Guilty Landscapes | spring 2012 To beyond or not to be
Guilty land scape
Archis 2012 #1 Per issue â‚Ź 19.50 (nl, b, d, e, p) Volume is a project by Archis + AMO + C-Lab + Unknown Fields Division â€Ś
Kate Davies Liam Young Tim Morton Brendan Cormier John Gollings Peter Swinnen Michelle Kasprzak Vincent van Velsen Kris Verdonck Neil Berrett Yan Lu David Maisel Will Wiles Nele Vos Michael Brenner Tokyo Hackerspace Maarten Vanden Eynde Greg Burton Brandon Mosley Edward Burtynsky Michael Madsen Bas Princen Garth Lenz Mario Petrucci Cornelia Hesse-Honegger Aram Mooradian William L. Fox Make it Right Foundation Kelly Nelson Doran Protei Oliviu Lugojan-Ghenciu Guy Tillim Susan Berger 51N4E Noero Wolff Jonathan Gales Captains of Industry Nicole Koltick You Are the City Regina Peldszus Bryan Allen Ilkka Halso
‘Often we speak so arrogantly about those that served the enemy. Right, but what do we think of the pines and firs that submitted themselves fully and still submit to any enemy whosoever. Look at the images where the enemy is busy: the trees, they stand there laughing in the background. And not only pines and firs, the other trees as well. Shouldn’t something be said about this?
I’d say so, because sometimes they are still there, the trees, the forest‘s edge and the trees, the same place they were at that time; do not think they’ve moved on, they’re still standing there like indifferent eyewitnesses. I observe them, I look at them, and something frightful occurs: they are beautiful, I think them beautiful [...] The beauty of sites where the enemy was, where the enemy was located, where the enemy housed and ravaged, where the enemy exercised terror, where traces of the enemy’s terror are still to be found. Right there. Beauty should be ashamed.’
‘Guilty landscape’ is a notion borrowed from the Dutch painter, sculptor, writer, and musician Armando, who wrote about such landscapes more than once. Living in Amersfoort before, during, and after the Second World War, close to a concentration camp situated in the woods, he was very aware that the innocent forest of his youth had witnessed the horrors of war and the Holocaust. As the quote indicates, the experience of this place (and of such places) is complex; the beauty of the site is intensified by the knowledge of what happened. Nature as a place of retreat and relaxation, experience of beauty and peace, is complicated by memory and knowledge. The resulting aesthetic experience produces feelings of guilt; one shouldn’t allow oneself to be aesthetically moved by such scenes, it doesn’t seem right. This captures the first impression of most of the guilty landscapes included in this issue: shockingly beautiful. Most of them not related to warfare, but to exploitation. Sometimes with known consequences, sometimes with unpredicted ones, sometimes with very visible implications, sometimes without perceptual traces, but mostly the result of the application of technology. What started as an exploration of large-scale human impact on nature soon became research into the modalities of guilt. There are two assumptions under pinning this issue of Volume: 1.
lobally, we’re running out of places to start anew. G The habit to dump or to destruct and leave it to nature to ‘deal’ with the resulting situation is no longer tenable. We’re simply with too many souls on planet Earth. Guilt is a productive emotion. Like pain – an early warning system alerting to the destructive impact on the body or internal disturbances – guilt can be thought of as a warning system and trigger behavior to reduce the impact, to prevent (further) spread, and to undo the effects of a disturbance.
