Pavillon Seroussi by Biothing (2007)
Sébastien Bourbonnais and I met after we realized through a common publication (see previous article) that we had a shared strong interest for French philosopher Gilbert Simondon (see previous articles Part 1 & Part 2). In the following essay, he uses the latter’s theory of form and information to analyze the creative logic of digitally generated architectures. Sébastien evokes the dematerialization of the line as the latter does not constitute a limit anymore but rather a force that literally informs design (one could argue that it desactivates my own interpretations of lines as the carrier of architecture’s inherent violence!) In doing so, he calls for an architecture of blurry thresholds which merges the form with its direct environment. I might object to Sébastien a certain form of optimism towards architects as the latter seem to have quite integrated the process of information that link together a set of data and a form; however the data they use seems too often inappropriate if not frankly arbitrary. Gilbert Simondon himself, in his very precise descriptions of the technical processes and tools never evacuates their raison-d’etre. We can only wish the same to architects.
Membrane Attractors: Tension between form and information in digital architecture
by Sébastien Bourbonnais
«We should say that a good form is one near the paradox, near contradiction, and also it doesn’t be contradictory in its logic terms. »
Gilbert Simondon, «Forme, information, potentiels,»
OYSTER- TECTURE | © SCAPE Studio, 2010
Today’s guest writer is Annick Labeca, polyglot (!), editor of Urban Lab Global Cities, and great follower of the Funambulist. In this text entitled Natura Non Facit Saltum (Nature does not make leap), she explores the principle of adaptation through various discipline to finish with architecture.
Natura Non Facit Saltum: On the concept of Adaptation
by Annick Labeca
Several weeks ago, I was passively listening to a French radio, an evening economic programme in which two economists were polemically discussing France’s economic situation in times of economic crisis. As this discussion, as usual, smoothly shifted into a very cacophonie (in French in the text), my interest for this programme faded away…, when an unexpected comment came to my notice: one economist admitted that, in a period of economic depletion, when future is uncertain, we are forced to adapt to pressing issues. Yet adaptation being a short-term solution in contrast with resilience, we consequently have to redefine our economic model.
Today’s guest writer is Pedro Hernández who, along with people like Ethel Baraona Pohl, Cesar Reyes, Daniel Fernández Pascual, Mariabruna Fabrizi, Fosco Lucarelli and some more people spread in few European countries, is part of our little blog community of exploration of similar topics. This is therefore not a surprise that Pedro wrote a text that fits perfectly with the Funambulist’ editorial line entitled Bodies at Scene: Architecture as Friction. In it, he defends the argument, often explored here, that architecture carries forms of violence towards the bodies, but he puts this idea in reciprocity when wondering what happens when the violence is directed back to architecture itself. In this regard, he puts in perspective text and illustrated architectural operation which describes his position.
Bodies at Scene: Architecture as Friction
by Pedro Hernández
ACT I – DEMATERIALIZE THE ARCHITECTURAL OBJECT.
It is needless to say that architecture can be understood in several ways. One of them, the first that we usually hear when we begin to study at the university, is architecture as a displayed object. This definition leads to an architecture which is equivalent to a habitable sculpture rather than one which aims to realize certain requirements. Le Corbusier’s quote in which he defined architecture as “volumes brought together in light” help to clarify and exemplify this issue. In this text I am not interested in focusing on this idea, but instead, I will explain several different ways to dissolve the conception of architecture as an object.
Shipping containers fortifying the Lahore Press Club in preparation for protests against the anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims madeby convicted felon Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. Photographer unknown.
First of all, I would like to apologize for the inconsistency in the guest writers essays’ schedule. After a long period of time without them, they are now flowing in the blog’s editorial choice; soon enough we should be back on a rhythm in which you will be able to read one per week.
