The “event score” — a conceptual model of artistic practice developed by artist George Brecht (1926-2008) — was a linguistic proposition designed to mediate the relationship between subject and object through a simple white card and a few lines of text. By scripting certain actions in a guided but open-ended way (generally using familiar and readily-available objects), these event scores marked a new artistic practice that turned the attention to the details of everyday perceptual experience and opened a new field for curatorial practices. This new conceptual foundation was fast incorporated in the new art movement led by George Maciunas called Fluxus: a new form that rejected the conventional mediums of art and its distribution mechanism. In 1974, Maciunas helped a group of artists to buy the 537 Broadway Cast Iron Building through his Fluxhouse Cooperative project. Since then the 2nd floor loft at 537 Broadway was (and still is) the base for an artist’s community that working outside of the borders of the art system converged in a space, some kind of a Salon for the Fluxus diaspora, a place for experiments, where music, poetry, performance, and video could be seen and heard. This site and the events that took place in it form the archive that this thesis explored.
How might we capture the traces of the artistic experiences that took place within a space and preserve them through an architectural form? Can conceptual art models like the “event score” be repurposed as operational methods for tracing curatorial relationships between art pieces, everyday objects, ephemera, and space?
The blurred division between art and life, the impossible permanence of certain artistic works in designated physical spaces during the late 20th century avant-garde practices, and the early experimental composition and events were used as departure point to examine past and current artistic practices at the 537 Broadway loft.
Scoring objects focused on two parallel concepts: Score and Object. The tool of the score (a linguistic notation that inherently offers up multiple temporal continuums, interpretations, and outcomes) delimits a field for the investigation as well as a methodological tool for activating material objects and the performative quality of certain architectural spaces.
Overlooked America is a new series of books devoted to exploring little-known architectural projects throughout the United States. Formatted as guidebooks and written for readers of all backgrounds by similarly diverse authors, each of its volumes brings the history of a single, previously obscure project to light and life through compelling prose and visual materials. Covering a wide range of locations, dates, and project types, the series’ architectural subjects are united in their ability to reveal new information about the forces and actors who have constructed America as inhabited today. Read singly, the guides are absorbing worlds unto themselves. Read as a set, each of their histories becomes a key point tracing a larger topography: a human-made landscape in perpetual formation, in which architecture operates as sites of particularly perceptible activity and therefore of particular scholarly, poetic, and popular interest.
This understanding of America and its architecture is conceived in critical dialogue with that of the nation’s most famous guidebook publication project, the American Guide Series. Produced between 1935–1943 by the New Deal Federal Writers Project and comprising more than 90 volumes, the series’ mission was to create and circulate a definitive vision of a unified, culturally-mature U.S.—a mission its directors pursued using strict measures of editorial and administrative control.
Overlooked America sets out to share a very different vision than the Guide Series’. Rather than smoothing or suppressing difference, its books relate histories that highlight conflict and unevenness, their variety of authors seeking to challenge readers’ perceptions rather than control them. Ultimately, the series aims to demonstrate that America is open to reconstruction— physically and ideologicallly—and that architecture provides a vital way to speak of and to power.
The series’ first volume is the primary deliverable of this thesis. It will explore the Tower of History, a 21-story concrete observation tower and museum in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, completed in 1969. Drawing on personal interviews and previously unstudied archival documents, the book will unpack the unexpected architectural lineage of the project as well as its relationship with deindustrialization, the Second Vatican Council, and the Cold War.
Software as we know it today most often has its origins in analogue technique that has been transformed, expanded and supercharged through code, before becoming an everyday design tool. The proliferation of digital drawing tools has produced a number of challenges for both practitioners and critics: a knowledge gap has formed where analogue know-how is lost while digital technique is not just widely used, but taken for granted. While many younger architects have never seen a darkroom, they certainly have used Photoshop to manipulate images. Similarly, without ever learning the basics of projective geometry, designers are able to operate with complex forms they would not be able to draw on paper. Designers are accepting the biases and limitations of software, while critics are lacking conceptual knowledge to assess computational design.
The focus of this thesis was software originally developed outside the discipline of architecture, with examples ranging from Rhino, Photoshop, Processing to Maya. The development and links between the analogue and the digital of each program are traced, ranging from the late 1980s to today. The second aim of this thesis was in identifying and describing the layers of mediation and translation occurring when using a particular software. A number of representative buildings, carrying traces of their digital forming through software were included to illustrate the relationship of these techniques to the built environment. The understanding of the heritage and interface of software becomes an analytical tool for both designers and critics.
Crow’s Eye View: The Korean Peninsula—an exhibition of Korean Pavilion during the 14th International Architecture Exhibition–la Biennale di Venezia in 2014—travels different cities upon its closing in Venice, Italy.
