Featured Discussion: Volume


Actually it's the attention deficit economy, hence, in the future, everything will be an advertisement.

Apr 19, 07 10:52 pm
vado retro

in the future rita?

Apr 19, 07 10:52 pm

Well, since most people are behind the times, yes, the future.

Apr 19, 07 10:58 pm

now that it's clear that mr wigley, mr oleman, and mr inaba (the elite)were talking amongst themselves

and that we (the unwashed masses) are talking amongst ourselves,

and that, beyond the original invitation, this is not really any more participatory than a lecture,

i think it's a good time to applaud our editors for creating a feature that might more honestly and accurately represent the hierarchies that define the current state of architectural discourse than anything we might find in 'volume', despite the magazines editors' efforts to agitate/mix things up.

Apr 20, 07 7:15 am
liberty bell

Maybe snapshots of this thread will be featured in Volume 11, Steven!

I have more coherent commentray to make, as I do read some good points in the above (both the invited posters and the regulars), but no time.

One quickie: rationalist, re: the longevity of the magazine: Mark Wigley says that he wants the magazine to make itself "redundant". There is a kind of glory in being wonderful for a few issues (a la Portfolio) then disapearing and being referred to in "Remember when..." terms, right? As Enrique says, attention is the goal. Or as a friend of mine in grad school said, if you want to be famous, don't mess around with trying to achieve that through a serious pursuit like art, just go pull a stunt like scaling the Empire State Building while wearing a US flag diaper. It doesn't have to be important or meaningful, just attention-grabbing.

Apr 20, 07 7:33 am
vado retro

fame is an end to itself. the journey to get there don't mean a thing.

Apr 20, 07 9:21 am

steven, if one has patience then one might receive ones desire. they might engage this conversation and they might not--it is entirely optional for them and i might remind you to look at the length of time each question was answered over the course of our discussion.

we hope they will continue the conversation, but we cannot promise this will actually occur. however, i am confident that we will get some good engagement between everyone here. in fact, i am quite happy with the discussion thus far and think they will eventual take part in the exercise.

Apr 20, 07 9:46 am

true, john. the forum format doesn't usually suggest patience, but this conversation maybe should be drawn out a bit. more thinking before we answer, etc. the guests' answers were obviously crafted over time and not just spit out in normal archinect style.

Apr 20, 07 9:58 am
liberty bell

My comment will now seem like a non-sequiter, but here it is:

Jeffrey Inaba: 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.

My question is - and it's an honest if rhetorical question, I'm not being snarky - where/how does space come into play in an interview with a dog guy? In broader terms, how do we architects discern how spatial concerns are actually social concerns and vice versa? I feel it is less in reviewing imagery and more in "boring research" like post-occupancy evaluations, crime statistics mapping, etc. Which are valid and important pursuits (when Progressive Architecture went through one of their revamps they had a feature I LOVED: they revisited ten years later buildings that had been featured in the magazine previously to see how they were holding up - good meaty reporting IMO), but only perhaps interesting to the educated in the field. Is that the point then, to make what could appear to be technical/tedious social research look like sexy fun? That's not a bad goal if it leads to actual improvement of spatial/social conditions.

Personally, I struggle constantly with my various fascinations being far more people-based than (s)p(l)ace-based. How does one make the mental and then the physical leap from fascination to appropriate responsive creation?

Apr 20, 07 10:37 am

Having now read all the bold faced entries, I find most of the content already redundant in that none of the processes and thinking and actions involved are new to the way I operate architecturally. And given the resources that Volume has at its disposal, one should expect so much more. Just compare the output/effect of Quondam with its minimal resources. Makes you wonder where the real limits lie.

Apr 20, 07 11:29 am

which sort of gets back to orhan's comment. if the editors are self-selecting for a certain type because they are for all intents and purposes the same person, then the limits are very close to their collective comfort zone.

the decision to talk politics with the dog-whisperer then reads like an attempt to escape that zone...but is somehow epileptic, uncontrolled and ultimately not entirely useful. it is for me more freak-show than agitation, interesting for a moment but not lasting.

it can take 200,000 years for light to move from the core of the sun to the surface, then 8 minutes to get to the earth. nobody thinks about that long journey, thinkin only about the "superficial" trip at the end as though it were the main event. Some of the above is like that I think. Why is no none really agitating at the deep levels in the examples above? Can architecture only be agitated as a style, through quick silly-shock, or in shallow ways?

Apr 20, 07 11:54 am

lb- apparently my eyes glazed over that particular comment. Redundancy, ahoy!

