SECOND FRAME: Site

13.10.27 site frames blog

Knock! Crack! Flash!

How is complacency disrupted? Human centered disruptions affect us sensorially; a sound, a smell, an image, a taste, or a feeling are all daily experiences that, when altered, disrupt the normalcy of routine. To explore this idea conceptually, I’ve researched onomatopoeia words. Etymologically, onomatopoeia means ‘word-making’ and describes both the sound and the thing in one name (New Oxford American Dictionary). An interesting addition to the methods of making by Constructivists and Deconstructivists, word making expands on the idea of creative thought rather than (or because of) action. Onomatopoeia is also defined as the use of words for rhetorical effect; linking again to the persuasive vulnerability of complacency.

Taking this knowledge of word making, I’ve extended the definition of onomatopoeia to also include site: describing the sound, the thing, and the site in one name. A crack! disrupts the complacent walker’s attention, breaching a curiosity of what lies below. A knock! wakes the complacent suburban dweller to wonder what sits around the corner. And a flash! draws the complacent urbanite away from the underbelly of the city’s habits to new methodologies. The sites shown in the images above exist in well known areas of Boston, however they are hidden from the unobservant passersby. A layering and aged appearance was also applied to the images. This is because a conversation on layering developed from the mini-conference, with the ideas of fragments over time accumulating to create something new.

MINI CONFERENCE: A Process Recap

Rahilly, Julie – Slideshow

Slide Summaries (slideshow available at the link above)

Quote by Neil Leach, “Beyond the revolution, this utopian dream has degraded into a dystopian nightmare.”

  • I began this thesis process with an interest primarily in Russian Constructivism, which morphed into architecture that developed out of social and political unrest by regimes that sought utopia. I quickly found that instead, these aspirations were met with the converse affect, where the implications of a collective society for example seemed dystopian instead. The Russian Constructivists used art, materials, and architecture as a method of participating in societal and political transformation in an effort to achieve utopia.

Quote by Zaha Hadid, “Architecture does not follow fashion or economic cycles – it follows the inherent logic of cycles generated by social and technological developments. Mies Van Der Rohe said: ‘Architecture is the will of an epoch, living, changing, new’. Contemporary society is not standing still – and architecture must evolve with new patterns of life to meet the needs of its users.”

  • With an initial interest in Russian Constructivism and an earlier period of society and politics, came a question of what happened after. This meant researching the Suprematist and Deconstructivist movements as well. An interest in politics became ambiguous in Suprematism, while it decreased even further in the age of Deconstructivism. Instead, the desire to advance form and technology took precedence.

El Lissitzky’s Of Two Squares, 1920-22

  • Lissitzky’s children’s book, Of Two Squares, was both art and a communicator of revolutionary Communism. The book’s main message to children was to act, to construct, and to build rather than to sit idle. Social change would not take place without action. The images show two squares in Suprematist style, which fly to earth, witness an alarming crash, and build anew. The story itself is interpretive to the reader, whether it be political or not, and the graphics do the same by letting the reader fill in the gaps. Our conscious and unconscious minds combine to form this type of creative thought.

Toba Khedoori’s architectural fragments

  • Toba Khedoori is a current artist who also illustrates the idea of allowing the viewer to fill in the gaps. As Pallasmaa describes in The Embodied Image, incomplete or ‘formless’ images have such a stimulating effect on our imagination. This idea of fragments has made itself evident in many of my readings, whether it is the physical fragments of a destabilized architecture, or the metaphoric fragments of utopia.

Thesis Prep II Mind Map: Dystopia

  • This early mind map holds the concept of dystopia at its center. The visual illustrates a disrupted environment with the fragments erupting in abstract geometries.

