True architecture lacks program, it is merely a well conceived container, which people will put to work in the fashions of the day. Today’s economic woes have created the opportunity add to the rich history of spectacle that great works of architecture provide. Construction is the great generator in times of economic woe. Many of the world’s post card images are the result of structures which have no inherent use, yet they create a destination, and in doing so activate space. Tall structures like the Eiffel Tower, the Seatle Space Needle, and the Berlin Fernsehturm are all examples of lean structures initially used as broadcast towers, and perhaps still, yet much more popular as tourist destinations, to the point that they could be created for this alone. In doing so we are building for the spectacle of sight, not the comforts of living, or working; allowing these structures to reach for the skies without fear of economic consequences. This condition exists now, and perhaps only now, as the economy has been weakened to point of opportunity.
I recently attended an excellent discussion between Mark Wigley and Peter Eisenman, tow giants of architectural theory. The discussion was fruitful, as they touched on subjects ranging from Subversion of the Situationist to the pitfalls of the American system of land development. It is the situationist which I find of particular interest, as they engaged in dérive, a way of psycho-mapping the city, by taking drugs, and stumbling around Paris to find places of emotional meaning, which often times differed drastically form the traditional landmarks which dot the city. In so doing, they intentionally lost focus, so that only moments of true clarity shine through. Alcoholics also know this term, as it is the moment that they see things clearly for the first time, having been otherwise blinded by their illness. This line of thinking represents the new paradigm in which the world is seen as a collection of moments, or memories which have a particular clarity within the vagueness of life.
This movie clearly is a reference to Des Cartes, and the epistemological turn in philosophy. Specifically, his theory of Dualism, which separates experiences of the mind from those of the body. It also seems to be a commentary on our representative, “skin deep,” sense of reality, showing as movies often do best, the ultimate extension of the salient qualities of contemporary life. It is particularly striking during the sequence of the trailer where Bruce Willis’ character is out in public among the other representations of humanity, putting himself in particular danger, by experiencing the “real” world. It would appear to be a combination of The Matrix, and i Robot, two similar inquisitions into the bridge between man and machine, and the implications of virtual reality. The movie provides a striking look at the age old debate, and I can’t wait to see it.
A recent trend that I have noticed involves the embedding and reuse of letters in TV titles. This is a very effective graphic technique, which might be placed in the category of an city state, which is integral to the identity of a region, yet is able to operate independently of it. Imagine the south of France without Monaco, or perhaps more appropriately Rome without Vatican City. In the same way as these TV titles provide short hand reminders of their function, these places are integral the proper reading of an urban fabric. If anything, this post is an argument for landmarks in a city, places of meaning, the post card image: symbols in and of themselves, though necessary instruments in the broader definition of their context.
This post deals with the concept of insurance, and how it manifests itself physically. In an age where numbers have more value than objects, it seems fitting that the number must be “wrapped” in a box to provide physical housing to an otherwise immaterial and vague concept. This fact is not lost on the marketing people at Apple, or Progressive; as at the end of the day people still need something to walk away with, something that they can touch. These products also provide a glimpse into another disturbing trend in which information is becoming the basis for existence, and little or nothing takes pure physical form anymore. Physicality is now of the utmost importance, as it keeps us “grounded” and aware in a world dominated by spinning drives which hold all of our information and ideas. It is here that we will come back to the concept of insurance, and how it functions (or doesn’t) in the case of virtual objects. Insurance requires some form of physicality to measure against, as the payoff is based on the initial value of the object under consideration, but how do we assign value to our drives and servers, our information, and in some ways our existence. Lastly, I will leave you with this, if these hollow boxes attempt to describe a state of strength for the insurance industry, how can we manifest our existence in a similar way, representing its essence in neat box.
The time of discrete entities has passed. What is of importance now is the moment in a field of possibilities. The digital age has brought an end to singularity, as visual phenomena are but momentary manifestations in a pixel laden sea of possible creations. The most rudimentary example of this is the photo development industry. When is the last time that you can remember getting pictures developed. Now viewing a picture is but a momentary recombination of pixels on a laptop, iphone, or this very webpage (otherwise inaccessible).
In the digital age, it is incumbent on us to rethink identity. How is it that we define ourselves, is it through a series of numbers, supposedly unique to us, or is it something more. This question is obviously rhetorical, however the point remains that knowing something about someone does not mean that you know them.