Crow’s Eye View: The Korean Peninsula introduced the architecture in Korean territory–including the Republic of Korea (South) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North)– as both agent and symptom of the modernization in each state. The exhibition emblematically borrowed its term from a Dada-influenced poem Crow’s Eye View written by a poet with his unfulfilled aspiration for becoming an architect during the Japanese colonial rule. In contrast to a universalizing bird’s eye view, the exhibition chose to create a particular and cacophonous view to destabilize the clichés and prejudices that obscure the complexity and possibilities that lie in the divided Korea.
In the light of the exhibition’s transformative opportunities, the thesis aimed to speculate on how the projective attribute of the exhibition–initiating the architectural dialogue between the North and South Korea–can evolve when encountering different audiences in new locations and institutional contexts, and as such to inquire how an architecture exhibition becomes a bearer of political activation. The author being the Deputy Curator of this travelling exhibition, the thesis sought to reanimate some of the diplomatic endeavors conducted during the inception of the curatorial process, examining how the failed scenarios of joint exhibition between the two states had affected the de facto Plan B exhibition Crow’s Eye View: The Korean Peninsula, and further can contribute to its development in the future. Dissecting various curatorial processes of the exhibition into pieces, detailed decision-makings were put into inspection, to analyze and deconstruct, thus to curatorially reconstruct the Crow’s Eye View.
There are at least eight public universities in Malaysia offering architectural programs. Each school distinguishes themselves through different approaches, giving options to prospective students. Yet, the objective of these schools is the same, in which the institution becomes a preparatory site for would-be architects. To further this practice, the architectural schools undergo a period of self-criticism and creative renewal every five years, to which purpose is mainly to attain or maintain accreditation from various statutory bodies. This leads to a curriculum leaning towards the profession as an architect.
The University of Islamic Science (Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, USIM), a public university, recently established their architectural program in 2012. For a new institution, the borrowing of both faculty members and syllabi from other institution is inevitable, but may lead to problems of piece-meal of a program and vague course objectives. One way to counter this problem is for the school to have a strong direction or a “school of thought.” Because institutional identity is partly done through the curriculum and syllabus, the design of effective syllabi is important in creating an ideal “school of thought,” that reflects both departmental aims and visions of the university. To begin, it is imperative to critically examine the current courses available and understand the gaps present in the curriculum. Being a fully funded government institution, there is a possibility for an authoritative form of knowledge or history that could prevail as dominant forms of learning and analysis. An encompassing syllabi can break up this dominant systems of knowledge and avoid falling into a one sided narratives of fixity. The ambition of the project was to design hypothetical syllabi that could open up the scope of the discipline as well as illuminate the direction of the new architecture school. The project focused on the history theory courses, to critically look at the existing framework of Islamic Architecture, Malaysian cultural and national identity, tropical architecture as well as the current pedagogical methods of institutions in Malaysia.
Club Mediterranean developed over the early 1950s a model of rudimentary communal vacationing accessible to the middle class. The company that would later become a paradigm in French consumer culture had been constituted as a non-profit organization. The Club rapidly spread out through a series of villages in countries like Greece, Spain, and Italy. The villages were conformed by a group of canvas tents around a communal space with a restaurant and communal amenities. Although the social aspirations of the Club failed, and the company had to be restructured in 1957 we can still consider it a crucial moment in the history of holidaying.
Using Club Med as a case study, this research is intended to understand the relation between holidays and the way in which we live the rest of the year. We propose that holidays are in fact the test ground for experimentation and transformation of the domestic realm.
The research took the form of a written essay organized in three parts. The first part describes the myth of Tahiti, a common place in French culture that also shapes the imaginary of the early villages of Club Med. The second part describes the singular social and architectural features of Club Med. The last part traces the influence of the Club in the work of 1960s French theorists that establish a clear relation between holidays and domestic life.
Biosphere 2 (1987, completed in 1991) in Oracle, Arizona was a “materially-closed, energetically-and-informationally- open” research facility. This experimental, atmospherically-sealed greenhouse contained mini-biomes: desert, ocean, rainforest, savannah, marshlands, plus a “human habitat” and 2,500 square meter farm. It was first managed by an eight person crew who lived sealed inside for two years to test the viability of this model space colony. Its operators situated it as a closed-system research facility, operating in parallel to NASA. However, the project’s aspirations were far greater—to construct a working model of the planet, a metabolic system of human, animal, plant, machine and building into an integrated whole. It was not just a “machine-for-living-in,” but a “living machine.” Biosphere 2 carried with it many (sometimes contradictory) ideas and inspirations, arriving as a very late entry in the architectural synthesis between cybernetic-ecological systems theory, and the counter-cultural interpretations of Cold War technological imaginaries. Its “patron saints” range from figures like R. Buckminster Fuller, Norbert Weiner, and Stewart Brand to Vladimir Vernadsky and G.I. Gurdjieff.