Thesis Prep II Frame: Tectonics

  • In order to make sense of the recurring terms from my research, utopia, dystopia, conscious, unconscious, social change, fragmentation, and disruption, I organized an equation. If we first understand that utopia is a process, rather than an achievable geographic location, then we can begin to understand the prospect of utopia itself. Utopia is creativity. In the process of creating, we are generating pieces of utopia; fragments that benefit the way we live. These fragments of utopia, however, are cyclical, and depend upon the creative attention within society and self. If both society and self are found complacent with no creative production, then the process of utopia is reversed to a process of dystopia. Dystopia over time leads to oppression as society and self become vulnerable from disconnection. The only way to be pulled out of dystopia is reviving the process of creativity. This process yields fragments of utopia. The movements I’ve researched act as examples of they cycle. Constructivism was an approach to working with materials as a method of transforming the social and political after the October Revolution. Suprematism was an interlude, which advanced the studies of Constructivism to an interest in the spirit through form, an interest in the social advancing over the political. And Deconstructivism was a look back at these former movements, again relating this interest in the social to one of the technical.

therefore…

Thesis Question

How can architecture create fragments of utopia by disrupting creative complacency?

ANNOTATED Bibliography

Thesis Topic

How architecture can create fragments of utopia by disrupting creative complacency

                                                                                                                                                                   

Reality Check: Using architectural fragments to generate a societal response

Introduction

The following texts describe works of art and architecture that have reinterpreted the traditional representation of reality to cause reactions from society. For example, the work of the Constructivists showed an abstracted version of traditional geometries, while the Suprematists used art as a metaphor to awaken public consciousness through imagery. There is an underlying importance of the image in all writings, understanding that image is absorbed by our conscious mind, stored in our subconscious, and resurrected in the combined creations of our unconscious and conscious. The most common thread found in these texts is a perception of such an image-based reality as fragments. Whether it is the work of artists from the Constructivist period, world-renowned Deconstructivist architects, or artists of modern culture, a destabilized architecture has come to most accurately represent this reality. Constructivism began the discussion of fragments as a metaphoric term, as represented in David Wild’s titling of Fragments of Utopia, while the Deconstructivists turned fragments into physical architecture, once whole and separated to be reassembled. Modern artists have understood the absorptive properties of the mind to generate fragmented images, allowing our creativity to construct the missing parts. All techniques act to snap society back into reality, an effort made to gain any sort of reaction out of a drifting assemblage.

Bibliographic Entries

Leach, Neil. Architecture and Revolution: Contemporary Perspectives on Central and Eastern  Europe. London: Routledge, 1999. Print.

Architect and theorist Neil Leach is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California. His book, Architecture and Revolution: Contemporary Perspectives on Central and Eastern Europe (1999), asserts that the consequences of political revolution bring about a social change in both the built environment and the culture that contends with the previous regime’s socialist realism.  Through writings from prominent architects, political and cultural theorists, critics, professors, and philosophers, Leach provides examples of how architecture has influenced social behavior from the October Revolution of 1917 to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Leach’s purpose is to examine the cities that have experienced social and political unrest, such as Moscow, Bucharest, and Berlin, in order to discover how building architecture can act as a means of re-building the identity of these cities. By including writings and discussions from architects and members of these cities in transition, Leach is speaking to the generation that survives ‘Beyond the Wall,’ essentially those who are willing to pick up the pieces of a broken city and forge a new identity.

Lodder, Christina. Russian Constructivism. New Haven: Yale UP, 1983. Print.

An internationally renowned specialist in Russian Modernism, Christina Lodder is currently a lecturer of history and philosophy of art at the University of Kent’s School of Arts. Her book, Russian Constructivism (1983), asserts that the Russian Constructivist movement radically reassessed the artist’s role in society, impacting Western creative culture since the 1920s. Lodder includes visuals of the works by the most influential members of Russian Constructivism, such as Tatlin, Rodchenko, Malevich, Klutsis, and Popova, as well as biographical sketches to support a descriptive account of the development of the movement. Lodder includes Constructivist works in textile, furniture, clothing, kiosk, and theater design in order to exemplify the skills of these artists despite the industrial limitations and cultural constraints of the period. The book provides a clear chronology of the development and lifetime of Russian Constructivism for Western readers to understand.

Margolin, Victor. The struggle for utopia: Rodchenko, Lissitzky, Moholy-Nagy, 1917-1946. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.

