Nowhere is our pact with the technological devil more clear than in hospitals. They represent our enslavement to a technology that promises survival, on both a personal and a professional level, but only if we promise in return to give ourselves over to it and refrain from seeking its true nature. Despite the fact that these environments are saturated w ith gadgets, prosthetics and myriad technical devices that probe, invade and sustain our bodies, few are blander. This contradiction is the ultimate purpose of the design of hospitals: in addition to many other jobs a hospital must perform, its principal purpose is to mask and insulate the moment when we must confront our own corporeal real ity. continued on page 6
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DOCTORS BURY THEIR MISTAKES ...
SOME NOTES ON HOSPITALS AARON BETSKY
835 NORTH KINGS ROAD WEST HOLLYWOOD CA 90069
NEWSLETTER August1993 IN THIS ISSUE: SCIENCE A RCHITECTURE TECHNOLOGY
Essays on cybe rspace. VR. AI. information panopticons. Shin Takama tsu and hospital design by Rac hel Allen. Aa ron Betsky. gordon kipping and an intervie w with Christ ian Hubert by Stephen Perrella .
NOSTALGIA AND TECHNOLOGY RE: SHIN TAKAMATSU AT SFMOMA
CYBERSPACE AND ' ARCHITECTURE INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTIAN HUBERT BY STEPHEN PERRELLA
RACHEL ALLEN 1. To talk about technology w ithout anticipating the future is as difficult as talking about the. future without involving technology. Since Frankenstein was published in 1816, science and technology have been the central themes of both f igurative and literary futuristic fiction ,organizing entire genres. Because of technology's crucia l role in imaginary futures, technoimagery can signify the future all by itself. Historical continued on page 2
SP: As an architect, how are you engaged in virtual reality and how do you consider this work in relation to "built projects " ? CH : I think it is important to understand VR as a phenomenon that circulates with other technological developments and in relation to existing techniques of representation. VR's implications for architecture may derive from its capacity to sit at the juncture of these issues. For example, Rem Koolhaas gave a lecture at continued on page 4
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anticipation continues to accompany technology outside explic itly f ictional contexts . Technology's ro le of designat ing the future in fiction determines the values and standards in everyday evaluations of contemporary of technology . The models of history at work in futurism order any attempt to engage technology in general.
Below: Kirin Plaza Osaka 1985-87. View of exterior
2. Progress as pictured in the minds of Social Democrats was, first of all, the progress of mankind itself (and not just advances in men 's ability and knowledge). Secondly, it was something boundless, in keeping with the infinite perfectibility of mankind. Thirdly, progress was regarded as irres istible, something that automatically pursued a straight or spiral course. Each of these predicates is controversial and open to criticism. Walter Benjamin, "Theses on the Philosophy of History "
Contemporary media coverage of technology is of immanent revolutions, brave new worlds, and endless possibilities . The April 12, 1993, Time cover story on " The Electronic Superhighway " exemplifies this incessant anticipation, with phrases like "Coming Soon " , "bringing a revolution", and " Take a Trip into the Future ." Propelling such narratives of expectation is a kind of Darwinism , which presumes that technology is evolutionary, a species developing according to its own internal rule of the survival of the fittest. Technology's progre ss typifies progress itself . Th e va lue of that progre ss may be disputed, but the trajectory of development and increasing comple xity remains uncontested . Thi s progress is similar to the one ou tl ined by Benjamin above, with the same characteristics and requ iring the same caveats . A progress-oriented history of technology requires the parallel delineation of a history-minustechnology, ahead of which technology is located , establishing its cla im to progress . Of the two histories, technology is always evolving faster and more efficiently. Invariably, the question is whether or not we, located in the non-technological history, are prepared for technology, as if we are behind it, late, running to keep up. Time asks, "Is America ready? " Nostalgia is ordinarily defined as yearn ing for the past. Techno-futurisms are nostalgic when they provide an opportunity to yearn for the present, as if it is already over. Stories of technological progress incorporate fatalism even when endorsements, because the progress they describe is presumed to be inevitable . From the future, one looks back at the present with a sense of loss. Melancholic regret coincides with the relief and thrill of abdicated responsibility. Sadness for a present so promptly abandoned can only be suspicious.
3. The Shin Takamatsu show at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is a full-scale, interactive 3D modeling of many stories about technology, regret and anticipation . The show's techno-imagery saturated with both futurism and its associated nostalgia uses Japan as a particularly laden stage for the enactment of these issues . The function of representations of Japan for Am erican audiences demands carefu l attention and delineation . Images which are abbreviations for Japa n when they appear in a U.S. context. such as dragons, Zen gardens, shoji screens, and lanterns, are judiciou sly distributed throughout the show. These icons appear in explanatory texts in and around the exhibition , in formal references in the installation itself, and in the museum 's publicity materials . An article in the SFMOMA newsletter reads : For We sterners in particular, the notion of Japanese architecture often evokes visions of a contemplative garden or spare tatami mat room that suggests a realm ruled by austere Zen aesthetics. Yes, but. for Americans in particular, Japan just as often evokes Godzilla movies, Ultraman, and factory robots in newscasts about Detroit's competition . In fact , Takamatsu's design-with its mirrored surfaces, bolts and rivets made for as well as from photography and animation-recalls not just science, but science fiction,
Above.' Syntax. Side elevatio n
including the movies, stories, and newscasts . While the show's representations of Japan as craft-oriented and spiritual are not necessarily nostalgic, the iconographic logic of the SFMOMA show relies on juxtaposing this heavily edited craft-Japan with a glimmering, animated sci-fi-Japan. The techno-Zen garden installation designed by Takamatsu in the rotunda, the museum 's central exhibition space, exemplifies this operation of conceptual adjacency between two iconic Japans. The floor is covered with rocks , but the rocks are painted bright gold. Soft white fabric hangs from arched partitions subdividing the room, but the fabric is synthetic. The pairing recurs in moments of easy opposition that display the terms in disingenuous conflict, with built-in resolution . The effect is enabled by gentle, cheerful irony, ultimately re-â‚Źstablishing these two extensively edited versions of Japan as mutually exclusive and leaving them intact.
