Chicago Connection
Chicago Connection
Chicago Connection
Chicago Connection
Chicago Connection
Chicago Connection

Chicago Connection

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Chicago Radio
In 1981 a Black FM station in Chicago called WBMX began airing a new Saturday night mix show called
Saturday Night Live Ain't No Jive. Its hugely popular DJs, known as the original Hot Mix 5, gave the city's burbling post-disco juice bar (underage + alcohol free bars) scene a more fully rounded sonic counterpart to its live DJ sets, codifying and changing the sound of what was being called Chicago House Music as it grew out of a DJ-oriented performance culture into one more influenced by original musical production.

Apart from the relatively small group of teens who took part in the straightened juice bar scene on the South Loop/Near South Side, and the even smaller group who managed to get into The Warehouse, most young people in Chicago got their first taste of what came to be called house music listening to the WBMX hot mixes on 102.7 FM.

Marina City
When completed in 1962, Marina City was one of the first residential and commercial mixed-use buildings built in the United States and was also the tallest reinforced concrete building in the world. Marina City's greatest achievements, perhaps, weren't technical, or even strictly architectural in nature. Keenly aware that the built environment was "responsive to its social and political environment, whether it leads it...or follows it," architect Bertrand Goldberg sought architectural solutions that would have the power to improve the social conditions in which people lived—and Marina City was his grandest solution to date. As Mies's glass and steel architecture was rooted in the political upheaval of the Weimar Republic, so were Goldberg's designs rooted in the social and cultural upheaval of late 1950s, early 1960s America. 

Conceived as an antidote to the post-war exodus of the working class to the suburbs, Marina City strove to induce people to live downtown, something previously unheard of. Goldberg's diverse floor plan also anticipated an emerging "new family constituency." As increasing numbers of women entered the workforce, couples delayed having children, and divorces became more socially acceptable, new configurations of families—including single parents, and older children living on an independent basis—began to develop as an alternative to the dominant archetype of the nuclear family. Institutions, however, were slow to recognize this shifting landscape, and only due to Goldberg's own personal lobbying efforts was he able to persuade the Department of Labor that Marina City was appropriate to qualify for funding under their regulations, which stated that "the FHA was for family living."

The mixed use of Marina City combined working, recreation, shopping and living in the center of the city in a single complex of buildings for the first time in America…When we built Marina City we were compelled to fight and we fought successfully to revise the zoning code and the FHA regulations to permit the planning and financing of a mixed use project with housing. Today if we fail to build mixed use projectsif we fail to create neighborhoods in our city centers we recognize we are endangering the future life of our center cities.

Marina City was the project of the janitor’s union. It was meant to bring exurbanites back into the city. It was meant to add new jobs, new life, even for the janitor’s union. And it was mandatory for us to try for design development leading to a new humanism in city living.

We have learned how to combine many things that people need for the good life: In addition to security, there is a profound need for communicationnot just communication by telephone or the written word, but by body language, by activity, by recognition, by joint effort and activity.

We have not fulfilled our promise to ourselves for democracy, for humanism, for using mechanization to give us a better life. These main targets for change in the human condition are still to be achieved. I doubt if they will be achieved by the sleazy glitz of postmodernism.

Medium Cool
How far is the media in control? Is what you're seeing real, distorted or contrived? Medium Cool is to take this underlying theme and to mould it into a exploration of inner city life, American society in a period of huge change, and the power/needs of the media in a TV dominated world, while, in parallel, producing a gripping record of what it's like to be in the centre of a demonstration that's spiraling out of control.

The title of Haskell Wexler’s film of 1969, which suggested a critique of Marshall McLuhan’s distinction between ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ media, Medium Cool suggests that video is an idea rather than a technology; as an umbrella term for a particular set of practices, it promises democracy while at the same time threatening to reduce images to information.


Oldenberg, who grew up in chicago, has long been fascinated by the changes that take place in common objects when they are enlarged to monumental proportions. A simple baseball bat, when it reaches 100 feet, becomes more than a mere enlargement of itself. it can now be seen, for example, as a 100 foot sculpture column which happens to have a bat shape. As a monument it can be seen as a commemoration of baseball as an american institution or of the steel construction industry to which Batcolumn owes its existence. Batcolumn like Oldenburg's other monuments is a combination of seriousness and whimsy.

Public sculpture is a tangible discipline which tells us of our history, our time, and spirit. Much has been written on Chicago’s rich architectural heritage but less attention has been given to the fine examples of sculpture in the city.


Miro Chicago is made of steel, wire mesh, concrete, bronze, and ceramic tile. The playfully poetic images of Joan Miró’s art comprise a private mythology derived from the artist’s memories of his homeland in Catalonia, Spain. Using his unique visual symbolism, Miró imbued this sculpture with the mystical presence of an earth deity, both cosmic and worldly. It faces opposite the Picasso near the Cook County Administration building.


The New Bauhaus
The history of the Institute of Design ultimately began in 1919 Germany, with the founding of the Bauhaus in Weimar by the architect, Walter Gropius. The Bauhaus was a school whose stated purpose was to educate architects and designers, who could apply good modern art and design to the manufacture of industrial products. More than that, the Bauhaus had a strong humanistic bent that aimed for cultural integration. Its intent was also to educate the whole person, to give them the means to live more harmoniously in the industrialized world.