Professor Victor Margolin teaches art and design history at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His book, The struggle for utopia: Rodchenko, Lissitzky, Moholy-Nagy, 1917-1946 (1997), asserts that a new artistic-social avant-garde emerged following World War I that engaged the artist in the building of social life. Margolin explores the works of the artists Alexander Rodchenko, El Lissitzky, and László Moholy-Nagy whom all confronted turbulent political realities through art. Margolin studies these three artists in order to understand how their utopian convictions could function as forces of social change. Margolin establishes a close relationship between the artist and activist to be understood by the contemporary reader.

Noever, Peter, and Regina Haslinger. Architecture in transition: between deconstruction and new modernism. Munich: Prestel, 1991.

Austrian designer Peter Noever is a curator of art and architecture and has contributed to numerous publications. His book, Architecture in transition: between deconstruction and new modernism (1991), asserts that Deconstructivism has the potential to take architecture in a new direction. Noever publishes a collection of lectures with images by world-renowned architects such as Peter Eisenmann, Daniel Libeskind, Zaha Hadid, and Bernard Tschumi as examples of this potential technique. Noever includes these lectures in order to ascribe to a new beauty and keep the visionary alive.  His audience includes these visionaries and architects interested in pursuing a similar design technique.

Pallasmaa, Juhani. The embodied image: imagination and imagery in architecture. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 2011.

Finnish architect and professor, Juhani Pallasma has an interest in psychology, culture, and phenomenology. His book, The embodied image: imagination and imagery in architecture (2011), asserts that the images that exist in the world become ingrained in us, effecting the way we experience architecture. Pallasmaa organizes the book into five parts, contemporary culture, language and thought, multi-sensory, poetics, and architectural to examine the influences each has on our perception. Pallasmaa’s purpose is to point out the importance of images in order to ascertain that images are manifestations of our imaginations and part of language. Pallasmaa’s break down of the image types and their importance speaks to readers in any creative field.

Vidler, Anthony. Warped Space: Art, Architecture, and Anxiety in Modern Culture. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2000. Print.

Former Dean of the Cooper Union, Anthony Vidler is a historian and critic of modern architecture. His book, Warped Space (2000), asserts that two related forms warp space: the psychological and the artistic. Vidler supports this claim by describing in Part I, the phobias and anxieties that developed from life in the metropolis, and in Part II, the different medias of film, photography, art, and architecture that have depicted space in new ways. Vidler has examined solutions given to metropolitan problems proposed by artists and architects in order to understand the ramifications of modernism. Vidler is writing to artists, architects, and urban dwellers with an interest in the psychological and artistic influences of modernism.

Wild, David. Fragments of Utopia: Collage Reflections of Heroic Modernism. London: Hyphen, 1998. Print.

David Wild has worked in the fields of architecture, teaching, writing, photography, and politics. His book, Fragments of Utopia: Collage Reflections of Heroic Modernism (1998), asserts that the productive avant-garde inspires the radical, utopian impulse of the built world, with its idealism and sense of continuity. Wild supports this claim by identifying three distinct parts that make up what he considers the heroic years of modern architecture: the Netherlands, Russia, and Le Corbusier. Wild chooses these parts, which have all shown hope during times of unfortunate states of affair, in order to provide an elusive and fragmentary vision of utopia. Wild’s collaged imagery speaks to readers interested in the De Stijl, Constructivist, and Corbusian movements of modern architecture.

 

 

FIRST FRAME: Tectonic

13.10.15 utopia box with seamsMethod of Making

If we first understand that utopia is a process, rather than an achievable geographic location, then we can begin to understand the prospect of utopia itself. Utopia is creativity. In the process of creating, we are generating pieces of utopia; fragments that benefit the way we live. These fragments of utopia, however, are cyclical, and depend upon the creative attention within society and self. If both society and self are found complacent with no creative production, then the process of utopia is reversed to a process of dystopia. Dystopia over time leads to oppression as society and self become vulnerable from disconnection. The only way to be pulled out of dystopia is reviving the process of creativity. This process yields fragments of utopia.

The box above is more than a box. It illustrates a creative method that fully engages whomever attempts to put the pieces back together. However, the box can never be reassembled once it has been fragmented. Utopia is in the assembly of the box. We can never achieve utopia, but we can engage in its process through creative thought and action.

