Diary Gossip Frida Rosenberg Fall 2013 Notes on Philosophies and Architecture
Table of Contents Introduction 1.
Diary Note: Bio-aesthetics Conceptual Crisis
Diary Note: Critical theory Biopolitics
Diary Note: Man, machine and human nature The Theory Tool Box
Diary Note: Masque, masquerade Ficto-Criticism
Diary Note: Loopholes in the rise of a capsular civilization Container Technologies
Diary Note: On digital culture and materials New Materialisms
Computer scrap. Photos. Author
one is an interpreter and with it, I would argue, come the many concepts and associations that are embedded in previous readings and conversations. Baudrillard has argued that meaning—the production of images (associations) is simulacrum (a slight, unreal or superficial likeness or semblence) and just another truth. Spivak states: “The book is not repeatable in its “identity”: each reading of the book produces a simulacrum of an “original” that is itself a mark of the shifting and unstable subject…” which raises questions of altering meanings embedded in a text.
Booktrader Café across the street from the institution. Image from Google streetview.
Introduction Mysteriously text can transport your mind far away from present location, time and environment. Text has a meaning that can be understood in many ways and therefore the interpretation of text allows for continuation to other texts- read or to be read. Sometimes strings of associations are unstoppable and it may even be difficult to focus on what is actually being communicated by the particular text in your hand. This, let’s say free-flying moment of associations to concepts, arguments and particular paragraphs in other texts than in the one in front of you, has always been a worrisome. Why is it so hard to stay focused? Should it not be the thing in your hand that should have your full attention? Not until I read Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s “Translator’s Preface” to Jacques Derrida’s Of Grammatology, it seemed to me that Spivak made a point about how associative meanings presented by a text might actually provide opportunities— how text produces a simulacrum of the first meaning: “The text has no stable identity, no stable origin, no stable end. Each act of reading the ‘text’ is a preface to the next.”1 Spivak is by these words talking about what the purpose of the preface may be and may fulfill to the new English “Corrected Edition” of Of Grammatology. Surely, this way of stating that very fact is a sort of dialogue with future readers on the difficulty of translation. But, there is a presence of an idea that each and every 1 Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammatology. 1st American ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976, xii.
Why I return to discussion on text is because throughout the sequence of seminars and readings that were assigned in this course, it seemed as if the references made me return to other articles, books and readings that had been sitting on my bookshelf untouched for a few years. Distractions were numerous. Concepts, discussions and dialogues made me also return to past ideas for projects—written or to be written projects. Old conversations resurfaced as fast moving trains of thought. Hélène once mentioned that philosophy is only useful if it is useful to you. This notion of how text may be useful in some sense or another made me return to pieces of readings in the past and thinking that no two readers understand the same text the same way, because it is related to past concepts of thought. Not the least, the frightening awareness that reading text becomes like Pandora’s Box where references are endless and it seems like “I can never be on top of things”. At some point, I was grabbling with assembling thoughts into one constructive idea for this final project. What to do; sweeping through piles of essays and articles, imaginations and in addition the quest for intersecting my current research agenda. The answer: impossible. Rather, this project starts out with a reading of the past: Robert E Somol’s essay “Pass it on…” where he is starts out by saying: “You may already heard this one, but we are at risk of losing what makes architecture architecture.”2 What he suggests to be this dangerous loss is the loss of small talk—“the improvised chatter that makes the discipline larger than life.”3 Somol then goes on to explain what, in fact he thinks is embedded in the improvised chatter that is so essential to the discipline. “Despite the common wisdom of recent history and theory, architecture is a verbal, not textual discipline. It’s a field run on rumor, speculation, exaggeration, dismissal, complain, flattery, bluster, and confession. In a word, or in the word: gossip.”4 Gossip entails spectacle and it presents evidence which may or may not have credibility, yet regardless of its origin it performs and it “exceeds any distinction between truth or falsity, fact or fiction.”5 Why is gossip important? It provides the means to pass a message and it is the cheapest most useful way to test a scenario. Somol argues that it might be useful “to think of architecture as something more like gossip than text, something to be communicated and talked about rather than read and critiqued.”6 In this final project I am taking up an old thought and testing a scenario/the idea of gossip. Why? Maybe, because the format of “the blog” is that of a personalized reflection, in this case spontaneous, yet academically viable; revealing, yet with some editing in order to make an argument. The following content is a revision and expansion of my blog posts, which reflect themes that are a spin off from the readings, discussions in class and to some extent related to the progression on my thesis. 2 3 4 5 6
Robert E. Somol, “Pass it on…”, Log #3, Fall 2004, 5. Robert E Somol, 5. Ibid., 5. Ibid., 6. Ibid., 8.