Biosphere 2 brought together permaculture activists, cybernetic acolytes, ecologists, climate scientists, and free-wheeling fellow travelers and in its short life captured the imagination of the general public. It quickly became seen as a failure for both social and technical reasons and this stigma continued to haunt its legacy. This research focused on the history of this facility under each of its three management regimes: the Institute for Ecotechnics (1983-1994), Columbia University (1995-2003), and University of Arizona (2007-Present), and constructed a genealogy of the project’s singular nexus of space colonization, ecological consciousness, American counter-culture, cybernetic and technological innovation. The building becomes both a conceptual filter and symbolic monument for these frameworks.
On April 17th, 1975, after weeks of artillery shelling and mortar bombardment of its capital city Phnom Penh, Cambodia fell to the Khmer Rouge, a military insurgency that had gained support more through the popularity of its ranking members than through the self-sufficient, agro-utopian vision those ranking members would later impose on the country. Almost immediately, individuals considered modern–teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc.–were stripped of political rights and executed, while countless others added to a growing diaspora of displaced urban Khmer laborers in the countryside.
Left behind were ghost cities and architectural shells that would become the repurposed sites of oppression and torture. Embarking on a campaign to rid Cambodia of its former histories, the Khmer Rouge destroyed archives, libraries, select relics of the past, and declared a year ‘zero.’ Taking the place of those destroyed documents were a set of replacements archiving crimes against humanity: dossiers of detailed bibliographies, portraits and confessions that the regime used to legitimize the entries filling its execution logs.
In the absence of a people, the radical politicization of these reprogrammed buildings and the city would begin to dismantle early 20th-century architectural ideals of social progress imported in the 1950s from native Cambodians studying architecture in Europe. Years of military miscalculation and the proxy war in neighboring Vietnam had brought to power an ideology that would later lead to the deaths of 1.7 million Cambodians by way of disease, famine, and genocide.
“Paradise on earth”, “Buy a flat-get a city free”, “Live a luxurious life”- scream the billboards advertising for the townships and gated enclaves that proliferate along the highways across cities in India. They promise a new and improved lifestyle that is defined by luxury and convenience targeting specifically the new consumers of these spaces-The Indian Middle class. The paradox of the dense urbanity of the traditional Indian city against the backdrop of the utopian landscape of these private enclaves alludes to a change in the perceptions of this community and their aspirations.
The architecture, however, of these spaces is unique, and in many ways it connects to global trends of gated communities as well as India’s own historical lineage of gated-ness and exclusion in cities. The peculiarities of these enclaves are revealed through the built architecture- the high rise vertical model, large suburban utopias, the gated-ness and its celebration, the enforcement of the gates , the urbanized landscapes, construction of nature, swimming pools, gyms and manicured lawns, organized labor, the relationship to the informal and the exceptions and inequalities in land laws and zoning regulations.
I examine these objects through advertisements, news items, interviews, images, letters, maps, legal documents and the histories of land laws and housing policies to seek intertwining narratives of infrastructures, imaginaries and spatial politics that give shape to this development.
The ambition of the thesis is to put together a montage of realities and experiences in these urban spaces that are read in conjunction with the top down infrastructural policies to reveal a larger story of social exclusion and urban asymmetry. The focus is mainly on Integrated Townships in the periphery of Pune. The project will be a graphical journey through these narratives as a document with a collection of the images, advertisements, the lived experiences and my own critique.
I heard the rhythm. As I navigated through hundreds of people rushing between the trading stalls and the spazza shops on the narrow streets of Johannesburg’s Central Business District (CBD) only one sound rose above the hum of the traffic and the street traders. “Ayah ayah.” Three women dancing and singing at the busiest intersection on Bree Street. They seemed to stop people for a moment, captivating passerby’s with their energy and spirit. I stood and watched the entire performance not able to move as their music filled the surrounding blocks and their song and dance had their own sense of power over the space that they occupied. These women were artists, seasoned performers, full of passion for their craft. As everyone dispersed, I asked a man what the foreign lyrics meant. He paused and replied, “they are singing about laundry detergent.”
While millions of rand a year is channeled into capital art projects with the aim of transforming Johannesburg’s highly contested inner-city, the artists and agencies falter in their objective by not weaving their projects into the existing communities and vibrant beat of street in the CBD. While large squares and parks remain vacant, the street maintains a vibrancy and energy that pulsates throughout the day reinforcing the sidewalks and street corners as the real public space in a city wrought with a tumultuous history of spatial politics. How can we harness the talents of street performers to create community in areas that they already reside? How can we use their knowledge of the city to create more meaningful site specific interventions rather than perpetuate fragmented “public” infrastructure? What platforms can we use to highlight the vibrancy of public performing art that can instigate change in the long-standing perceptions of the CBD to native Johannesburgers and the international community?
This thesis uses the notion of human to explore and elucidate the underlying infrastructural condition of the presumably impending global state— surveillance and dataveillance—and observes this condition as a spatial context in which to understand the status of the human.
