[iDC] Re: Cities, Speculation,
and the Non-addressable (Mark Shepard)
lists at haque.co.uk
Tue Sep 26 15:31:53 EDT 2006
Related to recent posts by Mark and Molly, I also owe a response to
John Sobol, who responded to the post I made many weeks ago and to
which I promised an answer shortly (apologies that I allowed so much
time to stretch!).
John Sobol said:
> Hence the unsurprising resistance of established architects -
> no matter how futuristic - to such a radical ethos. The
> question I have though, is: what technologies can enable this?
> Especially, what digital technologies?"
This is a pretty fundamental question because it raises two issues:
first, what constitutes "technology" and, second, can "technologies"
It seems to me that a definition of "technology" has to encompass
"that which some people have and others can't have", because the
extent to which "everybody" has it, contributes to a decline in
anything being considered "technology". In this sense, technology is
only a currency of possession and exclusion. I don't think that any
particular technologies in themselves have any capacity to
empower/liberate/[insert euphoric verb here] because they are defined
by the opposite.
Since technology is so closely allied to power, can it ever be
"radical"? I'm reminded of Tafuri, in 'Architecture and Utopia': "The
ideology of design is just as essential to the integration of modern
capitalism in all the structures and suprastructures of human
existence, as is the illusion of being able to oppose that design
with instruments of a different type of designing, or of a radical
'antidesign'". He suggests that architects can never participate in
being radical because the very practice itself is so closely tied to
capitalist production means.
Tafuri's dismissal of architecture's potential as a radical process
has always frustrated me: because I grudgingly agree with it even
though I would like to prove it wrong...
But this gets back to the question that Mark highlights:
> I would argue
> that it is this silence on the part of architects that actually
> contributes to a future so many here have expressed concerns about.
On reflection, I'm not sure it is silence: I wonder whether they
(should I say "we"?) even know about such technological developments?
It seems that being so enamoured, and protective of, the formalistic
design approach has made the architectural profession less intent on
participating in discussions concerning
'that-which-goes-on-inside-my-building' and they seem to have just
slipped by the wayside. Ubiquitous computing: it's just interior
design, right? Send me the electrical plan and I'll slip it in at the
The unfortunate fact is that for the majority of those interested in
using technology at an architectural scale, it is sufficient to add a
nice polite "interactive" facade which changes colour in response to
occupancy patterns/sidewalk flows/temperature/light level/[whatever]
as if being merely responsive is going to alter people's
relationships to the structure any more than painting it would.
As I see it, interest in hertzian and networked space is a
satisfactory first small step in the right direction, because it
negotiates between a fascination with form (ala blobs) and a
fascination with architectural program (ala early Tschumi) because
such an approach deals explicitly with both the relationship between
people and their physical spaces and with topological frameworks that
give rise these relationships.
A subsequent step must be to question the design process itself, no?
How might the production itself of an architecture *really* be
"interactive" (in the sense that Maturana or Pask use the word)?
Surely such an architecture would never be "complete"? This is why I
find it quite interesting that Omar, too, is interested in the notion
of "performance": because performance is a work, the production of
which is very much the work as well. I look forward to conversations
about these in New York....
p.s. regarding Molly's post that mentions Archigram and the
Situationists in the same paragraph, I'm reminded of the Archigram
lecture at Columbia University (was it in 1998? when they had their
big exhibition in NYC) when Peter Cook and David Greene had a public
disagreement about whether or not they had been influenced by the
Situationists -- Peter Cook maintained that their work had no
connection, David Greene was adamant that there was. I think you can
see a reflection of this in their individual works.
p.p.s. Omar, I know I owe you an abstract!
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