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What is the Zeitgeist of today?

back_forth

I am aware that it is hard to callout the spirit of our current time but I am curious to get some input on your opinions/thoughts. So far I've considered: individuality, social acceptance, information overload, interconnectivity, and an addiction/desire to always seek out the new, evolution at a faster pace. Does anyone see architecture being affected by a certain influence? 

 
Apr 16, 14 4:43 pm
citizen

As you say, this is difficult.  These things are typically defined (argued) retrospectively by historians in the next generation.  What's the rush?

Apr 16, 14 4:53 pm
back_forth

Just curious :)

Apr 16, 14 4:55 pm
accesskb

sustainable architecture

Apr 16, 14 5:07 pm
jla-x

I would say there is an awakening beginning, (environmental degradation, climate change, fascism, plutocracy...) but with it, the realization of our powerlessness.  Its a sad thing really.  It seems that the zeitgeist of today is all about dealing with the reality of powerlessness. 

I think novelty is related to this in some way...cant quite articulate it, but it seems that novelty is a benign form of revolution...Its satisfies our craving for change while not really aggravating the power structure...

Apr 16, 14 5:19 pm
back_forth

I like your thinking jla-x. The question is, are we truly powerless or is technology and connectivity making us more powerful and aware than ever before? Are we on the way to singularity as nanotechnology and other fields continue to push the boundaries of what it means to be human? 

Just thinking out loud. 

Apr 16, 14 5:26 pm
grneggandsam

Sit in the office and stay quiet.

Don't compete, concede.

Get a lobotomy to serve the plutocracy.

These I think are the recession era mantras.  Now, I feel something else starting to boil under the surface. People are getting tired of running in circles, and feel more free to reject it.

Apr 16, 14 5:47 pm
back_forth

I agree GRNEGGANDSAM. 

Perhaps that ties into the idea of individuality and people's ability/awareness to stand up for their beliefs? A greater sense of self and purpose perhaps? Being the master of your own journey?

Apr 16, 14 5:56 pm
grneggandsam

A greater sense of purpose and self is definitely what I see many people desiring.  Maybe we need to do a little fighting the hand that feeds us in order to learn to feed ourselves?

Apr 16, 14 6:02 pm

Does anyone see architecture being affected by a certain influence? 

Unrestrained capitalism. Otherwise known as celebratory self-extinction through gluttony.

Apr 16, 14 7:07 pm
archanonymous

Sustainable building practices. Community engagement and development.

 

I see alot of people expressing interest in charting a third path between globalization and free trade and the "artisinal" or "maker" movement. Something like local or regional business and community organizations which can serve communities better than multi-national organizations, but still reach the necessary size to achieve economies of scale. 

Apr 16, 14 7:11 pm
curtkram

you're seeing artisinal and free trade and whatnot in the profession of architecture?  or is that in ancillary trades or just general life?

i'm surprised no one has said 'parametricism' or 'parametricism in a post-ford economy,' as i thought that was the current zeitgeist. 

oh well.  my vote is for 'modernism' to be the current zeitgeist.

Apr 16, 14 8:16 pm
chatter of clouds

"I see alot of people expressing interest in charting a third path between globalization and free trade and the "artisinal" or "maker" movement. Something like local or regional business and community organizations which can serve communities better than multi-national organizations, "

And I see a lot of multi-national companies hiding behind the sold-off fronts/brands of local business to swindle the naive lot of people who think they're buying equitable, ethical, local, organic, hippy hemp-seed stuff that is going to make them feel cleaner,  more removed from violence, more abstract, further away from their political systems and from the realities of what their tax money, governments and so on are like.

in short, i see the development of that trajectory of rampant capitalist and the further incarceration of people, especially within themselves: the very internal mind and thoughts of these people privatized, their very identity made into the subject and object of their perception of the world. people will be increasingly going to yoga as they increasingly send drones to kill others in impoverished parts of the world. in other words, you get two for the price of one...the image of nonviolence and the substance of violence. you don't touch but you kill. you have at last severed the umbilical chord that ties action to culpability. you are the hybrid conclusion of the 60s flower power child and the pure bottom-line capitalist, the pretentious self-chosen escapist innocence of the former perfectly in harmony with the cold, calculating, materialist realism of the latter. the first in you provides you with the absolution for the sins committed by the second. 

it is no surprise that the period preceding this one was so obsessed with deleuze then, who used figured abstractions exchangeable with reality. i would therefore suggest that the zeitgeist is a post-deleuzian one, which is to say a post- delusionian one. post not in the sense of paradigmatically breaking away as much as syntagmatically being a consequence. 