Thesis defines the accumulative ubiquity of surveilable mediums and their interconnected agglomeration, as the infrastructural condition of surveillance and dataveillance. It views this condition as a continuous context surrounding humans, which encloses and mediates all spatial relations between humans. Using concepts of medium, observation, interface, control and convergence, it elucidates on synergic spaces fusing humans and the surveillance infrastructure, as well as the interdependent progression of humans and the infrastructural condition of surveillance and dataveillance. This reading externalizes a hierarchical order of the created context in which the disposition, reconfiguration and segregation of humans takes place.
The evolution of governmental and corporate surveillance and dataveillance as regards the U.S., will be used as a case study.
Auralization connotes the imagining of an aural event, distinct from sonification as a process of mapping datum to audible signifiers, or the modulation of sound on a multidimensional axis of compositional techniques for representation. As a set of practical and conceptual tools, these systems are built upon advancements in psychoacoustics and our sonic imaginary evolves with these applications. The integration of artistic processes in computer music and data visualization offer specific communicative capacities, and their intersection implicates new notions of transmission, translation, and fidelity. Operating on the thresholds of perception and calculation, the efficacy of these strategies are tested within various spatial design practices, and are augmented by artistic practices contextualized within a discourse of ‘glitch’ aesthetic and methodology. Glitch refers to an unpredictable error, but it has become increasingly unclear if that error resides externally or occurs internally. A perceptual hiccup that occurs due to methods of compression could as easily be a computer error as a demarcation of our individual threshold for measuring difference. White noise is seemingly the most unique sound in its complete variety, but to our ears its nuance is imperceivable. A critical narrative aims to make noise legible and productive in new ways, expanding aesthetic discourse within sonification to inform both design and curatorial practice.
Hyper-minimalist work by composer Ryoji Ikeda is taken as a case study of techniques that push popular notions of glitch and information aesthetics to their perceptual extremes within a trajectory of noise and data-based practices. Noise here is the malleable material of theories of information and performative art practices, as an indicator not simply of entropy but of embedded, masked meaning. This project cultivates a critical language and taxonomy for expanding notions of auditory display to examine the productivity of these noise-based methodologies—glitch being the referent and object for the perception of difference. How are we to understand the cross-disciplinary influence of auralization on the social aspects of perceptual capital and cultural capital? What are the functional implications of an immersive aural architecture embedded and encoded within the institutionalized museum and the urban stage of the city? on representation and interactive design? Striving for a lossless society is impossible due to an architecture modulated ontologically by filtering and error. As both steganographic and unintended interferences are unavoidable characteristics of globalized information flow, cultural politics, and spatial perception, the lossiness has become a source of production. Application of these notions to scientific and artistic practice is paramount if we are to decode the future city.
Shahid: Could you point out on this map where Taksim is
Tafokoon: Right about here (point to a spot on the map)
Shahid: Oh, I missed it. Wait, it says something else, in Arabic.
It does not say Taksim on the map.
Tafokoon: Yeah, it does not.
Shahid: Where is this map of Istanbul from?
Tafokoon: I found it in a book, a collection of maps of Istanbul at the University of Virginia.
Shahid: Do you know how old the map is?
Tafokoon: I do not remember exactly, but 1907 I think
Shahid: That’s decades before the Gezi uprising
Every time we refer to the Occupy Gezi Movement in Istanbul, it seems some discursive precautions need to be taken, due to the sensitivity of the topic. The project aims to elucidate the side of the city produced through Occupy Gezi by positioning the politics of memory, history and urban imaginaries of Istanbul in its globalizing context and the global rise of the memorialization industry. Within this context, the project traces the conception of the ‘other’ neo-‘Orientalist’ framing of the subject and its ‘representation’, and presents a counter-method of history practices.
“Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014” is the theme that Rem Koolhaas has proposed for the national pavilions participating in the upcoming 2014 Venice biennale. This biennale advances the provocation that under globalization national characteristics are being eroded in favor of the almost universal adoption of a single modern language in a single repertoire of typologies. Taking their own national perspective, each pavilion must contribute to the creation of a global overview of architecture’s evolution over the course of a century into a single, modern aesthetic, while uncovering unique national features and mentalities that continue to exist. In words of Rem Koolhaas:
In 1914, it made sense to talk about a “Chinese” architecture, a “Swiss” architecture, an “Indian” architecture… One hundred years later, under the influence of wars, diverse political regimes, different states of development, national and international architectural movements, individual talents, friendships, random personal trajectories, and technological developments, architectures that were once specific and local have become seemingly interchangeable and global. Has national identity been sacrificed to modernity?
This exhibition deals with the absorption of modernity in Spain. Contextualizing the historical, social, political and economical situation of the country, it makes use of the film technique as a tool to display how that absorption has been blended with remains of national identities through a particular case study: the twin houses that Javier Carvajal built in Somosaguas in 1967. As Koolhaas recognizes, the transition to what seems like a universal architectural language is a more complex process than we typically acknowledge, involving significant encounters between cultures, technical inventions and ways of remaining “national”.