Guilt can be thought of as one of the mechanisms to restore and maintain balance – maintaining too, since there is also a form of pre-emptive guilt. Like Marcel Duchamps’ snow shovel titled ‘In Advance of the Broken Arm’, there are guilty feelings preventing one from acting negatively. But mostly guilt is about something negative that cannot be undone. Hiding, restoring, and compen sating are then the most used strategies to reduce the stress levels connected to guilty feelings. Rarer, but used to much greater effect is the strategy of interpreting the negative element as neutral, or even positive. Take biodiversity. It is common understanding that more bio diversity is better than less – and that the extinction of a species is tragic and problematic. So we’re guilty when we hear of yet another fish or mammal becoming extinct. In his book Plastic Pandas, philosopher Bas Haring ex plores the option that less biodiversity is not such a big deal.2 A pity, maybe, but nothing dramatic. At least not something we can’t deal with. Interesting. In one move we are liberated from our guilty feelings. We can enjoy again what we’re doing, be happy and relaxed and not change at all our behavior towards, or impact on this world’s nature. This clearly shows how influential and potent guilt as a behavior-correcting mechanism is. Knowledge is at the core of guilt. Without knowing and awareness there is no guilt. This seems to suggest that we live in guiltier times than ever. The general level
of information has increased exponentially within decades. And there is so much more knowledge on the effects of whatever we do. Does this imply we’re more guilty too? It looks to be so. It at least supports the idea that the human species by existing at all is jeopardizing nature and the Earth at large: so guilty by definition. Not born innocent, but born guilty. There is another aspect to it. If conviction, deter mination, and belief produce guilt as collateral damage, these days the absence of conviction, determination, and belief, leave us with only guilt. As long as ideology ruled, inflicted pain or destruction was supposed to be the other’s problem, his or her own fault. Now we know that we’re all in it together, blaming the other for the consequences of one’s actions is no longer productive and to silence and bypass one’s guilty feelings for the sake of the good cause is no longer an option. Guilt has been effectively used to control and manipulate the masses. But it can also be the start of a change for the better: awareness, concern, action. Engagement and guilt are never far apart. Engagement is sublimated guilt. So we can use guilt to improve and transform. We can build on guilt (interestingly ‘guilt’ and ‘debt’ are the same word in Dutch: schuld), but can we build with guilt? Is guilt a material we can design with? Last year Volume, in collaboration with Premsela, explored trust as a goal and a tool. We’ll continue to do so, but here we would like to propose guilt as a material to work with. Happiness is beyond the architect’s capacities, but trust and guilt might not.
rmando, De straat en het struikgewas [Street and Scrub] A (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1988), pp. 245-247 [transl. AO]. Bas Haring, Plastic panda’s [Plastic Pandas] (Amsterdam: Nijgh & van Ditmar, 2011).
For this issue of Volume we’re indebted to Liam Young and Kate Davies and their Unknown Fields Division program, and to the Architectural Association for hosting this in their AA Visiting School program. And to all the participants in last summer’s field trip to the former USSR exclusion zones in the Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
It is typical for human beings to mould nature, justifying their actions by their aesthetic and economic aspirations. But nature cannot endure everything. In Halsoâ€™s photographs, control over nature has acquired a concrete form. The elements of nature have been rethought and have, for logistical purposes, been packed into modules that are easier to handle. The whole of nature is stored in a gigantic warehouse complex and the most common types of nature from soil and flora to fauna can be easily assembled into working ecosystems. What is happening? Has nature been evacuated to await better times, or has it been simplified into merchandise and absurd tableaux? When Halso is looking into the future she doesnâ€™t like what she sees.
Strategy: Commodify Project: Naturale (Photo Series) Author: Ilkka Halso
In this essay, I shall be distinguishing between guilt and shame. I take guilt to be the sense that one has done something wrong, the ‘call of conscience’ that reminds me of my out-of-joint, uncanny existence. I take shame, on the other hand, to be the sense that I am something wrong, that there is something disgusting that is an irreducible part of me. I am not yet convinced that guilt is ecologically useful. But if forced to choose between guilt and shame, I would pick guilt, even though this would make me unpopular with some postmodern philosophers. Shame is the go-to affect in the contemporary academy, a sign of its increasing removal from the things of this world.2 Anyone who has recently experienced shame will assure that it drove her to murderous or suicidal thoughts. Sure, it’s a way to realize you are caught in the gaze of the other, just as a bullet embedded in your chest is a way to realize that there is more to life than what you make of it. Shame says ‘I am wrong’, and humans have had quite enough of this kind of exceptionalism – humans for a certain kind of ecological philosopher are a unique or uniquely attuned virus, a stain that needs to be wiped out. The so-called critique of anthropocentrism thus runs along strictly anthropocentric rail tracks towards annihilation of the race. Guilt, however, proclaims ‘I have done something wrong,’ and thus it brings up the possibility of redress. It is not surprising that some ecological thinkers value shame, since it is possible to mistake ecological guilt for shame. Why? The particular kind of guilt with which ecological awareness is associated strongly resembles the realization at the heart of a noir detective story: the detective himself is the guilty party. The person who is looking is the one who is ultimately seen. The experience of havingbeen-seen is, without doubt the phenomenological es sence of shame. Derrida experiences a moment of shame when he feels seen by his cat, for this reason.3 In the case of noir, however, it is important not to collapse the two levels of seeker and seen, the one who investigates and the one who is investigated, even when they are exactly the same person: Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly gives a particularly tightly looped rendition of this theme.4 The tension in guilt depends precisely on this unbreach able ontological cut between being seen and seeing. It is, however, quite clear even from this very cur sory analysis that shame is more primal than guilt – hence the emergence of shame cultures before guilt cultures. Shame as it were is the phenomenological reduction of guilt, what guilt contains, like a chocolate wrapped in paper. Shame is the primordial fact of being-held-by some other entity, enclosed in it or held in its force field, gazed at. A radical passivity, a having-been-given to something. There thus arises the potent danger that in exploring ecological guilt, we will be caught in shame, since shame is more primal and thus more powerful than the guilt that wraps it, makes it manageable and work able. A shame culture, for instance, doesn’t do well with rape: a raped woman is liable to be killed for besmirching the family’s honor. If Earth has been raped by humans – to use a common image – does this not imply that the
Guilt, shame and sadness as notions are not only interrelated, there is also structure and hierarchy involved. Tim Morton suggests that this could be made productive to confront the big challenges of this planet.