Apr 16, 14 8:23 pm
toasteroven

in terms of architecture - two major trends I've observed recently:

 

1.  multi-modalism - meaning, more value is being placed on being in and making places where people can get around by means other than car.  (I guess this could be further reduced to redundancy in systems and distributed networks).

 

2.  quality and craft - there's more interest in materiality and things that have high craft value over novel forms.

Apr 16, 14 8:52 pm
won and done williams

I see alot of people expressing interest in charting a third path between globalization and free trade and the "artisinal" or "maker" movement.

I find the artisanal and maker movements really interesting, but haven't seen them expressed so much at the architectural scale. Architecture generally requires more capital than what the maker movement is fueled on. Perhaps pop-ups and pop-up design are a bit of an offshoot, but unfortunately there isn't really the economic model to support it (that is much of its appeal). Most of the pop-up design I've seen locally has been done with next to zero budget, and the designers were not paid for their work (most of the designers are students or recent [unemployed] grads). I would personally love to see "craft" design scaled, but the challenge I think is to do it in such a way that avoids it becoming Pottery Barn.

Apr 17, 14 9:21 am
grneggandsam

I like the maker movement as well.  I went to a "maker faire" not long ago- and realized it was geared mostly to kids and their 30 year old parents who were interested in the stuff.  The next generation of kids is going to blow us away with their knowledge of 3d printing and robotics.  It is for this reason I've started to teach myself a bit about robotics.  I bought an arduino and have learned some basic programming.  You can either learn to compete or complain, its your choice.

 

As far as pop-ups go - there's been a lot of debate about them in DC.  The establishment loves to rail on them.  I think its in the culture of DC to shoot down any individual who is trying to make it by doing something productive outside of a gigantic corporation.  I think its really economic jealousy - people see providing more space as intimidating because scarcity raises home prices and most are incapable for adding more living space to the city.

 

Unfortunately, research indicates that if zoning didn't exist or were seriously scaled back, the housing bubble never would have formed.  Look at Houston - little to no zoning and little to no housing bubble.  In the modern economy we are creating our own problems to fight.

Apr 17, 14 11:37 am
DeTwan

It is called the "cottage" industry and it is building rather fast right now in America.

If you make and sell something on Etsy, you are part of the cottage industry. I do believe that it stems from lack of social mobility within the current society. People are sick of being pigeon'd in current jobs and constantly being stepped on by their employers. The architecture industry should be helping the cottage industry too. There should be tons of tired and abused people leaving "architecture", to take there skills elsewhere. And if society does not appreciate the skill sets that people in architecture can provide outside of the architecture world, then they should start working for themselves.

That is exactly what I did for myself about 9 months ago. I couldn't make more than $17 an hour. So I told my old boss to go shove it and started producing art. Most people laugh at the thought, especially architect types. Oh, I'm too good to waste my time making art, I want to contribute to society. Or, there is no money in art.... BS!

You have to take clues from your environment, and we live in a consumeristic culture, use it to your advantage! Or you could sit there and hope that you're climbing a ladder for yourself and not someone else.

For me the turning point was when the definition of insanity was my daily route.

Shortly after I left my $17 an hour job, a guy a year older than my boss started working at the firm for $13.50 and hour, plus he knew Revit!

I was easily replaced.

How easy are you replaced?

Here is my shop on Etsy.com

https://www.etsy.com/shop/DantonRezosDesigns

Please go and check it out, and if you have a client that needs a lot of art, I wholesale... and you could make money too just for the recommendation!