Apr 20, 07 11:58 am
Apr 20, 07 12:24 pm
liberty bell

Another quote, related to my query as to how one brings architectural/social curiosity into the built sphere:

Ole Bouman: 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...we better stop procrastinating about architecture's fate, and begin to prove its power when it is expected the least

I understand the desire to broaden the discourse of architecture in the world - we architects tend to feel so marginalized and believe that the "broader public" really doesn't care about architecture/built environment at all.

I didn't see the gum issue, but I recall an architect photographically documenting, within a very tight visual frame, the built condition of sidewalk/paving meeting vertical surface on the entirety of his walk to the office every day (I mean he only documented it once, it was a walk he took every day). Now I could look a those pictures and extrapolate an entire universe of the stories contained in those images. But my sister the doctor is going to read something entirely different. Likewise when she and I see images of favelas we all seem so urbanistically/formally preoccupied with lately.

So how is the path if travel of, say, Avian bird flu an "architectural" concern? I can see spatial responses, but I'm not sure if those would fall under a definition of "architecture" (does that sound elitist?).

Apr 20, 07 1:16 pm

I really dislike the whole "we architects..." mentality. I certainly don't want any other architects to speak for the way I feel/think/design.

Artificial limits that speak more of insecurity and subliminal desires for homogenization, than for any actual solidarity.

Could it be that "nobody has thought of architectural opportunities" within the real diversity of the architectural realm itself?

Apr 20, 07 1:32 pm

Enrique's comments about the urgency built into the climp/stamp/fold stuff brings up that cover price issue again. I didn't see the exhibit, just some photos of it, but those magazines are often printed on the flimsiest paper possible, on mimeograph machines sometimes, and I'll bet they they were dirt cheap, too, if not free. (I just went back through Enrique's photos of the exhibit, but I couldn't see any prices, do you remember any, Smoke?)

The point is that when that urgency is there, you want to get the message out, and profits be damned. I know I've heard it said many times that magazines in general are huge money losers, but so you think that mattered to Archigram? As Mr. Lauf is implying, a lot of that urgency sems to have migrated to the web, where barriers to access are much lower, and the price to read is almost nil.

But of course, that means the web's noisy. And, as we've seen, it needs curation (deleted any 'off-topic' comments lately, John and Paul?). So what's Volume's relationship going to be to the web? As a source and as an expansion of the other, pricier, Content between the covers? The web seems more exciting and intersting than a lot of print media right now, how are you going to compete and/or join in the fun? Or will you mine it for interesting stuff to explore in depth, which seems to be the Monocle game.

And, not to harp on it, but the price issue could be addressed beyond just 'well some people think it's cheap!' that tends to belie, as several have pointed out, any stated intention to expand the boundaries of the discourse. And besides, as a friend of mine pointed out while we were checking out another $35 IDEO manifesto, how is the price not a design issue? Isn't this another factor that can be deliberately manipulated in the hands of a skilled designer? Especially if the goal is a wide audience ...

Apr 20, 07 3:07 pm

(actually we haven't deleted any responses. and were not here to curate or censor i'd just like to continue the dialogue in a direction where everyone can engage the topic. so far it's been excellent. bravo)

Apr 20, 07 3:23 pm
vado retro

take a running tab on your book, music, web, conversation, tv, film choices in the next few days. in the last few days i personally-

watched godard's contempt
watched survivor
read some zizek
looked at some books about de kooning, balthus and braqe
ate some brie cheese
had a burrito
listened to turkish groove music
listened to the stones
ate some thai food
did some architecture...
ate a klondike bar...
drank some chilean wine
its all a confluence my friends

Apr 20, 07 3:47 pm

hey can be a vado retro for a day or two? i'll get you some turkish groove music. no it is not 18 bucks silly.

Apr 20, 07 3:58 pm
won and done williams

i read the first part of this discussion at lunch after i had read a number of people's comments. i've been thinking it over for the better part of the afternoon, and i really have absolutely nothing to say about volume. i find it interesting that the most salient issue raised was the cost of the magazine. is that it?!

one of the best things about the discussion boards on archinect is the pace at which they change. the dialogue that opened this thread completely lacked that dynamism, and as steven pointed out seemed very much top down.

while the opening dialogue seemed full of vanguard posturing, i find it ironic that the real "agitators" are just a bunch of students and cad monkeys sneaking in a few lines between laying out detail sheets. it's a stark contrast between the two worlds, and i really feel much happier to be one of the cad monkeys.

