Something happened somewhere and I am having a hard time writing anything about any of the stuff I see in the media about architecture, public space, occupy, theory of architecture, urbanism... Including most everything I say I am interested in my 'about' section. Just months ago I was writing about these things provoking arguments, at least in my own mind if not with my students and friends. Then social responsibility, unemployment and public space became ubiquitous conversations due to economic downturn and occupy movement. People start to write about them, take pictures and notes, lament, resist, notice.
No complaints. Better late than never, it is for our common good. Kind of empowerment you only get from camaraderie in action. I want demonstrations to get more common, louder and more determined. Even with my own dormant desire to write about it, I am still all for public discontent, confrontation and common struggle.
But architecture is my main interest to write about. Talk, learn and question. Where is architecture these days? Who is doing work, building? Who is saying what? Which things are different about architecture today, than last year or few years ago? What about the schools of architecture and who is in charge of defining architectural education? Now more people are writing it, interest in architectural theory is.., up? Is it? What is next?
There is the musical chairs game people are enjoying at the moment, but it seems like music has changed a while back. All I hear is the generic jingle loop played in master planned eerie theme parks and newly built empty cities in China. They are not good for people, and if they are not good for people, they are not good for architecture. All that flurry of activity there, for empty buildings.
Things are different here on the West Coast. There is hardly any building activity. If there are no new buildings or old ones in my virtual or physical vicinity that are worth writing about, what do I do in the mean time?
So, I am walking, driving, searching these days, I am looking for things that has been neglected, undervalued, unnoticed and has been referred as banal.
Speculative renderings of future buildings on empty lots are one of those things that are also representations of architecture in the public eye. Renderings you see on enameled metal plates or directly printed on wood boards. Most of the time they are not the academic degree material, highly artistic conceptual drawings influenced by the well known figures like Lebbeus Woods or any other recognizable practice, but simply what you appropriate for folks on street corners and drive byes to call, buy or lease. Sort of bulletins of what to expect on those empty lots of former gas stations, abandoned buildings and on the footprints of newly demolished structures. Previews of how they will look like when the construction fence comes down..
It is a low point for an architecture critic about to lose his interest in most things built in recent memory and not write about aesthetically pleasing captures of his everyday eye. But somewhat rewarding to talk about the things that were always there without associating them with world class beautiful architecture.
Relatively speaking, thanks to architecture students for inspiring another area of interest for me these days, which is to photograph people in student renderings when I go to reviews in architecture schools. If you are looking for them, they tell a lot. Students are the Geiger counters of what can go wrong or right in the world of architecture. The people in the renderings also bring a point of curiosity for me; “To reconcile architecture with people” which is an ironic twist of the mission Guillaume Apollinaire gave Marcel Duchamp “to reconcile art with people” in the beginning of the last century as Octavio Paz wrote in his book on Duchamp.
Of course this is not to be taken lightly or too literally in the face of current overflow of hydroponic farms, vertical city parks, floating infrastructural cities, parametric neighborhoods, fluid skyscrapers, land art inspired architectural projects, (seems like architects' Gordon Matta-Clark inspired days are finally over.) All of above mostly depicted in dark moody machine generated trendy illustrations in specially dark shadowy ink. These are the concerns of the academia mixed with scientifically speaking do-gooder combination of ecology, materiality, robotic fabrication of things that look like art and the future of tourism with viewing platforms to gaze into next rendering.
Theoretically speaking, for architects, the good times enjoyed by hand me down modernist interpretations of philosophical discussions seems to be evaporating and raining down as Bruno Latour defined “Matters of Concern” and they are working the arrowed circle of “matters of fact” and “matters of concern.” Additionally, many backstage fingers pointing to atmospheric revolution chatter.
In passing and in short, don't get shot down with parametric tech and watch your scientific lingo.
Situation on the ground is like walking down the streets noticing less buildings but more everything else. Trying to forget all forgettable architecture that got the usual deal of pufflicity. In the end, imagine, there will be no other than street experience and white light. There will be no buzzboy buildings if I forget properly. It will be void of somebody's visual packets of growing cactus in the air as the creative place marker, with all those gestural impulse detailing on printed billboard...
These things are on my radar. It registers and folds out as I walk and drive. Enjoying the ride before it gets all too vividly AmericanDubai, saturated with easycash again.
This is chance to slow down for now, as in;
No more speed I'm almost there.
Gotta keep cool, now gotta take care...