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Featured Discussion: Volume

Feb 13 '07 188 Last Comment
John JourdenJohn Jourden
Feb 13, 07 10:30 am




For a brief introduction to this discussion please click here . Due to the nature of this discussion, Archinect will be moderating the member contributions to keep the remaining dialogue on topic.
welcome, glad you could make it into the Forum. I'll start things off.

In New York currently there is an exhibition on the legacy of past publications that were dedicated to the broadening perspectives in the
discourse of architecture. In this context how do you see Volume's role for developing the future?
 

Mark Wigley
Feb 13, 07 8:29 pm
The sharp exhibition at the Storefront Gallery by Beatriz Colomina and her team of Ph.D. students captures the remarkable kaleidoscopic intensity of experimental magazines from the 60s and 70s, and exposes the current void in radical publications. I guess VOLUME is but one channel in a similarly dense but largely imaginary multi-media international net that mixes printed and electronic modes. You produce a magazine in the hope that there will be so many others that your own efforts become redundant. The ambition is to stimulate others to render you outmoded.

What is VOLUME's relationship to "developing the future"? The future can never be "developed." It is always a shock, never quite what we think. So much of architecture is devoted to control, predictability, stability, etc. Buildings are traditionally meant to stand against the future, throwing the past forward as kind of a security blanket, projecting the known into the unknown. Architecture will never abandon that role but VOLUME wants embrace the unknowable future. As a school devoted to experimental architecture, GSAPP has to guide people who will provoke and adopt whole new identities for architecture, new kinds of architect rather than new kinds of building. VOLUME is obviously one part of that effort, but this means challenging the usual role of a school. VOLUME is not a "school magazine" as such. On the contrary, it is a magazine documenting the displacement of the traditional idea of a school. This requires a kind of de-territorialized editorial strategy. So we happily partner with ARCHIS, a magazine trying to displace the traditional role of a magazine, and AMO, an office trying displacing the traditional role of an architectural office. A school, a magazine and an office meet in rehab and dream up another mode of operation. It is crucial that the three partners are surprised by what comes out, that the editors are in this sense out of control. For all the focused work on specialized themes by an array of great writers, each of the 10 issues so far has been a disturbing surprise--and hopefully will remain so.
John JourdenJohn Jourden
Feb 13, 07 8:51 pm
I'm glad you brought this up, this structural relationship within VOLUME between GSAPP, ARCHIS, and AMO, as it appears to be the first publication which joins institutional, educational, and business interests under one umbrella. Is this "third-way" position the future of architectural publications, and does this positioning increase the autonomy of a magazine?
Ole Bouman
Feb 15, 07 9:01 am
An editorial team that consists of people from both sides of the Atlantic, that rests upon the input from all over the world, and that represents at least three different modes of operating in architecture (design, education and journalism) can only produce a hybrid magazine. Of course, it is identifiable as a unique and consistent project,with one title, with a recognizable design, with a consistent format and materializing a certain like-mindedness of exploring and probing the key assumptions of architecture, and produced by a daily editorial team. On the other hand, it is very inconsistent in terms of subject matter, targeted readership, and choosing between reflexive agent or proactive agenda.

The reason to do such a commercially stupid thing, is that it is necessary. If you talk about "developing the future" I think we would say that we try to contribute to an architectural culture that goes beyond building per se, beyond teaching top down about how to build, and beyond covering architecture as built artifact. This is not just a matter of experimenting and transgressing, it is about trying to conceptually keep up with a reality that challenges architecture anyway. We have found in our research countless 'moments' when architecture became like a pervasive activity, not necessarily related to construction, or where architects start doing completely new things, not necessarily designing spatial environments for clients. Volume, whatever direction it takes in whatever issue, can be seen as an invitation to do something about the state of denial that much architecture seems to deem inevitable. The interesting thing about this kind of cultural and professional exit strategy is that we need to think about whether it means a betrayal, or an escape, or an opportunity, or a redemption. And it forces us to think about the question where our real loyalties reside.
So, to respond to your question, Volume is not the answer to the question of positioning a magazine. It is the outcome of an effort 'to magazine' a position of questioning.
Javier ArbonaJavier Arbona
Feb 15, 07 11:08 am
Why is "to magazine" even an option? Is it still a viable option?