Apr 20, 07 4:33 pm

For me this discussion is interesting in that we can inspect what is an "image" today, and how can we as architects move the idea of an image forward.

Ole Bouman: 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.

I think of literal vacancies, an "Obey" poster in a derelict alley--that for me is a vacancy for thought and action. Can a magazine occupy that space? For me, I need to feed on what is visceral, immediate. A film can do that sometimes because it emulates reality, and I can buy into it. I can't buy into a glossy-paged 'reality.'

Inaba: for Volume images are like words of speech. They make a statement, or a series may be used to make an argument. ... 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.

I like Inaba's challenge of what is 'reading'. I thought the spreads with the clothes and stuff minus the people were provocative, and read like a text.

lb: I recall an architect photographically documenting, within a very tight visual frame, the built condition of sidewalk/paving meeting vertical surface on the entirety of his walk to the office every day ... Now I could look a those pictures and extrapolate an entire universe of the stories contained in those images.

This kind of reminds me of Matta-Clark's photography zoomed in on the boundaries of various properties he owned in New York, as a way of questioning how we describe lines on a property map--they are marked with weeds, cracks, there is an infinite scale to explore inside the space of a line.


The magazine I read is printed on the concrete I walk on, read on doorknobs beneath my palms and viewed through the liquid window behind my eyes. It is the "now", and I'm not sure I could ever invest in the production of a magazine, and I distrust the image as we know it. I guess that's why I want to be an architect. I believe in the speaking power of space. I read space, and from that reading I make space. Where does a magazine fit into that equation?

Apr 20, 07 5:10 pm
Carl Douglas (agfa8x)

Some comments here raise the spectre of relevance. (How is an interview with a dog-whisperer relevant? How can examining the spread vectors of avian flu be relevant?) Questions of relevance presume that we already know what architecture is, that it is well defined field, and that any excursions into foreign territories must necessarily pay off with a triumphant return to familiar territory. If we must go outside, we must get a payoff in a currency with which we are familiar. Any architecture magazine that is even slightly critical has to question this spectre of relevance.

A fair number of other comments challenge that Volume's agitations amount to stylistic investments in an attention economy which are offensive in the face of an institutional elitism. How can yet another magazine, put out by a collection of architectural and social elites claim to be making any serious challenge to institutional orthodoxies?

I think people might be mistaking agitation for attempted revolution. A revolutionist's approach would say that we must overturn institutions and smash boundaries in order to produce change. Precisely the value of the concept of agitation for me is that it tries to work on the limits of architecture and its institutions rather than trying to escape or smash them.

Apr 20, 07 5:19 pm

@ John - not an accusation at all, I just thought that the disclaimer at the head of this discussion speaks really well to what's problematic/exciting about taking this kind of conversation to the web. Noise can drown out signal, and it's interesting to see the different ways that's handled. Carry on.

Duderino, that last paragraph was dope. Couldn't agree more.

Apr 20, 07 5:21 pm
Carl Douglas (agfa8x)

jafidler: reverse elitism?

Apr 20, 07 5:29 pm
won and done williams

i wouldn't call it reverse elitism. modes of discourse have changed very quickly in the last few years with blogs, myspace, etc. i'm not sure the establishment or the vanguard in this instance has really caught up. today most high schoolers are far more tech/media savvy than many people that have been trained in the industry. often i find the noise to be far more interesting than the signal.

Apr 20, 07 5:37 pm
Carl Douglas (agfa8x)
"modes of discourse have changed very quickly in the last few years with blogs, myspace, etc."

That's what people say, but I've yet to be convinced of it.

"today most high schoolers are far more tech/media savvy than many people that have been trained in the industry"

I thought this until I was teaching first-year. Now I think its rubbish.

You can't accuse the editors of Volume of 'vanguard posturing' while claiming that we are in fact the real techno-social vanguard engaging in practices they aren't sophisticated enough to understand.

Apr 20, 07 6:00 pm
" 'modes of discourse have changed very quickly in the last few years with blogs, myspace, etc.'

That's what people say, but I've yet to be convinced of it."

You do realize that you're posting this on a message board on the internet, right?

I kind of agree with jafidler that the noise is sometimes more interesting than the signal, but the problem is that you've gotta wade through so much bad noise to get to the good stuff!

Apr 20, 07 6:18 pm

sometimes you gotta wonder, are we just babbling, or could a revolution actually begin here, on this webspace, right now? do we even need to wait for a magazine to be printed? Yes, editing can be a good thing, but perhaps we can all be our own editors. They already have web filtering programs that deliver the content you want for you. We can learn how to wade through the 'bad noise' to find the productive dialogue within.