The essay City, Space, Power: Lahore’s Architecture of In/Security, written by Sadia Shirazi is a brilliant mix of personal observations and thorough analyses of the current use of architecture in the city of Lahore (Pakistan) as a securitarian weapon. The notion of security is cleverly played with in Sadia’s title here, as her texts illustrates how Lahore’s inhabitants’ daily lives are subjected to the paradoxical violence of processes of securitization. Far from the evanescent spotlights of the media that cover consistently the terror attacks with no further perspective, the “architecture of in/security” is experienced every day by millions of people who are affected by it. Through a cartographic assignment Sadia also exposes how this same architecture, despite its effect on everyone, is implemented mostly in favor of the higher social classes and, ultimately participate to the literal fragmentation of classes within the city.
City, Space, Power: Lahore’s Architecture of In/Security
by Sadia Shirazi
extracted from The Mechanisms of Meaning by Arakawa & Madeline Gins, New York: Abbeville Press, 1971.
Today’s guest writer is Russel Hughes who recently finished his dissertation, DIY Biopolitics: The Deregulated Self at the RMIT (Melbourne) and, while waiting for its publication, gives us one of its chapter. In the latter, he introduces a philosophical interpretation of the work of artists/poets/philosophers/architects Arakawa and Madeline Gins. Russel starts his analysis from the paintings created in the 1960′s and 1970′s in order to shift later to their architectural sequels.
Arakawa and Gins’ Reversible Destiny has been the subjects of many of the articles published on the funambulist for the last two years (and there is at least one more coming up); I therefore decided to dedicate to it a category by itself so that it could be explored by anybody curious about it in an interesting way through the archives of the blog: CATEGORY ARAKAWA/GINS
DIY Biopolitics: The Deregulated Self (excerpt of the upcoming book)
by Russell Hughes
First of all, I would like to apologize for this extended absence; I was traveling with a somehow relieving impossibility to access a computer. In the meantime, three friends have sent me their guest essays and I will be happy to publish them this week.
Today’s guest is Zayd Sifri who wrote a text about the current state of activism in the Palestinian struggle abroad, and more specifically in the United States. This essay is interesting in the context of the other writings that has been published on the funambulist on this topic as, rather than participating to the denunciation, it analyzes the latter within the frame of a global strategy and its historical equivalents (in South Africa for example).
Movement and solidarity
by Zayd Sifri
Momentous changes in the organization of society only occur so often. From memorable instances of thorough upheaval, social movements reap the fruit of the past and cultivate their own traditions. In the recent past the comparison between Israel-Palestine and Apartheid South Africa has become a convenient gambit for many solidarity activists in the United States and elsewhere. There are countless reasons for the popularity of this specific example and of course it is not the only material activists rely upon. The South African struggle however has been underscored as a successful model for international solidarity with the ongoing anti-colonial battle in the Eastern Mediterranean. For evidence of this, we can look at how the term Apartheid has almost seamlessly permeated the progressive vocabulary for describing Israeli regime’s treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Looking at Israel-Palestine solidarity through a South African prism, offers insight into the actors, values, and politics involved of movement building on an international playing ground. Fundamental to an effective conceptualization of a global solidarity model is formulating the inevitably complex relationship between local—Palestinian and Arab actors—and activists based primarily in the United States.
Today’s guest writer comes from my dear friend Nora Akawi, who was kind enough to make it happen in a very busy schedule between her practice and teaching in Jerusalem, and her new responsibilities as the curator of the Amman Lab, the branch of New York Columbia University’s Studio-X in Jordan. In the following text, Mapping Intervals: Towards an Emancipated Cartography, she introduces the archive, and more precisely, the map as instruments of power through the subjective narrative they convey. Colonial mapping, collective forgetfulness, cultural genocide and domain name system are as many problematic aspects of the dissensus created by the attempted collective materialization of memory. In this regard, Nora quotes Jacques Derrida who affirms that “there is no political power without control of the archive, if not of memory.” From there, she examines what could possibly be an “emancipated cartography”, which would not refuse this control without which there is no political power, but rather would attempt to articulate the multiplicity of cultural narratives as the very essence of its materialization.