Ole Bouman
Feb 16, 07 7:54 am
As a cultural endeavor a magazine is still tremendously powerful: unlike many other commercial activities, each issue can be the result of incredible concentration, dedication and expertise. Unlike many other cultural achievements, the effect of all that is multiplied by its serial character and the deadline culture that forces you to think, act and evaluate all the time. It helps you distinguish between real importance and secondary things. It dramatizes dialogue and provides clues to engage with it. It always is the fruit of collaboration. It attracts many talents in writing, picturing, displaying, acknowledging, organizing, exposing them to sometimes cruel scrutiny. "To magazine" means to produce intensity in a format that is widely accepted and enjoyed.
John JourdenJohn Jourden
Feb 16, 07 8:33 am
So there are four unique and different editors (Ole Bouman, Mark Wigley, Rem Koolhaas, and Jeffrey Inaba). How does this editorial system function in a magazine which wants no center? Does it function as an oligarchic editorial structure? How do all of you, as editors, develop the content/questions?
Jeffrey Inaba
Feb 20, 07 8:12 pm
Because we each are primarily involved in a different sphere (magazine, office, school), we experience distinct activities in our daily professional lives. Having these 3 points of view offers a depth to the questions that are introduced in Volume. To re-iterate a point that was raised earlier: this de-territorialized editorial process Mark mentions is not a "third way" where we synthesize our three views into one. Instead, we try to explore the elasticity of each vantage point: media, the profession, and academia. And in that regard, the questions are born out of inconsistent points of reference, and a lack of single-minded editorial 'vision.' The extremity of these explorations, and the range of storylines that arise from them, hopefully is a creative prism readers enjoy.

From one issue to the next, specific questions get asked and worked through--with the resulting publication having different stakes and liberties, depending upon the partner that takes the lead. For example, the current issue, which was developed by C-Lab, wonders about how the knowledge produced in the academy gets used. Volume 10 recommends that we utilize our tremendous intellectual capacity in order to agitate. Academic institutions are unique for their wealth of knowledge resources, so much of which can be tapped for architecture to agitate on three levels: political (to contest), physical (to shake or mix), and emotional (to passionately obsess). What is at stake is how we choose to exercise academia's body of knowledge. We suggest that these resources ought to create turbulent sentiments in a proactive and biased way, just as much as they are used to formulate definitive findings. With this agenda in mind, of course we take great liberties to disregard any sense of responsibility to the function of the profession and journalism. What's more, from this vantage point of the school, our story topics don't just cover the academy, but extend to look at other people, events, and places, which in this issue includes an interview with Cesar Millan - the Dog Whisperer, coverage of recent NY gum droppings, and a guide to Rio's largest favela.


Javier ArbonaJavier Arbona
Feb 21, 07 12:39 am
My dog definitely needs some discipline so Volume will help! :) ...But part of my question about "magazining" as a viable option before implied a bit of these issues of politics and emotions that Jeffrey mentions. At the cover price that Volume has, can it actually play a viable political role? And I'm not saying it cannot but it seems that in order to do so it absolutely has to make use of more potent tools. Therefore C-Lab has posted web videos of Volume interviews, for instance...maybe podcasts are not too far behind? I applaud the provocation to the profession and to journalism, but I would suggest that this is somewhat of a moot point nowadays...or not?

Maybe we need Mark to explain what C-Lab is and what it does to "broadcast" architecture.
Ole Bouman
Feb 21, 07 8:58 am
Wait a minute. The fact that a magazine is expensive does not necessarily mean it cannot be political. Neither does the fact that we choose doing a magazine means that we don't choose any other 'tools.' C-lab is more than Volume, OMA is obviously more than AMO, Archis is more than its magazine. Volume also is indeed increasing its palette of activities. If you want to assess the effect of our work, there's more to explore. The magazine itself however, is a vehicle to make all this action and research and this entire mentality public, to expose it to criticism (and cynicism), and to communicate with not so known talents worldwide who want to contribute to it. You can take the cover price as a hurdle to any customer and in that sense I totally agree. But some subscribers (and even one time buyers), have found that it can be ridiculously cheap as a ticket to a global knowledge network. Likewise, you can take the cover story like Agitation as a literal appeal to start agitating which doesn't reach the people who should do it. But you can also read it as an invitation to some action that will eventually lead to many other formats, that may attract people who never even heard about Volume. There are for instance, different moments in this issue when you have to think 'will i do this or not'? If the answer would be 'yes', your $20 dollars could work like a microcredit.
John JourdenJohn Jourden
Feb 22, 07 11:02 am
I like this element of VOLUME that Jeffrey was describing, the way it analyzes a new topic with every issue and brings in unique voices and subjects to offer different points of view and departure. Is this what the initial position of the magazine was at the outset or has the mission of VOLUME evolved from the beginning?
Jeffrey Inaba
Feb 25, 07 6:51 pm
Well, glad that Volume 10 might help people train their dogs. This wasn't part of its original mission, but if Volume gets Fido to fetch, maybe dog training can be...