4. Each of the four corners of the rotunda is dedicated to an individual project : Kirin Plaza Osaka; Kunibiki Messe; Syntax; and Origin I, II, III. Each corner includes drawings, model s, and a video monitor showing an animated loop of the project . The adjacency between . past and future , craftsmanship and technology that organizes the installation 's iconography also operates in its techn iques of repre sentation . The intricate drawings which are Takamatsu 's most circulated cultural product showcase the marriage of techno and tradition: elaborate metallic, mechanistic details are drawn in graphite on rough rag paper with Beaux-Arts rendering techniques, white poche section cuts and dramatic interior shadows . The centerpiece of each display is the television screen, mounted on a podium in the corner statuary alcove . While the rendering techniques of the drawings attract admiration, it's clear that even these gorgeous drawings cannot compete witb television in vying for the museum-goer's attention . It is valuable to rigorously track the techniques of these computer animations, their points of view, formal patterns, and editing devices . A close reading of their presumptions and preoccupations reveals some of architects' presumptions and preoccupations about buildings, animation as a medium, and architectural representations in general. For example, the animation loop devoted to Origin I, II, III opens with a parti diagram. Rotating and sweeping three-dimensional blocks appear and link together to build a diagram of the project. The familiar linear series of additive stages of schematic development are not transformed by this medium. The animation works like an on-screen flip-book of the traditional sequence of diagrams .
All of the animations follow consistent points of view, unwavering ly focused on the modeled building . The unbroken gaze of this point of view is part icu larly striking in an animation, in which there is no ca mera . Predictably enough, the com pleted building as an object is the protagonist of each animation. The medi um is used exclusively to display this object, using a finite series of devices . Occasionally, the building is approached fro m a distance from the air, as if by an airplane, an object whole and complete aga inst a fish-eyed horizon . The viewpoint slowly circles the building as it moves closer . The point of view changes according to a series of very particular types of movement: rotate, approach, sweep . These characteristic commands are pursued individually for short sequences, which end with either a locked still, or fade into the next sequence . The stills correspond to familiar, traditional architectural views, such as a site plan, a three-quarter view, or a full frontal elevation. Similar moments are established in the interior: a view down a hallway or out a window. This cycle of approach, freeze, fade organizes every one of the animations in the show, but in the Kirin Plaza Osaka animation, this still frame as on-screen drawing is explicit . An image of a graphite drawing of a site plan expands into the modeled images of the building in the city. By constructing and displaying a recognizable formal link, these moments create a historical place for animation in the context of other mediums of architectural representation . 5. Such devices are not Intrinsic to the med ium, the programs or the equipment. Conventions that pass as determined by a given medium are foregrounded as conventions when they remain in place despite a change in context. Th is is not to say that conventions shou ld remain in their apparently original medium, or that honesty is the best policy . It is simply to note that technical conventions are not structurally inherent to th eir medium, but circulate with other, more intricate, motivations and boundaries . The techniques used in the animations can also be found outside this medium . Alongside the animations, at the show 's entrance there is a " highdefinition three-dimensional video depicting buildings by Shin Takamatsu every half hour." In the video, a camera reproduces the consistent, slow speed of the animation's moving point-of-view, and its commands of approach, rotate, and pan. At first, the video seems influenced by the animations, one begins to say retroactively influenced, according to the presumption that video technology precedes computer animation historically. Instead the adjacency of the two mediums discloses a technique as a technique when it is located in both.