Still frame from the movie Chelsea Girls. www.dvdbeaver.com
1. Diary Note: Bio-aesthetics Conceptual Crisis Some years ago I took a course called Bio-aesthetics led by art historian David Joselit. It was a great course, simply because David is such an inspirational figure. Beyond reading Deleuze/Guattari’s Anti-oedipus; Foucault’s Discipline & Punish; Agamben’s Homo Sacer, we also watched several Andy Warhol movies, read The Ticket that Exploded (William S. Burroughs) and A Novel by Warhol. After all, it was a course in the art history department. But, how then did Warhol and Burroughs contribute to the discussion in class on bio-politics and bio-aesthetics? Wallenstein’s so informative article; “Cognitive Architecture” which attempts to “survey a theoretical development in recent years”7 encountering “themes in the context of contemporary global capitalism”8 arguably finds a place for the work of Burroughs and Warhol in this mix of tracing paths through Foucault’s ‘biopolitics’ and ‘biopower’. Wallenstein points out, that these themes or tendencies deal with ‘affect’ and ‘corporeality’ and “attempts to penetrate into the sphere that underlies 7 Sven-Olov Wallenstein, ‘Noopolitics, Life and Architecture’ in Deborah Hauptman and Warren Neidlich, eds, Cognitive Architecture. From Biopolitics to Noopolitics. Architecture & Mind in the Age of Communication and Information, Rotterdam: 010 Publishers, 2010, 47. 8 Sven-Olov Wallenstein, 47.
our conscious mental operations”.9 Warhol’s movies, or at least of what I have seen, effectively illustrate human nature. For one, Warhol’s movies reveal much of the atmosphere and microcosm that existed among the people and within the working environment of the Factory. But, to be more specific, the movie Chelsea Girls, definitely reveals a particular social interaction—a power structure, and exertion of relationships that were constructed through the people that seem to have been drawn to the Factory; a great array of prima-donnas, those who want to be seen and lost bodies. I think that Warhol’s interest in filming and documenting the interactions taking place at the Factory was specifically in expressing these relationships, where the body was central, or what Wallenstein calls “our biological existence”. The film at times is very close-up documenting discussions and action, which illustrate how the people—the actors—are making use of each other, establishing rules, faking laughter and playing games. To me, the movie illustrates insecurity—or as by way of how Wallenstein describes Foucault’s concept of ‘security’ which Wallenstein finds to be central, since Foucault argue that “threats now emanates from within, from the population itself and its inherent tendency to create imbalances, deviations, and unpredictable crisis; whereas the old model of sovereignty, which aimed to seize and preserve control over a territory, predominantly understood dangers and enemies as coming from without.”10 (This is relating to Foucault’s discipline and is disassociated from biopolitics, which has ties to the concept of security). “Posing the problem in terms of security means to invent a multifunctional order, and to calculate the negative and positive outcome of any given measure. Security does not apply to a fixed state, but relates to a series of future events.”11 The relational scenarios that take place in Chelsea Girls makes this constant calculation of potential effects of certain actions readable to the viewer through body language, mimics and expressions. With the camera Warhol documented a kind of control society within the Factory environment where the bodies were expropriated and used. The film Chelsea Girls is an artwork where Warhol captures this specific environment. Warhol’s movies and A Novel provided a setting, but hardly ever the actors were given instructions (as I have understood it) and therefore the action that takes place is interplay between the people and their environment. Wallenstein then goes on to explain the theory of ‘noopolitics’ where control society is no longer tied to physical architecture, the institution, the factory or the panopticon, but rather the network intelligence of “a collaboration of brains”. The theory of noopolitics, Wallenstein argues, overthrows traditional analysis of ideology because noopolitics is a ‘mutation’ which transcends “the sphere of art as well as politics, and it affects the very fabric of life, the underlying substructure of the mind.”12 If we accept this, “the claim that we must move beyond the critical approach to architecture, must have a general applicability”13, says Wallenstein and moves on to the discussion on criticality that took place with in architectural discourse and for which “Notes around the Doppler Effect and other Moods of Modernism” has become paradigmatic.
