a whole bunch of...


...objectified deterritorialization

The last chapter of Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture is entitled “The Obligation Toward the Difficult Whole:”

“An architecture of complexity and accomodation does not forsake the whole. In fact, I have referred to a special obligation toward the whole because the whole is difficult to achieve. And I have emphasized the goal of unity rather than of simplification in an art “whose . . . truth [is] in its totality.” It is the difficult unity through inclusion rather than the easy unity through exclusion. Gestalt psychology considers a perceptual whole the result of, and yet more than, the sum of its parts. A complex system in Herbert A. Simon’s definition includes “a large number of parts that interact in a non-simple way.” The difficult whole in an architecture of complexity and contradiction includes multiplicity and diversity of elements in relationships that are inconsistent or among the weaker kinds perceptually.”

“But an architecture of of complexity and contradiction also embraces the “difficult” number of parts--the duality, and the medium degrees of multiplicity.”

Piero della Francesca, Flagellation of Christ, ca. 1455-60.

“Gestalt psychology also shows that the nature of parts, as well as their number and position, influences a perceptual whole and it also has made a further distinction: the degree of wholeness can vary. Parts can be more or less whole in themsleves, or, to put it in another way, in greater or lesser degree they can be fragments of a greater whole.”

Sir John Vanbrugh, Blenheim Palace, 1704-20.

The last paragraph: “Some valid lessons of Pop Art, involving contradictions of scale and context, should have awakened architects from prim dreams of pure order, which, unfortunately, are imposed in the easy Gestalt unities of the urban renewal projects of establishment Modern architecture and yet, fortunately are really impossible to achieve at any great scope. And it is perhaps from the everyday landscape, vulgar and distained, that we can draw the complex and contradictory order that is valid and vital for our architecture as an urbanistic whole.”

Typical Main Street, U.S.A.

Around the same time, Romaldo Giurgola wrote :Reflections on Buildings and the City: The Realism of the Partial Vision:”

“But if the partial vision is operating, if one is making the city the range of man’s sight and sense, if the pretense of an abstract global image does not substitute itself for the realtiy of a measurable condition, then the building is no longer confined to the role of an anonymous box, nor does it need to become involved in an arid game of plastic acrobatics in order to assert its presence.”

Mitchell/Giurgola Architects, Strawberry Square, Harrisburg, PA, 1979.


“The Objectification of the Deterritorialized Whole[nesses]”

extreme wholeness

fertile wholeness

conceptual wholeness

assimilating wholeness

metabolic wholeness

pregnant wholeness

osmotic wholeness

electro-magnetic wholeness

omni-frequency wholeness

next chapter?
“The Objectification of the Deterritorialized Partial Vision”

Aug 31, 12 5:34 pm

wtf did I just read?

one day you will grow up (even end up working on actual bricks 'n' shit), and realize the difference between production vs observation.

Venturi belongs in a creationist museum.

Aug 31, 12 9:51 pm
boy in a well

actually i thought this was one the clearer posts from Suzie Q


having read that blog post - whosever it was - about wholeness, this is refreshing.

Sep 1, 12 1:11 am

yes nice way of dispelling that blog

Sep 1, 12 2:32 am
chatter of clouds

Quondam, The Ka'ba -within the system of pilgrimage, hajj and everyday routine prayer directed thereto- would seem to fit your understanding of electromagnetic architecture. it is only 'conceptual' in the way any of the pillars of the belief are; namely as nodes channeling one's practice, and therefore belief, through and into islam. but conceptual per force, i think not really.

Why - in what way- is the villa savoye assimilative?

what do you mean by omni-frequency?

correct me if i'm wrong, but i understand that you are only able to describe any of those above as "wholeness" due to their conceptual integrity as systems unto themselves. however, i find it contradictory (and i mean it not in an eventually/implicitly harmonious way per venturi) that you would mention Venturi's 'diffcult whole' in this context. the 'difficult whole', if i understand it well, is that which comes after the fact - the fact of perceiving so to speak. it is an intuitive easifying (if thats a word) of the difficult whole - which is not so difficult. and Gestalt occurs inspite of our preconceived and prescriptive ordering reason. but the imagination systems you construe are highly synthetic and conceptual relying on recongizing a minimal and definite modus operandi/force field ( be it equilibrium/exchange (osmosis), synthesis/phagism(metabolic)...etc). unlike the easifying of difficulty, yours would be intensifying the easy minimalism of a singular law of action (whether that law creates an open or closed system) deduced metaphorically. could one therefor say that all the wholenesses you refer to are "tropic wholenesses"?