Mapping Intervals: Towards an Emancipated Cartography
by Nora Akawi
The map as a tool for domination is the visual inscription of a seamless story for a specific group of people sharing specific characteristics. It represents their history, knowledge and claims for control within a territory with specific borders.
So what is a map as a tool for liberation?
Would Have Been My Last Complaint (2012). See full credits at end of the text
This week’s guest writer is a long time friend of mine, Camille Lacadée, with who I share the taste for living in places far from “home”! Camille is the recent author of a text for LOG 25 entitled (rama)kanabolism: Bangkok’s furious, sensuous hankering which marks its difference with the other essays as it uses words as a graphic, rhythmic and sonorous material rather than as semiotic container of knowledge. Similarly, her guest writer’s text is written as an inventory in a similar form than the one written by French poet Jacques Prevert in 1946. This one describes the recent construction of an architecture in South India by [eIf/bʌt/c] (Institute for Contingent Scenarios that she co-founded with François Roche in 2011) with Ezio Blasetti and Stephan Henrich as well as an international group of students and friends. Would Have Been… declines itself as an architecture, but also as a forthcoming film, some evocative photos like the ones above, and thus as an inventory that hides, beyond its apparent dryness, a multitude of narrative combinations (aka contingent scenarios)
Today’s guest writer’s essay, Open Stacks, is the story of those clandestine informal Cuban libraries that were created as a form of resistance against the governmental censorship of what officially constituted as “ideological diversions”. Liduam Pong, who lived her entire childhood in Havana, gives us a personal approach to describe those libraries at the back of a house, or at the bottom of a bag. In her opinion, these small and informal spaces of knowledge diffusion are more entitled to be called Public Libraries than the official institutions usually carrying this name.
No need for a very strong organized movement here, the “open stacks” are part of micro-networks developing small yet crucial forms of resistance against censorship and its suppression. Censorship is used here as a tool of constraint of the imaginary, a paranoid reaction fearing the choice of the multitude if it was to see other possible worlds. Liduam and I started to talk about the power of books (power emphasized paradoxically by its censorship) after the small presentation I did (see previous article) around this theme. The following text is her investigative work to find the tracks of stories and actors that participated to the micro-strategies of counter-censorship.
Biosphere by Tomas Saraceno
Today’s guest writer essay is written by Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, co-director of the The Westminster International Law & Theory Centre in London. Andreas was kind enough to center his text on the figure of the Funambulist who incarnates both the body that experiences and creates the atmosphere (s)he is in. He uses Tomas Saraceno‘s sculptures as a materialization of this atmosphere. Materiality is indeed important here, as Andreas points out that atmospheres are too often perceived within a phenomenological interpretation rather than a materialist one. His essay is therefore an attempt to describe the epidermic reaction a body experiences from the atmosphere which prevents any form of contingency.
The Funambulist Atmosphere
by Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos
Claude Cahun- I Extend My Arms (1931)
Part of what I am interested in this guest writers essays series, is the difference of narrative style between my guests’ texts. Some of them are very academic and some others, like this one, are much more personal in the way they constitute a manifesto. In this regard, I will try to write my introduction in a similar personal approach than the one chosen by Caroline Filice Smith for her essay (the 28th of the series) Briefly on Walking.
I was recently invited to tale part in my friend Sofia’s end of the semester jury in an Eastern American school of architecture, and I got implicitly yet strongly caught for what I regret to call, latent chauvinism for a comment I made, you know one of these comments in which you think that you’re being daring to talk about eroticism. Although this comment was not addressed specifically to a gender or another, few minutes of reflection made me realize that my discourse was indeed ‘phalocentric’ (if you allow me this neologism !) as it included exclusively in itself the vision of a male who ‘has the ownership over his own body in the public space’ to use Caroline’s phrasing. In other words, one do not need to be actively antagonist to a gender, a race, a class to be fully part of a phalocratic, racist or socially oppressive system. Only a clear understanding of our characteristics (in the western world they would be: white, male, heterosexual, healthy…) which makes us part of a dominant cast can help us to actively refuse (the acceptance can be passive, but the refusal is necessarily active) to socially embody these same characteristics.
