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THE POSSIBILITY OF EMANCIPATING ARCHITECTURE ge age a m I m I o ual t n to Time s i V from lustratio Il from

CATEGORIES OF ESTRANGEMENT The possibility of future urban forms seems to release a vast array

of both utopian and dystopian energies. The most interesting cases of this are those that manage to include both of these vectors, play them off against each other and thus generate a profound insecurity that allows us to enter into a “beyond-good-and-evil” experience – not in order to remain there, but to use this levelling or willing suspension of previous aesthetic beliefs and socio-cultural hierarchies as a means to grasp what is emergent instead of residual in our present.

Sven-Olov Wallenstein

The research investigates how architecture, a unique spatial and aesthetic experiential device, engages the paradoxical and complex realities of the everyday and can be transformative and create new imaginaries. Specifically it investigates the emancipatory as that which can transform through different techniques of estrangement, the building’s autonomy, its presence and its representation. Using different architectural case studies, the research looks at how spatial and aesthetic techniques (e.g., devices such as windows, facades, colour, the building envelope, the plan, the section) through different scales – from object to city –, can estrange, mobilise/ provoke/ install emancipatory alternatives and situated freedoms.



OPPORTUNISTIC OPTIMISM This research is accepting opportunistically the current condition, with the believe that change can only come from within, making dirty hands while proposing critically something other, a new imaginary,

‘beyond good

and evil’. By interrupting, or even disrupting

the structures of power as Susan Buck-Morss explains in her article ‘What is Political Art?’


Politics should be about making peace, not in a naïve sense of us all just getting along as Rodney King expressed it, but in an awareness that certain structures of social life make peace impossible: by their very nature they pit classes, or sexes, or race or nations against each other. It is these structures that need to be attacked, in their everyday banalitynot by blowing up buildings, but by blowing up the significance of our seemingly insignificant everyday practice of compliance. And it is here that the cultural avant-garde finds a military mission. If it shocks us in the midst of our mundane existence and breaks the routine of living even for a second (the enemy within ourselves is this routine of living), then it is allied with our better side, our bodily side that senses the order of things is not as it should be, or as it could be. The time of this avant-garde is not progress, but interruption – stopping timefrom within! At the same time the research understands that there is as Jan van Toorn explains a paradoxical relationship between thinking and making. He quotes Rem Koolhaas: ‘I make the mistakes that the theoretician does not want to make.’ (…)

China Central Television Headquarters (CCTV)


streetview China Central Television Headquarters (CCTV)

estranging Mies disruption of ventilation grills and construction lines

Endless Mies


another Icon instable form, plinth relations city and informal verus formal construction

and van Toorn continues It is precisely the acceptance of the ‘speculative inadequacy’ and it recalcitrant way of dealing with the conditions of the communicative reality that create scope for new phenomenal forms that invite spectators and readers to the work all over again and to make of it what they want. I believe that partial views, imperfections and unfinishedness, room for surprise and irony as being part of the knowledge production, the being part of the world, instead of viewing from a distance, conversations instead of a universal monologues, living with contradictions and opening up the cliché of the binary distinction, by the activation of the object as knowledge is what is important. This what I call an ‘opportunistic optimism’ approach delays (puts on hold) judgment (from an ideal idea, or critique in advance) as long as possible: you analyse; see what is there without prejudice, map it, operate within it to see its transforming possibilities in situ. And you believe, are convinced, that working from within, the everyday, (including its cyborg, artificial, virtual, media, popular transformations) can give situated freedom a chance to blossom. Not negotiation, but possibilities from within are mobilised. Not the formulation of ideas that once applied in reality can only disappoint, but what reality has to offer can change the world. ‘foster new fields of reference’

IMAGE NOT VISUAL: THE CCTV HEADQUARTERS To understand architecture, we look at the relational aspects, what architecture produces through its participa-

performative criteria are important, but also the way the autonomous object, the imaginative presence and potential tory (programmatic) potential. These

of the form, itself produces political effects/ forms/ aesthetics/ images to “foster new fields of reference’ , is


streetview China Central Television Headquarters (CCTV)

