid."

This is called corner lithography, a technique used for creating the "cell trapping device" seen above.

The Giza-like, seemingly alien geometry of the pyramidal cage compared to the wild and barely containable spheroid burr of the cell itself is remarkable. The literally monstrous vitality of the cell caught inside the imposed order of the pyramid offers us an image of two fundamentally opposed methods of material organization in conflict with one another, a collision of orders as if the Gothic met the Doric or the Baroque met the Romanesque.

Interestingly, though, at least according to New Scientist, "Because the pyramids have holes in the sides and are close together, the cells can interact for the most part as they naturally do." In other words, these apparently oppositional modes—the fuzzy and the straight—incredibly, even miraculously, don't interfere with one another at all.

[Image: Via New Scientist].

Functionally speaking, it's as if, from the cell's perspective, the pyramid isn't even there.

Mehrangarh Fort

[Image: Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India; photo by BLDGBLOG (view larger)].

Continuing with the recent series of posts showing photos from India—with apologies in advance for anyone who doesn't want to see these, as I will doubtless keep going for at least several more posts—here are some photos from the utterly fantastic 15th-century Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, Rajasthan.

[Image: Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur; photo by BLDGBLOG].

Mehrangarh is a massive hillside castle on a rocky site filled with moats, walls, battlements, gardens (holding what was described to us, rightly or wrongly, as one of India's first pomegranate trees), an elaborate palace of balconies, arched galleries, and heavily ornamented private residences, and seemingly miles of strategically twisty, misleading passageways and stairs.

[Image: Inside Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur; photo by BLDGBLOG].

All of it overlooks a sprawling desert city lined with the beautiful blue-washed houses of local brahmins.

[Images: Overlooking Jodhpur, including the city's many blue brahmin houses; photos by BLDGBLOG].

Nicola Twilley and I spent the entire day wandering out from our hotel through often absurdly narrow streets, down to the city's broad central marketplace and back—

[Images: Walking around Jodhpur; photos by BLDGBLOG].

—heading up and around again to the fort itself, that hangs over everything like a ship.

[Image: Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, as seen from our hotel; photo by BLDGBLOG].

As I believe the next post—or, at least, a future post at some point—will show, we even did some zip-line tourism over the moats and castle walls...

[Image: Birds flying over Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur; photo by BLDGBLOG].

For now, though, here are many, many, many, many photographs, mixing both DSLR and Instagram (where I am bldgblog, if you want to follow my feed).

[Image: Inside Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur; photo by BLDGBLOG].

However, for the sake of not spending the entire day captioning these images, I will simply let the photos themselves tell the story of our visit. Note, though, because I particularly like this detail, that the spike-studded door you'll see pictured down below is found at the end of a very long, slowly rising ramp, but that that the door itself is installed 90-degrees off from the angle of direct approach. This right angle dramatically reduced the threat (and velocity) of direct charges from battle-elephants, who would thus have been forced to turn extremely quickly in order to collide with the door at all (and, even if the elephant could pivot successfully, it would then ram its head onto the spikes).

Details like this—let alone the dust-covered otherworldly feel of the entire place—give any castle in Europe a run for its money. At times, Mehrangarh felt like a Norman castle—or remote Welsh keep—on steroids (but wait till you see the even more massive and remote fortress of Kumbhalgarh, photos of which I'll also post soon).

[Images: Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur; photos by BLDGBLOG].

Anyway, here are some images.

[Images: Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur; photos by BLDGBLOG].

Meanwhile, don't miss recent posts exploring Chand Baori and the Raniji Ki stepwell.