Placement was a website that turned a critical eye on culture, with an emphasis on the importance of integrity in process over product. It published frequently from 2005 through 2006, as an online critique of art and design within contemporary culture. Placement provided original content by independent voices – something the internet is particularly good at offering but which blogs don’t seem to be very good at maintaining. It had two phases, originally launched it as a multi-author blog with essays appearing weekly.  My thanks and greatest praise to Seth Edenbaum; Jennifer Hamm; and Chérie Louise Turner. In its second phase, Placement was kept as a journal where I kept essays I’d written continuing that discourse.  As blogs became over-saturated later in 00s, I rolled up the doors and shuttered it.  Unfortunately, I gave up the url and the archive evaporated.

Here, I’m going to archive some of the better essays in order maintain to those efforts and that engagement.  The issues addressed here, not so long ago really, are still near and dear to me.  Creating a good life is an act of conscious choices.

Mission Statement

The concept of “choice” persists through every waking moment. Within culture the act of choice redounds: it enriches our wettest paintings and enrages our thirstiest wars. Placement recognizes these pragmatics from a cultural, aesthetic and temporal dialogue. Our discourse is not specifically in pursuit of the act, location, or persona but reflection on the decisions and intentions en route: a “metaphysics of choice.”

These observations offer an appeal against the deluge of sound bites and marketing feedback that are disguised as cultural anthropology. We concede and embrace that this is a quickly changing world with vast complexities, but it’s imperative that the foundations that brought us here are considered in order to appreciate change as growth. Virtuous and Just ideals appear alien and antiquated in our contemporary cultural landscape. Here, we mean to challenge that assumption as lazy sophistry, illuminated neither by morality nor explication.

The examined life is the one worth living, as judiciously expressed by OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES JR., an extrordinary Supreme Court Justice:

“Until lately the best thing that I was able to think of in favor of civilization, apart from blind acceptance of the order of the universe, was that it made possible the artist, the poet, the philosopher, and the man of science. But I think that is not the greatest thing. Now I believe that the greatest thing is a matter that comes directly home to us all. When it is said that we are too much occupied with the means of living to live, I answer that the chief worth of civilization is just that it makes the means of living more complex; that it calls for great and combined intellectual efforts, instead of simple, uncoordinated ones, in order that the crowd may be fed and clothed and housed and moved from place to place. Because more complex and intense intellectual efforts mean a fuller and richer life. They mean more life. Life is an end in itself, and the only question as to whether it is worth living is whether you have enough of it.

“I will add but a word. We are all very near despair. The sheathing that floats us over its waves is compounded of hope, faith in theunexplainable worth and sure issue of effort, And the deep, sub-conscious content which comes from the exercise of our powers.”

At the age of 92, Holmes was found reading a copy of Plato’s Republic. When asked why? He responded indignantly that he wanted to expand his mind.

Life expands with choice. The act of choice is placement.

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Robert Smithson, Intl. [Placement Archives]

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Originally published – JUNE 26, 2005   Robert Smithson, "Terminal Area Concepts," Tibbets, Abbot, McCarthy, and Stratton, c.1966 Robert Smithson’s distant, mythic, Spiral Jetty is his most familiar artwork. However, it was nearly eclipsed by an earlier and far more commercial proposal to develop the “Dallas Fort Worth Regional Airport”...
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Just finished "Suffering from Comparison," and I wanted to applaud you. It was seriously smart, and the type of essay that I probably wouldn't get anywhere else.

Ben Schicker- Red Elephant

Placement - Something about Something

HeguHegu blog

Thanks for such a nice write up on our beach [re: 'Less Cities More Moving People']... Honestly no one, not even the NY Times put it into such perfect context as you.

Harry- Water Taxi Beach

There's 'Placement', which is awfully smart -- created by and for well-educated, successful industry types.

CM Lorenz- Daily Koz

...Nice site!

Geoff Manaugh- BldgBlog

Where to begin with Placement? It would be too easy to say it's great, that you should check it out - to just take my word for it. Finally there's something to read online that makes you forget that it's on a monitor.

Michael Surtees-michaelsurtees.com