Jul '05 - Jul '05
So I've been reading Koolhaas.
The increasing disconnectedness of the increasingly "connected" world is a result of a futile attempt to understand an increasingly complex present that becomes ever more complicated the more connected we become, i.e. the more access we have to information the more we have to process and the more obvious disconnections become.
Furthermore, our perception of the world, our own personal reality is already so heavily influeced by our past experiences and biases that it is misleading to label our senses as objective. We see the world not as it is, nor even, except for those rare moments of hyer-selfawareness, as we are, but as we used to be; in this scheme, progress=future while we=past, and the present=(a persistent and eternal attempt at) personal progress, which leaves nothing left but a sort of conscious faith in doublethink, a post-ideological age that has hollowed out faith and filled its shell with, at least partly, a conscious reveling in the comforts of fantasy and escapsim. Some would say that's all faith has ever been, religion a sort of mass fantasy or mass escapsim designed to bring comfort. Well, granted. However, what's important here is the word conscious, the fact that there truely is no deeper level of ideology with which to ground our fantasies.
Which leads to architecture. Curvilinear fantasy in a largely linear world, controlled chaos and unpredictability reflecting a disordered reductivism that slowly churns over all of society, overthrowing our understanding of economics and politics and aesthetics, but also reflecting our inability to bend linearity without it breaking.
Gothic Cathedrals were designed around light, around a metaphysical ideal of "heavenly effulgence" that was intended to transform their structure into a literal heaven on earth, the lux and lumen of the sun filtering through the windows so as to transport the buliding's inhabitants into the being of God and the "potential of his grace".
I once argued in a thesis for a sort of modern equivalent, an "electrical effulgence" of light in the city that transformed the modern built landscape into a noctural fantasy, an urban landscape transformed by the deep historical and instinctual allegorial connotations of light into a sort of connectedness with the potential of combined human effort - a literal field of icons built to worship the collective (synonym: corporate) efforts of our race, then illuminated at night to combine the majesty with the spectacle.
Entry from S,M,L,XL: "Spectacle:...organizes ignorance of what is about to happen and, immediately afterwards, the forgetting of whatever has nonetheless been understood."
Koolhaas says in DNY (which I just started), "The icons of religion are replaced by those of building. Architecture is Manhattan's new religion." While I don't entirely disagree, he seems to have (so far) missed a crucial point. Architecture used to be the choosen tool for religious expression. So now, what is architecture the choosen tool of? In the case of Manhattan, it seems not that architecture has replaced religion, merely that religion has retreated, leaving architecture standing by itself to represent human achievement sans diety, a sort of transcendent reveling in, as I said before, progress and modernity, as represented by the potential of corporate (combined) human effort - our built architecture. Even more, however, our architecture stands not just for some ideal of human achievement, but for the vagaries of human experience...for a COLLECTIVE sense of human life, in all of its conflicting forms.
Thought: The machine age first turned the beauty and honesty of aesthetic ornamental expression against itself, and then banished the entire art form from the architectural avant garde...did content-oriented aestheticism also largely follow in its wake? Modern/Postmodern architecture lacks, for the most part, a popularly recognized catalogue of components; the absence of such a catalogue does not constitute a catalogue in itself...does it?
The more I try and grasp what is happening in architecture, the more circular it seems. Complexity and technology, digital OCD and a sense of scale that seems either far too large or far too minute. Its been difficult, but fascinating. One week left.