Friday, May 31, 2013

13. Walter Benjamin - Critique of Violence

The purpose of this reflection is to discover whether the agonistic relation between ethics and violence can be overcome. To say that there is a relation between the two may appear as either outright erroneous or as a problem easily solved, but these epistemological reflexes merely advocate further for the need of philosophical inquiry. If we were to define ethics by a lack of violence, for example, it could be conceived that ethics and violence are only joined by their polar opposition. But this dialectical formulation is reactionary, ultimately forbidding an autonomous ethics: for if there was no originary violence, there would be no possibility of ethics. This view is furthermore utopian and transcendental, implying that violence can be erased and that ethics can (and should) champion. In fact, this theoretical proposition is strictly the result of a properly ethical judgement that is genealogically tied to the development of Western humanism which must itself be subject to criticism, and therefore should not ground a metaphysical foundation of judgement. In an attempt to find a way out of this spectacular condition that has merely generated an unprecedented proliferation of violence and ethics-in-vain, I will henceforth investigate the liminal space offered by both concepts in an attempt to reveal their absolute congruency and ultimately their mutual contemporary insufficiency for the existential justification of our lives.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

12. Miguel Gomes - Tabu

Tabu is a film from 2012 by the Portuguese director Miguel Gomes that is structured in direct reference to F. W. Murnau's 1931 silent film of the same name. It is, in a word or two, a sublime representation of the Portuguese ethos. In personal conversation, the words 'caricature' and 'camp' were raised when talking about its representational modality, but if either of these words are to be accurately attributed to the film, they must be conceived in a radically different aesthetic from their traditional associations.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

11. Nikolaus Hirsch & Markus Miessen - Critical Spatial Practice

Politics in and of the printed word

A mainstream public discourse of apprehension and reconciliation has emerged over the past ten years, as architects have begun to rediscover the inherent power of creating space. In this spirit, the Critical Spatial Practice book series, edited by Nikolaus Hirsch and Markus Miessen, takes as a historical starting point the post-financial crisis social movements and seeks to uncover a deeper affinity and significance underlying the recent compulsion to “be political”. The series follows on Miessen’s trilogy on Participation, and accompanies his recently initiated Architecture and Critical Spatial Practice program at the Städelschule, Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Frankfurt. Critical Spatial Practice attempts to understand how creators of space can act as active political agents, and how space can facilitate political agency itself. Tactfully avoiding a preemptive answer to such broad issues, the editors construct a larger discursive foundation about how space can be interpreted as a political medium within which action can take place.

Friday, May 10, 2013

10. Aleksandr Sokurov - Faust

Faust is a 2011 film by the Russian director Aleksandr Sokurov that won the Golden Lion award at the 2012 Venice Film Festival. It is a cinematic interpretation of the Germanic legend, with historical precedents within the medium from the likes of F.W. Murnau (1924) and Jan Svankmajer (1994). The tale of Faust was first expressed using language in the form of a play in 1594 written by Christopher Marlowe. It is probably most famous for being the source of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's magnum opus in the form of a two-part play, first performed in 1806. It was furthermore interpreted by Charles Gounod as an opera in 1859 and by Thomas Mann as a novel in 1947. The legend itself is summarily described as the story of "a highly successful scholar but one dissatisfied with his life who therefore makes a pact with the Devil, exchanging his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures"(1).

The notion of the Faustian bargain has been incorporated into the discourse of architecture largely by Rem Koolhaas, possibly first mentioned in his infamous Junkspace essay in his identification of the economy as "Faustian" (2), but has been more recently brought to bear on architecture itself in the Chronocaos exhibit in which Koolhaas claims the architect traded significance for prominence (3).

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

9. Ian Bogost - Alien Phenomenology

Alien Phenomenology is more of a re-articulation of the arguments for and developments of Object Oriented Ontology (OOO) than a book that seeks to introduce a radical new theory. Since the movement's official foundation in 2010 with a series of conferences organized by Bogost at Georgia Tech, published in 2012, this book puts for the declaration 'this is where we are' rather than 'this is what we are.' The reasons for which I have endeavored into such a book is not so much as to discover new concepts or insights, which are developed in more detail elsewhere, but to return my gaze towards OOO for its metaphysical deployment of metaphor as a way to draw a cartography of the contemporary architectural discipline. In this essay I will seek to investigate the idea of metaphor as it relates to the architectural design of the late avant-garde, and through its analysis reflexively determine a more operative definition for architecture as a political dispositif for the new.