China Central Television Headquarters (CCTV) tile on vieing deck on top of old CCTV tower in Beijing

essential to take into account, since without autonomous presence there can be no relations. Architecture is both about relations, and about representation and presence of the object and its appearance. Helpful to clarify what another ‘representation’ could be, what you can call a dialogical one, is the distinction Serge Daney makes between the visual and the image. ... I call ‘image’ what still holds out against an experience of vision and of the visual. The visual is the optical verification of a procedure of power (technological, political, advertising or military power) the verification that something functions. In that sense, clichés and stereotypes are part of the visual. If the visual keeps us from seeing (because it prefers that we decode, that we decipher, that we ‚read’), the image always challenges us to carry out montage with others, with some other. Because in the image, as in democracy, there is ‚free play’, unfinished pieces, gaps, openings. This is what I belief is at stake when we look at the image that the China Central Television Headquarters (CCTV) is producing. To unpack the issue of representations, to surpass the dialectical trap of either presence or representation, we need other images. An image, that holds out the only one way of seeing, that challenges us to think different, to open for


possible other

The CCTV building resists the celebration of the media house as just another icon (brand), and favours a much

more dynamic understanding of its representation. The CCTV building as icon represents the power and media in China, but through its changing loop-form is at the same time deflating this image. It does not provide power in China an easy icon. Both on content and on a formal level the conflation of different media (loop, program, construction, tectonics, scale, bigness) produces a fundamental dissymmetry between media, provoking a

representations of the CCTV in different media

filmstill movie Nike x CCTV - Nike Gold Projections at CCTV Headquarter

distortion or destabilisation of identification and representation. Will analysing the CCTV building I have collected all kind of paraphernalia related to the CCTV, from real estate folders laying around in hotel lobbies, Chinese television news presentations of the building and the building process, the endless production of CCTV souvenirs, and what struck me was they all portray the CCTV from the same perspective; as a ‘stable’ building, with a platform base, two towers, slightly twisted and a connection at the top. While the actual experience of this loop, from the street, is in fact very unstable. The loop is a visual effect, no skyscraper, establishing an urban site, rather than a point to the sky. It challenges you to rethink it from every position you see it, its sculptural effect with its constant changing appearance, being a Z, I or otherwise estranging formation in relation to its environment. As audience you become a participant in asking what it is. As audience you become a participant in asking what it is. To analyse, understand and present these estranging aspects of the CCTV, you need other techniques of registration and presentation, beyond mere illustration. I have and will be experimenting with what the philosopher Gilles Deleuze calls “time-images”.

The philosopher Gilles Deleuze in his books Cinema 1: Movement-image and Cinema 2: Time-image writes about two kinds of cinema where the role of the image is a totally different one. The movement-image relates, according to Deleuze, to pre-war classical cinema. It follows a sensory-motor scheme: characters in certain situations react upon what they perceive. The movement-image proceeds by narratological and linear incisions and references. Action sequences in classical Hollywood films have a (chrono)-logical order that is represented through actions in a spatial configuration. Relevant is that in the movement-image past, present and future are clearly distinguished from each other. The spectator immediately recognizes whether a scene refers to something that has happened in the past or alludes to something that is going to happen in the future. Deleuze conceives the movement-image as a homogeneous structure. This clarifies how images refer to each other and to the whole: the story being told as an open structure that encompasses the perception of every action. Unlike the movement-image the time-image does not proceed by rational incisions and references. Italian neo-realism and French nouvelle vague introduced new forms of cinematographic reality. The time-image no longer follows the chronological order and narratological representation of actions and reactions. Time-images make past, future and present indistinguishable. As Deleuze explains, crucial for the time-image is the

coexistence of several levels of duration. Allowing multiple realities, also contradicting ones,

to simultaneously exist. Their coexistence defines the


Sven-Olov Wallenstein. “Looping Ideology: The CCTV Center in Beijing” in Media Houses Architecture, Media, and the production of centrality (Peter Lang, 2010) p.166

Jan van Toorn. Design’s Delight (Rotterdam 2006) Felix Guattari, The Three Ecologies (London: Athlone Press, 2000)

Susan Buck-Morss. ‘What is Political Serge Daney. “Before and After Art?’ In Design beyond Dethe Image.” In Politics-Poetsign (Maastricht, 1997) ics documenta X - the book (Cantz Verlag Ostfield-Ruit, 1997)


from Visual to Image from Illustration to Time-Image - Katja Hogenboom  

from Visual to Image from Illustration to Time-Image - Katja Hogenboom

from Visual to Image from Illustration to Time-Image - Katja Hogenboom  

from Visual to Image from Illustration to Time-Image - Katja Hogenboom