# ARCHITECTURAL THEORIES /// LOG 25 Reclaim Resi[lience]stance

First of all, I would like to apologize for spending so much time without writing but I am currently traveling and it has not be easy to find the time for it.

I already mentioned twice the release of LOG 25 Reclaim Resi[lience]stance edited by Cynthia Davidson and curated by François Roche. Through twenty one texts, this issue weaves a thread from the computational vanguard (Roland Snooks, Alisa Andrasek, Ezio Blasetti, Supermanoeuvre) to a politico-legal interpretation of the new mutations of a technological capitalism (Antonio Negri, Slavoj Žižek, Beatriz Preciado, Patricia Williams etc.). These two dimensions of architecture that one would be legitimate to dissoaite are however smoothly linked together by the editors as well as by François Roche’s introduction to the issue. The back of the issue is also useful to that matter as it lists the names of the authors and summarizes their discourse in one sentence, thus composing an inventory of resistives operations from the point of view of a team in which each has a precise function to construct a strange resistive cadavre exquis:

Alisa Andrasek weaves a resilient fabric
Ezio Blasetti parses the language of code
Sébastien Bourbonnais examines technical ensembles
Pia Ednie-Brown revitalizes architecture
Shabnam Hosseini & Hamish Rhodes write a script
François Jouve retraces unusual shapes
Lydia Kallipoliti mines curious lumps
Matthias Kohler speculates on aerial architecture
Sanford Kwinter queries crowdsourcing
Camille Lacadée hankers for Bangkok
Léopold Lambert digs into abject matter
Sylvia Lavin resuscitates death
Iain Maxwell & Dave Pigram consider digital craft
Fabrice Melquiot & Stéphanie Lavaux plot space
Antonio Negri talks with Francois Roche
Can Onaner analyzes the masochistic architect
Philippe Parreno resurrects Marilyn Monroe
Beatriz Preciado introduces the pharmacopornographic
François Roche resists…
Roland Snooks destabilize computational design
Patricia J. Williams assesses the ownership of bodies
Slavoj Žižek addresses Occupy Wall Street

In order to appreciate this transition, let’s consider six articles (the real transition requires to read them all) in which I shamefully include the one that I was lucky enough to be able to write for this issue.

In the text Structural Optimization, French mathematician François Jouve -who was part of the team for R&Sie(n)’s Architecture des Humeurs- addresses resistance in its literal sense by proposing processes of material ideal formation for which the resistance is optimally used. In order to do so, he contrasts the dryness of his demonstration with the dramatic narrative of Virgil’s Aeneid in which Dido obtains to own as much land as she could surround with a bull’s hide. In the end, she manages to encircle the whole city of Carthage as she cuts the hide into thin strips in an operation that mathematically tends toward an infinite distance. F. Jouve uses this epic example as the principle of his research which consist in the reduction to an (unreachable) minimum of material for a given structure.

Further in the issue, in Information Relay: The Indetermination between Machines, Sébastien Bourbonnais analyzes several architectures whose forms are the result of a given data. Those architectures, conceived respectively by Nicholas Negroponte, Cedric Price and R&Sie(n) -again for an Architecture des Humeurs- in his interpretation, can be considered as technical objects as French philosopher Gilbert Simondon defines them:

You could say that the form, designed as an absolute regularity as much spatial as temporal, is not a piece of information but a condition of information; it is what gathers information, the a priori that receives information. The form has a role in selectivity. But information does not derive from the form, or from an ensemble of forms; it is the variability of forms, the contribution made by a variation in relation to the form. It is the unpredictability of a variation in form, not the sheer unpredictability of all variation

Gilbert Simondon (Du mode d’existence des objets techniques, Paris: Aubier, 1989) as quoted by Sébastien Bourbonnais in LOG25, New York: Anyone Corporation, 2012.