6. The question begged by virtual space is, what if it's just as good or better than the actual kind? If enough (or simply the right) people are persuaded, traditional architecture will disappear. Mike Sorkin, "Scenes from the Electronic City"
"Take hold of those metal knobs on the arms of the chair, " whispered Lenina. "Otherwise you won't get any of the feely effects. " Aldous Huxley, Brave New World metaphasia: an inability to perceive metaphor Douglas Coupland, Generation X At the video station, each visitor wears 3D glasses of folded cardboard and earphones. The silliness of these devices points up their more basic function , which is simply to distinguish this video from everyday TV watching. The glasses and earphones are badges saying this video is special, just as the television monitors worn by the show are badges saying this architecture is special. This apparatus of differentiation rel ies for its success, in part, on the media blitz recently enjoyed by technologies for the human body The vocabulary of fascination with such interactive gear is
Above : Syntax, Kyoto, 7988-90. View of exterior at night
surprisingly literal considering the long-standing suspicion that the relationship between viewers or readers and representation has always been interactive. The audience member's body becomes a place to articulate anxiety about the fragile separation between audience and fiction, and the ongoing intimacy between people and characters. Frankenstein is a story about the intimacy between people and their productions . The central pair of Victor Frankenstein and his monster are crea tor and created engaging in an extended chase of mutual interdependence, identificat ion and destruction. Th ese two are only the most discussed among a dizzying array o f slippe ry analogical relationships between biographical characters (Mary Shelley, her
FORUM NEWS LECTURE SERIES The Forum and the Association of Women in Architecture have joined forces to organize the next lecture series, "Women/Design/Theory," which will feature presentations by eight women practitioners followed by discussions led by four women theorists/historians . Lectures will be held at the Schindler House at 8pm . For information about the series, which runs from Sept. 13 to Oct. 4, call the Forum at 213-852-7145, ex . 3 .
DESIGN PROFESSIONALS' COALITION The Forum was well represented at the first annual luncheon for the Design Professionals' Coalition . Groups and individuals active in the rebuilding efforts came together to celebrate this anniversary and to discuss work done to date, including design charettes for St. Elmo Village, Leimert Park/Degnan Avenue, and the Urban Health Care Project. DPC has 22 member organizations (including the Forum) and 300 individual members. Its hotline number is 213-380-1751. The Coalition of Neighborhood Developers, Vernon-Central Cluster, a member organization of the DPC, is looking for a community planner. The position is part-time and would last 6 to 8 months with a salary of $1,000 to $1 ,500/mo. Send resume by Aug . 31 to Anthony Scott, Executive Director of Dunbar Economic Development Corporation, 4225 South Central Avenue, #102, LA, CA, 90611.
CONFERENCES/SYMPOSIUMS The Forum and the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York have been planning a weekend-long interdisciplinary conference entitled "ECO-TEC/Los Angeles: The Ecology of the City." This will be the fourth in a series of international conferences on the conjuncture of ecology and technology. Prior con-ferences have been held in Corsica and most recently at the Dia Foundation in New York . Working titles for panel sessions include : "The Technologies of Discourse," " Connecting the Dots: Towards a New Urban Landscape," "The Technologies of Nature and the ECOlogy of the West. " and "The Ecology of Everyday Life-Paper versus Plastic ." The Forum is also organizin g a day-long symposium tentatively called " Urban Des ign, Urban Theory, Urban Culture" to coinc ide with an exhibition at
parents Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, Percy Shelley, an d Lord Byron) and fictional ones (Vic tor Frankenste in; Robert Walton, the book' s narrator-scribe; the monster; and a myriad of minor characters) which occur both In th e novel and in associated cri ti ca l and biographica l writings. The same scary closeness between biography and fiction in Frankenstein and that bet ween user and scree n underlies the rhetoric of vi rtua l rea lity . In the Takamatsu show, as in Frankenstein, technology is used as a tool of production, in the form of CAD programs, animations and the televisions on which they're shown. It is also the organizing vocabulary of the deSigns, providing the terms with which it can be described as controversial or futuristic. The tools themselves seem to delineate the boundaries of production, creating its limits and options . A medium 's apparently irreducible qualities, such as the animation program's list of commands, absorb those qualities of the animations unclaimed by any person. Similarly, the techno-imagery absorbs faiths in and desires for technology as progress, and disperses those throughout the buildings and discussions of them . The exhibition uses technology to represent and propel us toward the future, leaving architecture, and architects, free to disclaim any such ambition . We, however, respond viscerally to representations in ways that are disarming even when the connections are not flagrantly diagrammed by tools.
Rachel A llen has studied architecture at Princeton and SCI-Arc and is currently working in San Francisco .
the Mu seum of Contem porary Art on urba n deSign projects en titled, "Urban ReVisions : Current Projects for the Publ ic Realm ." The symposium will also coincide w ith the AlA's annual convention to be held in Los Angeles .
INTERESTING EVENT Southern Cal ifo rnia first pioneered suburbia as the place where mobinty and security meet as dream and nightmare. Now, virtual reality technologies, theme parks, secured communities, and their corporations are pushing us toward a new global paradigm: the merging of information, urban space, and existence itself. Come and discuss this future with Ed Soja; Anne Freidberg ; Ralph Rugoll; and Ian Mitroll. Town Meeting #3, Cyburbia: New Frontier or Grave?, conceived and moderated by writer Fred Dewey, will be held at Beyond Baroque, October 8 . Call (310) 822-3006 for information .
PUBLICATIONS The publications committee has accepted a proposal from Steven Flu sty for Forum Pamphlet No . II-Building Paranoia, an analysis of the growing trend towards direct and indirect privatization of what once was public space. Flusty will develop typologies of this condition and examine some case studies. The author will be teamed with photographer Andrew Bush, best known for his drive-by photographs with titles such as "Man Traveling Northwest at 60 mph on Highway 101 in the ViCinity of Hollywood, California, Late on a Sunday Afternoon in March 1991 ," and graphic designers/architects Nicholas Lowie and Sheridan Lowrey .
