W. Benjamin, “Work of Art in the Age of Technological Reproduction.”

Benjamin talks bout that the definition of art is flexible, varying in response to the historical conditions of its production, distribution, and reception. He discusses a modern, technologically effected transformation in the nature of art, and the political implications of that transformation. Prior to the advent of methods of reproduction such as lithography, photography, sound recording, and film, a work of art was a unique object or performance that could not be experienced except by audience members willing to make a pilgrimage to the artwork’s location. The artwork had an aura, that is, a property of distance from the observer whatever the spatial proximity of the two, which necessitated its being actively pursued via contemplation, yet precluded its ever being fully understood, except by its creator, who had imbued it with its aura in the first place.

Benjamin contrasts traditional art objects with modern artworks, whose reproductions, as images, film reels, or sound recordings, are mechanically reproduced and distributed widely. In fact, art forms such as film and photography exist purely in the realm of reproduction, so that an original artwork is indistinguishable from its copies and any authenticity that it claims is arbitrary and illegitimate. Mass distributed artistic reproductions are incorporated into the personal contexts of their observers, meeting “the beholder or listener in his own particular situation,” instead of retaining their distance, their aura.

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Cecil Balmond, “New Structure and the Informal”

Balmond talks about how architects made boundaries for themselves. She talks about a new structure as having no fixed rules and that the informal will take care of it. if there are some sets of rules they are not rules but systems or as she calls it a set rhythm it is in the hidden connections that are implied and felt but not seen. Her are rules but systems that are made from situations.   It is the informal that allows us to step out of the regular grids and the boxes that we as designers live and design in to a new world of spaces and inventions. She defines inspiration as new science that is being born where the method of creation is informal and the framework is new structure.

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Lars Spuybroek, “The Structure of Vagueness”

Spuybroek article focuses on the idea that architecture is shaped and is a result of merging different in controlled systems.  He talks about these systems through what he calls ‘optimized path systems’. He talks bout the Otto design where the structured process is converted into a material process using string arranged in a structured form and then submersing it in water, having the water rearrange the form. This concept is designed In a way where uncertainty does not exist and all there is different variations. Spuybroek states that it is not possible for us to foresee future use for our buildings, therefore we need more flexibility in our design. This can work if we start designing or even in our everyday life while considering the unforeseen and not expected situations for future inconsistencies.It is here that we can say that architecture is vague. Vague architecture can be defined as an architecture where it has functions that are not yet defined.

Thomas Kuhn talks about the idea of paradigm and he questions why should paradigm change be called a revolution? What are the functions of scientific revolutions in the development of science? “A scientific revolution is a noncumulative developmental episode in which an older paradigm is replaced in whole or in part by an incompatible new one (92).”

He answers this by discussing the idea that a scientific revolution that results in paradigm change is analogous to a political revolution. Political revolutions aim to change political institutions in ways that those institutions themselves prohibit. As crisis deepens, individuals commit themselves to some concrete proposal for the reconstruction of society in a new institutional framework.  A successful new paradigm permits predictions that are different from those derived from its predecessor. That difference could not occur if the two were logically compatible. In the process of being assimilated, the second must displace the first. Consequently, the assimilation of either a new sort of phenomenon or a new scientific theory must demand the rejection of an older paradigm. If this were not so, scientific development would be genuinely cumulative. Normal research is cumulative, but not scientific revolution. New paradigms arise with destructive changes in beliefs about nature. As a result, “the normal-scientific tradition that emerges from a scientific revolution is not only incompatible but often actually incommensurable with that which has gone before”. No two paradigms will solve all the problems therefore there is always a question, which problems is it more significant to have solved? In the final analysis, this involves a question of values that lie outside of normal science altogether.

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Alberto Pérez-Gómez also in his book an introduction Architecture and the Crisis of Modern Science talks bout the importance of scientific revolution. He talks about late Renaissance and the early nineteenth century, where the ancient arts of architecture were being profoundly transformed by the scientific revolution.

Gomez focuses specifically on eighteenth-century developments in the science of mechanics and emerging techniques in structural analysis which slowly entered the architectural treatises and found their way into practice, often by way of civil and military engineers. It is interesting how we are more interested toward things that are engineered and this will move us apart from the transcendental. Gómez begins to talks about like other great writers that we have studied in the past that with the rise of technology and science, we have created a huge gap and distance from reality and the human behavior. Gómez suggests an intangible loss, that of a culture’s power to express through a building its total mathematical, mystical, and magical world-view. Today it is all about designing cool and interceding product and we have lost the poetic and relationship to nature. The question remains how long can we go with this and is it going back to the idea of le Corbusier “living machine” or should we start changing?

 

Based on the readings and the discussion that we had in class, I have realized that there is a great relationship to body and architecture. The relationship does not have to be related directly to human body, but body can be seen as new sets of information.  It is true that architecture shelters human body but what about the case of bio attack. As it has been seen through history and today, architectures aims to shelter human body against exterior environment. This brings the idea of control and order. What kinds of spaces should be made to prevent the bio attach and bio-terrorism? One might suggest that the human places such as airport are not comfortable place anymore because of the level of the control that they have. But isn’t this controlling a safe freedom for us. Although they are controlling people who are entering (having border on one side and freedom on the other) they control the freedom to be safe and clear from any bio attack. Maybe now is a good start for architect to see this control differently and design places that solve the problem instead of re-framing the problem of just sheltering and machine looking places.