The mean of resistance described by S. Bourbonnais consists in the rupture of the traditional transcendental formation of architecture in favor of an immanent production of its variability. In his opinion, those three projects articulated through Simondon’s reading of technicity should lead us to another way of considering machines, and by extension, architecture:

The recent interest in the multiple forms of event in these three projects has shifted the attention from the object itself toward the form-making process. Now we must go beyond the confrontation between technophiles and technophobes that still prevails in numerous debates, so that we can understand what this offers architecture. We must stop thinking of machines in terms of their uses and instead think of them in terms of their technicity, since the technical evolution – through its strong relation with information exchange and possible modulations – is integral to the reconfiguration of the form-making process. The functioning of these machines reveals the affective and effective considerations of the architects programming them, and moreover, discloses the machines’ unknown in-between (mi-lieu).

Sébastien Bourbonnais in LOG25, New York: Anyone Corporation, 2012.

Sébastien and I share a fascination for Simondon’s writings which I used in the conclusion of my paper Abject matter: The Barricade and the Tunnel in which I was considering Simondon’s critique of the Aristotelian scheme of hylomorphism that dissociate form and matter without considering the energy that informs the matter:

For Simondon, hylomorphic interpretation is “the operation ordered by the free man and realized by the slave.”  The invention of geometry allowed the free man to describe a form and to design matter for its realization “without seeing it, without manipulating it, without appreciating it.”  This describes the architect as traditionally defined, making him or her complicit within a hierarchical system of production.
To remain outside of the magical hylomorphic scheme, it is necessary to consider the energy that the formation process requires and, by extension, the physical effort that produces this energy. Simondon defines the “allagmatic operation”  as one in which energy is considered as a fundamental element in the production of an individual object or body. The individual is no longer a being, but an act that requires energy to exist. In this act, “the becoming of each molecule resounds on the becoming of all others.”  Such a definition can also be applied to various insurrectional movements because a collective action of political emancipation precisely constitutes an act of individuation.

Léopold Lambert in LOG25, New York: Anyone Corporation, 2012.

The rest of the text was the historical and somehow philosophical description of two typologies of this “allagmatic” architecture, the barricade and the tunnel. The term abject was chosen from the conscious and unconscious processes of a society to confuse order and hygiene and therefore insurrectional movements with a formless and abject infection.

One of the remarkable moments of this LOG25 is the conversation François Roche organized with Italian philosopher Antonio Negri in which they discuss about processes of subjectivization and resistance within the polis.

The relationship to the forces of mediatization is similar. We are characterized by the media, whether old or new. The fact that the media explicitly takes us back to the issues of alienation defined by Marx is one thing, but what changes radically is that, parallel to this, you have the possibility of freeing yourself from it in a way that’s extremely powerful and effective…both the tool and the vehicle are within your grasp. Man represented is also a most unsettling thing…democracy has become a fiction machine, in which democracy lives for itself…and we are its subjects, just like under the ancient régime…but we have access to processes that can change the nature of it…

Antonio Negri in conversation with François Roche in LOG25, New York: Anyone Corporation, 2012.

Resistance, here, is understood in its most political sense and explores ancient models and new ones like for Occupy Wall Street and its equivalents in the world which resists from “inside” and are therefore involving new paradigms in A. Negri’s opinion. The reflection on the commons (see Negri and Hardt’s book Commonwealth) is also very present in this investigation of how a city/society functions:

The common is not something abstract…Take the example of this city’s water, and what it generates as common things…the water doesn’t exist without the pipes, without the flow, right down to the simple faucet…it does not exist without this technological baggage that actually creates its use. The water becomes common in that it generates a use that characterizes forms of life, and it becomes progressively more common as these technological tools multiply.

Antonio Negri in conversation with François Roche in LOG25, New York: Anyone Corporation, 2012.