9 10 11 12 13
Wallenstein., 47. Ibid., 51. Ibid., 52. Ibid., 47. Ibid., 56.
The Sara Whiting and Ron Witte lecture exposed their view of what critical architecture is; paraphrased as an architecture that act rather than react. Their method of criticizing with architecture was a performance and used a strikingly odd method of tweaking, or bluntly reconfiguring the plan of the Palladian villa into an X-shaped plan. This illustrated an investigation, a ‘startingpoint’ for their proposed X-shaped house. By using this, they made a jump into an existing ‘text’, in order to discuss a proposal for a critical project. My interpretation at the time, of this “air-ish” process of the so-called ‘critical architecture’ involved on one hand an extreme opposition towards autonomy and on the other hand, a share of irony in the same category as Rem Koolhaas business of ‘copy/paste’.
During that same fall, George Baird proposed that architecture theory in recent years had taken two divergent pathways where productive resistance is on one hand the “cool” and content and on the other hand a fading canonical theory, which is “difficult”, borrowing the definitions from David Hickey.15 (Wallenstein refers to this article in his essay) Critical theory, which can be
X-house: WW Architecture. http://www.wwarchitecture.com/
2. Diary Note Critical Theory. Biopolitics What the hell does the Palladian villa have to do with the X-house!?14 Or, why is there any reason, what so ever, to show this chronology of turning the Palladian villa into an X? This was my first reflection and encounter with (A)rchitecture as I tried to comprehend the argument and the architecture presented by Sara Whiting and Ron Witte holding a lecture at Yale in 2004. Vincent Scully reflected upon the same as we could not but start a conversation as we left the auditorium. And, it was quite obvious that these image narratives was a provocation speaking to the architectural discourse in this particular context and at the same time argue that the foundation has no particular relevance at all. All in all, this made a mark and provoked discussion, confusion, aggravation and further analytical thought—with a slight sigh—on what criticality really has to do with anything…
14 http://wwarchitecture.com/PROJECTS/X%20HOUSE/X%20HOUSE.html Accessed 2013-08-21.
framed by Italian theorist Manuel Tafuri as a grandfather, undressed the juxtaposed architecture of building and literature conformed under the same umbrella. The “difficult theory” Baird located by Peter Eisenmans’ experimental works: an architectural criticism as built processes and objects of ‘paper architecture’. This moment in history unfolds a closer relationship between architecture and philosophy evolving to an architecture theory, which became present during the collaboration between Jacques Derrida and Peter Eisenman producing a “text” in Chora L Works (1985-86). This marked a significant intersection between architecture and deconstructive discourse, which we returned to in Lars-Henrik Ståhl’s lecture. This type of difficult and analytical critical theory that has been the architectural theory as understood by American discourse, Baird argues to be explored now as one out of two alternatives.