Guilt, Shame, Sadness: Tuning to Coexistence
Isn’t it a pity now, isn’t it a shame How we break each other’s hearts and cause each other pain How we take each other’s love, without thinking anymore Forgetting to give back, isn’t it a pity George Harrison1
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logical shame culture solution would be to annihilate Earth altogether? Or perhaps to annihilate ourselves, to erase the possibility that we humans could witness our rape? Shame is attractive to scholars because it guarantees the existence of the social, as if it needed guaranteeing – but at what cost? There is a problem that is the inverse of this problem of shame, having to do with the fact that as the wrapping of shame, guilt doesn’t know what to do with shame except to contain it. Thus in guilt cultures such as Protestantism there arise all kinds of endlessly repeated compulsive rituals, which ward off the shameful essence by wrapping and re-wrapping it over and over again. How can we know, how can we prove adequately, that we have successfully atoned for our guilt? Doesn’t guilt imply a potentially infinite series of compensations, and wouldn’t this series be the very opposite of a biologically or eco logically homoeostatic feedback loop – in other words, isn’t guilt a positive feedback loop of the most dangerous sort, that could multiply infinitely, so that the more guilty I feel, the more I must atone, which makes me feel more guilty, and so on? Isn’t guilt in this sense an undead specter that haunts my biological being and drives me on and on to do ever more ridiculous feats to satisfy its irrational lust? The irony of ironies would be to destroy the planet in the very process of trying to atone for our guilt. Stranger things have happened. Rather than trying to escape shame by moving outwards from shame towards guilt, perhaps it would be better to tunnel into shame, to try to reduce the reduction, as it were, to get inside the chocolate and see if there was a liquid center that was not subject to the violence of shame and guilt. Wrapping shame in guilt and disposing of it by shelving it is an endless task. Staying with shame is intrinsically destructive, either of self or of other – and murder–suicide is also a popular combination. Trying to get back ‘behind’ guilt is rather like trying to fold a piece of paper more than five or six times – it is possible but very difficult; immense pressures are involved. Thinking tends to break down and philosophy begins to look use less. We encounter what esoteric practitioners such as yogis and mystics encounter, because we are operating at an ontological depth below the normal seen–seer boundary. So what we find in there, down there, must be regarded with some skepticism and treated as a spec ulative discovery, like realizing that the Earth is not the center of the universe: it’s true, but everything in my ontically given experience (sunrise, the revolution of the stars) tells me otherwise. Shame is perhaps the right track: ‘humiliation’ after all means being brought down to earth. Darwin is one in a series of great humiliators of the human, the being who arose from the humus, from dust and spittle. Some contemporary ecological philosophers think so, such as William Jordan.5 There is a liquid center inside shame: it is a liquid center of sadness. This liquid center is present in phrases such as ‘What a shame’, which don’t seek to pin the tail of shame on the donkey of the addressee. Rather such phrases express something more like disappointment and loss: the loss George Harrison gets at in ‘Isn’t It a Pity’. This isn’t shame, if shame means the intense judgment of others, the registration in my body of the social bond, and murderous–suicidal feelings. Nor is it pity, if by that term we mean what Blake means when he writes “Pity would be no more, / If we did not make somebody poor” (‘The Human Abstract’).6 Blake is saying that pity sustains