NEW BOARD MEMBERS The Forum is pleased to announce that Amy Alper, Luis Hoyos and William Williams have agreed to serve on our board . The board also elected officers for the coming year. Ming Fung was elected Vice President, John Kaliski to the new post of Secretary, and Julie Silliman and Christian Hubert were re-elected Financial Ollicer and President respectively . We would like to thank Michael Pittas and Marc Tedesco for having served the Forum in myriad ways . Michael Pittas will be joining the advisory board and we wish Marc Tedesco, who has moved to Portland , the best of everything. To get involved with Forum comm ittees and activit ies ca ll our phone line 213-852-7145.
hub e rt + perre II a
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Columbia last November and he claimed that architects would be the last people for whom Newton's apple would fall. His polemical resistance to the dematerialization of the built object which computer technologies seem to su ggest, reveals a conservative aspect of the profession of architecture . The built project has played a particu lar role in the self-definition of architecture: as object, as objective, and even as a source of objectivity, all of which have come into question on a number of front s, both critical and technological. tural object ha s a more complex mode is generally assumed . If one consi ders relation to design and construction, to them once they are bu ilt , to networks economy, and socio-political r- .... ,>f",v' __ "
experienced some disjunction npltWI>Pr'lirrlv practic ing architect and some of my t subject, I would nevertheless not wa opposition to the other.
to create odd little forms . I want to loop this process back into architecture, because the program introduces randomness into design and makes the designer into an informed selector rather than an all-seeing creator. This is why I am interested in generative programs like these-Bolter's produces readings and Dawkins' produces forms-rather than simply representational programs like CAD . SP : Does the generative software relate directly to anything we would recognize as architecture? CH : This particular software creates biomorphic forms in that they are either bilaterally or radially symmetrical , and is meant to evolve creaturelike beings . However, I have been able to generate geometric patterns that. simply interpreted as sections, for example, are architecturally suggestive .
ture . However, this is by no means a realm of absolute freedom bu t is fraught with political difficult ies, with the emergence of many new forms of coercio n. Nevertheless, a profound transformation is occurring , and architects are in a position to play an important role in this change . After all, the convergence between the humanistic and scientific cultures has been an architectural concern since antiquity, and architects may be able to use these media to interpret these conflicts with a particular subtlety of thought. Similarly, the highly spatial experiences of hypertext. of virtual reality, of many forms of simulation and visualization now enabled by the computer could resonate powerfully for architects. Architects should not use a narrowly defined sense of the built object as a touchstone or measuring standard for thinking about developments . Many opportunities will directly at has traditionally
SP: What do you perceive as the future of print media given the development of this new format? CH: The era in which book technology dominated is undoubtedly coming to a close. However, this domination has lasted some 500 years and the book is not going to disappear overnight . One should not be too quick to herald the beginning of an electronic age of communication technology, wh ich will inevitably occur, but over a longer time frame than 1993 to 1994. Books won't disappear but will play an increasingly marginal role, just as manuscripts were marginalized by
The subject being virtual reality?
CH : Virtual reality and all the new tools for th inking and simulation increasingly enabled by the compu ter. I do not want to privilege one particular technology, such as virtual reality . VR is only one part of a large and very significant shift taking pla ce in the textual and visualization technologies becoming available to architectu re : hypertext, VR, CAD systems, information networks .. these 'technologies already exist, and more are coming. SP: Does this shift entail architectu re be comin g synonymous with information? CH: If one begins to think of architecture as in formation , it is possible that these new tools will take on more meaning and pote ntial applications . It is important. however, to modify this "newness" and the future oriented discourse it provokes by looking at how these tools are currently entering the cu lture and at wha t kinds of interesting hybrids already exi st. For example, a number of boo ks have recently appeareq with supplementary discs, such as J . Da vid Bolter's Writing Space and Richard Dawkins ' The Blind Watch maker. Dawkins is a biologist known primarily as the author of The Selfish Gene, in which he theorizes that genes use us to propagate themselve s rather th an the oth er way around. Bolter' s disk contain s the bulk of the text of his book in hypert ext. a mediu m that allows multiple readings of a kind not possible in print . The flexi bility of the medium al so allowed Bolter to include digressions t hat wou ld not have been accommodated by t he narrat ive structure of the book itsel f . Dawkin s' s The Blind Watchmaker descr ibes evolution as nondes igned, as based on randomness and the interaction between randomness and natural selection . The accompanying disk contains a ki nd of mutation program, with which I've been playing