The other direction, the emerging cool criticism made up a European parallel to architecture theory which can be represented by Rem Koolhaas and the influence he has had on our discipline. “The matter now coming into question is the concept of a ‘critical architecture’ that has been promulgated in advanced circles in architectural theory for at least two decades.”16 In this context Baird’s hypothesis is that the American answer, as being the divergent path of interest, is mainly the figures of Somol and Whiting (Baird having subjective opinion in this case as being part of the same camp). These figures were at the time carrying out their resistance as a sort of beginning in the middle of American architecture theory and turning it into “cool” architecture. One might argue that they were adapting to an academic, theoretical backdrop, yet implementing a journalistic sense to architecture in its built form. The word critical is proposed to be in the project and not in the text. My interpretation of all of this was that critical is always going to be a product: critical is just architecture gymnastics, placing an argument within the “text”. Later that fall Jesse Reiser and Nakao Umemoto lectured on their recent work, perhaps not as well mediated and picked up by an academic architectural discourse, yet like Whiting/Witte they are also establishing a framework for their practice. At the time, Reiser and Umemoto argued for flexible systems where material and organization were matter that produced intensive/ extensive models. The process which they suggested at the time was a manner of taking the 15 16
George Baird, “Criticality and Its Discontents”, Harvard design Magazine, 21 fall 2004/winter 2005, 4. George Baird, “Criticality and Its Discontents”, Harvard design Magazine, 21 fall 2004/winter 2005, 1.
are permeable. Wallenstein argues that this signals a mutation of capitalism where flexibility is ideal. Emanuel Castell’s theory of the new economy explains the information technology as a source of knowledge which is dictating us to diverge in order to be productive and finding new markets. It is like programming, which is only smart when each operation is very simplistic. Each simple operation makes up a complex system, which then becomes efficient. Is it possible to take control of a very small part, such as a detail of a building and be able to influence a whole system? Reiser and Umemoto says in Atlas of Novel Tectonics: ”From the general scheme to the particular detail, the modernist project deals methodologically and architecturally almost exclusively with top-down hierarchy. We do not reject the concept of hierarchy, but rather use it in a new way.” […] “Rather, we are using organizational principles that promote communication across scales, in which the particular is able to affect the general and vice versa.”18 This is talking about a proposed process, which Reiser + Umemoto calls a part-towhole relationship, where a small part can have an effect on a larger whole.
Another mechanism for this is described in Felicity Scott’s essay on the mechanisms for ‘settling’ Open Land in “Buldozers in Utopia”. In this essay she sheds light on “key components both of this countercultural refusal of normative modes of life and of the local government’s mode of defense against it.”19 Her essay speaks of as she says; nonormative structures that can-
The Pigeon project: Aranda/Lasch, Photo: Reuben for terraswarm
not quite be called architecture, which illustrates a very small part, such as a code of regulation, which is able to overthrow a whole system: “Here in a microcosm, me might say, was a strange, distorted reiteration of the radical ruptures within, and unjust adjacencies emerging in global access to technology, a reiteration marked by the shifting topologies of relations between industrial and postindustrial modes of production.”20 The amusing story of ad hoc shelters and alternative modes of living illustrates a different mode of operation with very small means.
temperature of architecture, which in their view was different than a reading of the history or a reading of a building. Their viewpoint seems to be that flexibility is a response to multiplicity—or for that matter globalization. However ‘flexibility’, also questioned in the lecture, does not respond to any design issue or any other issues, or resolving the task of designing a bridge or a café. Rather, their architecture emerged as neither act nor react. Reiser and Umemoto’s proposal for a larger whole, which can be applied anywhere and to anything without making any difference, is rather interested in details of a system/field.