Describing the Cesar Millan piece might be a good way to start to answer some of your questions. Interviewing Millan was of interest to us for his view on politics. His dog training method centers on an idea of leadership. His approach is unambiguous 'domination'--a total command of the human--animal interaction through a consistent regime of exercise, discipline, and affection. It is founded on creating stability through a basic, animal-level physicality intended to yield calmness in the home. You can see how his aim to make a stable domestic space by empowering the command of the animal owner would garner him so much popularity.

Well, he wants to apply his approach to leadership in politics. In the future, he would like to be involved in political office, and to translate this idea of animal interaction to human governance. He argues that establishing a context of stability (rather than the current one of fear) is needed in today's political process. In specific distinction to an approach based on consensus building, or on affirmation by way of intervention abroad, he believes we have to become sensitized in an animal-like way in order to be more human again. When you hear him talk about this, it's funny to think it's not far off from Bruno Latour's idea of proposing animal justice as a means to recalibrate human justice. I think Millan wants to agitate the current discussion in politics regarding the state of human relationships through the example of animal interaction.

Volume is a media project where we want to share with a wide group of readers what we, from architecture, find intellectually provoking, compelling, or urgent that has consequences in politics, popular culture, and space. With the Millan piece, it was this unique subject and subject matter at the intersection of politics, popular culture, and space that we wanted to highlight.

To answer John's question about each issue addressing a new topic with a different team of people having distinct specializations--yeah, the idea of having three partners that could introduce a topic and take it up in a way that takes advantage of that partner's expertise, was something we wanted to try from the start. But I guess you can never know what is actually viable. And for the moment, despite our other responsibilities (as Ole wrote, AMO's activities are much more than Volume, and so on), it is viable in developing a high degree of editorial precision and a dynamic dialogue. It is exciting to see how this can develop further from issue-to-issue by working in teams that include people who have expertise in media other than print. And to see how Volume as a project can function through video distribution, etc.

The magazine format is where Volume started. It's something we like very much as a creative medium. It also is a format that is enjoyable to experience. I really like the magazine as an object that you skim to look at images and text passages that you have no idea what they're about, to completely be lost looking at what's there, and then to go through some pieces more carefully, and then sometimes for it to click in your mind that the whole issue is about a subject or point you didn't expect. As editors, we put a lot of effort into formulating the browsing experience of each issue. And when an issue of a magazine is put together well, yes, I think it can be effective at communicating a message that is about politics, the profession, space, etc.

I don't think it's a question about the effectiveness of print vs. the web, old vs. new tools, single vs. multiple platforms. It's about how unlikely the content can be.
John JourdenJohn Jourden
Feb 27, 07 2:09 am
I think this is a nice point that the magazine is an object. in fact, I remember the first issue of VOLUME was glittered up in packaging (designed by 2x4)--a glossy clear plastic cover with embossed lettering. why did this 'glamorizing' of the magazine cease?
Jeffrey Inaba
Mar 1, 07 12:57 am
Yeah, it had the really beautiful clear, plastic 'sushi box' container that 2x4 designed. The idea was that Volume can be an installation. There were numerous items in the box, or 'installation space' including the magazine proper, CDs or DVDs, posters, cards, stickers, etc. I think issue number 4 on "Leaks" was really successful: it had the magazine, an AMO Bulletin poster on the Crisis of Western Democracy; a C-Lab 30-page booklet on information, building, and city leaks; and a portable exhibition that included work by FAT, Jeanne van Heeswijk, Guerrilla Girls, Artgineering, a coupon for FREE BEER, a postcard by Elena in search of her ideal man, and a religious wafer. Like Aspen Magazine, it was an example of a nice eccletic set of materials you could compile with the help of your friends.

Check out Aspen, http://www.ubu.com/aspen

We did this for the first year, issues 1 to 5. Then, we decided that for next year we would try a different format, or set of formats. We figured to do a regular magazine (and lose a lot less money than we did producing the box), and concentrate on developing other media avenues, like the videos, RSVP events, website, etc.

In that sense, while we love the magazine as the main object to edit and design, C-Lab's goal is to broadcast material through a range of wide access media. And our goal is more than to simply use a variety of means, it is to design the formats (similar to the 'installation') that will conceptually package content in these media. So be on the look out for new stuff at www.volumeproject.org and www.c-lab.columbia.edu. And now that we are at the end of our second year of print issues, look out for a new format for the magazine too.

