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?

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