printing press . Much current thinking about the emergence of the electronic media is extremely shortsighted, or rather short-ranged . In many respects, book technology seems very natural to us now, so natural that we tend not to think of it as a technology. But when scholars look at the shift from manuscripts to books, they see a technological change that provided the material basis for a transformation of reading and writing . Although the transition may be so smooth as to be barely noticeable by anyone except specialists, as books cede to electronic technology, reading and writing will change again . Hypertext, for example, clearly suggests' the possibility of reducing, if not doing away with , the distinction between the reader and the writer. Hypertext has been described as nonlinear because various choices are possible at any time . Bits of texts are linked in various ways . Instead of following a line of thought, one navigates a conceptual space that undermines any linear narrative . Book technology not only affirmed the dominance of such structures of writing, but made the writer the author(ity) on read ing. In a hypertext environment. acts of read ing are individual and idiosyncrati c, depend ing on the person , the context and their particu lar preferences . Each act of reading, accordi ng to the proponents of Hypertext, encourages a new itinerary of reading . Because it is also easy to add to and mani pulate the text , hypertext also tends to dissolve the distinction between reading and writing . The results are all kinds of strange problem s, such as the erosion of the idea of copyright. the legal guardian of authorship, and textu al stabi lity. Some writers claim that these technol ogies en able precisely what poststructural ist writers have been theorizing : destabi lizing th e te xt and the relationship be ween reader and wr iter. George Landow has wri tte n about the conve rgen ce of cr itical theory and technology. He notes that wh ile fo r some th is has mean t the unhappy death of the author and t he end of the book, hypertext enthu sias ts are seeing the beginning of a new electronic textu ality full of possibi lity and promise. This may be symptomatic of a larger set of converg ences between what C.P . Snow called th e "two cultures" of science and human ities. I recently taug ht a co urse at SCI-Arc w ith Sylvia Lavin calle d " Weird Science, " w here we saw evidence of this co nvergence by looking at chaos and self-organization, as we ll as computer techno logy an d aspects o f the cultural and textual th ou ght associated w ith poststructuralism and postmodern ism. The possibilities offered by electronic media as forms of empowerment, as enabling devices, as tools for thought, could be suggestive fo r people in many fie lds including arch itec-
these technological and cultural transfor also allow arch itects to enter domains in which the ways that they th ink, the ways in which they are self-conscious about t he design proce ss, could have unprecedented importance . SP : Landow's Hypertext argues that the read ing processes that Derrida and others have advocated are currently being made available by new electronic formats . Do you th ink that Derrida woul d be pleased with th is development? CH : I ce rtainly would not w ant to speak for Derrida . However, it is interesting in this context to co nsider a certa in ambiguity between his idea s and the technology of their presentation . In Glas, for example, he subve rts the tradit ional idea of the book wh ile at the same time produces w hat can only be calle d a book . Similarly, while Derrida helped open up a new textual field, this fact led to his re-reification as an author(ity). However, any discuss ion of Derr ida needs to be within a considera tion of a larger cultura l phenomenon in which pos tstructura list wri ting, current thought about the new media, and some contempora ry sciences share common interests and t hemes . Certa inly the ground of philosophy has been chall enged by writers previ ously considered lite rary critics , throug h the ki nd of edifyin g ph ilosophy that Richard Rorty calls for in Philosophy and t!le M irror of Nature. The role of philosophy as foundational edif ice has been threatened and the architectural edifice is similarly imperiled . The cultural problematic of tech nology is profou nd and has yet to be adequately exam ined . SP : What about the new techno logy and the military-industrial base? CH : In the United States during World War II an enormous impetus was given to com puter tech no 1-
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Christian Hubert is principal of the Christian Hubert Studio and president of the Forum. He teaches and writes about architecture . Stephen Perrella is the editor/designer of NEWSlINE, Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.
experience of space in a computer environment. and in, for example, how the history of the shift from perspective to axonometric might be experientially transmitted in a computer. But at that time, computer animation was prohibitively expensive, and far exceeded the capacities of personal computers. I'm currently working on a database entitled Weird Science in wh ich various terms I've encountered in my readings can be related and turned into a productive dictionary linking, for instance, chaos or fractal programs so that one could move readily from verbal text to visualization . Through these means, I am hoping to reduce what I experience as a division between my archaic forms of architectural production and other interests, but even now they float together in an interesting and uneasy equilibrium : I have found the experience of reading in hypertext both exhilarating and problematic and I have personally felt enabled as well as dislocated in my engagement with new technologies. This is what happens when some of your habits are jolted and many things you take for granted suddenly come into question. But this is also what opens the space of new possibilities, which I feel I must explore.