Sep 1, 12 12:45 pm

As mentioned by the second and third posters, this thread is a reaction to the "perennial whole" blog and its comments.

tammuz, you slip a bit in your opening statements (regarding the Ka'ba). You are presuming to know what my understanding of "electro-magnetic architecture" is, thus your comment more only stems from your understanding (--or at least tell us what you see my understanding of "electro-magnetic architecture" to be). It is not the Ka'ba itself that I see presenting a "conceptual wholeness," rather it is the perennial event of which the Ka'ba is the center that presents a conceptual wholeness (of Islam).

The Villa Savoye presents an extreme case of assmilating wholeness because the elements of architecture have been so absorbed to the point of 'ethnic cleansing', thus, if not exactly manifesting a 'racially pure' architecture, at least a highly homogenized architecture.

I'm still trying to come to grips with "omni-frequency" myself. The gist of the notion, however, emanates from the concentrated confluence of all the senses to the point of an enveloping cognition.

In "The Obligation Toward the Difficult Whole" Venturi speaks to the ease of designing a whole (building) via exclusion versus the difficulty of designing a whole (building) via inclusion. I find it interesting that Giurgola, at the same time (and place), wrote about taking the "partial view" toward design(ing). I hope to investigate this coincidence more closely, and both examples begin this thread in reaction to the 'perennial whole' blog.

To say "that all the wholenesses [I] refer[red] to are "tropic wholenesses"" is to prematurely reterritorialize the "systems". I am not using 'fertile', 'assimilating', 'metabolic', etc. as "figures of speech in which the words are used in a sense different from their literal meaning" (i.e., trope). What I have done is deterritorialize (although still keep whole) the literal meanings of the words (from [describing] operational systems of the body to [describing] operational systems of the imagination).



Sep 2, 12 9:49 am
chatter of clouds

i actually have read a bit of your entries on electromagnetic architecture and the others; this is why i felt i could engage with this further. and also harkening from a predominantly islamic background, i could relate to your notion of an architectural electromagnet in connection to the hajj more than to a more conceptually static, and in this context-from what i understand- less interesting (because it is somewhat mute, representative (not active) and not observed from the without not the within) conceptual wholeness. of course, this is my understanding - i might have missed out on other nuances.

by tropic, i meant that these systems work in a similar manner to the tropes (metaphor, metonym, analogy...etc) - not that they are themselves objects of these tropes (therefore tropic not troped). what i mean is that the same conceptual bond relates one entity to another within the same system and the nature of this bond is the law: be it proximity, similitude, affinity...etc. or with your systems: agglomeration, equilibrium, motivation..etc. i am not territorializing these systems as they are unto themselves -conceptually- sovereign abstractions.

again, if i'm seeing this wayward...

Sep 2, 12 12:04 pm

Here's what I've found relative to 'electromagnetic architecture' at Quondam:

1999.03.19 14:37

...osmosis is "equalize the concentrations on either side of the membrane." This speaks directly, if you will, to inside and outside and the melding/meshing of the two [or more]. Osmotic architecture starts from there.

The kidneys are the second most osmotic organ within our body.
The lungs are the foremost osmotic organ within our body.

The heart is the foremost electromagnetic organ within our body.

Corporally (biologically), our electricity comes from salt (an electrified atom in our blood stream), and the iron in our blood (iron spontaneously magnetizes) supplies our magnetism. The S-A node of the heart concentrates the salt/electricity within the blood and this concentration then creates the electric 'spark' that intensifies the magnetism within the blood's iron, and thus the heart beats/pumps. The human heart is probably this highest order of 'machine' on this planet because what it pumps is what makes it pump -- the utmost in efficiency and sustainability.

Is electromagnetic architecture then that which continually strives toward becoming an architecture where what it facilitates is also what makes it a facilitator?

Is electromagnetic architecture that architecture which strives toward being the most efficient and sustainable?

Electromagnetic radiation is the definition of light. (Light, as far as science can presently tell, is an electromagnetic duality.) Electromagnetic architecture in its purest sense is [also] an architecture of light.

...the relationship between electromagnetic architecture and osmotic architecture... ...our heart is surrounded by the lungs--electomagnetism surrounded by osmosis.

I do not see the body as a metaphor for architecture, rather I see the physiological operations of our body--metabolism, assimilation, fertility, osmosis, electromagnetism, etc.--as also being the imaginative operations of our mind.

I do not believe in a separation between the body and the mind. As our assimilating sciences increasingly tell us, we are what our DNA/body makes us. I simply see the way that DNA informs our body how to assimilate, metabolize, osmosify, electromagnify, etc., as being the same way our DNA informs our mind to assimilate, metabolize, osmosify, electromagnify, etc.