the social hierarchy by putting the pity-er higher than the pity-ee. To get to this liquid center we must traverse a region of solidity that is like the sugar crystal coating that keeps the liquid center in place in a Swiss chocolate. This region is known as melancholy, depression. So the sequence goes: Guilt >> Shame >> Melancholy >> Sadness Where >> represents ‘reduces to’. Reduction it simply meansas the bracketing off of ‘noise’ caused by a certain conceptualization of subject–object relations. The phenomenological reduction is precisely this: I look directly at the attitude with which I hold a thought, strip ping from my attention the ‘object’ about which I am thinking. I study the weather in my mind as I think, rather than the view ‘outside’ it. This seems counter-intuitive from an ecological philosophical point of view, which is precisely why I suggest it. There is a tendency to look away from the mind that is experiencing the tree, the cloud, the polluted lake, the radiation. Shouldn’t I be ashamed of myself even for suggesting that we look away from the cloud, the fallout, the mutagenic insect? Pre cisely – normative environmentalism wants me to feel guilty or ashamed, and in doing so it scratches at the itch of human being, an itch that is already rubbed raw by the very modernity that created the current ecological emergency. Instead of scratching the itch, I suggest we isolate and study the itch. What is it? Why scratch it? I suggest we look at the mind that is looking at the tree – away from the ‘object’ and back towards the ‘subject’. We will discover that this seemingly perverse intro spection bears fruit. Let us proceed, then, with the phenomenological reduction of ecological feeling. We shall descend from guilt to shame, then below shame to what is here called ‘sadness’. Thus when I strip from the feeling of guilt my relation to some abstract voice of conscience, I find myself confronted by the nakedness of shame. Likewise when I strip from shame the gaze of another who fixes me with the shaming look, I find sadness. With this sad ness it appears as if we have arrived at an attunement that is less conditioned by a conceptual relation to another. Sadness is based on the unconditional, insofar as it is an attunement based on the fact that something cannot be grasped by our ego. In other words, sadness is close to things that are not-me, that are not conditioned by me such as opinions and thoughts and habitual patterns. Sadness just is the attunement to the ungraspability of a thing. For this reason one Buddhist scholar calls it “the genuine heart of sadness,” his translation of the Sanskrit bodhicitta (awakened heart, enlightened mind).7 Sadness is the footprint of coexistence in my inner space. It is unconditional, since it lacks an object – it is the lacking of an object, the sense that no object can be known or held fully. Sadness is thus predicated on richness, but a strange richness that can’t be possessed entirely: “Nothing of him that doth fade, / But doth suffer a sea change / Into something rich and strange.”8 Ecological coexistence requires such sea changes. Because things exist, they touch me: ‘I am touched’, a term that reso nates between a physical and an aesthetic event. Quite deliberately: the physical proximity of a thing is aes thetic, but this aesthetic dimension is causal, insofar as the proximate thing affects me, yet this causality is not
incompletion, this fragility of a thing. It is thus a highly realistic attunement in a biosphere of necessarily vulner able beings. It is almost shameful: “It must feel very awk ward to have those soft, lumpy growths on your head.” But one does not stop there. Shame is only retroactive in relation to the more primordial sadness, the feeling of vulnerability and the courage to face it. To be ashamed is to have been open to shame, which is to be tender and sad, that is, open to the coexistence of other beings. Thus “you no longer need to feel shy or embarrassed about being gentle.” Shame is nowhere near adequate to get humans through imagining the 24,100 year time span appropriate to plutonium 239, or the 100,000 year time span of global warming. What is required is the ‘rawness’ that Trungpa describes here. Guilt is to shame as the sugar coating is to a choc olate. But sadness is to shame as the liquid center is to the chocolate. If we want to progress ecologically, for instance if we want to have more people accepting the reality of global warming, then we need to walk them through an experience that is phenomenologically equiv alent to accepting global warming, rather than bludgeon ing them with facts or trying to ‘guilt them out’ or shame them, which will only breed denial. The best way to do this is to make contact with the liquid center of sadness, often frozen into melancholy, at the core of sentient being. This liquid core is the trace of coexistence, shorn of coexistents, unconditional, strange, palpable yet with drawn, uncanny, sad. That way, no bludgeoning is required: we will have poured people into the right psychic space to accept the very large-scale, long-term issues that beset this planet.