13.10.13 thought equations_Page_4 13.10.13 thought equations_Page_513.10.13 thought equations_Page_6

 

 

 

 

Oppression yields Creativity

Creativity, in both activity and thought, is a combination of the conscious mind and the unconscious mind at work. Because the conscious mind is a perception of surrounding stimuli, it is proportional to society, the beholder of surrounding stimuli. Because the unconscious mind is instinctual and unexplainable to outsiders of the individual, it is proportional to self.

Life is a series of overcoming adversities. When at any time, society is hit with a disruption, it becomes the responsibility of self to keep the process of utopia in balance. Thus self is acting creatively and a fragment of utopia is achieved, and vice versa. When society is hit with a disruption and self is simultaneously hit with a disruption, there is no balance and therefore no creativity. With no creativity, there is no potential for utopian fragments, and dystopia takes effect as a result of dys-creativity. This complacency in thought and activity puts society and self at danger of falling into oppressive behavior. Being that society and self comprise the ability to overcome adversity, oppression is fought with creativity.

There have been instances throughout the 20th century that illustrate this cycle. Constructivism was an approach to working with materials as a method of transforming the social and political after the October Revolution. Suprematism was an interlude, which advanced the studies of Constructivism to an interest in the spirit through form, an interest in the social advancing over the political. And Deconstructivism was a look back at these former movements, again relating this interest in the social to one of the technical. The images below explain this cyclical process through equation:

13.10.13 thought equations_Page_113.10.13 thought equations_Page_2

 

 

MIND MAP: Iteration 4

13.10.08 mind map - fragments_Page_2

Consultation Week

The visual above narrates my process through graphics so far. Beginning with my creative and resource influences of Russian Constructivism, Architecture from Art, and Dystopian Novels, I’ve illustrated how these topics have trickled down into a focus on the relationship between architecture and social/political change.

In furthering my research, I have found an interesting common thread. Through the readings of Neil Leach’s Architecture and Revolution, Anthony Vidler’s Warped Space, and David Wild’s Fragments of Utopia, I’ve noticed that this very idea of “fragments” has appeared every time. According to Vidler, “the fragment has a double significance. As a reminder of the past once whole but now fractured and broken, as a demonstration of the implacable effects of time and the ravages of nature, it has taken on the connotations of nostalgia and melancholy, even of history itself” (Vidler 151). Simply from the dictionary, a fragment is a small part broken or separated off something; an isolated or incomplete part of something. I have taken to thinking of fragments both metaphorically and physically, and have speculated ways in which the fragmentation of some thing or some idea conversely changes the meaning. Is a fragmented utopia a dystopia ? Is the fragmented conscious a result of the unconscious influence? Is a fragmented unconscious the experience of déjà vu? Is a fragmented collective a collection of individuals? Is a fragmented society a cause of societal unrest? Does fragmented memory cause miscommunication? How does this concept apply to architecture?

Looking back to Vidler, “an incomplete piece of a potentially complete whole, it has pointed toward a possible world of harmony in the future, a utopia perhaps, that it both represents and constructs” (151). Fragments of architecture brought me to an investigation of artist Toba Khedoori’s work, which features architectures like tunnels, stairs, houses, or doors, drawn incompletely. Despite the fragmented representation of these pieces of architecture, they are still understandable, leaving the viewer ready to put the pieces back together (152). One characteristic of the idea of fragments that I find most evocative is the accompanying idea of the seam. Fragments imply a need for rehabilitating seams and a wonderment of the cause of fragmentation. The mind map below translates “fragments of” into connecting ideas:

13.10.08 mind map - fragments_Page_1

And leaves me now with the potential thesis question of:

How can architecture use the utopian convictions of Constructivism

to influence the fragments of society?

BOOK REVIEW ANALYSIS: Rhetorical Précis

Main Source

            Neil Leach’s book, Architecture and Revolution: Contemporary Perspectives on Central and Eastern Europe (1999) asserts that the consequences of political revolution bring about a social change in both the built environment and the culture that contends with the previous regime’s socialist realism.  Through writings from prominent architects, political and cultural theorists, critics, professors, and philosophers, Leach provides examples of how architecture has influenced social behavior from the October Revolution of 1917 to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Leach’s purpose is to examine the cities that have experienced social and political unrest, such as Moscow, Bucharest, and Berlin, in order to discover how building architecture can act as a means of re-building the identity of these cities. By including writings and discussions from architects and members of these cities in transition, Leach is speaking to the generation that survives ‘Beyond the Wall,’ essentially those who are willing to pick up the pieces of a broken city and forge a new identity.