John JourdenJohn Jourden
Mar 2, 07 4:40 pm
I think this brings me back to considering the position of some sort of melding of editor/curator instead of perhaps the traditional role of editor/critic. Do you think that criticism becomes more apparent by functioning as editor/curator or editor/critic? Does VOLUME lend itself to engage things on the level of criticism or is it rather more a kin to functioning as a pool for developing/articulating ideas and concepts?
Mark Wigley
Mar 3, 07 8:12 am
The latter for sure. Its a pool. Without lanes. But if you do a really radical version of the latter it has the effect of the former. The figure of the curator is a very interesting one and intense forms of curating can act as decisive forms of criticism. I do think we have to move on from the traditional figure of the critic. Criticism is in such bad shape these days. Saying nice things alongside perfect images from perfect angles of the latest product is such a waste of time and paper. The discipline acts as if buildings are so sensitive that any less than soothing or flattering words in their vicinity will make them come out in a rash and spoil the photographs. And most architects are more interesting to listen to about their own work, or the work of their colleagues, than any critic. Most architects have an understanding of their work that is so much more complex than that of the critic.

The figure of the curator is much more interesting. The curator both finds things that already exist, gathering evidence, and makes something completely new with that evidence. The curator is a fellow artist, like a DJ or VJ. VOLUME tries to increase the size of the gene pool in architecture, curating alternative approaches by gathering specimens from domains that might seem far away from the traditional understanding of architecture, but mixing them and sequencing them in such a way that new options for architects may come to the surface. And not in the sense of National Geographic magazine, which asks the reader to enjoy the exoticism of some distant environment. If anything, VOLUME approaches traditional forms of architecture and architectural discourse in the National Geographic mode, inviting the reader to see the conventions of our discipline as strange and super interesting, while treating the distant things as straightforward documents of alternative sensibilities.

Now if you do this with intensity, locating the architect within a greatly expanded set of options, it acts as a strong form of criticism. It is not about endorsing a particular form of architecture. Its about establishing a biodiversity of potentials in which designers and cultural activists can redefine their ambitions. What does this mean for the future? Who knows? I think one of the fascinating things about magazines is that you cannot predict their effect. I think the real impact of magazine always comes later. A magazine, even one devoted to the details of the present, is always a time bomb. People dont read a journal and get up reborn. A magazine just starts something ticking. The explosion comes at a different time in a different space. I guess the paradox is that if a magazine zooms in intensely on current symptoms with techniques that are themselves symptoms of the day, it can foster something very different in the future without knowing what that future will be.




John JourdenJohn Jourden
Mar 13, 07 1:33 am
in 1992 at a conference in Vienna Zaha Hadid predicted (in my mind at least) the current condition of architecture and its relationship to the media. she stated then that the architect had to "seduce the public into understanding the role of the architect." considering this seduction is in full-swing today have architects and architectural magazines fully used this new position to explain their role or positions? Do you see VOLUME engaging the public at large through this strategy of the pool?
Ole Bouman
Mar 13, 07 11:34 am
Ho. Before we know it, we end up talking about architecture as a discipline, doing its regular SWOT analysis, trying to define strategies to keep it relevant and meaningful, and end up assessing Volume as a possible consequence of what Zaha Hadid once said. I feel many things that have been brought up are not about repositioning architecture vis-a-vis itself, but about a desire to find architecture at moments, at sites, at circumstances that nobody has thought of as architectural opportunities yet. This is what you can call "re-invention." We talk about re-inventing schools, offices and magazines. We are talking about re-inventing the way architecture is broadcast, criticized, covered, appreciated even. This re-invention can only be successful if it doesn't lead eventually to the usual suspects or well known terminology. Instead, we need time and readership. We need it, for building up a community of "architecturally-inclined citizens." To establish new modes of dialogue between them, to cross sell architecture in fields that most people think are alien to it, to prove that architecture is in the process of finding new mandates, etcetera. One of the most promising aspects of Volume is that it goes beyond the survivalism in which most architectural talent today seems to be trapped.
John JourdenJohn Jourden
Mar 14, 07 12:38 pm
it's interesting in the end that you mention survivalism in relationship to that quote from Zaha, as the conference I was referencing was titled End of Architecture. It seems to me we are again at a similar fork in the road as we enter the 21th century. Just as Mark has indicated in his text Still Effects that after 100 years of electronics "are architects ready to act differently and think differently?" And aren't we confronted with a situation where the orientation is inverted? where our leaders also project into possible futures without considering the present? will history redeem our actions or should we take care to act now. I would suggest that intellectual time bombs need to go off quicker and with more frequency otherwise they become time capsules.