technologies, in return, have an enormous effect on the workings of contemporary capital. Computer trading has become an autonomous stock market force. The possibilities of the computer and the problematics of these technologies are, however, only partly described by their inscription in military and economic development. De Landa claims that the advent of personal computers seriously undermined the centralizing and totalitarian possibilities of original computers, which were extremely large , expensive objects, difficult to run and requiring a clique of " priests, " the programmers. Since then, the personal computer has significantly altered that balance of power. It is a vehicle for all kinds of self-organizing groups, including hackers, who I am thankful are around because, although often criminalized, they play an important role in keeping open information networks that would otherwise be closed. The Foucauldian surveillance problematic also exists through the institution of the information panopticon . We know that an extraordinary amount of information about us is retrieved-the trail of our consumer activities-that is then disseminated from one databank to another. This process takes on a life of its own, wherein mistakes not only abound but, because they proliferate through the system, become increasingly difficult to rectify. My personal interest in these issues started in 1984 when I participated in an architectural folly show at Leo Castelli Gallery. I did a computer image on a paint system and was interested in the
ogy through the development of the UNIVAC computer primarily for artillery tables, the organization of scientists into the war effort, the pioneering statements of Vannevar Bush in a paper called " As We May Think " outlining many characteristics of hypertext. Certainly in the United States the development of computer technology has been linked to defense spending, and modern warfare, as has been demonstrated by Manuel de Landa in his Deleuzian history of the subject, War in the Age of Intelligent Machines, would be impossible without information technologies. I've heard that the first salvo shot in the Gulf War was the introduction of a computer virus into the Iraqi antiaircraft system rendering it inoperable on the first night of bombing . One could talk at length about the Gulf War in terms of the electronic media , how smart the smart bombs really were, how much the electronic media redefined the experience of warfare in a way that may have rendered Americans extremely complacent. The numbing capacities of such delusions as the idea of a war without casualties parallel those created by simulated war games in which the "unthinkable" becomes possible. At the same time, the development of the computer in the United States is highly influenced by the forms of capitalism. The personal computer at this point is a marketer's dream: computers become obsolete at an extraordinary rate. This naturally generates an enormous investment on the part of consumers who must buy the latest product. And computer
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bets k Y continued from page 1 The history of hospital design in this country is not a very glorious one . Since the beginning of the century, American hospitals followed either the French model, which was loosely based on the medieval cloisters and h6tels-dieu that were the primary care givers in that country, or the English model of specialized pavilions. By the end of the 19th century, the new scale of the metropolis demanded more centralized and closely packed 'structures that could share common facilities . Hospitals became factories for health . Starting in the 1920s with such structures as the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, hospitals became integrated high-rises that spread out in patient wings from centralized service cores. After the Second World War, these cores tended to increase out through the middle of the wings, so that hospitals became fat blocks whose centers were completely filled with windowless service spaces, operating and examination rooms , and offices . The perimeters filled up with repetitive modules of patient rooms. Thus the modern hospital is a hybrid of office building, factory and hotel. Smaller hospitals and clinics merely repeat this typology on a smaller scale and remain totally beholden to the orders of efficiency. Office buildings as well as factories, however, were at least once meant to look like cathedrals of commerce, but hospitals in this country were never designed to resemble anything except an efficient processing center: a place that would not indicate what went on inside, and that would provide comfort by enveloping the visitor in mute innocuousness. A few of the skyscraper hospital towers of the 1930s were designed, according to their own
Because there is no life in these places, they cannot force us to confront our own death and disease . Which of course is what we want. We want death handled, dealt with or otherwise professionally managed . We are embarrassed by our own infirmity, sca red by our mortality, and nervous even in our compassion for those we love . We do not want to li nger in hospitals, those isolated compounds of sickness, but w ant to pretend that we are really someplace else . We do路 not want to think about all the technology that we have to plug ourselves into to be saved, nor do we want to find an echo of our uncertainties about our own bodies-their gender, the nature of their internal processes, their limits . We want only an airport transit lounge on our flight either back to fully clothed, sublimating health or into another world of corporeal oblivion . Arch itects are only one of many causes of the malignancy that afflicts the design of hospitals . Hospitals are the only growth sector in the construction industry, and city after city is becoming infested with a plague of such hulking, insensitive buildings. Although hospitals may be the largest employers in many urban cores, particularly those located in inner cities, these built agglomerations now tower over wastelands that had previously been the thriving residential neighborhoods or industrial workshops of Chicago, Detroit, New Haven, Birmingham or our own Hollywood. They breed giant parking garages, skybridges and their own generating plants . They spawn doctors' office buildings and pathways cleared for ambulances. They are giant machines that produce, in addition to health for those that can afford it, massive revenues and major urban degradation.
ph otos: Eric Haas
propaganda, as "fortresses of health," but it is difficult to find any hospital since then that has any aspect that contributes either to the urban context or to our understanding of the building itself. As figuration has been leached out by the logic of economic processes, hospitals have lost even this 'sense of comfort, and are now merely massive Goliaths . Consider, for instance, our local Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Huge black glass blocks sit on top of sloped concrete bases that confront the street with massive insularity-surpassing, if that is possible, even the neighboring Beverly eentef ifl thei[ comQlet~ disregard fo[ their surroundings. The configuration of the various wings ignores existing street patterns, creating shaking internal corridors while bridging over the street grid . Parking garages surround the central core, while various departments have spread out into the surrounding neighborhood, taking over office buildings and st<jnding in stark contrast to the genteel scale and detailing of adjacent Beverly Hills. Walk up to the buildings and you will not be able to find either the emergency room or the visitor's entrance without the help of large amounts of applied graphics, Stand away from these buildings, and those same graphics are the only clue as to what these buildings are. The ironic logic of urban indifference and inner lifelessness of these buiidings devoted to the attentive care of life continues towards increasing insularity: the famed Cancer Clinic at Cedars-Sinai is underground; while the Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital has just seen the addition of a third-level walkway paralleling Sunset Boulevard. It gives the street a sloped grass berm hiding more services, with nothing but a scaleless tube floating ~bove . Inside, wood accents attempt to recall the existence of a world made of something oth,f lr than sterilized plastics . Graphics lead through low-ceilinged hallways to various processing points, each of which is a small room where fluorescent illumination overshadows any remnants of natural light. Public spaces are leftover voids carved out of these cubicles and filled with durable fabrics, softer fluorescent lights and muted colors.