To return to the issue of biopolitics and Wallenstein’s reflection on Deleuze’s theory of ‘societies of control’: “Deleuze proposes, today works through the ‘dividual’—a waveform that supersedes the old individual as a basic unit. The centralized function (the panopticon tower with its unidirectional visibility) has been fragmented into a multiplicity of flexible monitoring instances, and a structure of universal modulation has replaced the disciplinary mold.17 In the disciplinary matrix, spaces of control are “interconnected and numerical” which both shift and 17
18 Jesse Reiser and Nakao Umemoto, Atlas of Novel Tectonics, Princeton Architectural Press: 2006, 50. 19 Felicity Scott, ‘Bulldozers in Utopia: Open Land, Outlaw Territory, and the Code Wars’, in Iain Boal, Janferie Stone, Michael Watts, and Cal Winslow, West of Eden: Communes and Utopia in Northern California, Retort., 59 20 Felicity Scott, 61.
“an ecology of practice” might be.21 In using that analogy, she explains by looking at a familiar environment that uses a linear logic or relationship. This linear logic or relationship is what I was trying to represent by bringing Marx into the discussion. I think then that what the concept of “ecology of practice” seems to argue for in Felix Guattari’s terms, is “a different logic to that of ordinary communication between speakers and listeners—subjects and the collective.”22 Further on: Guattari continues: “this process of ‘fixing-into-being’ relates only to expressive subsets that have broken out of their totalizing frame and have begun to work on their own account, overcoming their referential sets and manifesting themselves as their own existential indices, procession lines of flight.“23 To be critical, this is quite utopian idea, that we are sort of more free or self-referential than before… I do think that there are perhaps more possibilities for subjects to seem self-referential, but in a global perspective and what Guattari identifies in his first line, is that we are “undergoing a period of techno-scientific transformations”24—and in this the idea ‘terminal’ is quite useful—where I see that subjects are just part of other collectives due to our networks which interconnects individuals, which are not physically connected. What I intend to say here is that yes, the three ecologies; or the way that Guattari argues for a different understanding of the world through “ecosophy” seems relevant due to techno-scientific developments. But, on the other hand, there is partly a utopian idea that the world works different than before, which Guattari acknowledges. “It is as though a scientistic superego demands that physic entities are reified and insists that they are only understood by means of extrinsic coordinates.”25
Kulturhuset. Image credit: Kulturhuset
3. Diary note: Man, machine and human nature
Anyhow, in discussing a product of a machine-like society I used the term ‘machine’ to describe Kulturhuset as a product of society. The chapter was titled: “Kulturhuset: Playhouse, Identity Machine”. In essence, I argued that architecture engages the reconstruction of cultural identity. Kulturhuset in Stockholm typified the Swedish society during the 1960-70s and I described the building as representing the mechanisms that formed a collective, social identity during the end of the 1960s. I argued that Swedish society had been monotonous and the revolt existed among Swedish people. The irony, as I describe it, is that society’s way of coming to terms with this was to create an institution for ‘play’ where society as a microcosm recreated itself again, without being able to change the paths. Stenger’s article seems to touch on this fact and uses physics to illustrate how subjects are part of a tradition.
The Theory Tool Box I used to be quite fascinated by the idea of human-nature as a machine-like entity. To explain, it was simply a useful thought process, while analyzing a particular building in Swedish society and its cultural context. The particular building in discussion was Kulturhuset, which was part of a project, which looked at questions of identity and self-image and how it’s reflected in architecture. Yet, to return to how these three texts evoked the idea of individual subjects as part of the collective in a machine-like system reproducing itself, the 20th century’s ideal seems to rest on such ways of thinking. It seems like this could be reasoned with Marx and the idea of class-society where path of change is understood to be quite linear. To explainfurther, Isabelle Stenger uses “what physics is” as an analogy to explain what
21 Isabelle Stengers , ‘Introductory Notes on an Ecology of Practices’, in Cultural Studies Review, Vol. 11, No. 1, March 2005. 22 Félix Guattari , The Three Ecologies, London: Athlone Press, 2000, 27? 23 Felix Guattari, 30. 24 Ibid., 19. 25 Ibid., 36.