This week’s guest writer is Matthew Clements who is a PhD candidate at the fantastic London Consortium which gathers the very rich resources of the Architectural Association, Birkbeck College (University of London), the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Science Museum and TATE. In this essay, Apian Semantics, Matthew introduces us to his main field of research: biosemiotics via a discourse about bees’ language/dance articulating writings from Samuel Beckett, Karl von Frisch and Aristotle. The latter developed indeed a theory of ‘political animals’ but still suffers from a very anthropocentric point of view on bees’ semiotics. Although the symbolism that characterizes each form of language (there is probably nothing more symbolical than language itself) would tend to insist on the self-determinism of a species, Matthew opens the possibility of a contrary argument: language would be precisely what makes us express the non-contingent forces of the earth.
As a design parallel, I invite the readers of this text to revisit the Sadic Apiaries designed by Brian Buckner & Loukia Tsafoulia for Francois Roche’s studio at Columbia University in Fall 2010.
by Matthew Clements
Hugo by Martin Scorsese (2011)
Today’s guest writer essay, written by Ryan Pierson explores the visual relationships between Georges Méliès‘ pioneer cinema in the beginning of the 20th century with its re-reading more than a century later by Martin Scorcese in his Hugo thanks to the new 3D technology. Cinema is indeed a not so young art anymore and encountered along the years, various technological inventions which expanded its means of production. Few months ago, I attended to a small Q&A with Wim Wenders after the visioning of his film Pina, during which he explained that he had to wait to discover the 3D technology to eventually dare to transcript Pina Bausch’s art in a film after thirty years of hesitation. Ryan compares this new tool, thanks to which the two-dimensional representation of space seems to unfold itself out of the screen, to the ‘train effect’ that scared so much the first spectators of Cinema history. Stereoscopic films share indeed something similar to the origins of cinema as they construct their pictoriality through the spatialization of two dimensional planes from foreground to background the same way than Méliès was physically building some of his settings which did not have much thickness either.
Méliès in Stereopsis
by Ryan Pierson
Prairie House – Fibrous strand chunk / Kokkugia | Roland Snooks with Texas A&M
Today is Roland Snooks‘ turn to be a guest writer for the Funambulist as he generously accepted to be part of this series. His essay Fibrous Assemblages and Behavioral Composites articulates the digital research that he has been developing with his office Kokkugia and in the various schools where he taught with an investigation about the technological means to actually fabricate the output of this same research. Athough I remain critical of how the vanguard algorithmic architecture has been translated into a disarticulated mainstream in many schools of the world because of some opportunist followers, I consider that Roland’s discourse can trigger the strong interest of many of the Funambulist’s readers for several reasons.
The first one consists in the simple fact that Kokkugia’s research constitutes one of the most consistent and creative body of work in this domain.; not only it explores the current limits of this experimental field, but it actually gives itself the means to acquire a materiality submitted to the rules of reality. The second one is that what many of us consider mainstream – for having encountered it in a certain academia – remains something inaccessible to many people because of the educational environment they are being trained in. In many schools of the world, such architectural approach are often chosen as an act of resistance against the weight of a rearguard who has been teaching year after year with no interest whatsoever for any form of innovation. Of course, this approach is far from being the only one to embody progress in architectural education and practice, but it undeniably proposes a path to emancipation in the various schools of the world which are not done mourning post-modernism (if not modernism itself) yet. A third reason finally consists in the fact that Roland Snooks has been interested for a long time in the notion of swarm that regularly comes back in this blog’s articles (see a recent one about Rimbaud for example). Three years ago he already answered a small interview (with bad questions from my end) about this research, as did François Roche and Valerie Chatelet. I am therefore very happy to curate and host his essay that immediately follows this introduction (illustrations can be found at the end of the text):
Fibrous Assemblages and Behavioral Composites
by Roland Snooks
Image 01 / Ryan & Trevor Oakes
The guest writers essays series is back with, this week, Eve Bailey dedicating her text to an introduction of the work of Ryan and Trevor Oakes. Eve is a French artist living and practicing in New York. Her work investigates the body and its anatomical capacities as it engages in equilibrium with the various mechanical assemblages she creates. She is, however, equally interested in the representational techniques that can be developed in a phenomenological perception of the world. That is in this spirit that she met with the Oakes brothers for the second time in order to write this essay in which she addresses the practice of Frederick Kiesler and his obsession for the notion of endlessness.