Finally the conversation moves to the multitude’s expertise, its potential use as a weapon of resistance as well as its consequences to the material world, and by extension design and architecture:

The science of the city is just like the working-class spaces inside the factory. The workers knew very well how to spot the critical points, the weak spots they had to be blocked off to force the unit out on strike. They knew very well, at Fiat in the 1960s, the sectors they needed to attack in order to bring all of the 120,000 workers to a standstill and, by the same token, force negotiations. At Alfa Romeo, strikers blew the electrical network to oppose weekend work, because there was a crisis in those days too – besides, we’re always in a crisis with capitalism… it’s the profound nature of capitalism to be in crisis. These strategies of occupation are a matter of knowledge, even of design…and I must insist on this point…there is no material thing that is not corporealized and it’s this corporeality that gives meaning, like a kind of theology, a materialist theology, obviously, that leads from solitude to multitude. There is no architecture of solitude, that’s the most absurd, abstract thing – what’s an architecture of solitude?

Antonio Negri in conversation with François Roche in LOG25, New York: Anyone Corporation, 2012.

This drives us to the text which I believe is the mostly articulated of the issue, Architecture as a Practice of Biopolitical Disobedience written by queer and transgender philosopher, Beatriz Preciado. After a didactic introduction to Michel Foucault’s notion of biopolitics, (s)he unfolds her own thesis which applies to the mutation of the society of discipline into what Deleuze defines  as the society of control, and that (s)he prefers calling pharmacopornographic which subjectivizes the body itself:

During the Cold War, the United States invested more dollars in scientific research related to sex, sexuality, and birth control techniques than ad any other country in history. The notion of “intersexuality” was invented in order to manage the diversity of genital morphologies exceeding the binary classification of masculinity and feminity; the notion of gender (and the possibility of surgical and hormonal modification) displaced the stability of sex; progesterone and estrogens were transformed into the first pharmacological product able to chemically control reproduction, opening the possibility to manage national population growth in terms of race, health, and disability. Together with the exponential multiplication of transuranic elements in both the civil and military sectors, the mass consumption of plastic, and the expansion of the urban tissue, these management methods came to define the material conditions of a large-scale ecological transformation.
These developments led to a postindustrial, mediating regime of production of sexual subjectivity that I call pharmacopornographic. The term refers to the processes of a biomolecular (pharmaco) and somatic-semiotic-technical (pornographic) government of sexual subjectivity – of which “the Pill” (a chemical prosthesis, the first endocrinological technique for separating [hetero]sexuality and reproduction) and globally extended porn media technologies are two paradigmatic offspring.
There is nothing to discover in sex or in sexual indentity; there is no inside. The truth about sex is not a disclosure; it is sexdesign. Pharmacopornographic biocapitalism does not produce things, but mobile ideas, living organs, symbols, desires, chemical reactions, and conditions of the soul. There is no object to be produced in biotechnology and in porno-communication. The pharmacopornographic business is the invention of a subject and its subsequent global reproduction. It is no longer about discovering the hidden truth in nature, but the necessity to specify the cultural, political, and technological processes through which the body as architectural artifact acquires natural status.

Beatrix Preciado in LOG25, New York: Anyone Corporation, 2012.

Beyond the analysis of this society (and I strongly recommend the reading of this text), B. Preciado elaborates on how this model of society is also implemented by an architecture which forces the body into normalizing processes, but she also uses examples of biopolitical resistive projects that attempts to desubjectivize the body. She will normally tell us more about that in a future guest writer essay.

Finally, in her text DeliriousMe: Ownership and Identity in an Age of Genomic Medicine, Patricia J. Williams questions the legal status of the body in its recent redefinition. The latter is triggered by a deeper scientific knowledge of the human body’s genome, its technological exploitation and the potential legal patents that can be extracted from its. As an example, P. Williams explains the case of a certain John Wood who somehow lost the ownership of his amputated leg:

One of the weirder cases exploring this bioethical territory involves South Carolinian John Wood, whose leg was amputated after an airplane crash in 2004. Wanting to eventually be buried “whole”, he ha dthe leg embalmed and placed in a storage unit with other belongings. But he fell behind on the rental fees, and the contents of the unit were sold to one Shannon Whisnant, who found the leg carefully wrapped and nesteled in side a BBQ smoker. Whisnant called the police who traced it back to Wood. Wood insisted the leg be returned given his sincere belief that, detached or not, it was part of him. Whisnant, however, claimed that he was the purchaser-for-value, and wanted to put the leg on display and charge a hefty price for the viewing. “Halloween’s just around the corner,” he explained.
The ghoulishness of this scenario should not obscure the legal issues at stake: should a commodity interest trump the sacrosanctity of corporeal integrity? Are discarded body parts “alienable” in a free-market sense? Or do they fall within the realm of what we deem constitutionally “inalienable?”
What about DNA? Suppose we assumed that Wood’s genetic makeup included cells that were resistant to some rare disease. Do Wood or Whisnant have any proprietary claim to profits to be derived from the extraction, culture and sale of those cells? Could Whisnant not only display the leg about also publish Wood’s entire genme as part of his Halloween art show? Could the police officer to whom Whisnant brought the leg do a DNA test, retain the sample, patent a method of assaying the extracted data, and ultimately market a pharmaceutical by-product to patients at $5,000 a dose/ We all leave trails of our cells wherever we go –under what circumstances should that material be regarded as discarded and thus open for exploitation by finders-as- keepers?

Patricia J. Williams in LOG25, New York: Anyone Corporation, 2012.

Beyond this extreme case, we continuously all loose small parts our body (hair, nails, skin tissues etc.) containing our DNA and whose property is legally ill-defined. In this regard, P. Willaims denounces some strategies of economical exploitation of this genomic data disguised in a philanthropic will of curing disease. The very notion of patent is in contradiction with the universality claimed by companies like 23andMe whose contract is skillfully unfolded by Patricia Williams. Such detailed legal analysis provides an important question about problems that has been already invested by capitalism, and therefore constitutes as a form of resistance as such.

7 Comments on “# ARCHITECTURAL THEORIES /// LOG 25 Reclaim Resi[lience]stance

  1. The Houellebecqian title of this post is intriguing to me. I haven’t seen you reference his work before, despite your interest in literature and your shared language. Are you suggesting that Log 25 is about ‘broadening the field of struggle’ for architects and architecture (just as it expands the journal’s range of content)?

    Did you see the article yesterday in the New York Times Magazine on the construction of the Second Avenue subway line, here in New York? Certainly this is not an architecture of resistance—just another manifestation of biopolitcal power. That aside, I can’t help but be inspired by the photographs (by Richard Barnes) accompanying the article: these are not the polished images of a completed subway stop but evidence of a struggle against and through the earth, of material profaned. They depict an architecture that (until it dons the white-tiled uniform of the Metropolitan Transit Authority) is ‘allagmatic,’ revealing the tremendous energy applied to its production. Perhaps that such monumental tunnels are still being dug out beneath our feet, beneath—and indifferent to—the Manhattan grid, is enough to suggest the possibility of resistance to the form of the city above…


    • Hey Tyler,
      The title might be a bit abusive indeed,but yes, through some texts this issue participate to extend the field of struggle for politics to be well articulated within the discipline of architecture which now knows, for best or for worst, a return to the political sensitivity.
      Thanks for the pictures of the mta tunnels. I just finished to read the David Harvey’s book about 19th century Paris in which he says that the bourgeoisie was very afraid that a proletarian society was organizing life in the sewers pipes! The mole people in NY are interesting to look at.

      Thanks for your comment !

  2. Pingback: # HISTORY /// Abject Matter: The Barricade and the Tunnel for LOG 25 | The Funambulist

  3. Pingback: # GUEST WRITERS ESSAYS 39 /// Membrane Attractors: Tension between form and information in digital architecture by Sébastien Bourbonnais | The Funambulist

  4. Pingback: # ARAKAWA/GINS /// The counter-biopolitical Bioscleave Experiment as imagined by Stanley Shostak | The Funambulist

  5. Pingback: # PHILOSOPHY /// Modes of Subversions against the Pharmacopornographic Society: Testo Junkie by Beatriz Preciado | The Funambulist

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