She was Keller Easterling—someone who Somol shares his opinion with that “talk is performative, and thus a useful alternative to the representational obsession”27 And, one could argue that the fascination with Keller is the sharpness of storytelling…
Stephen Mueke begins his article on “Ficto-Critical Writing” with a quote of Jacques Derrida: “We must invent (a name) for those “critical” inventions which belong to literature while deforming its limits. Muecke responds, “the name we would give him was fictocriticism, but he went away to write, and perform, critically, and sometimes fictionally, for instance by telling stories while making philosophical arguments.”28 In response to a critical projection raised in the lecture called “Disposition” at Columbia University in 2010 that might as well have been spelled: how does your work relate to our discipline? (The structure of architecture as in built structure.)29 Easterling responded: There are many forms of authorship that we don’t enjoy as much as we might…those things slide between many things that we regard as site proper, but the pleasure and populations of those sites, the pleasure and components that travel, the pleasure in remote toggles that alters something physically, but they are not drawing our direct shaping and contouring, but indirect shaping and contouring, I think those are really thrilling modes of authorship…with a completely different species of artistry but equally satisfying. In theater it is obvious that you are making action you are not making profile. You love profile and you love text, you love words and the sound of them and you love making action with that. You are up to your elbows in action. And I think that is a pleasure that we do not take advantage of.30
Munich Airport. Photo: Author
4. Diary Note: Masque, masquerade Ficto-Criticsim Another course: Organization Space. Each lecture was based on part of the manuscript for Enduring Innocence: Global Architecture and Its Political Masquerades. And in each class she was speaking, almost whispering, in order to make us listen even more carefully on the topic of her most recent research, which tracks political logistics and money: Spatial products and their political predicaments: cruise ship tourism in North Korea; high-tech agricultural formations in Spain (which have reignited labor wars and piracy in the Mediterranean); hyperbolic forms of sovereignty in commercial and spiritual organizations shared by gurus and golf celebrities; automated global ports; microwave urbanism in South Asian IT enclaves; and a global industry of building demolition that suggests urban warfare. 26 26 Excerpt of the description of Enduring Innocence: Global Architecture and Its Political Masquerades
In this particular lecture, Felicity Scott made the introductory remarks saying that Keller’s “contribution is unparalleled in the field of architecture”. How is that so?
Is it her mode of working and her mode of “rhetorical elegance” retelling what is going on in the world? Scott continues to say: “What I want to insist on, certainly in regards to the paperless studio and the digital turn, is that she brought field a decidedly political mode of analysis that situates ethical and political questions, which is absolute central to what the architect does. Yes, maybe that has something to do with it. However, there seems also to be a very strong belief in how different modes to what we call practice can change and contribute to the field of architecture. The concept of fictocriticism is new to me, but in many respects it seems to be something that could exemplify how Easterling progresses with her project. Deleuze claims that “Language must devote itself to reaching these feminine, animal, molecular detours, and every detour is a becoming-mortal. There are no straight lines, neither in things nor in language. Syntax is the set of necessary detours that are created in each case to reveal the life of things.”31 I am not sure that Anna Gibbs agrees with this statement, rather what I found interesting in her description of fictocritical writing out of Australia was the use of the concept of ‘heterology’,which Michael DeCertau termed. To me, this made the link to bring up Keller Easterling’s work because the presence of The practice of Everyday Life in her teachings. 27 Robert E. Somol, “Pass it on…”, Log #3, Fall 2004, 5-6. 28 Stephen Mueke , ‘The Fall: Ficto-Critical Writing’, in Parallax, 8:4, 2002, 108. 29 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHYMAyuzSyk, Accessed 2013-08-21 30 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHYMAyuzSyk, Accessed 2013-08-21 31 Gilles Deleuze , ‘Literature and Life’, in Essays Critical and Clinical, New York: Verso, 1998, 2