1 George Harrison, ‘Isn’t It a Pity’ All Things Must Pass (Apple, 1970).
I would like to thank Barbara Smith for sparking this essay’s line of thinking for me in 2006. 2 See for instance: Jacques Derrida, The Animal that Therefore I Am, ed. Marie-Louise Mallet, tr. David Wills (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008); Phil Hutchinson, Shame and Philosophy: An Investigation in the Philosophy of Emotions and Ethics (New York: Palgrave, 2008), 123–155. 3 Derrida, The Animal that Therefore I Am, 1–11. 4 Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011). 5 William Jordan, The Sunflower Forest: Ecological Community and the New Communion with Nature (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 46–53. 6 William Blake, The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake, ed. David V. Erdman (New York: Doubleday, 1988). 7 Chögyam Trungpa, Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior (Boston: Shambhala, 1984), 42–46. 8 William Shakespeare, The Tempest 1.2, ed. Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2008), 37. 9 Tony Kushner, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes (New York: Theatre Communications Group, 2003), 167. 10 Trungpa, Shambhala, 49.
mechanical, but rather a matter of appearance, the aes thetic. There are other beings, and they withdraw from me: the more I handle them, the less I am sure of them, the more richness they reveal. Anyone with a long-term partner can attest to that – your boyfriend or girlfriend is one of the weirdest people you know. Knowledge makes things more uncanny, because it discloses the dark futurality of a thing, its unknown unknowable qualities. Sadness in this sense is a resonance, full-bodied like the note of a cello or an oboe: “The oboe. The official instrument of the International Order of Travel Agents. If the duck was a song bird, it would sound like this: nasal, desolate, the call of migratory things” (Angels in America).9 The ‘full bodied’ quality of an oboe is not a testimony to a metaphysics of presence, but to a weird physicality that withdraws from access. The physical, ‘nasal’ sound tells of the body, of something that is there, yet not there, lost in translation, a migrating bird – an ‘agent’ that ‘travels’. The migratory thing is there yet not for long, it is not here yet it will arrive. It exists – yet it is not directly, ‘ontically’ given to me. It is not nothing – that would be easier; it does not reside in an inaccessible beyond – I can hear it. The resonance of coexistence. Melancholia, which psychoanalysis thinks as the default mode of sentience as such, is only the frozen phase state of this sadness, the rigid print of another in our inner space. Melancholy is an indexical sign, like a footprint, a sign that is a part of what made it: a foot, the call of a bird. Sadness itself is a withdrawn thing, a liquid core. The raw tenderness of sadness resembles what it re sounds to, the departing of things, which is predicated on the physical incompletion of being. For a thing to exist, it must be fragile, in a weird Aristotelian application of Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem to physical things. Chögyam Trungpa, thinker of ‘the genuine heart of sad ness’, describes the attunement of what he calls a “war rior”, a contemplative committed to “living in the chal lenge” of existence, which is necessarily coexistence: The birth of the warrior is like the first growth of a reindeer’s horns. At first, the horns are very soft and almost rubbery, and they have little hairs growing on them. They are not yet horns, as such: they are just sloppy growths with blood inside. Then, as the reindeer ages, the horns grow stronger, developing four points or ten points or even forty points. Fearlessness, at the beginning, is like those rubbery horns. They look like horns, but you can’t quite fight with them. When a reindeer first grows its horns, it doesn’t know what to use them for. It must feel very awkward to have those soft, lumpy growths on your head. But then the reindeer begins to realize that it should have horns … when a human being first gives birth to the tender heart of warriorship, he or she may feel extremely awkward or uncertain about how to relate to this kind of fearlessness. But then, as you experience this sadness more and more, you realize that human be ings should be tender and open. So you no longer need to feel shy or embarrassed about being gentle. In fact, your softness begins to become passionate. You would like to extend yourself to others and communicate with them.10 Notice how Trungpa describes something associ ated with sexual display, from a technical, Darwinian point of view – the growth of horns – to evoke the genuine heart of sadness. Sexual display is pure expenditure, pure gift, a sub-Kantian aesthetic of purposelessness. There are aspects of the physical being of life forms that are pointless. Sadness likewise has no object, no ‘point’. The feeling of ‘Isn’t it a pity’ is attuned to this structural
Kalin Kozhuharov from Safecast demonstrating radioisotope identification using a gamma spectrometer.