Ole Bouman
Mar 15, 07 7:27 am
You are right. Nothing more silly than a time bomb that is still ticking after the apocalypse. Nothing more dumb than an experiment that probes a reality whose own pace goes faster than any experiment can conceive of. All the more when this happens only on a quarterly basis. If we want to contribute to an agenda for architecture rather than cover the achievements of past and present, there is a ongoing urgency to find ways to have reflexivity and activism intertwine. Archis for instance, is organizing events to reclaim the public sphere in war zones and post conflict cities, collaborating with architects, artists, members of NGO's, and local citizens. C-lab is setting up different activities that could maintain the momentum of certain issues on almost daily basis. AMO/OMA also has a, eh...., impressive track record in letting time bombs explode in real time and real space.

John, I take your "similar fork in the road as we enter the 21th century" as another way to say this is an age of consequences. Therefore, in the same rhetoric, we better stop procrastinating about architecture's fate, and begin to prove its power when it is expected the least. For example, Volume last year in the course of several issues, made a showcase of the power of architecture to help us understand the architecture of power.










John JourdenJohn Jourden
Mar 15, 07 12:12 pm
I'm glad you brought the events issue up. Are these bright yellow pages in VOLUME titled Archis R.S.V.P. Events another tactic for "broadcasting" architecture or are they something else?

In the current issue there are six of the these yellow beacon pages and they each sketch out highly interesting positions to engage in, with bold titles like Security, Unbuilt, Sustainability, Shelter, Dialogue, et cetera. Can you explain these "tactical interventions" a little and how the average reader can make an impact through becoming a participant?
Ole Bouman
Mar 19, 07 7:18 am
If we use the vocabulary of media or marketing theory, I would prefer the word narrowcasting, because our events are very specific in terms of subject, location (which are given) and eventually also audience. People sign up for these events and by doing so, become member of a temporary community collaboratively designing the event itself. So, the final format depends on the available quality of the participants.

What's even more important than this approach in event design, is how location interacts with subject. For some issues, like shelter, security, sustainability, fairness and dialogue, we need places that have the capacity to dramatize the event to an existential degree. For example, we did an event in a freezing cold Palace of the Republic of the former DDR about the languages that have had their day. Worn out jargons, obsolete categories. Rather than discussing the topic, we organized a memorial for them, and by doing so "banned the banners." It's obvious that such a performance "benefits" from the ruinous context in which it is done. But also, the event pays a final tribute to such a place.

For our next series, we plan to go to global (post-)conflict zones and find the people who, against all odds, try to maintain a public sphere and a pocket of design creativity. We are now in the process of finding those people in cities like Kabul, Tijuana, Ulan Bator and others (like we did recently in Beirut, Prishtina and Tblisi) and if they read Archinect, we hope they respond here (link) (rsvp@archis.org). Call it a tactical anti-braindrain operation.
John JourdenJohn Jourden
Mar 19, 07 1:05 pm
There is an other question in there, but I'll leave that opportunity open to someone else to pick up on. I'd like to move on to discuss images and photography in magazines. images play an important role in establishing and maintaining the impact of architecture through the media of magazines, yet in VOLUME the images seem to play another role. Could you explain the role the image plays in VOLUME?
Ole Bouman
Mar 26, 07 9:46 am
Most architecture magazines show images which idealize our world to such a degree that it almost becomes unrecognizable. This imagery has a politics that isolates architecture from the rest of the world. Most of this aesthetical photography is commissioned.

An increasing amount of magazines shows images which, as a reaction to the former, map the reality of modernization. I wouldn't call these images 'contextual'. They are in itself strong messages that architecture hasn't died yet, that is still has an open eye to the world, that it can be relevant. Most of this anthropological photography is 'free work'.

We try to develop a photography that helps find opportunities to do something. Pictures of the agenda, so to speak. We need to see the new vacancies for thought and action. The front cover of Volume 10 shows a seminal image of agitation in its purest sense. The cover of Volume 9 announces the subprime mortgage crisis and how it will change our ideas of suburbia. The cover of Volume 8 present China as shrugging off its modesty as imperial power etcetera etcetera. Tools for action, prophecies, catharsis, that's what we need!


Jeffrey Inaba
Mar 28, 07 12:37 pm
In response to John's image question, think of it this way: for Volume images are like words of speech. They make a statement, or a series may be used to make an argument. In that sense, often an image doesn't illustrate a point in the text but makes a point on its own. In large part we give primacy to the image as a way to 'talk' architecture.

In that way though, images play a similar role to the one they play in other magazines (just as you describe). We too use them to 'establish and maintain the impact of architecture.' The only difference is that the impact we want to create is about architecture as a way to analyze and offer up ideas about the world: an image is evidence, a suggestion, or a proposal.