In 1922 the Association of Arts and Industries was established in Chicago to further the application of good design in industry that would enable it to better compete with European products. The Association hoped to establish a school to train artists and designers to work in industry. Arrangements with the School of the Art Institute did not work out and some of the members of the Association of Arts and Industries turned to the Bauhaus as a model of what their school should be. Walter Gropius had left the Bauhaus in 1928 and the Nazi regime had closed the school permanently in 1933. In 1937 the Association invited Walter Gropius to direct a new design school in Chicago. Gropius had just accepted a position with Harvard University, but he recommended one of his closest Bauhaus collaborators, László Moholy-Nagy, who had taught there from 1923 to 1928.

Moholy became director of the school, called The New Bauhaus: American School of Design, and classes began in October, 1937, in the remodeled former Marshall Field mansion at 1905 South Prairie Avenue. Its curriculum was essentially that of the German Bauhaus with the introduction of some academic classes taught by faculty from the University of Chicago. However, financial problems and other factors led the Association to abandon their support of the New Bauhaus and it did not reopen in the fall of 1938. 

In February, 1939, László Moholy-Nagy opened his own school, The School of Design in Chicago. Its first campus was at 247 East Ontario Street. Many of the faculty and students of the New Bauhaus joined the School of Design and the school also had the support of former Association of Arts and Industries members, especially Walter P. Paepcke, the chairman of the Container Corporation of America. The School offered day and evening classes, and Saturday morning classes for children. In 1939, 1941, 1942, and 1945-1947 a six-week summer course was held at a property near Somonauk, Illinois, which was made available by Paepcke. There was also a rich program of guest lectures. 


In 1944 the school was reorganized as the Institute of Design in Chicago. In 1945 the ID moved to 1009 North State Street. During the summer of 1946, a six-week symposium was held there, "The New Vision in Photography." In fall the ID moved again to 632 North Dearborn Street, where it remained for a decade.

In November, 1946, Moholy died of leukemia, and was succeeded as director by the architect, Serge Chermayeff. Vision in Motion, the definitive statement of Moholy's educational philosophy, was published posthumously in 1947. It is copiously illustrated with activities and products of the Institute of Design.


Thief is a singular film that portrays the life of the high-end burglar like no other. By peopling the movie with real thieves, real cops, and local Chicago characters, Michael Mann made the outlandish story utterly believable and gripping. Mann's style mirrors the blues—a man with nothing, who has something, has it taken away, and sacrifices everything to get it back. The screen is a black night canvas painted with neon, the flash of diamonds and the electric burn of a welder's torch, with only brief respites on the sunny beach of San Diego after the score. We visit a world of rocks glasses amber with bourbon, meet night people who come home as the sun rises, who steal riches while we sleep, and get to know an ice cold thief who knows the only way to survive on your own in that world is to have nothing.


Ray and Charles Eames' “Powers of Ten”
The “Powers of Ten” represents a way of thinking—of seeing the interrelatedness of all things in our universe. It is about math, science and physics, about art, music and literature. It is about how we live, how scale operates in our lives and how seeing and understanding our world from the next largest or next smallest vantage point broadens our perspective and deepens our understanding.

This first “Rough Sketch” version of the film has two clocks in the corner showing the comparison between the viewer's time and that of earth time. As the viewer's speed increases, earth time, relative to the viewer, also increases. There is also a 1968 National Film Board of Canada film entitled Cosmic Zoom which covers the same subject using animation. It is wordless, using sped-up music during the return trips to normal size.

The final film, “Powers of Ten,” begins with an overhead view of a man and woman picnicking in a park at the Chicago lakefront — a one-meter-square overhead image of the figures on a blanket surrounded by food and books they brought with them, one of them being The Voices of Time by J. T. Fraser. The man (played by Swiss designer Paul Bruhwiler) then sleeps, while the woman (played by Eames staffer Etsu Garfias) starts to read one of the books. The viewpoint, accompanied by expository voiceover by Philip Morrison, then slowly zooms out to a view ten meters across. 

The zoom-out continues at a rate of one power of ten per 10 seconds, to a view of 100 meters, where they are shown to be in Burnham Park, near Soldier Field, then 1 kilometer, where we see the entirety of Chicago, and so on, increasing the perspective and continuing to zoom out to a field of view of 1024 meters, or the size of the observable universe. The camera then zooms back in at a rate of a power of ten per 2 seconds to the picnic, and then slows back down to its original rate into the man's hand, to views of negative powers of ten, 10−1 meter and so forth, revealing a skin cell and zooming in on it until the camera comes to quarks in a proton of a carbon atom at 10−16 meter.

In the book form of “Powers of Ten,” the reader is strongly advised to read the essay entitled ‘Looking at the World’ at the beginning, before delving into the main body of the text with its very attractive pictures. As the authors say here: "The images finely perceived by eye and brain in a sense span the scientific knowledge of our times. Behind every representation stands much more than can be imaged, including concepts of a subtle and often perplexing kind. Yet it is probably true that the linked conceptual structures of science are not more central to an overall understanding than the visual models we can prepare."