consumers, and latemodern or postmodern consumers or sensation-seekers and collectors of experiences: their relationship to the world is primarily aesthetic: they perceive the world as a food for sensibility—a matrix of possible experiences.”2 The point made towards the end of the article is that the tourist and the vagabond have two different perceptions of the world and two different strategies, which leads to a paradox: “this postmodern reality of the deregulated/ privatized/consumerist world, the globalizing/localizing world, finds only a pale, one-sided and grossly distorted reflection in the postmodern narrative.”3 To follow up on that, the forgotten ‘peripheries’ of this postmodern narrative are “all those infinitely numerous spaces which have been deeply affected by the global symbols, labels and utilities—though not in the fashion anticipated by their global eulogists.”4 Peripheries in this sense spread all around the small spiritually, yet physically heavily fortified, enclaves of the ‘globalized’ elite. Enclaves or the many isolated small worlds that are described in Easterling’s book are described because she finds that architecture and urban design have a role in uncovering what is behind the political mask of globalization space. “Easterling argues that the study of such ‘real estate cocktails’ provides vivid evidence of the market’s weakness, resilience, or violence.”5 This is essentially where architecture can learn to understand of what strategies are viable at those weak moments. So, rather than believing that the world is evil, architecture can also use the same political masking and engage in those troublesome mechanisms. Being a consumerist collecting experiences, I once returned from a day in Mexico to California walking across the border in Tijuana. For most Americans this is no frills. Yet, I was only a permanent resident and not American. So, in response to the Mexican guard’s question: Are you American? I responded with a flash hesitation and in a millisecond debate (if I should say “yes” or “no”) opting for the truth. However, I was not carrying the green card in my pocket. Taken aside to a different room, the Mexican guards questioned me and the event ended with paying 125 dollars for as he said. “a 5-min visa” in order to cross the border.
SESC Pompéia, Lina Bo Bardi. Photo: Author
5. Diary note: Loopholes in the rise of a capsular civilization Container Technologies In “Tourists and Vagabonds”, Zygmunt Bauman begins the chapter by saying “Nowadays we are all on the move.”1 Continuing to reflect upon globalization, technology and what it is to be a consumer in consumer society he uses the description and differentiation of the tourist and the vagabond to illustrate that there are ‘no natural’ borders any longer. “the tourist and the vagabond are both
Zygmunt Bauman, “Tourists and Vagabonds” Heroes and victims of postmodernity, Vienna: Institute for Advanced Studies, 1996, 77.
The periphery of consumer society was at that moment the room in which I was seated and questioned. Those four walls was a no-man’s land until further decision was made. But, the walls have no identity or significance without the control of the border patrol and in extension my green-card made the whole difference between walking through or being captured. The capsule or the architecture of the capsule can be discussed as three paradigms: fear, legal identification papers and the room. Georgio Agamben describes the camp as the peculiar space of exception which most often involves violence, fear, abuse and imprisonment. “The camp is that space of this absolute impossibility of deciding between fact and law, rule and application, exception and rule, which nevertheless incessantly decides between them.” As vagabond consumer in this society, the state of exception that I may only encounter is perhaps this room on the Mexican border or at some occasions the US customs. These sites are small worlds of exceptions, which white middle class encounters. Whatever the case, “the 5-min visa” illustrate how consumption society and its mechanisms for survival. If there is a rise of a capsular society there are also ways out or ways around the system that automatically come into play finding new ways out of the systems that have been set up.
2 3 4 5
Zygmunt Bauman, 92. Ibid., 100-101. Ibid., 101. Book review in Journal of Architectural Education
Lieven de Cauter says “individuals are forced into a state of high-intensity casualization.”6 His response to this is that “countered by a political will to impose social corrections upon transcendental capitalism and to defend and spread the welfare state and metropolitan urbanness.” Yet, these are not only the large scale machinery that needs to be in place. I sincerely believe that well directed systems have loopholes and pieces of papers and incidental tricks are invented along the way to make the impossible possible.
