Columbia GSAP (Derek Lindner)



Jan '05 - Mar '06

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    Turning up the Volume

    By Derek Lindner
    Mar 13, '05 12:59 AM EST

    The GSAPP is housed nearly entirely in Avery Hall, a building far too small to contain all the activity that comprises the daily life of the department. The school is short on resources and high on density, one result of which is that the department is still highly flyer- or poster-oriented, and the building itself is used as the primary means of intra-departmental communication. If ever a message needs to be disseminated to the masses (or even, in some cases, to specific individuals), it appears taped up in a stairwell or elevator, or on a door or wall. Usually it's fairly mundane stuff--job postings ('work in the slide library!'), lost eyeglasses, info on today's reviews or lectures.

    Its rather ironic that the same department that is pushing for architects to increase their technology and media savvy haven't figured out how to use e-mail yet.

    This week it got a little more interesting. During the Ben van Berkel lecture, unknown operatives plastered the building with anti-Volume screeds. (I'll try to get some better pictures up later, if the flyers are still around after break.)

    Volume is a new Koolhaas-Wigley magazine launched here a couple of weeks ago. I didn't catch enough of the launch event to get more than a vague outline of Volume's true purpose, but there are some good summaries elsewhere on archinect). From what others have said, Volume's mission isn't crystal clear yet, but so far, most everyone has seemed pretty excited about Volume.

    As an act of public disagreement, the flyers are a healthy development, since I know that there's a great deal more diversity of views in the school than Wigley and Koolhaas alone embody, but the flyers, while mildly amusing, are rather pathetic. Anonymous authors, take note: no one can read four or five paragraphs of 8-point type while riding up an elevator packed full of architects. And people wouldn't want to even if they could. Also, leave Martha Stewart out of it. It only hurts your cause.

    I peeled one flyer--the one with some actual text, rather than just a silly parody--off the wall and took a minute to read it. It honestly has no coherent argument, just some cheap shots at the big guys and a general sense that architects should be happy to toil in obscurity and poverty. It was more than a little wanting.

    Wigley's favorite format of discourse seems to be the debate. He regularly hosts events where he assembles panels and lets them loose on some topic. The anonymity of the flyers precludes any intelligent conversation on the subject of Volume's merits.

    For all the time spent producing flyers, the authors could have written a more intelligent rejoinder to Volume's claims here on Archinect (and still retain anonymity). If they do a decent job of it, Wigley ought to register and respond here.


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      Interesting reading. Personally, I think it's Ben van Berkel and the 'artist' Caroline Bos that talk far more bullshit than even Koolhaas ever has. A lecture of theirs at the Rotterdam Bienalle actually sent me to sleep - Bos made not one single sentence or point, it was just a continuous mobius strip of utter bollox!

      But at least your school actually sounds like an interesting place :(

      Mar 13, 05 5:36 am
      Derek Lindner

      I have to admit I dozed through some parts of the van Berkel lecture myself, but that's probably becuase it was two days before my midterm review and I hadn't really slept much.

      I was a bit underwhelmed by those parts for which I was awake. There was some very interesting use of materials (based on techniques of applying films to glass that UN developed in house, IIRC) which made for some really great phenomenological effects, but the buildings each seemed to be missing something important--an office building in the Netherlands had useless and alienating public courtyards and didn't bother to respond to its urban context; a shopping mall in Seoul had a pretty, sequined exterior that had no connection to the circle packing algorithms he claimed it was based on.

      I really appreciated the beauty and the restraint in the work, but each building seemed like a one-liner.

      Mar 13, 05 1:50 pm

      Hi Derek,

      We used to make a weekly event out of guerilla flyers at GSAPP. It has quite a long tradition, often associated with 6on6. Do you guys still have 6on6?

      We used to get the faculty's dander up on quite a regular basis. I heartily endorse the vocalization of dissenting opinions whenever possible. Most flyer were based in jest, but many hit pretty close to home on the prevailing issues in the halls of Avery. Once one of our posters made it all the way to Santa Monica and forced a formal appology by Bernard to Frank. Sometimes people take themselves too seriously and parody is the only weapon. I will agree with you that flyers are not the most effective vehicle towards spurring discourse, no matter how skillfully produced. They do help let off some steam though.

      There was an attempt to publish once, the administation even gave us a page in abstract back in 98-99???

      You're just finishing your first year...maybe you need a little hobby.

      May 17, 05 5:20 pm
      Derek Lindner

      thanks for the historical perspective. yes, 6 on 6 still goes on every friday, and the posters always make fun of the faculty. Some of the recent ones have been masterfully done.

      I do like rabble-rousing and button-pushing, and the strong opinions within the school make it especially easy. Maybe there will be more flyers next year...

      May 18, 05 10:41 am

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