The Groundbreaking Clarity of Ryan and Trevor Oakes
by Eve Bailey
Elave: Nothing to hide commercial 2007 © Images & sounds
After Ethel Baraona Pohl and Cesar Reyes in August 2011, today’s guest writers are also talented bloggers, Mariabruna Fabrizi & Fosco Lucarelli, Italian architects practicing in Paris. Their blog, Socks Studio, is fed almost everyday with plethora of inspiring documents among which, some of them (here and here) were the object of my articles.
Their essay, Nothing to hide. The blurring of the physical and temporal line between life, work and education is a very interesting investigation about the spaces of control invented by capitalism. The latter found a new form in a system of production that can now complement its well known assembly line – currently outsourced – with a branch which principally consists in ‘inventing’ new desires for consumers whose bodies have been captured. The prison in which they (we) are kept has no wall, no darkness, no folds to hide in. Productivity, in this new work form paradigm, is achieved through the embrace of the subject for his condition and his voluntary slavery to a work hierarchy that did not change through history. Through encouragements to practices of ‘self-achievement’ and ‘relaxation’ hides a will to decrease any form of criticality from the subject. Such scheme is already highly problematic within the professional world but even more in the Academia. American universities, for example, are legitimately known as high skills providers, however, through the continuous encouragements to engage with extra-curricular activities (sports, clubs, fraternities, etc.), they also form citizens who strongly lacks of critical sense as Richard Arum’s research shows. As usual such system of control has a space and as architects, we are responsible to embrace or refuse its codes. Mariabruna and Fosco’s text is a good introduction to know what the latter are.
Nothing to hide. The blurring of the physical and temporal line between life, work and education
By Mariabruna Fabrizi & Fosco Lucarelli
Analogue Mosque by Michael Badu
A few weeks ago, as a part of a comment to my open-letter to Patrik Schumacher, British architect Michael Badu concluded with the following description:
right now I’m largely in the business of the building of mosques. For the clients, with limited funds they are simply large spaces where important obligations can be carried out; for others they are an expression of there culture, their right to exist openly as part of the prevailing society, not as an invisible aspect of it; yet for others, mosques represent an erosion of a sacrosanct national identity; and for others, it is a way to show non-Muslims and remind Muslims, that Islam has historically never imported foreign culture into newly adopted lands, but has always sought to emphasise it’s universality by Expessing it’s values thru the new cultures that it meets; no where is this more evident in the culture of Islam than in it’s architecture.
The mosque presents the most relevant and fertile ground for theorists to explore, but howany of them are interested in it?
I therefore proposed to Michael to write a longer text about his experience of designing and commissioning the construction in Europe which currently experiences a despicable mix of islamophobia and xenophobia. What used to be the economical right wing in the various parliaments and governments has now became an demagogic ideological right which has no complex to question the rights of millions of citizens to fully benefit to the same liberties than every other inhabitant of the country.
“audiocassette“ cover for i-phone 4
I am always happy to have non-architects participating to this guest writers series (see the essays by Lucy Finchett-Maddock, Maryam Monalisa Gharavi and Raja Shehadeh) and that is the case again this week thanks to Linnéa Hussein and her essay Old Media’s Ressurection. She recently finished her Master in Film Studies at Columbia University and will soon start a PhD in the same discipline. She was also a teacher assistant at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Westchester (New York).