Safecast is a global sensor network for collecting and sharing radiation measurements to empower people with data about their environments. To help measure radiation around Fukushima, Tokyo Hackerspace developed a device called a ‘bGeigie’ – which is basically a geiger counter paired with an arduino and a GPS module which gets strapped to a car and driven around. The device was driven around the greater Fukushima area by Safecast members and data was directly uploaded to Safecast’s database and made available on data sharing platforms such as Pachube.
Strategy: Collect and Share Project: Measuring Radiation Around Fukushima Author: Tokyo Hackerspace and Safecast Location: Japan
Collect and Share
Bicycle mounted bGeigie geiger counter collecting mobile radiation measurements
Garth Lenz is a photographer who uses his images to communicate larger environmental issues and broadcast clear messages for change. His work on the Athabasca oil sands, in the photo series The True Cost of Oil, aims at documenting the scale and scope of environmental transformation occurring due to oil extraction. As the title suggests, Lenz asks the viewers to ask themselves what cost are they willing to bear, for their oil consumption. http://garthlenz.com/
Exposing the Oil Sands
Photos: Garth Lenz
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Photos: Garth Lenz
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Architecture has historically been a profession based on well-established principles, passed down from master to apprentice. These principles however have become ever more evasive, volatile and changing. Each successive generation casts away the principles of their predecessors and declares their own. Different movements and styles stake their claim to what is the ‘right way to build’. This has led to a highly accusational tendency within the culture of architecture; young architects are trained to be adversarial and have thick skins. What does this mean for guilt in the profession? If forced to always be on the offensive what room is left for honest introspection and self-evaluation? Architects, ever ready to accuse others, have rarely confessed guilt of their own.
Brendan Cormier and Vincent van Velsen
Seven Lamps of Architecture
Architecture in general
“The technical innovations of architecture since the Renaissance and particularly the Industrial Revolution, had subsumed its spiritual content and sapped its vitality.”
1849 Eugène Viollet-le-Duc 1849
Viollet-le-Duc’s restoration practice is "a destruction out of which no remnants can be gathered: a destruction accompanied with false description of the thing destroyed."
"[Pugin] is not a great architect but one of the smallest possible or conceivable architects."
1851 AWN Pugin
Aesthetics or Ethics? Ethics Aesthetics
Accusations can question both the ethics and the aesthetics of a practicing architect. However the lines between the two easily blur. Often an aesthetic accusation is hyperbolized to such an extant that it takes on ethical implications – at least in the eyes of the accuser. In this sense a decorative element becomes akin to a crime, using traditional iconography makes you a fascist; forcing the question: How productive is it when we conflate the two terms? When is an aesthetic crime an ethical crime?
Urban Planners 1923
Regularly criticizes the city – and its planners – for its dysfunctionality. Pollution, narrow streets, congested buildings etc.
Frank Lloyd Wright The Rennaisance "It is this decadence that we call the Renaissance. It is the setting sun which we mistake for dawn."
Accuses contemporary housing of ruining our health and morale.
"Vitruvius was a mediocre writer"
Joseph Maria Olbrich
“Engineers have been busy... architects have been asleep.”
Vers Une Architecture
Henri van de Velde 1908
Loos’ hallmark Ornament and Crime indirectly attacks other practitioners for their use of decoration.
“Architecture today is no longer aware of its own beginnings.”
Werner Hegemann (architecture critic)
Martin Wagner(chief city planner of Berlin)
Accuses Wagner of funnelling architecture commissions to his extremist (re:Modernist) friends.
Nuremberg Trial Albert Speer
Speer confesses at the Nuremberg trials that he superintended Germany’s wartime military production, masterfully coordinating industry and material and Giancarlo de Carlo Nuove Tendenze relying heavily on slave Accuses the Nuove Tendenze labor. of being formalists.
Accused modernists of building houses that reduced people to a 'termite' existence.
1931 Ernst May
Ernst May's designs for his Russian cities and housing are lambasted by the Russian people.
Frank Lloyd Wright 1940
Reyner Banham 1946
Accused of megalomania - of saying he was the greatest architect in the world. He does not deny it.