Hayle discusses the idea of the cybernetics and that they are influencing the boundaries of communications. It is true that with the rise of technology we are more depended on computers and technological devices. But it is important to note that our physical body is made out of cells and it is possible that some parts might not act as well as other is various time. A blind person might use a cane, a deaf can use a hearing aid, and these do not talk about us relying on technology. As we have already discussed this in Merleau-Ponty’s readings, these are the extension of the human body. Here Hayle talks about the importance of control and that we as humans want the machines to work on its own while it is being managed. Norbert Wiener believes that it is through order gaining control that we are able to understand and have effective communications. He mentions that   “communication is about relation, not essence.”

It is the question of human body and its role. Is it flexible or not.  Weiner himself believes that a system essentially needs to be flexible to respond to change and I think the human body is a great example to this. And now as architects, the question of the body remains, what is the role of our body? How can we show this in our design? and what about technology and its role in human body?.

Architecture from Without: Body, Logic, and Sex”, Diana  Agrest

I believe that today we have passed the position of saying if architecture is more male or female oriented. It is true that renaissance was a moment when genius art science and money converged in the figure of man and that reference have been made to the male body through history as being the perfect indication of art. In her article “Architecture from Without: Body, Logic, and Sex” Agrest looks at architecture from a female point of view. She argues that architecture has been compared to human body in nature and in conception. I think Agrest takes a position to talk about the problem with the historical repression of women and the female body throughout history and especially in architecture. The gender roles and individuality of the female are inconsiderately appropriated by the male boy. The question how ever remains how this is changed in our world and in today’s perspective of architecture.

Here Agrest even talks about the form of the building and how they have referenced sex and male organs. It seems that male architects are viewed as “Gods” who are able to create and give birth to buildings without being contacting the opposite sex (female). This is a great irony, because it is obvious that it is the female who conceive and have the child.

Also moving further in her article, Agrest compares even the cities to the human body. She talks about the layout of the city with the civic buildings at the center of the city, similar to the naval which is the center of the body. Man naval replaces female whom. The great athletic male body has always been the centered and it is very rare in throughout the history of architecture that female body has been references. To me it was always about organic, curvilinear, smooth lines that represented female body in art, photography and architecture. However, now in our today’s society the gender is becoming irrelevant. And the concept of having female in the kitchen is now removed and in many cases women’s are in big powers.  In When Man™ Is on the Menu, Dr. Harraway talks about future and he has a different perspective than Agrest about gender. Here one realizes that architecture is not about gender, it acts as a mediator, as interface, something that is genderless and has more to offer. He focuses on the idea of the cyborg and that the understanding of gender and the body is different. This is not a new idea as we have already seen in the deconstructionism and the idea of phenomenology.

why was gender important  to be considered? what have architects done with human body and forms of architecture.? is it about the physical body, or the spiritual body? is it about the form of the body that needs to be represented in architecture or  the feelings?

The synthesis of One’s Own body” , in Phenomenology of Perception, Merleau-Ponty

Here phenomenology is defined as the study of essences, including the essence of perception and of consciousness. Maurice Merleau-Ponty says, however, that phenomenology is a method of describing the nature of our perceptual contact with the world. Phenomenology is concerned with providing a direct description of human experience.

Same as Freud Merleau-Ponty talks about the relationship to consciousness and how we perceive and see things. He believes that Perception is the background of experience which guides every conscious action. We all know that the world is a field for perception; therefore it is human consciousness that assigns meaning to the world. We cannot separate ourselves from our perceptions of the world everyone has a different perspective and different perception. He compares perception to consciousness when he talks about that Perception is not purely sensation, nor is it purely interpretation however; Consciousness is a process that includes sensing as well as reasoning.

According to Merleau-Ponty, the human body is an expressive space which contributes to the significance of personal actions. The body is also the origin of expressive movement, and is a medium for perception of the world. Bodily experience gives perception a meaning beyond that established simply by thought. Thus, Descartes’ cogito (“I think, therefore I am”) does not account for how consciousness is influenced by the spatiality of a person’s own body.How can we relates this to architecture? I think the answer is in the next article by Eisenman.

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Visions unfolding: architecture in the age of electronic media, Peter Eisenman

 

Here Eisenman points to a crisis in the current state of his art: “During the fifty years since the Second World War, a paradigm shift has taken place that should have profoundly affected architecture: this was the shift from the mechanical paradigm to the electronic one.”  Mechanical reproductions have always required a human subject to mediate and interpret the process of reproduction itself: photographs are differentially printed according to the specific visual characteristics desired by the photographer. In this way, Eisenman contends, “the photograph can be said to remain in the control of human vision”. This can be said architecture is always about control; control of space, form or body. By vision, Eisenman means the process linking “seeing to thinking, the eye to the mind” that perpetually support the production of content with the desires of an anthropomorphizing subject.

Eisenman wonders how, when every other cultural practice has been fundamentally transformed by the shift to electronic media, architecture has remained largely unchanged. Why has architecture resisted such a transformation? Eisenman answers that architecture has remained stolidly rooted in the mechanical paradigm because “architecture was the visible manifestation of the overcoming of natural forces such as gravity and weather by mechanical means.” As a result, architecture has not only centered on designing structures that shelter, but in doing so has produced designs intended to look as though they will securely shelter – that is, the mechanics of their design is immediately interpretable by human vision. Such continuing recourse to the “mechanics of vision” in architecture has resisted an ability to think architecture in ways more commensurate with the new paradigm of electronic mediation.

Eisenman mentions that architecture never adequately thought the problem of vision because it remained within the concept of the subject and the four walls. (Vision in architecture can be defined as essentially a way of organizing space and elements in space.)

Realizing the limitations inherent in an architecture dominated by the mechanics of vision, why do architects  discarded the eye-mind connection in favor of the transformative powers of electronic media and openness toward the systems of metaphor that such media enable, encourage, and engender?