Apr 17, 14 11:47 am
grneggandsam

DeTwan - I like your art, nice work!  I avoid large corporations whenever possible. I know the chipotles and "pretend eco-small businesses" of the world are mostly fakes.  I go to a burrito restaurant located in an alley nearly every other day for lunch just because its one of the few lunch places nearby which I know is locally owned and affordable.  I would love to make all my spending directed towards companies off the stock market, if possible, and am constantly searching out new ways to do so.  I had an idea to develop an app that allows people to identify items manufactured locally on a map, but I've always been too busy to develop it.

Apr 17, 14 12:18 pm
toasteroven

Look at Houston - little to no zoning and little to no housing bubble

 

There were several cities where real-estate values weren't really hit that hard by the recession - it was largely areas with a lot of exurban speculation.   And Houston does actually have regulations for lot sizes, land use, and parking - they just don't call it zoning.

Apr 17, 14 2:12 pm
jla-x

I like your thinking jla-x. The question is, are we truly powerless or is technology and connectivity making us more powerful and aware than ever before? Are we on the way to singularity as nanotechnology and other fields continue to push the boundaries of what it means to be human?

More aware yes, more powerful, not so sure.  We are in a prison without bars.  Our power is stifled by our domestication.  For instance we are like house cats...We have the ability to hunt, kill, essentially be self sufficient but we are imprisoned by our natural survival mechanism that seeks the path of least resistance and easiest source of "food"...  We are imprisoned by comfort.  To convince ourselves that we are not prisoners, we seek to control our space within the limits of our role as "domestic cat."  like the domestic cat plays with his stuffed mouse...hiding under the coffee table as if in the bush, we play free human without being truly free.  We create a fantasy of freedom to satisfy our inner desire towards free will without breaking from the hand that feeds us.  We essentially create novel ways of experiencing the illusion of our true desires without really ever reaching them...As the cat realizes that he is less of a wild cat and more of a pet (as we are due to a heightened awareness via the information age), he will rebel/resist by playing wild cat...but will keep returning for his bowl of food and will pee in the litter box so to not upset the owner.

Apr 17, 14 2:15 pm
jla-x

This is kinda where im at on a personal level...

Im completely dissatisfied with this society, but Im reluctant to purchase a blow gun and move into the jungle...So instead...I am trying to find tickets to burning man to feed my desire for freedom and community....Tickets were originally 400$.  They sold 60k tickets in 45 min.  Now they are being sold on the black market for like 700$...the illusion of freedom is a good business I guess. 

Apr 17, 14 2:23 pm
grneggandsam

Toaster - you are right about the land use restrictions in Houston.  I would support making the roadways more pedestrian friendly and removing the parking / lot size restrictions.  Making sure crematoriums aren't planted next to your favorite park - I'll let those restrictions stay as well.  We've just gone too far with everything else, thinking more rules means a better designed society.  unfortunately, the rules we make can also be exploited.

Apr 17, 14 2:33 pm
curtkram

blow gun?  today, people buy ar-15s and go to nevada to point their new toys at american police officers.

Apr 17, 14 3:15 pm
toasteroven

@grneggandsam  (and others)

 

you might be interested in a couple recent nytimes articles highlighted here

 

interesting take-away is that lack of long-term job security seems to be a big driving force away from suburban living for a whole generation of young-ish adults - sort of in the same vein of this idea about emergence of "the new cottage industry" and our increasing reliance on human capital and face-to-face connections (which is enhanced and maintained through social media) in order to keep bread on the table.

Apr 17, 14 3:52 pm
Erik Evens (EKE)

I'll only tell you what the "zeitgeist of today" is, if you promise me that you won't try to design buildings that somehow reflect the "zeitgeist of today".

"Nothing ages faster than yesterday's vision of the future."

-Witold Rybczynski

Apr 17, 14 4:52 pm
back_forth

EKE 

Don't worry, I'm not trying to design buildings that reflect the Zeitgeist of today. It's more of a research/analysis exercise that I'm curious about with regards to the built environment today. 