Contemporary architectural projects are almost entirely conceived in the virtual realm of 3d modeling. Long the standard medium, it facilitates the implementation by offices of digital renderings—the animated variety of which allows for the building to be not only understood, but also experienced by an audience untrained in reading traditional architectural documentation. With current technologies, an entire environment can now be imagined, realized, and recorded by virtual means with increasing ease and expertise. This, along with growing expectations by both clients and the public, has resulted in a rising amount of animated visualizations executed by both designers and developers throughout the building practice.
This thesis aims to dissect both the strategy of documenting projects through digitally constructed narratives and the space of production surrounding it through an online, interactive platform. By establishing a lexicon of both visual and descriptive terms through an intimate examination of their construction, this thesis will create an alternative index to both read and analyze this growing form of representation and its impact on the architectural practice. Through a rigorous exercise in cataloguing, the goal is to unveil the peculiarities and complexities behind this growing medium as well as chronicle the media in which it is both disseminated and preserved.
The Cultural Park for Children in Cairo, a project sponsored by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture and designed by Egyptian architect Abdelhalim I. Abdelhalim, won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1992. Located in the historic district of Sayyida Zaynab, a “poor and underdeveloped” area in Cairo, the park was hailed by the jury as a “three-dimensional history lesson,” and the architect was praised for his innovative approach to community development. Subsequently, the project became a showpiece for “modern Islamic” architecture and “community-based” design processes for many Egyptian and international architects and critics.
The history of the park, from its inception, has been written in the struggle between the local community and the state. Abdelhalim intended for the cultural park to be a catalyst for urban transformation and social change within the “underdeveloped” and “alienated” surrounding community. Against forces of exclusion by the authoritarian and bureaucratic state, seen as an accomplice to western modernization and global forces, Abdelhalim aimed to include and empower the local community by connecting them to their “Islamic” past, built environment, and park. By evoking “Islamic” imageries from the surrounding historical sources, and activating local participation through community rituals and festivals, the architecture of the park produced forms, which stood for distinct cultural identity, and visual patterns, which guided the organization of the park. The ensuing failure of the project’s intentions has been attributed to the power of the centralized state at preventing the community from engaging with the cultural park, both in its production and appropriation.
I argue that Abdelhalim’s attempts to engage the local community did not pose a challenge to the state, but were part of the changing nature of the state itself. Experimenting with issues of decentralization, which sanctioned the state’s withdrawal from its hitherto role in providing social services and downward wealth redistribution, the state considered delegating control to local communities. Empowering communities was part of the emerging logic of the neoliberal state. In addition, the claim for community’s inclusion, inadvertently, legitimized the exploitiv e dynamic of the state’s system of control and capital accumulation, by attributing the “underdeveloped” status to being excluded from such system.
Architecturally, Abdelhalim’s attempts hinged on a dialectic of Naturalization and Denaturalization that led concurrently to the commodification and dematerialization of the local residents’ conditions. The Naturalization of the community as a coherent living organism, connected to the past and capable of emitting historical meaning upon activation in rituals and festivals, is simultaneously Denaturalized through extracting abstract and dematerialized visual patterns. Devoid of antagonistic social relations, and deprived of its material conditions, the community in Abdelhalim’s approach became susceptible to capital accumulation and the state’s expansive control. In the park’s architecture, the dialectic of images, standing for distinct and local cultural identity, and patterns, standing for abstract universal order, worked to screen the advancement of capital dynamics and state’s hegemony within the community. As such, Abdelhalim’s assertion for the community’s rootedness in its local and “Islamic” past did not impede such state’s hegemony, but enabled it. The state’s domination over the community was sustained by the appeal to the phantasmagoric architecture of distinct cultural identity — which acted as a dream world of a collective, classless, and lost past, that in turn worked to obscure the violence dynamic of the emerging neoliberal state. Furthermore, through community participation, the architecture of Abdelhalim worked in tandem with the state, and its Ministry of Culture, to incorporate the “minds” and “souls” of the community into the state’s domain of influence. Through both its forms and organizational capacities, the architecture of Abdelhalim at the Cultural Park for Children did, indeed, act as a catalyst for social change. But, it was a change aligned with the logic of the neoliberal state, and not against it.
In 2006, only eleven days after taking office, Mexican president Felipe Calderon announced the Operación Conjunta Michoacán, a strategy that would derive in the so-called “War on Drugs”, transforming the cities and towns along the north of Mexico into perpetually contested places.
It is the argument of this work that the evident failure of the war on drugs has provoked a change in strategy; from a battle against drug trafficking to a battle for the way this moment is going to be portrayed and understood in the future independently of its outcome. It is an ongoing war for territory, not just in its physical form but also in the media, the society, the academic world, the international community, and the future. All the actors in this transformed war are displaying actions that involve more pressing matters than just the commercialization or distribution of illegal drugs.