Apr 20, 07 6:25 pm
Carl Douglas (agfa8x)

I don't see anything strange about that. What I do think is a little strange is that claim that a message board is somehow a new discursive paradigm. Because it's displayed on a screen and the participants are far away from each other it's not just a conversation?

Apr 20, 07 6:27 pm

Because education is today an expensive commodity, and because magazines are at best advertising mediums and because architects are now seeking to commodify their research (abilities), I thought of Leon Krier's "The Consumption of Culture" in Oppositions /14 (1979).

first sentence:
"When the French Revolution ended with the political victory of the bourgeoisie, education, which had been the priviledge of a small class, became compulsory for every member of the new social order.

somewhere in the middle sentence:
"Kitch must then be identified as the most important cultural phenomenon of the industrial age, as the real Zeitgeist of the machine age.

last sentence:
"In that perspective, the self-destruction of humanity becomes obviously a moment of relief, relief from the urgency, ugliness , and futile agony.


Where/what exactly is the urgency?

Putting the content of all those old magazines online, now that would be a more worthwhile exhibit.

quick, before the deadline.

I think I know why Ernest Hemingway committed suicide.

Apr 20, 07 6:27 pm
vado retro

duderino you should check out found magazine. i think its less than 20 bones. as far as text being visual, that idea is about one hundred years old. however, as most people don't go back that far, here's something from the 60's...

Apr 20, 07 7:19 pm

priceless, of course

Apr 20, 07 9:11 pm
liberty bell
The magazine I read is printed on the concrete I walk on, read on doorknobs beneath my palms and viewed through the liquid window behind my eyes. It is the "now", and I'm not sure I could ever invest in the production of a magazine, and I distrust the image as we know it. I guess that's why I want to be an architect. I believe in the speaking power of space. I read space, and from that reading I make space.

el-dude, that is the most beautiful paragraph I've read in quite a long while. Thank-you for it, I'll be quoting it to my students (with due credit, of course).

Ole Bouman: 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.

Maybe it's only the act of turning the noun into a verb, but the first thought that popped into my head upon reading this was "scrapbooking" as in "I can't come over now, I haven't finished scrapbooking my son's first soccer game yet."

I do appreciate what Mr. Bouman means, though, and think it's an interesting and valid way of stating their intent. I mean in the end it is only a magazine, right? It's one more in a huge multitude of media we can access at every moment. I think it appropriate here to admit, though, that in my schedule I find it very hard to make time to read magazines, therefore at my house most magazines live in the bathroom.

Apr 20, 07 9:43 pm

I always appreciate Liberty Bell's realism towards things of this nature. But it hits to the fucking point, there are more important things to worry about.

Apr 21, 07 12:18 am

but i'm wondering if this isn't the spin and hype that this magazine wanted - playing the antagonist attempting to pole holes at my mate Orhan simply get this type of reaction. I makes the resistance in me stronger, seeking the need to rebel against this. Should be we boycott and add nothing further to this frenzy? Or am I also falling victim to its vile shit!

Apr 21, 07 12:20 am

Look up magazine in a good dictionary.
1 a: a place where good or supplies are stored
2 a: a place to store ammunition
Bouman states Volume's position well.
But the whole "kind of de-territorialized" stance is weak, tepid at best.

As an architect, with no practice, a dormant license, no ties to any institution, no real contact with other architects and very little real contact with other people, yet, via the internet, still operating within the architectural realm and even having some effect (big effect even if the full range from negative to positive is considered), I know all about de-territorialization because, as an architect, de-territory is the only place I am. [An interesting twist in this particular discussion (place) is that Mark Wigley is the only person here that has actually met me, and thus he knows just how de-territorialized I actually am.]

Oddly, de-territorialization is what provided me with an architectural comfort zone.

[note to self: how does bilocaton relate to de-territorialization? Is bilocation like a hyper inverted de-territorialization?]

Apr 21, 07 1:22 pm

i thought vado's list of his activities above was insightful, because it demonstrated a principle that i think moves past the question of whether a magazine can be vital in the way that the web is today. we get information, images, messages on the web, in books, in magazines, in films, in music, in the food we eat. none of these formats can claim priority, only different potentials. with the end of boeri's tenure at domus (a magazine that cost $35 per issue, and was still a powerful force in architectural discourse), there are fewer magazines that aspire to what volume has set as its agenda. whatever its failures or hypocrisies, it doesn't claim to have a monopoly on 'agitation', but only to be one voice among (hopefully) many. that said, criticism is often helpful and makes everyone sharper.