Book Review

             Mark Dorrian’s book review of Architecture and Revolution: Contemporary Perspectives on Central and Eastern Europe (2001) agrees that the architecture of Socialist Realism is a central component to the writings included in Leach’s book. Dorrian makes this claim by providing a list of issues that exemplify the disjointedness of culture and legislature from an architectural and social perspective. Dorrian’s purpose is to question the separation between the actions of a leader and the people he/she oversees in order to establish a stronger self-understanding of the people by both parties. The writing is directed more towards the politically and culturally philosophical readers, rather than those with an architectural background. 

 

Works Cited

Dorrian, Mark. 2000. “Architecture and Revolution (Book Review).” Architectural Heritage no. 11:91. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed September 28, 2013).

Leach, Neil. Architecture and Revolution: Contemporary Perspectives on Central and Eastern Europe. London: Routledge, 1999. Print.

 

MIND MAP: Iteration 3

assignment 3.1 visual - both small

Considering Revolution

Up to this point, when asked what my thesis is, I’ve been saying it concerns architecture that has developed out of social and political unrest, or architecture from revolution. Though this answer satisfies whomever asked in the moment, it is only a place holder. On the topic of revolution, the struggle increases with the need to narrow in on a thesis topic statement or question. I have many “buzz words” floating around my mind maps that I’m not ready to release: constructivism, subliminal, revolution, and most of all, dystopia, which has motivated my process thus far. I thought that editing and adding to my previous ‘constructivism’ map might help create connections, of which I am still convinced can be created…

assignment 3.1 mind maps - words

…but my buzz words are still unfulfilled. Recently having read Architecture and Revolution: Contemporary Perspectives on Central and Eastern Europe by Neil Leach, I found this map to be organized around the book’s topic interests, specifically events in the histories of Moscow, Bucharest, and Berlin. All three of these cities have experienced social and political unrest. The Berlin Wall and the People’s House in Bucharest are examples of the government building in order to dictate the lives of the people. What the government sees fit is Socialist Realism, a theory of art officially sanctioned by the state, and meant to reflect and promote the ideals of a socialist society. To me, this is representative of a dystopia. The government believes its Socialist Realist “reality” is perfect, when in actuality, the people are discontented.

In translating these ideas to a thesis question, I asked:

Can architecture (subliminally) influence social and political change?

With the parentheses adding that one extra buzz word that I am not ready to drop. My doubts in this question lie with the fact that I am not trying to influence a social or political change. I don’t find myself an activist for anything nor am I trying to make a political statement. Or at least, I didn’t until my image (top) was described as being just that: a statement, indicating a critique on how materialistic our American society is. What am I being influenced by in my culture that I feel the need to change? Is this influence subliminal? Am I trying to define a subliminal revolution (a revolution that culture brings upon itself unconsciously, based on the components that drive it?)? How is this architecture? To ease my doubts, I’m including alternative questions that may be worth researching.

Alternative Questions

  • Does architecture hold an intrinsic power to generate a kind of aesthetic response, besides that intended by the architect?
  • What influence can architecture claim to have on the social and the political?
  • What is the status of architecture as a force of social change?
  • What is the link between aesthetics and politics?
  • What relationship may there be between architecture and revolution?
  • Can there be a ‘revolutionary’ architecture?
  • Can there be any distinct politics to a style of architecture?
  • Does architecture play an important role in the identity of a nation?
  • Can architecture, in its physical form, somehow influence the politics of use?
  • How does architectural form influence social behavior?
  • What is the relationship with the icon?
  • How does architecture transform what people thought they were and who they thought they were? (subliminally? brainwashing?)
  • In what ways has oppression altered the art/architecture of the future?
  • Does architecture dictate the identity of a people, of a city, of a nation?