The territory, the images, and the bodies, are symbols that narrate a complex structure of violence. The “war against the Narco” has become the “war against violence,” though it is not clear who is the perpetrator, who are the responsible parties, and who are the victims.
The aim of this thesis is to uncover and question the changes in the discourse and portrayal of this conflict. In order to accomplish this task I will analyze the effectiveness of a number of “actions” common to this war through what I have identified as the representative “sites of violence” knitting in this way a complex spatial matrix over the Mexican territory.
Architecture can cast predictable characters. Territory can be a familiar stage. Narrative can fall into line. The border between the United States and Mexico is a space whose script is as entrenched as the walls that limn it, the tunnels that circumvent it, and the codes that interdict or enable passage across it. So, what can a space that doesn’t fit this bill tell us about the nature of borders and their relevance today? How does the making of a transbounded territory reinforce, circumvent, and throw into relief politics of space and nation-state, ideologies of land management, and the scales—from supranational to local—at which territory is produced? What spatial possibilities are opened up if we recast the protagonists and antagonists of conflict and contestation?
Transbounding territory and history, this thesis will destablize notions of borders, access and transnationality through a close-grained examination of three contiguous national parks: Big Bend National Park in Texas, Cañón Santa Elena in Chihuahua and Maderas del Carmen in Coahuila. By assembling a constellation of historical moments (1935-1945, 1971-1981, 1992-2002) archival documents, and contemporary voices the thesis will trace the emergence and implementation of a scientific method in the management land, from the nation-building projects of post-progressive pre-war years, to NAFTA-underwritten research ventures. Resource extraction, infrastructure development, and population distribution on national and supranational levels are written into the landscape here, and always subject to the micro-movements of local communities—from coveys of yellow-billed cuckoos to trespass cattle, from fluoride miners to geology students.
This is a history of shared economies and created capital, revealed in frontier myths or rhetorics of environmental sovereignty. It is a counter-narrative that draws the border not as a static line of collision, but rather an active force with physical properties mobilized or dispensed with to construct national identities, logics of conservation, and capital extraction. With agendas at times congruent and at times conflicting, presidents and park planners, UNESCO policy makers and research scientists, park rangers and local residents, experimented on the land, testing territory-making according to a narrative of scientific inquiry.
As architects, we are moved by a genealogical inertia that drives us towards doing. Our tools –the few that we may share as a discipline– are thought to be the means to build-up, to design, to construct, to draw, in the end, to do. We are taught to conceive something where there is none, to give it form, to materialize it, to fill the white and empty paper, this is, to make. One might say, following the principle of doing, that we build our disciplinary knowledge in the process while we “do”.
The Latin dō, serves as the root to a series of words that are related to the notion of accumulating and accumulated knowledge, but also to docilis, our docile. With this, my interest is to challenge the notion in which the built and accumulated disciplinary-knowledge (not just knowledge) of our discipline –the doing– is also the basis to produce docility, this is, a state in which we diminish our political self in favor of the discipline.
Gordon Matta-Clark, the artist of the well known piece Splitting (1974), was taught as architect in Cornell University prior to jumping over his career as artist. Matta-Clark, essentially, kept working with the tools learned in the school of architecture, but instead of doing, most of his work is dedicated to undo, to un-build. For him, the architecture tools were instruments to undo, contrary to the basic principle of, to do. By this, he aimed, among others things, to expose and make visible what can be called as the entrails of the architectural accumulated knowledge-in the form of building.
This thesis, considers the making-process of the work of Gordon Matta-Clark as a tool for interrogating the formative moment and the processes of learning architecture. With this, I intend to show, first, the conflictive triptych of docility-discipline-knowledge and second, to develop conceptual tools to un-dō by carefully reading Matta-Clark’s projects, as evidence of building up knowledge by un-dō-ing. The result of this thesis aims to explore the possibilities of non-disciplinary knowledge, and thus, suggesting a path for the re-launching of the political self.
The architectural profession in Iceland represents an extremely rich and diverse, yet small community that derives its’ character from a dispersed presence in the larger global sphere. A post-national architectural identity results from the education of an architect, which has only occurred internal to Iceland in the last decade. Students are still required to obtain professional degrees outside of Iceland, a requirement that implicitly promotes a global understanding of the architectural field.
This unique condition of dispersal provides for an interesting problematic, one that impacts the greater Icelandic public in a particular way, namely that, given the young presence of architecture within Icelandic academia, there are no research funds available to scholars or practitioners. The impact of this lack of research funds extends beyond the domain of strictly scholarly pursuits, for, as this thesis hopes to demonstrate and in turn address, it creates a void in discursive dialogue within the architectural community.