positive and negative sides to this—the post humanist landscape is perhaps that landscape that we ravaged in the over exhaustion of resources, and over exhaustion literally of the earth. But, the post humanist landscape in positive ways perhaps suggests new forms of relations that are across new species, across technological- and biological- devises to rethink what it is to exist.”8 To exemplify this notion, Frichot brings architects François Roche and Alisa Andrasek into the discussion as examples of mixing between the biological and the technological. But there are quite a number architects that explore these domains on a more aesthetic side, what they have in common are a new imagining of another kind of future… In studio culture, you come across quite a number of these architectural landscapes that are imagining a new future. The exponential growth of architectural experiments that takes place in studio interests me a great deal: for pedagogical reasons and the whole process of teaching architecture, yet also because there are very beautiful things being produced! In addition, I am intrigued by the question if we can discuss this architecture on similar terms as what we used to? Antoine Picon speculates on this in the book Digital Culture in Architecture: “digital architecture must be replaced in at least two contexts. The first regards its material production and the new perspectives that unfold with computer-aided prototyping and fabrication. From the possibility to finally reconcile prefabrication and customization to the promises of robotization, architecture bears the mark of a rapidly changing context of production. This context might very well lead to a redefinition of the professional identity of the architect, besides modifying the nature of his production.” This then discusses the future of production or the final product. But, if rather thinking through the methods by which students explore the coming architecture profession. The images, I chose for this section and what I am intrigued by is the conceptual
Hélène Frichot quoted in lecture May 15, 2013.
Image 1: student name. Photo: Author
6. Diary Note: Studio
New Materialism “The post human opens up our understanding of what it means to be human, it revises some our assumptions.”7 says Hélène Frichot. Continuing, she refers to Michel Serres who describes this in terms of breaking down distinctions between objects and subjects and makes them mobile through quasi-objects and quasi-subjects (curious beings). This is part of a critique of the project on humanism and the particular male subject and the educated Western European subject. Linking this to architecture Frichot explains the notion of post humanist landscapes as: “a way of extending our thinking of postindustrial landscapes—there are both
Lieven de Cauter, ‘The Capsule and the Network: Notes for a General Theory’ in Capsular Civilisation: On the City in the Age of Fear, Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 2004, 86.
Hélène Frichot in seminar May 15, 2013
Image 2 & 3: student name. Photo: Author
framework within which students are encouraged to work within. The illustrations show material experiments carried out in the Performative Studio spring 2013. Image 1, illustrates colored salt crystals activated by a student in order to study the growing structure of the crystals. This information was tested as scenario that could inform the structure of a building. Here one could speak of an architecture that imitates a organic process. Image 2 and 3 are studying interference by using strings out of fabric set up as a structure and then adding another fluid materialâ€”vax. The experiments locate a material logic where for example a material is accumulating. This information is then used to inform the architectural project in terms of organization and structure. One could identify that this kind of experimental observations detects a sensibility towards organic logics of fluid materials that renders an idea to work with materials as free forming solids rather than a composition that is dimensioned by adding object to object like using bricks, for example. The fourth illustration looks like a pen- drawing of an experiment, which reminds us of a Beaux-Art tradition, which still seems to fulfill a purpose in architectural education trying to grasp physical space.
Conclusion Lately, as of the last year or so, I have been so focused on trying to figure out what the content of my thesis will be that I had no room for thinking how I would project the content. This course has deliberately made me reason through â€œwhat the message isâ€? in several poignant texts and also introduced me to new themes and concepts. I feel strengthened and a bit more courageous in how one would take on the task of making use of philosophies. My final project is not really saying anything about anything, but thinks through landscapes where philosophies seem to inject the architectural discourse in more than one environment. To me, the later modules on materiality fascinate me the most because my thesis is in some way dealing with material and technology. To be honest, I spent the least amount of time trying to get on top of these readings. Yet, it seems like this is my starting point in continuing my work. Image 4: student name. Photo: Author
Notes on Philosophies and Architecture