In the process, photography is reduced from an art form to a basic editorial bit, a unit of information. It is not about the image's beauty per se (its composition, lighting, color, contrast, etc.), or even often the value of its context, mis en scene, or documentary intention. It's an object of the public domain that we apply to unintended ends. Even when we don't Photoshop them, we 'Photoshop' them - meaning that we lift and tweak them for content. Examples of this are a lot of the 'articles' by 2x4 in V5; the DIY Power Kit in V7; the History of Pininfarina (a photo essay of their car bumps), Architecture and Gum (gum on the sidewalks fronting Seagram, Lever, and other Class-A offices), and the pig (the first cross-species avian flu carrier) - all in V10.

I totally don't believe it when people say that they don't read anymore, or don't read as much. All of us read more. We go through much more material. It's only that what we are reading is changing in format and structure. The image used in this way is one of them.




John JourdenJohn Jourden
Apr 4, 07 12:22 pm
Does connecting a magazine with an academic institution like Columbia with its incredible school of journalism offer any opportunities for crossovers or inter-institutional dialogue similar to the situation with the STUDIOX program or C-LAB? And are students, those whose interests may lie in theory, writing, and journalism, are they given an avenue to use VOLUME as a vehicle for formulating their own agendas or stories? or is VOLUME more in the mold of Harvard's project on the city where the object is orchestrated by the curator/professor, or in this case curator/editor/professors?
Jeffrey Inaba
Apr 5, 07 2:48 am
Well it's not exactly Freedom Writers. We're definitely not about student expression. I get that what you are asking is more nuanced than that - as is your question about the Project on the City. But some clarification is needed. If 'collaboration' as proposed by Project on the City yielded anything at all, it is that schools can offer much better than 'bottom up' student agenda-setting endeavors on one hand, and 'top down' master-student bestowing of knowledge, on the other.

Project on the City is successful at creating interesting story angles, arguments, and viewpoints because it is an activity that is very much orchestrated. It works because it is not heavy-handed. It is like the orchestration of traffic at a seven street intersection: people cooperate momentarily in order to get to their personal destination. Very much like the best aspects of a conventional studio setting, the critic proposes an area of investigation. Students then determine a topic to pursue.

The orchestration involves finding clear paths for these often obliquely intersecting trajectories that have disparate argumentation, purpose, and agenda - and from this to create a legible package of ideas. Because it is about each person determining his/her own input, I don't think it can be compared in opposition to a self-expression model. Additionally, the critic's role in Project on the City is thus more traffic cop than conductor. It's not reducible to the 'top down' role of an orchestra leader. You are trying to channel someone to where they want to go at optimum velocity.

Yes, Columbia brings to the Volume table the resources of an academic institution (e.g. potential cross-over with the J School, Studio X, Avery Library, etc.). It also brings a model for collective work that has to have rewards for everyone other than monetary compensation or course credit. Students contribute to Volume as an extra-curricular activity. They don't receive money or chips toward graduation. So even more than say, Project on the City, people get involved because they want to get involved. They see it as an activity where the reward is to provide input, and realize ideas into a finished product. It suggests that seeking an avenue for one's own agenda is NOT always the ultimate goal of students, and of course it shouldn't be. It's about being part of a project that you value intellectually.

There's a unique phenomenon at Columbia that I haven't seen elsewhere. There are a lot of students who have personal projects on the side. They are super serious about pet missions, brewing ideas, ongoing non-architecture endeavors that they share with friends outside the formal curriculum of academia. They are more intent on developing these things than say getting extra credits, or scoring brownie points. And when working on Volume complements those goals, they get involved. And when they do, you know that they're incredibly committed to the issue at hand, and it's not for some disingenuous reason like pursuing a personal agenda.


Orhan AyyüceOrhan Ayyüce
Apr 19, 07 2:18 am

how do you locate the writers and contributers to volume magazine? or do the people pitch at you as same old cousin way?

aspect
Apr 19, 07 10:16 am

the article by neil denari made an interesting critque on current practice that architects tend to made decorative form through being hypersensitve to parametric influence rather than a monster box of resistant.

quite agitating!!

Orhan AyyüceOrhan Ayyüce
Apr 19, 07 11:10 am

reading some of the posts here and reading inaba's forward to 'agitation' issue of volume, i see an attempt to call for agitators to ummm, institutionalize themselves? that is a last thing an agitator would do probably.
so, this might turn into get your agitator lapel bad boy? bunch of 18$ bad boys? ha. i see.
agitation.

last mounth i asked a teaching job from a woodbury uni. director who asked me what i would teach and i directly said i would agitate a little and he turned around and left me without saying anything in the middle of the party and start to talk to a minor prof. about taking students to istanbul where i grew up. i am really broke as well.