Hospitals were ejected from the city centers they had always occupied when, in the 18th century, they came to be feared as places that spread disease rather than eliminated it. Today, hospitals are again part of a sickness in our body politic, not a cure. They are emblems of our complete refusal to understand our cities, like our bodies, not just as economic structures or service centers, but as physical places. The solution offered in the 18th century, a solution that many cities in Europe still adhere to, was to remove such centers to the periphery. Hospitals, however,-confront the suburban fabric with as much insolence and insularity as ~hey do the city. Instead of further isolation, of either the suburban mall or urban megastructure type, it is now necessary to seek real answers through some form of integration of the hospital with the fabric of the city and the communi- . ties they serve . In some cases, that might mean combining hospitals with social housing and retail, while in other cases it might mean disintegrating these condensed bunkE!rs of technology into the texture of the city. Given the surfeit of land-particularly in some of the emptied areas of our inner cities-the increased flexibility of technology, and the coming reform of the health care system that might slow the construction of massive medical centers, we may now have the opportunity to strip the architecture of hospitals of everything but its abstract fundamentals. Perhaps we can now build a utopian world of sunlight and space, a place of pure planes and lines and specialized nodes, a place with a clarity of form that would paradoxically reveal only our own bodies, like Kolbe's statue in the the Barcelona Pavilion . But were we to go further than Mies and accept the disintegration of traditional notions of both the body and the autonomous architectural object, the modernist ideal might still be (ealized . Ultimately, we might enable the architecture of hospitals to parallel developments in medicine, moving from speCUlative and invasive procedures devoted to a technological regime of health to the completely scopic realm of projections, radiations and interpretive recombinations of both the city and the body. Aaron Betsky, who teaches and writes about architecture. is the author of Violated Perfection , New York : Rizzoli 7990.
information as discipline gordon kipping the continued pervasiveness of existent and emerging information technologies is certain to contribute significantly to the reconfiguration of the social relations that organize productive activity. early signs of such a change can already be witnessed . the rapid growth of information technologies has altered how one is defined and categorized. information, or the lack thereof, is the new standard of measurement and definer of one's position in social and economic strata . shoshana zuboff, in her book in the age of the smart machine, the future of work and power (1988). sees in these developments" a vision of a fruitful future, .. .that can lead us beyond the stale reproduction of the past into an era that offers a historic opportunity to more fully develop the economic and human potential of our work organizations." in reflecting on this statement and the entire volume of which this is a part, one must pose the questions, who is the us/our she is referring to, who is reading this book, and who is she attempting to address. perhaps the author possesses a genuine optimism that enables her to feel that hierarchical distinctions will begin to blur as a result of the pervasiveness of information technologies, but this would be naive. the us/our to whom she is referring can only be those in a position to make decisions as to the nature of such a revolution. the control of information technologies is in the hands of those who dominate and thrive on hierarchical distinctions . and they will inevitably continue 'stale' tradition in order to keep the economy in a state of continual evolution and responsiveness to new conditions (such as emerging information technologies) such that
re i dt-fined en tity
existing power relations and structures are maintained and strengthened. in his influential book, the medium is the massage (1967). marshall mcluhan optimistically claimed that the then new electronic information environment meant that the oppressed could no longer be contained, that information was too widespread, that revolutions would now be televised and a new access to information would lead to new participation . these predictions have proven accurate, to a large extent, and the 1991 los angeles uprising is an example . the symbol of unjust treatment (the beating of rodney king) reached millions and when justice was not served, los angeles erupted . as electronic information media televised the 'revolution,' similar episodes of mass action began to appear elsewhere on the continent. yet this did not go unanswered . there soon emerged a new symbol of what was taking place on the streets of los angeles . an innocent whit& truck driver, mercilessly beaten by four black youths came to replace all that proceeded it-an uprising or rebellion of an oppressed people was now portrayed as rioting, looting, and random violence . this strategic re-presentation suggests that while aspects of macluhan's vision have been fulfilled, zuboff's information 'revolution ' has not taken place, with respect either to change in those or change of those who control electronic media information. existing paradigms remain intact, but are aided by new and potentially stronger means of maintaining discipline . in foucault's historical narrative, discipline and punish, the use of simple instrumentshierarchical observation, normalizing judgement and the
+ surve i ll a nce
di sassembly reassembly
certain dualisms that have been persistent in western traditions and . that have been fundamental to the logics and practices of the domination of women, people of color, nature, workers and animals-in short, that which has been constituted as other-have started to come under assault, maker/made, organism/machine, culture/nature, man/woman, white/black are all traditional distinctions that are losing significance. as the dichotomic nature of such entities begins to dissolve, the oppositional clarity of their structure is increasingly being blurred by COd81O 路tnat-tend-ffistead towards an equivalency of language. this equivalence converges upon and directly reflects the evolution of information technologies. utopic or to the contrary, there is a local goal of this 'progress' beyond the binary: the reduction of all entities to a common language, potentially capable of disassembly, reassembly, investment, and exchange. re/defining an entity can be likened to a feedback control system in which surveilled entities undergo codification, are then manipulated as code, and finally reach the stage of possible re/definition . this analog proves to be quite suitable. rates, directions, and probabilities of flow become the new measures of maker/made, organism/ machine ... which, through this feedback process, acquire a new semiotic equivalency. they become a part of a unified whole, subject to a potentially cyclic yet non-linear dynamic behavior where attractors may manifest themselves-perhaps new attractors, less oppressive and devoid of the dominator/dominated dualities of western tradition . given a different discourse, however, an equally plausible future may be constructed wherein the codification of entities leads to a potentially increased exercise of disciplinary power. the intensification of observation facilitated by electronic surveillance of image and information as well as the continuing inverse relationship between visibility (and hence susceptibility to codification) and position