Apr 21, 07 3:30 pm
Carl Douglas (agfa8x)

I don't think we should be faulting Volume for failing to deterritorialise enough. Deterritorialisation and smooth space can never exist in a 'pure' form, so it makes sense that all deterritorialisations are 'kind-of' deterritorialisations.

Apr 21, 07 4:34 pm

Nothing's pure, that's a given anywhere. But there's a big difference between dipping one's toe in the water versus taking an all out plunge. I'm not faulting anyone, rather just giving de-territorialization more definition.

Apr 21, 07 8:07 pm
Carl Douglas (agfa8x)

Yes, you're right. I wasn't suggesting you in particular were faulting Volume for that. It just seemed to be the drift of the thread.

And I can't believe that Oppositions isn't available on any of the online journal databases. Seems such a no-brainer project.

Apr 21, 07 8:40 pm

Don't tell me you're suggesting Oppositions isn't de-territorialized enough!

Apr 21, 07 9:08 pm
vado retro

magazines exist to sell ad space. even the "articles" are advertisements. perhaps the 20 cover is to defray the printing costs etc. that said, just put the damn thing online. unless you are creating a sumptious loveable object for me to put on the coffee table, why bother? actually Bathroom Magazine is a good idea. all articles can be read in the time it takes to go number 2.

Apr 22, 07 8:50 am
vado retro

in fact, it could be called number 2.

Apr 22, 07 8:50 am
Ah, the reenactment of it all.
Apr 22, 07 1:00 pm
Sir Arthur Braagadocio

i want to see aml's questions answered.
vado retro is the king of one liners.
el_duderino is the dude man (think big lebowski), that paragraph was bitchin'.

de-territorialization as an architect falls into my category where i put deconstruction, something an architect does not do.

last week i had 2 crits all day for David Ruy's class and Rhett Russo's, and Ferda Kolaton was there as well the whole time...among the many topics discussed, one I think Ruy brought up a couple times was "composition"

to me all this magazining, blog discussion, etc... is just an outlet for composition by the architect.

the noise and signal point is a good one, delete a comment that doesn't go with the signal of Volume's version of agitation, this is a procedural step in the composition of this web blog...

the act of composition in architecture is always one of territorializing, even if it is attempting de-territorialization as Quondom's web appears to me...but while reading Quondom you'll get yourself re-territorialized somehow, and Quondom's territory is a territory, it's Quondom territory.

speaking with another architect who teaches drafting at CUNY, he pointed something out, that made me laugh at how obvious his statement was, and how obvious "trendy" etc... architecture is so opposed. "Drafting is a linear process." UPenn is all about non-linearity, the computer has made this process possible. Linearity and non-linearity are both modes of composition, and ultimately all things are linear, once finished and abstracted in retrospect chronologically.

why don't we discuss the very latent but obvious thing we never discuss...composition? isn't this what this is all about ultimately.

Apr 22, 07 3:10 pm

I think if Volume would take on the magazine publication industry more seriously, and actually try to take on challenges of operating a commercially viable publication, then perhaps it could reveal something important about the way these self-selecting architects think, or tell us something about their values, etc, but right now, they are a bunch of pretty books too feeble to be commercially viable with a very limited audience. I have attention deficit disorder and I find it far easier to read the economist than try to figure out a single topic in Volume ! Also, the pictures aren't even that pretty...I mean if Volume was to operate as a coffee table magazines like Surface or Vellum, than at least you've got to hire some quality image makers....

Apr 22, 07 3:59 pm
Sir Arthur Braagadocio

nonarchitect - perhaps their composition is directly related to them not wanting to take the magazine publication industry seriously?

"I mean if Volume was to operate as a coffee table magazines like Surface or Vellum, than at least you've got to hire some quality image makers...."

Apr 22, 07 4:10 pm
Carl Douglas (agfa8x)

They aren't trying to agitate the magazine business. They are trying to agitate architecture.

Apr 22, 07 5:38 pm

metamechanic, I referred to my stance as an architect as de-territorialized, but not to Quondam. defines itself as such.

My de-territorialized stance may be reflected within the content published at Quondam, but Quondam itself doesn't attempt de-territorialization any more than any other virtual place attempts de-territorialization.

If there is anything I learned via de-territorialization and Quondam it's that limits are not worth reaching for.

Apr 22, 07 7:59 pm
Apr 22, 07 8:20 pm

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