In response, this project proposes establishing a program to foster the scholarly and intellectual development of young architects with terminal degrees, to promote research at a local and global scale, and to simultaneously establish networks between existing practitioners in the Reykjavik context and students in the global context. In doing so, it will further provide access and insight into the architectural community of Iceland, acting as a bridge between the education and practice of architects.
In a career marked my many feats of great verbal acrobatics, it was on February 12, 2002 that marked what could easily be called Donald Rumsfeld’s magnum opus. At a Department of Defense press conference answering questions pertaining to the buildup of the war with Iraq, and the then possible existence of weapons of mass destruction, Rumsfeld uttered his now famous maxim: “Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
It is within the territory of the known unknown that this project sets out to explore. The focuses of inquiry are “black sites,” an international, and highly classified, prison network established by the U.S. government shortly after the September 11th attacks. Even the name suggests the known unknown. The means of investigation depends on interrogating redacted documents, newspaper clippings, NGO reports, public satellite imagery, court documents—all incomplete in and of themselves, yet when pieced together allow for the black sites network to emerge. This emergence cannot just be located within the context of the so-called “war on terror” for it relies on a much more sophisticated reasoning and nuanced linguistic reading of national and international laws involving the conduct of war and international relations.
At the center of this discussion is the sovereign, and how the manifestation and implementation of sovereignty has evolved from its earliest conceptions at the beginning of the modern nation state to something that has morphed into an assemblage of complex relationships, the least of which are the traditional notions of power and territory. These relationships are interrogated and examined through various media. Key to this investigation is a methodical unpacking of the various spatialities the war inhabits. Spaces of politics, economics and nation-state interrelations mix with spaces of confinement, interrogation and the intimate space of the body.
What is known about the black sites is scattered across the internet and published in books and reports by enterprising reporters and human rights organizations. This project attempts to deploy the method of critique as a process for organizing this vast quantity of information. The assemblage operates as both the critical action and its organizational representation, disassembling government documents to understand how these new forms of power operate, and then reassembling the evidence of what this power has wrought.
This thesis is developed under the assumption that the institutional working models of architectural education do not reflect the social demands of our time. It presupposes that due to their institutional condition, complex sociopolitical events that shape our contemporary global context are seldom taken into account. This thesis contests the stringent infrastructures of learning institutions and attempts to present an alternative and responsive working model where contextual issues are addressed and introduced into the larger discourse network of practice through the development of a flexible operating framework.
For a grounded perspective, this thesis will be developed in the Mexico City, a place with an active community of professionals but with a limited access to platforms that foment alternative practices. Through a two-stage process, this thesis will first survey and analyze a selection of present-day learning institutions as well other non-institutional networks and organizations in Mexico and abroad, to consequentially draft an informed proposal for an alternative working model for architectural education, titled: Central de Arquitectura de la Ciudad de México.
Central de Arquitectura’s ambition is to operate as an intra-institutional center for architectural activities—a bridge linking the insular nature of institutional work by offering a dynamic and flexible program. Moreover, it attempts to put forward a possible new format of architectural education that aims to diversify the practice of architecture.
Interpretations and Interventions: Tulshibaug Temple and Market Complex, Pune aims to make a physical and operational assessment of the architecture and historical urban fabric of the Tulshibaug temple and market complex in the city of Pune, India, in order to develop a critical discourse that in turn directs new development in these areas. The research looks at the site as an example of an “indigenous modernity”, and interpreting the local opinions and issues, aims to propose a format for physical and cybernetic interventions by the continuous collaboration of local students of architecture colleges and the user group.
The research acknowledges the possibility of new development co-existing and integrating within existing traditional urban fabric, and shall make critical recommendations as to the future of architectural development in the core of these cities. This research will investigate the contention that “glocal” urban intervention, coupled with transportation infrastructure, is the future of development of architecture in the core areas of Indian cities.
The 1977 opening of Leo Castelli’s group exhibition Architecture I marked the moment at which a New York private art gallery presented works of architecture as art pieces for the first time. The next year, close to Leo Castelli’s gallery, Bernard Tschumi opened in a non-profit organization gallery called Artists Space an exhibition titled Architectural Manifestoes. Those two exhibitions show the genesis of a polarized production of architectural exhibitions in its multiple versions and formats during the late seventies and early eighties.
The final form anticipated for the research is an atlas of the exhibitions of architecture opened in New York from 1977 to 1987. The project has the aspiration of unveiling the crucial importance of the exhibition practice for the theory and the production of architecture during the last 25 years. Specifically the study will be focused on the controversy established in the inception of the discussion: on the one hand the understanding of the documents of architecture as an artistic matter from the art world and art market and on the other hand the architectural field absorbing art languages, formats and platforms as part of the discipline.
The result will be a print-based material research in which three principal issues will be addressed: the importance of the institutional role in the controversy; transdisciplinarity versus autonomy in the exhibition realm; and the physical and theoretical space of the gallery as architectural battlefield.
