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This blog wishes it be known that the opinions presented herein are the sole responsibility of the author, and do not represent the feelings, opinions, ideas, or conclusions of any affiliated organization or group. Additionally, the author has chosen to keep the blog confidential during the Olympic Games 2008, as the reaction of the PRC towards foreign opinion remains ungauged. Thanks for reading.
Beijingfuturesdreams, 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

August -- The Futures Present Opinion: A collection of Images

Today, we revisit the main hub of the Olympics 2008, between Pangu Hotel (the Torch), The National Aquatic Center, and the Bird's Nest. Ranging outside the fence once more, the following images were gathered, and will be briefly discussed.

The first Image is the megalithic clock. Understandably, a public countdown clock to any large event helps to build the excitement and anticipation amongst those who passby. The original Countdown clock was unveiled in Tiananmen Square nearly four years ago. Since then no -less than 5 additional clocks speckle Beijing's Highways. Police Stations and public facilities have also sported these wonderful devices, and as time went they all ran on towards Zero. I am searching for an official count of the number of countdown clocks across China, and more information on how prolific they are outside of the capital.

And now...there they all stand. Zeros across the board. The question of their purpose in times to come probably isn't much of a concern at this moment, but as years go on all of these relics are sure to become a collectors item for the generations that were most impressionable during the countdown. I wonder what kind of effect a constant reminder of this nature has on an individual, a community, or an entire culture.

Omega, the offical time keeper of the Beijing, Vancouver, and London Oympics has unveiled the Vancouver installation, and has plans for a similar version in London. We would like to consider the stark contrast of these clock in comparison with another monolith tribute to Time -- The Clock of the Long Now.

The Long Now Foundation began building the Millenium Clock in 01996, and the first prototype was initiated on new year's eve of 01999. We add an additional digit to these dates because of the scope of the project -- building a clock that will run accurately for 10,000 years. The prototype design is currently being improved for a larger version that will stand in an undisclosed location in Nevada, US.

To sum up a comparison of these two projects in less than a hundred words. The Olympic Clock was built to run to zero, and stand as reminder to millions that there was a bigger idea to build towards. The Clock of the Long Now has been designed to run for 10,000 years, and stand as a reminder to millions that there is a bigger idea to build towards. So far pretty similar.

But the ideas that drive the difference between countdown, and count-on, are quite different. The Olympic Clocks drive the building of monuments that will likely last less than a hundred years. The amount of human/natural resources, mind/idea power, and even things as mobius as "national spirit" required to build towards an event like th Beijing Olympics is draining. The fallout for China after the games is already coming under speculation in some circles.

Meanwhile, the ideas and challenges that drive the design and construction of a clock that will last an amount of time equal to the length of human history is transforming. The type of thought, resources, and energy that pours into a solution for this kind of problem is altogether differnt than that listed above. As is the end outcome.

This series of images comes from a new housing development directly across the street from the epicenter of the Beijing Olympics. Constructed in the past 3 years and openend in late 2007, this housing development was partially created for some of the families reocated for the building of the Olympic venues.

I thought it poigniant that these large concrete based towers were encrusted with pieces of broken of ceramic art. Shards of vases, tile, and fine "china" create an interesting montage. Especially considering the outcry from the estimated 250,000 people who were moved to make way for the construction of this proud national monument.

Just food for thought.

These last two Images are short, ambient eye-pieces, meant to give tribute to a major driving force behind the Beijing Olympic Games -- the nation of 1.3 billion people. The Olympiad has been a unifying factor for the nation of China, and many different projects on display around the Bird's Nest attest to that. These "Sponsors" and other like them have led very interesting existences during the build up to the games.

On a positive note, these projects serve as a testament to the inspiration and creativeness that have been born as a result of these games. The sense of national pride, and unification have spread across the huge expanse of China. For seven years, a goal and purpose behind China's development stood in the public mind, and stood as evidence not just political rhetoric. On the otherside of the argument is a complex question -- What will fill this void in the years to come?

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