By the way, thanks to everyone who's contributed, there are some great thoughts and theories and I really appreciate it!

Apr 17, 14 4:56 pm
chatter of clouds

More aware yes, more powerful, not so sure.  We are in a prison without bars.  Our power is stifled by our domestication.  For instance we are like house cats...We have the ability to hunt, kill, essentially be self sufficient but we are imprisoned by our natural survival mechanism that seeks the path of least resistance and easiest source of "food"... jla-x

 

first who is "we"? if there is a "we" is there a "they"? and if so, are you able to identify "they"? 

I believe that what you point out, jla-x, is not the disease...it is a symptom, a psychosomatic one. 

if you are able to identify who is "they", for instance, that would be something tangible, a tangible address from which your ailment emanates. 

but going on about it as if has no cause...is quite pathetic really. pathetic intellectually i a mean. what are you going to do next? ask us to slap you around as you whimper?  

it is really good that you bring up that burning man thing and the exorbitant costs for attending it. you think its just ironic...no, its also pathetic. you're not buying liberty, you're being a sanctioned pretend liberty. you're buying a product and manufacturing a huge company in the process. what are you gaining, seriously? a piec of personal liberty from what exactly? the liberty for individualistic expression...you want to show people that you have an independant personality? you want to prove that you mean anything?

all these questions, in my opinion, are part of the problem. you people are so up your individualistic asses (sorry, there is another person surfacing in me currently, he'll go away in a bit, don;t worry) that you don't see that this is exactly your problem and the source of your bipolarity....greed one one end and  passivity on the other. what a fucked up non-society.

instead of running away to the desert, your only possible solution is going back to the polis, to politics. your public needs to go back to politics and not to hand it over to the creepy ones and you go party your sorry ass out in a god forsaken desert. 

Apr 17, 14 7:11 pm

You vote with your wallet. The fatter it is the more votes you have. The bottom 95% have less votes than the top 5%.

Apr 17, 14 7:24 pm
jla-x

Tammuz, I was pointing out the absurdity of it all.  I agree that it is a symptom of the real problem which IMO is the concentration of power in the hands of the few.  The few=they. The masses = us.  I disagree with you about individualism.  Individuals make up the society.  We are not eusocial organisms like ants.  We are also not solitary creatures like snakes.  We are not herd animals either.  We humans are both individual and social.  This basic human need for individualism and social networks is not a "western" condition it is a human condition.  Since the earliest societies individuals found ways to stand out and claim individuality be it through dress, jewelry, art, body paint, etc.   this is an anthropological constant not an anomaly unique to western society.  The only reason this seems absent in some parts of the world is because it is supressed with force and religious extremism.  my point to the op was that IMO we will see more fantasy and novelty because novelty allows us to exert the illusion of freedom and control without upsetting the hand that feeds us.  Not saying this is good or acceptable at all just an observation of the current state of things.   

Apr 18, 14 12:35 am
jla-x

One more point on individuality...in western society we have egocentrism not individualism.  There's a difference.  

Apr 18, 14 12:44 am
jla-x

Also Tammuz, I think your point about the hybrid of flower child and capitalist is spot on. 

Apr 18, 14 2:32 am
johngrabowski

I don't intend this to be a form of self promotion but it really is relevant. I am coming out with a collection of short fiction whose purpose is very much to examine our zeitgeist. That zeitgeist is more than one thing, although chatter of clouds' comment about the flower child/capitalist hybrid is one of the major themes of one of the stories, "Haydn," the longest and most thematically complex I've ever written. These themes have long interested and obsessed me—hence my stumbling upon this thread—and I would love to see what some of the erudite commenters here think of the works. Many of the comments here are, to my mind, spot on, yet of course it's impossible to sum up everything that's going on in these times. The collection will be called Violet Rothko and Other Stories, and will be released by Millennium in September, available in all the usual places. 

Jun 14, 19 5:44 pm
Non Sequitur

The answer is 42.

curtkram

the zeitgeist for today is PAINT IT ALL BEIGE

or, it's all about density and parking garages.

Jun 14, 19 6:32 pm

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