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    Education and Practice Forum: History and Theory

    Quilian Riano Nov 6 '06 9

    This weekend the GSD hosted a forum on Education and Practice , below are some comments and an image of the panel that discussed History and Theory.

    One the first and most powerful comments was by Jeff Kipnis as he accused others in the panel of "ethical agnosticism", ignoring the complicity of architecture with power structures. Seems to be a hot topic of conversation, at least in Archinect, as it reminds me of this post by Enrique and this great feature on Sorkin by David Paul. Personally, I think that the ethical issue is becoming ever more relevant as we now face issues of increasingly deteriorating social (increasing economic and power inequality worldwide) and environmental conditions (climate change, depletion of resources, etc...). Sadly, though, this comment of ethics was not thoroughly followed up by the panel.

    Peter Eisenman provided some of the more "outrageous comments" (his words not mine) as he argued that PhD's are taking over theory curriculums and there are not enough trained architects teaching theory. He summed up the argument by saying that currently there is "more academicism and less theory" leading to a slow death of architecture schools by PhD's. Some people didn't seem to like the comments, but...

    Finally I leave you with another comment by Peter Eisenman on the current 'text-messaging generation' of students: "if you cannot punctuate sentences, how can you punctuate architecture?"

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    • 9 Comments

    • treekiller
      Nov 6, 06 2:56 pm

      haha! and what was kipnis eating?

      does he ever wear anything other then a black turtleneck?

      futureboy
      Nov 6, 06 3:16 pm

      sounds like a bunch of pots calling the kettle black to me.

      switters
      Nov 6, 06 8:05 pm

      Kipnis was very sharp on both panels. Almost as if he were inteviewing for a job....

      lifeform
      Nov 6, 06 8:47 pm

      and what would kipnis know about ethics? he wants rock stars not ethics.
      poor eisenman and kipnis are still bitter that they never got to wear the H jersey.

      vado retro
      Nov 6, 06 11:20 pm

      why are there so many bald guys??? that last eisenman quote sounded like andy rooney...

      futureboy
      Nov 7, 06 9:07 am

      these guys are the posterboys of corporate complicity through ethical agnosticism.

      kind of makes me think of a story a friend told me from a class he had with kipnis. kipnis as usual was going off on a particular student on how you need to devote years of hard work to become something, my friend quipped "well i guess you'll never become a real architect then jeffrey" and stopped him in his tracks...paybacks a bitch

      on another tangent, this all also reminds me of the scene in fight club where pitt turns to norton and says "stuffing feathers up your ass does not make you a chicken".

      vado retro
      Nov 7, 06 1:07 pm

      its ez to be ethical if you don't have to make decisions that determine whether or not you will have a paycheck. to decide not to do a project is not an issue if you are bringing home a check from the university. rich republicans make me ill, but you know what i'll eat their food and drink their booze and design their crap because i have to support my modest little life. there's no revolution coming people. sorry, to break the bad news to you...

      Smokety Mc Smoke Smoke
      Nov 7, 06 3:30 pm

      It seems to me that one of the only ways that the academic (read: not professional) study of architecture can be duly recognized as an entity separate from that of art history is to have trained academicians. This means that more schools should deploy either 1-year or 2-year non-professional history/theory/criticism masters, or that PhD programs deploy more students than ever.

      kablakistan
      Nov 11, 06 11:53 am

      I love that quote about "stuffing feathers up your ass does not make you a chicken".

      :-)

      I think the way to make the history and theory of architecture other than art history is to remember that buildings are not the same as art. Sure, the aesthetics and all that are important. But buildings are also subject to building codes for life safety, zoning laws generated by NIMBY's, and buildings thus impacted end up as organizers of relations between social groups. Quite literally. Whose office is next to yours? Who do you run into in the hall?
      It's important to study theory in the abstract, and there is much in common between art objects and architecture, yet there is a need to ask questions that relate to the studio, if not to the economic or professional factors related to what gets built. Of course, we have to take care that theory not be ignored or instrumentalized, but it will remain elitist and irrelevant when it ignores the difference between buildings and art. Or worse, it will be omitted and treated as irrelevant if it is unable to make the case for itself as useful in understanding the building you are sitting in right now.

      Wow. I didn't know I was so irritated about this.
      On less curmudgeonly note, these days I have started to think that there is something in the whole history of science approach. Maybe it's something about the way that "the real" is taken seriously and shown to impact social relations? Maybe it's the way that epistemology and truth claims are examined and shown to have impacts on society generally? I was just reading a passage by Ed Eigen in the new Princeton rag Pidgin. He writes about reading the printing on the altoids box and his musings about the practice of preserving things in tins. These things have an accidental history related to material properties and odd individuals with odd goals. Ignoring this sort of minutiae due to a desire to keep your hands clean of dirty things like money, materials, fabrication... sigh.
      Man, sorry about the rant.
      Don't know what came over me.
      We haven't even been formally introduced.

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