Remembering Paul Virilio
Announcement that French cultural theorist and planner Paul Virilio died last week came September 18, the day after his funeral in Paris. Former director of the École Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris and partner in architectural practice with Claude Parent, Virilio was widely known as a philosophical commentator on modern culture. In his book A Landscape of Events, translated by Julie Rose for the Writing Architecture series, Virilio writes, “A landscape has no fixed meaning, no privileged vantage point. It is oriented only by the itinerary of the passerby. . . . The landscape is a passage – the data transfer accident of the present to the most recent past.” Bernard Tschumi writes in his foreword, “In Virilio’s global temporary space, landscapes become a random network of pure trajectories whose occasional collisions suggest a possible topography,” one of events, or accidents. In “An Architect’s Crime,” his essay in Log 1, Virilio writes, after 9/11, “that the skyscraper, like any other ‘technical object,’ necessarily entails the creation of a new kind of specific accident.” Virilio appears too in Log 7 with “The Accident in Time,” Log 13/14, “Critical Space,” and Log 23, “The Insecurity of History.” To honor Paul, this last essay can be read here. As McKenzie Wark writes in Frieze, Virilio “is one of those special (and in a way accursed) writers who was right about things we don’t really want to know.” Things we may not want to know, but certainly need to consider. Thank you, Paul, for that reminder.
Log 43 responds to the many geometries seen in contemporary forms with “The Issue of Geometry,” a special section guest edited by architectural designer and educator Cameron Wu. Some 25 years after the digital revolution of the ’90s, Wu asks, “If we are now armed with a more mature understanding of instrumental design tools, how do we reanimate geometry as a design protagonist rather than a mere design enabler or incidental outcome?” The architects’ responses range from Peter Carl’s interest in rhythm to Iman Fayyad’s perspectival anomalies; from Wes Jones’s reassessment of the many relationships of geometry and architecture to Patrik Schumacher’s advocating for tectonism; from Andrew Witt’s concept of “grayboxing” to George L. Legendre’s form haiku. Wu also offers geometric analyses of five recent buildings, and artist Olafur Eliasson, architect Preston Scott Cohen, and architect Henry N. Cobb talk about their advanced uses of geometry. Log 43 also features essays on architecture’s withdrawal from and engagement with architectural austerity, the architecture of crypto mining, and Miesian materiality, as well as a conversation with Japanese architect Hiromi Fujii.
“The baggage that phenomenology carries with it in architectural discourse is weighty,” writes guest editor Bryan E. Norwood in Log 42. “This issue of Log aims to lighten the load, or at the very least redistribute it.”
Subtitled “Disorienting Phenomenology,” the thematic 204-page Winter/Spring 2018 issue presents 18 essays by philosophers, theorists, art and architectural historians, and architects that range from Mark Jarzombek’s close reading of the first three sentences in Husserl’s Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology to Caroline A. Jones’s historical analysis of phantom phenomena in Doug Wheeler’s work Synthetic Desert; from Charles L. Davis’s speculations on an architectural phenomenology of blackness to Adrienne Brown’s look at the role of space in producing racialization. In addition, Norwood – himself a philosopher/architect – talks with Jorge Otero-Pailos, author of Architecture’s Historical Turn: Phenomenology and the Rise of the Postmodern, a key reassessment of the idea of architectural phenomenology first put forth in the mid 20th century.
As Norwood concludes, “Architecture doesn’t need a phenomenology; it needs phenomenologies.” Log 42 is a critical observation of those phenomenologies that reflects architecture’s and society’s increasing awareness of the sociocultural richness to be had in diversity.
On Accident: Episodes in Architecture And Landscape
by Edward Eigen
The Writing Architecture series is pleased to announce a new book, On Accident, a collection of writings by Edward Eigen, “architectural history’s most beguiling essayist” (as Reinhold Martin calls him in the book’s foreword). Eigen illuminates the unfamiliar, the arcane, and the obscure – phenomena largely missing from architectural and landscape history. His essays do not walk in a straight line but wander across uncertain territories, discovering sunken forests, unclassifiable islands, inflammable skies, unvisited shores, and plagiarized tabernacles. Gleaning new insights from Foucault, Hamlet, Olmsted, the High Line, and London’s Houses of Parliament, among a wealth of other things, Eigen compares his work to the “gathering up of seeds that fell by the wayside.” The seedlings create in the reader’s imagination a dazzling display of the particular, the contingent, the incidental, and the singular, all in search of a narrative that Eigen provides. As one critic writes, “[Eigen’s] prose is bound to capture careful or casual readers.”