Her essay investigates the medium that the tape (audio and VHS) constitutes and its return in contemporary cinema. However, instead of only questioning the medium in its form, she explores two films, Omar Gatlato and La Bocca del Lupo in which the tape is both the main object of the narrative and the provider of the plot.
Old Media’s Ressurection
by Linnéa Hussein
In October 2011 The New York Times published an article on the revival of the VHS tape in the horror film genre. What makes these so-called neo-VHS tapes different from their outdated VHS companions is the fact that their role transformed from being technical to being esthetic. Whole magazines such as for example Lunchmeat or Fangoria are devoted to the subject of the VHS now. For these horror fans, the neo-VHS is not preferred for functional reasons, but because the grainy picture quality – i.e. the signs of usage that made the DVD and BluRay replace the VHS in the first place – became an indispensible trope of the bad horror film genre.
Exceptions to Environmentalism: Industrial Harbour Avilés
Our friend from Deconcrete, Daniel Fernández Pascual wrote this week’s guest writer essay in which he questions the idea of sovereignty on territories that remain legally blurry. Indeed, the paradigm of the two-dimensional map cannot be enough anymore to describe lands (sky, underground, space, other planets etc.) whose sovereignty had never necessitated to be discussed in another way than theoretically in the past. Our era opens a new paradigm in which the legal action of a State on a territory will be defined through the complexity of space and its multiple layers.
Nowadays, the American military drones fly over Pakistan, Iran, Yemen, Somalia without being seen. The United States are not officially at war with those states and such activity could be considered as an invasion. Once again the example of Palestine is interesting. There are a lot of us who describes the territorial struggle via maps and based on two dimensional interpretation of space. I usually use the figure of 63% to explain the part of absolute territorial control that Israel exercise in the West Bank. In reality Israel controls 100% of the Palestinian sky, 100% of the aquifer of this same territory and many part of the underground in which roads have been built to link the Israeli territory to the various settlements. In addition of that, the water of the Jordan river, the Dead Sea as well as the immediate part of the sea that should belongs to Gaza (thus controlling the fishing economy).
Daniel proposes at the end of his essay to rethink the space of the boundary, maybe the very notion of sovereignty has to be transformed as the Rabbi Martin Goodman proposes for the Israeli/Palestinian territory in his proposal of a double sovereignty for a same territory. A similar proposition was made approximately at the same time (last summer) by Keith Kahn-Harris who was basing his vision on China Miéville’s novel The City and the City in which two cities occupy the same place without interfering with each other…
My introduction is too long, I leave it to Daniel and his remarkable essay:
Seher Shah Object Relic
This week’s guest writer is Alexis Bhagat., co-author with Lize Mogel of An Atlas of Radical Cartography (Journal of Aesthetics and Protest Press) whose upcoming Spanish publisher is nobody else than our friends of dpr-barcelona. Alexis’ essay is written in the form of questions to the artist Seher Shah who already kindly agreed to write her responses in another guest writer essay that should be released soon.
In the following text, through the second question addressed to Seher, What does it mean to draw like an architect when architects no longer draw? Alexis explores the recent history of a shift of paradigm in the architectural practice, and more generally in the various forms of signifier and symbols. He indeed describes the evolution from the systems of representations that used to use the material mark of a tool (pen, pencil, ink etc.) on a piece of paper and the birth of a new system of representation, whether what is represented involves architecture, cartography, or simply literature, that digitized (and therefore complexified the intermediary translation between the intent and the output) this process. In an interesting move, Alexis explored the history of the company Autodesk which developed the software that allowed such a paradigm to shift in the realms of architecture. As he suggest the presence of a new paradigm is problematic as the movement that embraces it forgets to question it at the same time, resulting in a lack of criticality that can be lethal to a discipline if it lasts.
This paradigm problematic is indeed relevant to Seher Shah’s work as it interrogates and reinterpret paradigms as much in its form than in its contents. We look forward to her responses which probably won’t constitute real answers, but rather means to go further in this exploration.