examination-leads to the exercise of disciplinary power. for foucault, visibility serves as a device to impose homogeneity on a group resulting both in the normalization of judgement as well as in an increased individuation of the subject. examination creates a database of these newly objectified individuals whereby subsequent comparisons to surveilled subjects can be made . this facilitates, in turn, the establishment of relationships that lead to stratification. the current pervasiveness of information technologies, shall result in an increase of precisely this disciplinary power. hierarchical observation will become more extreme through the intensification of observation facilitated by electronic surveillance (of image and information). there shall exist a continued inverse relationship between one's visibility and one's position in social and economic hierarchies . the extreme will draw nearer as a result of the already widespread installation of surveillance apparatus, the accumulation and categorization of surveilled entities, and the ability to associate privilege through mechanized response to incoming information. in short, the means to exercise power over a subject through its visibility are being maintained and expanded. the workplace 'revolution ' foreseen by zuboff is nothing but a mere blip in the continual evolution of capitalist structure . in fact. it iss new tool for the solidification and extremization of existing hierarchies . the various narratives of post-capitalism that emphasize only the new dimension opened by information technologies, neglect to acknowledge that the larger space remains that of the flexible structures of advanced capitalism.
r e / def ined entit 禄路
invest men t e xchang e
in stratified structures, may lead to the extremization of hierarchical observation. and while codification may result in the translation of entities (organic or not) into compatible codes-an equality of sorts-it also may fllcilitate the distinguishing of the coded entity such that its reassembly, disassembly, investment, or exchange might simply facilitate further stratification. a ray of hope appears purely as a conceptual flash at the point in the model of a feedback control loop where all entities are equated in the form of compatible codes. it is here that there might exist the potential to reassemble this raw information into new relationships instead of either replicating the stale traditions of hierarchical distinction and domination of "the otherW-stale distinctions that architecture generally reinforces. if architecture is to be an integral component of an information based reality, where all is neither distinct nor the same but rather compatible, it must get beyond responses that address space in terms of historical values and seek new paradigms. but what is currently being endorsed by the profession and given impetus by developing technologies-the aesthetic militarization of the architectural object, virtual realities that remain nonetheless in the lineage of modernist architectural space, or numerous other traditional incarnations of the narrative of architecture's salvation-will see architecture loose its relevance in the sphere of the everyday. conventional architectural values must be supplanted by a tendency towards immaterialization . The realm of simulation has greater potential than form . architectures that shape the disassembly, reassembly, investment, and exchange of coded information must be pursued and must be situated at the interface between code and re-defined entity. this may allow architecture to establish a new relevance and permit, through the specific naturing of events, the escape from the oppression of traditionalist dualisms as well as from the fear of difference. gordon kipping is a graduate student at SCI-Arc.
ÂŠ1993 los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design.
Publications List ARCHINFO This publication addresses architecture as information and takes the form of a HyperCard Stack for the Macintosh computer. The publication includes a computer diskette with all the required software, duly licensed for personal use. Also included in the publication are 40 printed 5' x 7' cards that display the majority of the screen images that appear in the stack. ARCHINFO explores the idea of architecture as a database. It includes sections on information, on paradigms, on Hypertext, unpredictability, and analyse~ of los Angeles based on these concepts . Taking advantage of the non-linear and interactive forms of Hypertext, the primary text also includes comments and invites further responses by readers .
Los Angeles and the L.A. School This critical essay on the historical context and theoretical implications of the work of the urban theorists known as the L.A. School should be read by anyone interested in the contemporary city.
Craig Hodgetts, Swimming to Suburbia, out of print.
Grant Mudford, 35mm Works, edited by Gary Paige, out of print.
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Margaret Crawford, The Ecology of Fantasy, available from the Forum, $1.25
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Central Office of Architecture, Recombinant Images in Los Angeles, available from the Forum, $2.50
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Douglas Suisman, Los Angeles Boulevard, available from the Forum, $9.95
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Douglas Macleod,ARCHINFO, available from the Forum, $7.50
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Aaron Betsky, John Chase, and leon Whiteson, Experimental Architecture in Los Angeles, published by Rizzoli, based on the Forum's 'Out There Doing It' lecture series. $22.50 softcover, $33.75 hardcover. Sales to members only. Also available in bookstores.
Neil Denari, Paralogical Prototypes, (forthcoming) Fall 1993.
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Published on Apr 4, 2012
Published on Apr 4, 2012
Doctors bury their mistakes… some notes on hospitals by Aaron Betsky, Nostalgia and Technology RE: Shin Takamatsu at Sfmoma by Rachel Allen,...