Accuse Banham of co-opting their ideas to serve his agenda, with his book, The New Brutalism.
Rou-Spitz refers to "the dangerous formalism of the Avant-Garde": accusing the avant-garde of both superficial aesthetics and of somehow being dangerous.
Team 10 Primer
1946 Team X
The Smithsons 1955
Accuses hypocrisy, for extolling virtues of working class street life, but in the end creating brutal modern apartments (Robin Hood Gardens), all the while living themselves in a Victorian house in Chelsea.
The Doorn Manifesto critiques CIAM for its non-human(ist) functionality: it demands to include the human in architecture.
Accuses functionalism as being ‘unbearable and senile.’ Functionalism is constructed without desire, only made for dead people.
“The more functionalism has lost its false aesthetic character, the more boring it has become.”
Death and Life of Great American Cities
1961 Le Corbusier 1961
Le Corbusier’s ideas are responsible for "the great blight of dullness" and the inhumane planning process she saw all around her.
Icon Architects 2005
“There is now a whole flock of decorated ducks that combine the willful monumentality of modern architecture with the faux-populist iconicity of postmodern design.”
“Belgium is the ugliest country in the world.”
Learning from Las Vegas
Accuses Team X of ingratitude "On monte sur les épauls mais on ne dit pas merci!"
Mies van der Rohe 1977
“Lesss is a bore”
Erik van Egeraat Daniel Libeskind
1962 1962 CIAM
“The questions of functionalism do not coincide with those of the practical function.”
“Liebeskind's China boycott is a publicity stunt.”
1981 Rob Krier 1981Everyone Else "Vorwärts, Kameraden, Wir Müssen Zurück" Forwards Comrades, we must go back!
Daniel Libeskind Architects in China
"I won't work for autocratic regimes...I think architects should take a more ethical stance": Implying an ethical divide between him and those who work in China.
Reyner Banham Archigram Criticizes Archigram’s work as Imagism.
Dutch Architecture 1990 The Press 2012MVRDV
“Dutch architecture is cowardice, with a straitjacket of modesty.”
MVRDV design of towers in Korea is accused of mimicking the twin towers explosion.
Labeling a martyr is, in a way, an expression of collective guilt. Martyrs are a simultaneous reminder of the hopes and ideals that an individual stood for, and also the oppressive nature of humankind to smother those ideals. Memorializing martyrs then is a way of atoning for this collective guilt and to give renewed hope that the dreams of the fallen can somehow be realized. A popular way of memorializing martyr is to name streets after them – creating a potentially difficult juxtaposition. To what extent can a street, subject to all the pressures of the city, live up to the lofty ideals of an individual? And what does it say of us when a memorialized street itself becomes a symbol of broken dreams? Guy Tillim and Susan Berger have both created photo series that examine this deep irony. Tillim looks at Patrice Lumumba, the great hero of African independence, who was murdered by his colleague Mobutu Sese Seko; after taking power of the Congo Mobutu subsequently canonized him as a hero and was regarded so throughout continent. Several African nations were quick to memorialize Lumumba’s honor by naming streets after him. Today, Tillim’s shots of these avenues display a heavy sadness – faded signs of the hopes of an independent Africa embodied in dusty streets, toppled over statues, and stained concrete modernism. Over in the United States Berger takes on Martin Luther King Jr. and the many MLK Boulevards across the countries that were baptized in his wake. These streets are often situated in some of the most destitute inner-city neighborhoods – a sign of the great white flight that emptied out many American cities in the latter half of the twentieth century and the systemic racism and poverty that persists today.
Photographic work of Guy Tillim and Susan Berger
Statues of Kwame Nkrumah, reinstated at the National Museum in Accra, Ghana, after having being torn down during a military coup in 1977, 2007
Photos: Guy Tillim
Athénée Royal High School, Lubumbashi, DR Congo, 2007
Avenue Bagamoyo, Beira, Mozambique, 2008
Apartment building, Beira, Mozambique, 2008
Photos: Guy Tillim
Grande Hotel, Beira, Mozambique, 2008
Apartment building, Avenue Bagamoyo, Beira, Mozambique, 2008
Macon, Georgia, USA
Photos: Susan Berger
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Newark, New Jersey, USA
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North Chicago, Illinois, USA
Photo: Susan Berger
Austin, Texas, USA
Photos: Susan Berger
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Jersey City, New Jersey, USA