The research is an attempt at understanding the complex and multifaceted relationship between art and architecture and how this connection had a significant turning point in the 1980s in New York City.
Other Architectures will research and analyze the mechanisms of translation within the architectural discourse. Based on those findings it will propose an apparatus to facilitate improved translation at multiple discursive scales. Beginning with an ethos of texts as always incomplete, the project asks how translation, as a productive reopening of information to shifting geopolitical, multicultural, and socioeconomic terrains, may contribute to a reinvigorated and multifarious exchange in architecture by sparking dialogue around specific, novel, and hitherto unknown contexts that are nevertheless worthy of discussion.
The process will include research of seminal translations within the discipline as well as investigations of more contemporary cases in order to locate problematic junctures that will themselves be relayed into the theoretical and programmatic underpinning for the final format: a peer-driven website which will be forever-in-flux and provide resources for architectural practitioners and theorists of all types – whether they be sourcing or offering translation services, suggesting texts worthy of translation, or discussing translations in progress. Of primary importance is the establishment of a sustainable base from which Other Architectures may continue to operate long after the thesis has ‘come to an end.’
J.L. Austin first used the term ‘performative’ in the mid-1950s as a component of his speech act theory. Since then, the term has mutated at a rapidly increasing speed, especially throughout the 1990s. This has caused scholars such as Erika Fischer-Lichte to expanded on the idea of a ‘performative turn’ in society as a whole, understanding the terms ‘performative’ and ‘performance’ as neither exclusive to language studies nor performance art, but as a new interdisciplinary and societal paradigm.
Various fields and actors have picked up the notion of ‘performativity’ as a subject for attempted deciphering, including architecture. The reiterations of the term in relation to architecture have, however, usually been complicit in reducing performativity to a phenomenological ‘effect’ on the subject/user. This is an approach that re-actualizes the status of the subject in relation to architecture, but that in insisting on a trans-historical relationship between the two falls short of any critical investigation of the processes that shape this very subjectivity (and its relationship to architecture) in the first place. A critical response to how performativity translates to architecture is thus still called for.
One of the ambitions of this thesis is thus to identify the various specters of performativity, and how these can be understood in relation to the production and reception of architecture. Trying to rephrase the discourse on ‘performative architecture’ from an insular relation between architecture and user, I will attempt to formulate the parameters through which performativity can be applied as a productive terminology and apparatus for interpretation and analysis in relation to the field of architecture and architectural discourse.
“We should have to study not only the history of space, but also the history of representations, along with that of their relationships—with each other, with practice, and with ideology” argued Henri Lefebvre in his seminal book The Production of Space, and it is under such premise, that this investigation takes its foundational stance. In a contemporary society in which we are bombarded with information and visual representations of events such as the war on terror, natural disasters, new state formations, and other such events, the architect has been called upon to be an active participant in the social and political reinvention and “projection” of the world; but how are such “projections” and more often representations, responding to the immediacies of everyday life and represented/re-presented to a public? .The thesis will use as a resource, the four institutions listed below and the mentioned competition/exhibitions/archive and the works that were associated with such, to investigate above mentioned idea of representation in contrast and in conjunction to its re-presentation.
-MOMA: Small Scale Big Change - CCA: ACTION competition and exhibition -Storefront for Art and Architecture: Call for entry- Strategies for Public Occupation -Creative Time-Living as Form: Archive for Socially Engaged Practices
The investigation will culminate in the production of an “exhibition”; one that as Robin Evans argues, will aspire to not simply present an expose of the findings of an investigation in the form of “image”, but rather utilize them explore the re-presentational act of the exhibition within the architectural/public/ social space it would appropriate
The research comprises a historic study on the conformation of public support structures for design disciplines in the US.
It focuses on the processes of formation, development and dismantling of the National Endowment for the Arts, over its 45 years of existence, through the analysis of a series of institutions, programs, organizations and projects related to its different developmental stages and politic administrations.
As conceptual practices of design disciplines inhabit an institutional framework strongly defined by cultural and economic policies, the thesis states that through the historic analysis of support structures for design and architecture, is possible to recognize and characterize different modes in which design and architecture relates with policies and politics.
Furthermore, since the processes of formation, consolidation and dismantling of the NEA design programs express the history of how a Neoliberal State defines and uses policies to support design projects as cultural industries, the research hypothesis states that the study of the American experience on the definition and development of public policies for design is a keystone for the enunciation and implementation of public policies for design in developing countries based on a Neoliberal State.
In order to explore this hypothesis, an historical approach is build towards the development of design programs developed by the public sector in conjunction with private and third sector agents in the US. After its analysis through a series of case studies, the research aims to enunciate a set of models for institutional development. Models intended to be considered in further developments of institutional frameworks, institutions, organizations and programs devoted to the support of design disciplines in Neoliberal States of developing countries.