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…
…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.
- 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?