Architecture then can well be seen as a product of our respective assimilating, metabolizing, osmosifying, electro-magnetizing (etc.) imaginations.

I see very little need for humanity to look beyond itself in order to explain itself and how it operates.



Re: Osmosis /Electromagnatism /(An)Architecture

The definition of osmosis you supplied is indeed the first definition of osmosis, but there are several others:

a process of absorption, interaction, or diffusion suggestive of the flow of osmotic action: as an interaction or interchange (as of cultural groups of traits) by mutual penetration esp. through a separating medium : a usually effortless often unconscious absorption or assimilation (as of ideas or influences) by seemingly general permeation

These subsequent definitions of osmosis relate rather well to architecture, as I've already mentioned, particularly to the architectural notions of transition from outside to inside and vice versa. I see the Pantheon in Rome and Kahn's Kimbell Art Museum as extremely fine examples of osmotic architecture. Furthermore, the Pantheon and the Kimbell are also extremely fine examples of electromagnetic architecture because they are both consummate examples of an architecture of light (i.e., electromagnetic radiation).

I am not here proposing that the above interpretations are the only correct interpretations of these buildings and the definitions under discussion, but I'm rather making connections between corporal physiological processes and architectures that for the most part haven't been made before.


tammuz, if you had said that the Ka'ba acts as the heart of Islam, then, yes, the Ka'ba  presents an electromagnetic architecture. This doesn't really change, however, the perennial event of which the Ka'ba is the center presenting a 'conceptual wholeness'.

Also, the fact that you're the one changing the words I use, makes your system more tropic.


Sep 2, 12 1:32 pm
chatter of clouds

actually, i had read the first of your quondam posts (E-M-A). suffice to say that you haven't stated anything that is not in tandem with how i understand our terms. i won't go over what i've gone over already.

about the Ka'ba...i wouldn't cal it a heart of Islam; the heart of islam is much more likely to be understood as  the Koran. however, Ka'ba is the heart (engine) of the the hajj ritual, itself a pillar of the religion. it creates a direction and a force that emanates outwards to every moslem on the globe. hence prayers converging in that focal point. so yes, i was talking about the Kaaba as the heart of that ritual to a large extent (there are other focal places in Mecca that constitute vital pilgramage stops within the hajj ritual - other hearts so to speak). perhaps to aid, you could see the complementary presence of the believers around the ka'ba as a synecdochal representation of the umma (the sum of islamic people and systems)...therefore, more precisely a synecdochal representation of conceptual wholeness, i can accept that.

Sep 2, 12 2:09 pm
chatter of clouds

our? your terms...but i'm sure you'll find the error amusing

Sep 2, 12 2:16 pm

tammuz, thanks for the back and forth. It's helped in making my thinking a little bit clearer. I only wish I presently had more time to work on this stuff.

Sep 2, 12 3:52 pm

Without consideration for aggregate exurban networks capturing algorithmic armatures across targeted integrated thresholds at various phase-states, Venturi is quite simply full of crap.

Sep 2, 12 7:05 pm

Venturi & Mrs. Brown, have been a load of crap for over thirty-five years. What I cannot believe is that someone is still reading that dreck, and taking it seriously enough to write about it!


The world has turned a few times since Bob wrote that thesis, written before the personal computer was built.

Sep 2, 12 9:19 pm
tranz kafka

Thank you Quondam and t a m m u z. That was quite good.

Now let the idiots start shitting on what they don't have capacity to think about! Shut the fuck up you mor'a'ns. I am sick and tired of you degrading every intelligent dialog in most vulgar and distracting ways. It's always the same jerks. Why don't you start "I sucked my own asshole" thread and go fingerfuck yourselves in it.

Sep 2, 12 10:07 pm

Thanks zero fraction. When I see Jaffe and Wynne trying hard to project "full of crap" and "a load of crap for over thirty-five years," all I get is that themselves are mightily constipated--the classic frustration makes it all too obvious. I can now also better imagine what someone might look like after being constipated for over thirty-five years.

Sep 3, 12 8:48 am
Erik Evens (EKE)

So anything written before the last turn or two of the earth should be dismissed? How the hell are humans ever to accumulate wisdom?

Sep 4, 12 1:26 am

Venturi's architecture is actually worse that his writing. As far as accumulating wisdom goes, we can learn from the mistakes of others. As far as zero fraction goes, the name fits.

Sep 4, 12 12:23 pm

Miles, please post your platitudes elsewhere, as there is no wisdom to be gained from your mistakes.

Sep 4, 12 12:49 pm

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