Steven WardSteven Ward
Apr 19, 07 12:43 pm

orhan, is it the agitators institutionalizing themselves or known, recognized architecture institutions attempting to 'mix it up' within the general culture?

if the latter, it seems like more of a coopting/colonizing of an idea of a more broad/general culture - an attempt to make the institutions seem more grounded and relevant.

Orhan AyyüceOrhan Ayyüce
Apr 19, 07 1:14 pm

attempting to mix it up with general culture is not happening in effective ways.

i am compelled to comment here regarding to educational aspect because it has not been a week yet i was in that
architecture education summit 2007 in sci arc.

what i saw there was a close knit 'cushy' job guarding arch education cadre of people with little room for foreigners in their turf. geoff and mark wigley called these other discipline or less than typical agitators 'extra architecturals' in geoff,s now famous interview.

architecture loves the agitators from a distance. not in my backyard is a good word here.

institutionalizing nay sayers, bad boys and, let's say, agitators, seem to be a new marketing technic for attracting students for schools who are quickly running out of new ideas and methods and departing points.
i have not read volume magazine but looking at their contents of agitation issue, i have noticed a few names who were not agitators before but put forward now, as names associated with bad boyism.

what did neil denari agitated in his time at sci arc? what is he agitating now?

as far as the format goes, i see similar concept of marketing che tee shirts for hi fashion market.

i am little cryriptic here, i know i am. i do not have to be so elequent when i am giving sidewalk interviews. do i?

and yes steven, it is the latter.

not without
Apr 19, 07 2:02 pm

the contributors, editors, and minds behind volume are holding court over a well-financed, clever, and articulate journal, as they should. i admire their intellect and dedication. strangely, the efforts to simultaneously subvert and reinvent are undermined by a certain coolness...a frigid deconstruction of architecture and culture that supports an even frostier view of the typically unusual. i'm hoping that with additional media, and without the precious cryo-packaging, the magazine will resemble something in which the dialoge can extend beyond the usual suspects who were unusually interred.

David CuthbertDavid Cuthbert
Apr 19, 07 2:04 pm

there seems to be great effort in the claims of de-territorialisation and displacement - that consists of people from both sides of the Atlantic. It is even a perceived automation that that will create a hybrid magazine. I must however question that claim when the individuals that make up this camp (from either side of the pond), by their works and customs bear stronger similarities than differences.

My question, to those that be, is what is the likelihood and or level input expected from what Stuart Hall refers to as the "other" voices, those from the Diaspora and/or Third World. Or are we to expect you to speak for and interpret.

Carl Douglas (agfa8x)
Apr 19, 07 4:15 pm

I think what people are remarking on is the difficulty of trying to speak from the outside.

An institution can't simply deterritorialise and slip outside itself: the territoralising forces are too strong. Speaking from outside oneself is always going to be an odd game of mirrors and sleights of hand. One one side there is the risk of unproblematically assimilating the external voices into the institutional discourse, and on the other side there is the risk of caricaturing the other as entirely unthinkable by an institution. I think that trying to give Volume multiple centres is a valuable strategy for attempting to disrupt this institutional edge. Of course it can't simply erase it or pretend this disruption can occur unproblematically, but that doesn't mean it isn't work pursuing at all.

vado retro
Apr 19, 07 4:18 pm

the market will appropriate your revolution.

vado retro
Apr 19, 07 4:18 pm

and it will be televised.

Carl Douglas (agfa8x)
Apr 19, 07 4:33 pm

Of course. Revolutions always get appropriated. But I don't think Volume is trying to be revolutionary, just critical.

vado retro
Apr 19, 07 4:45 pm

this is all simply a post modern critique. post modern in the lit/crit sense and not in the way it is interpreted by architects. and anyway these guys have a knowable future. its called tenure.

Carl Douglas (agfa8x)
Apr 19, 07 5:09 pm

But does that mean they shouldn't bother trying to think outside the borders of their respective institutions?

vado retro
Apr 19, 07 5:25 pm

how can you not think outside your respective institution? that is if you are a thinker of course. which not everybody is...

Carl Douglas (agfa8x)
Apr 19, 07 5:43 pm

I'm not so sure it's that easy to think outside our institutions, idealisation of thinkers aside.

It seems to be a critical enterprise in the Kantian sense of 'criticism' - the examining of limits. I haven't seen the issue, so my comment is obviously fairly limited.

Erin WilliamsErin Williams
Apr 19, 07 6:24 pm
Wait a minute. The fact that a magazine is expensive does not necessarily mean it cannot be political

I'd like to respond to this: The price doesn't mean that it can't address issues politically, but it certainly limits its influence. How long do you want Volume to be around for? There is a grand history of gorgeous, expensive magazines being critically acclaimed but not financially viable, and folding quickly. The beauty and buzz of Brodovitch could only keep Portfolio around for three issues. Wallpaper is practically the undead by comparison, having made it for a whole six years!