Anyspace has opened its second year with “Drawings’ Conclusions: The Ends of the Line.” The exhibition of contemporary architectural drawings runs through March 3, in the Anyspace pop-up gallery at 59 Franklin Street in New York City. First seen at the SCI-Arc Gallery in Los Angeles, the show assembles 60 drawings by 13 architects, work that engages in the conceptual, technical, and sometimes personal potential of drawing during the time of architecture’s transition from hand drawing to digital representation. “Drawings’ Conclusions” was curated by Jeffrey Kipnis and produced by Andrew Zago and Laura Bouwman.
Click here for more information about the exhibition and architects’ gallery talks.
Log 41 both observes the state of architecture today and devotes 114 pages to a special section called Working Queer, guest-edited by architect Jaffer Kolb. From Hans Tursack’s commentary on “shape architecture” to Michael Young’s valuation of parafiction as a critique of realism; from Lisa Hsieh’s examination of modernology in Japan to Cynthia Davidson’s conversation with Martino Stierli, Log 41 considers both history and the contemporary. In Working Queer, nineteen authors take a similar look at history and the contemporary in articles ranging from homo-fascism in early 20th-century aesthetics to trans gender bathroom typologies for today, as well as methods of work, materials, and mediation that can all be considered queer, or queering, in our pluralist, mediated world.
The Second Digital Turn: Design Beyond Intelligence
by Mario Carpo
We are excited to announce Mario Carpo’s newest addition to the Writing Architecture Series, The Second Digital Turn. Designers have been toying with machine thinking and machine learning for some time, creating physical shapes of unfathomable complexity that express a new form of artificial intelligence, outside the tradition of modern science and alien to the organic logic of our minds. This intellectual “memoir” follows Carpo’s previous Writing Architecture Series book The Alphabet and the Algorithm, in which he explored the shifting paradigm of digital technologies. Pushing beyond digital making, in The Second Digital Turn Carpo explores today’s digital tools for thinking. Both books may be purchased directly from publisher MIT Press or wherever excellent books are sold.
Log 40 assembles a wide-ranging collection of thoughtful essays on some of the most urgent questions and debates in architecture today, bringing them into dialogue with those of architecture’s recent past. The legacy and current status of architectural images are considered from radically different vantages, in Brett Steele’s anecdotal discourse on Zaha Hadid’s 1983 painting The World (89 Degrees), John May’s exacting dissection of “architecture after imaging,” and Hana Gründler’s exploration of the ethical implications of drawing borderlines. The issue features commentary by two contemporary architects on contemporary buildings: V. Mitch McEwen on David Adjaye’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, and Elisabetta Terragni on OMA’s Fondazione Prada in Milan. Other highlights include an excerpt from Noah’s Ark, the new collection of Hubert Damisch’s singular writings on architecture; a lively response by Mark Foster Gage to Michael Meredith’s recent Log essay on indifference; and a sampling of new domestic objects designed by architects.
July 25–September 12, 2017
Center for Architecture, New York
Anyspace will launch its exhibition program on Tuesday, July 25, 2017, with “This Future Has a Past,” created by Katherine Lambert and Christiane Robbins. “This Future Has a Past” presents a single work by the late California architect Gregory Ain – his Exhibition House for America's middle class, the second house to be built in the garden of the Museum of Modern Art, in 1950 – alongside documentation of his “un-American activities” collected during the McCarthy era. J. Edgar Hoover deemed Ain “the most dangerous architect in America.” The fate of Ain’s Exhibition House after the show closed is still unknown. Archival FBI files and MoMA press documents, a newly constructed model of the 1950 Exhibition House, and a series of lenticular images created by Lambert + Robbins call attention to this little-known bi-coastal architectural history.
The Architectural Imagination now at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum, Los Angeles
Through September 23, 2017
The Architectural Imagination, the exhibition of 12 speculative architectural projects curated by Cynthia Davidson and Mónica Ponce de León for the US Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale International Architecture Exhibition, is now on view at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum, Los Angeles. Organized by the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning and the Anyone Corporation, the show began in Venice, where it was seen by a record-breaking audience in the US Pavilion, and traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (seen here) this past spring.
For the Biennale, Davidson and Ponce de León challenged 12 visionary American architectural practices to imagine new programs and forms for four sites in Detroit, which they selected from the recommendations of an 11-member Detroit advisory group: the Packard Plant, a USPS sorting facility, the Dequindre Cut Greenway, and Mexicantown/Southwest Detroit.
The 12 architecture teams are: A(n) Office, Detroit; BairBalliet, Columbus, OH, and Chicago; Greg Lynn FORM, Los Angeles; Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, Atlanta; Marshall Brown Projects, Chicago; MOS, New York; Pita & Bloom, Los Angeles; Present Future, Houston; Preston Scott Cohen Inc., Cambridge, MA; SAA/Stan Allen Architect, New York; T+E+A+M, Ann Arbor, MI; and Zago Architecture, Los Angeles.