Would Volume rather continue to be produced for decades, reaching a broad audience and influencing taste and education, or be one of these beautiful short-lived experiments?

vado retro
Apr 19, 07 8:14 pm

in a post modern age meta narratives are supplanted by paralogy. read your lyotard man.

Carl Douglas (agfa8x)
Apr 19, 07 8:25 pm

I don't believe the term 'post-modern' actually describes anything useful, myself. In my summary understanding paralogy amounts to polite, critical discussion.

aml
Apr 19, 07 8:26 pm
For our next series, we plan to go to global (post-)conflict zones and find the people who, against all odds, try to maintain a public sphere and a pocket of design creativity. We are now in the process of finding those people in cities like Kabul, Tijuana, Ulan Bator and others (like we did recently in Beirut, Prishtina and Tblisi) and if they read Archinect, we hope they respond here (link) (rsvp@archis.org). Call it a tactical anti-braindrain operation.

so, the magazine is going to feature creativity under difficult cultural and economic circumstances... and then sell that feature in glossy pages at $20 per issue? isn't this glamorizing the poor? and i love glossy diagrams as much as any architect, but isn't there something basically strange about this? not that an article on economic duress should be published in cheap paper, but... i actually don't have an argument here. sorry, carry on. wait.

i have questions, for whoever cares to address them...

who does the magazine represent? what are the magazine's voices? is it columbia/amo/nai? how is that not the academic establishment?

how do you choose your writers? you speak of curatorial efforts over critical. but whose efforts are you curating? is it only columbia students/amo employees/nai students?

how do you avoid sinking into ornamental, uber hip coffee table adornment?

i guess i wouldn't be asking these questions if i could actually buy the magazine, but you see, i can't. maybe when you start selling it in third world countries instead of just featuring us, that'll change. i'm intrigued by those south american images, though, because i'm trying to find the logic and the year that that color combo would have worked, politically, but i can't so far.

will gallowaywill galloway
Apr 19, 07 9:11 pm

i have not read the recent mags so my understanding is hindered by that big gap, but the approach as it is described in the vignettes above appears to be "agitation" for its own sake, without direction or intention other than to provoke a little bit of thought. It feels more novel (and mildly condescending and clique-ish) than creative in that sense and i wonder, why bother?

is agitation of the "15 minutes of fame" variety worth pursuing? The idea is simply to stir a bit and see if anything useful pops up? Magazine as performance art?

"...Look at me I'm doing something unexpected! No wait, look again, now I'm doing something else you didn't expect! Please, Please, look at me!"

I suppose I am wondering how all of this is relevant?

vado retro
Apr 19, 07 9:38 pm

i would never pay 20 bucks for a magazine. i might shoplift it though as i see this as an agitated reaction to the double sawbuck pricetag.

Apr 19, 07 10:16 pm

I don't buy Volume because it's too cheap. If I'm not paying at least $100.00 for a magazine, then it's just not worth it.

enrique_ramirez
Apr 19, 07 10:31 pm

I usually lurk on this website under a more well-known pseudonym ... but, reading Mark's, Ole's, and Jeffrey's dialogue reminds me of a term Jonathan Crary deployed in a class here at Yale only a couple of weeks ago: the attention economy. The term's curious genealogy aside (I believe it was coined by the political scientist Herbert Simon), what was remarkable about Crary's speech is that he reiterated the idea that the attention economy not only operates as a type of panacea, an anodyne that relieves the vicissitudes of boredom, but that such operation is the sina qua non of contemporariness. The attention economy, in all its guises and manifestations, was labor intensive and therefore burdensome. In other words, keeping people interested is hard work indeed.

Which brings me to Volume. I am thinking specifically of the introduction to this discussion, specifically where Mark references the Clip/Stamp/Fold exhibition at The Storefront for Art and Architecture. Although I understand the impulse to locate Volume as part of a trajectory that includes such magazines, I was wondering how it negotiates the issue of urgency. Long-gone publications like Ghost Dance Times, Arquitecturas Bis and others were responsive. It was the urgency of then-current predicaments that inspired the myriad responses that Clip/Stamp/fold beautifully evoked. Although Volume hints at the notion of crisis, or begs the question, What Crisis?, I wonder if its publication suffers from the burdens of an attention economy? Is the attention economy something that drives publications such as Volume today? Is Volume a symptomatic response? How would one characterize the smart "responses" that publications such as Volume, Monocle, and n+1 seem to deploy?

vado retro
Apr 19, 07 10:37 pm

attention must be paid biff.

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