Tag Archives: architecture

“The archive is protected both physically and ideologically by all sorts of rules, protocols, procedures, and technologies that govern access to the material. The purpose of all this protection is to create a space in which research can occur. It allows one to look closely at documents that probably would have been lost had they not been taken out of circulation and placed in the archive. Thus in a sense, the archive is against time. In fact, the archive is the enemy of time; it is against entropy.” (page 11)

“Archives exist outside of time, available for future generations of scholars to examine. More precisely, archives are available for generations of people who will become scholars by virtue of the new ways they will look at these documents. Archives await new eyes, demand new eyes.” (page 11)

“The dominant thrust of experimental design is to leave the archive behind. The archive is understood as the opposite of experimental design. Whatever has been archived is what the architect will have to move beyond.” (page 11)

“The highest ambition of the classical architect is to reach backward and catch that moment in time in which a built structure acted as a perfect bridge between the physical world and the cosmos, the moment in time in which architecture became a conduit to the timeless.” (page 11)

“Such an intimate bond between an archiving gesture and a transformative gesture leads to the claim that historical research is fundamental not just to design, but to the most radically experimental design. Work can only be experimental by both actively positioning itself relative to existing archives and through new archiving moves. We should also go so far as to suggest that every architect designs an archive in designing a building. If this is the case, then experimental design requires an experimental relationship to the archive. To explore the exact nature of this relationship, we have to understand the ways in which the architect has always been an archivist.” (page 12)

“It is not even possible to imagine the act of design without thinking of the archiving gesture. Buildings themselves can be understood as archives, that is, mechanisms for storing, classifying, and making historical research available. Couldn’t we argue that almost every design is, in a certain way, the design of an archiving machine? And wouldn’t that be very closely related to the standard claim that architecture can act as a witness and storehouse of the memory of a culture? If that’s the case, architects are surely in the business of making archives—archival experts even.

This notion raises the huge problem of how to archive a building since it is by definition too large to fit inside a standard archive. One could argue that the field of historic preservation reconfigures the architectural archive by turning the entire city into a big filing cabinet. Such vast archives without walls take the relationship between archiving and designing to a new level. Inasmuch as design involves gathering together diverse and evolving materials and giving them a singular fixed shape, his- toric preservation’s archiving gesture is always an act of design. To save something is to redesign it.

This leads to the parallel claim from the side of archives, that an unused archive is not an archive.” (page 12-13)

“This leads to the suggestion that there might be such thing as an activist archivist, one who designs an archive whose pur- pose is to polemically rearrange the standard perception of the world outside. To change the shape of an archive—the way it is catalogued, who gets in, what the access is, what is being collected, and so on—is to change the direction of thinking. Given that line of reasoning, perhaps it is the case that all archives are activist in as much as such choices have always been made. There is no such thing as a completely innocent and neutral archive.” (page 13-14)

“We want to test the proposition that the most experimental design work depends on a deep intimacy with the archive—that the archive might be what is front of us, that towards which we move, rather than that we leave behind.” (page 14)

text – unleashing the Archive

“Let us try to define this question more clearly. We will consider the following simplified scheme: on the one hand, a social practice, and on the other, the materiality in which this social practice is inscribed.
Social practice, a Brownian motion, constantly changing, subject to fluctuations, cycle, fashion, perpetual modifications, from the most common actions of everyday life to the most abstract philosophical reflections: this social practice develops inscribes itself, and exists in a materiality that also varies, although generally less rapidly. Materiality is discontinuous, it is composed of objects, of things; objects as material beings have an existence, a life span. They are born at the moment of their manufacture, they live, are worn down in yielding a service, allow themselves to be used, then expire when they become useless. We may speak of the life of an object and call it obsolescence. The obsolescence of an automobile today is 4 to 5 years, the obsolescence of a paper dress is only a few hours.
The object that interest us here are those that constitute urban space, in particular constructed space in the strict sense of the word.”

page 76-77 Explanation: becoming outdated
Utopie: Texts and Projects, 1967-1978
Edited by Craig Buckley and Jean-Louis Violeau

“In the hands of this criticism categories like sculpture and painting have been kneaded and stretched and twisted in an extraordinary demonstration of elasticity, a display of the way a cultural term can be extended to include just about anything. And though this pulling and stretching of a term such a sculpture is overtly performed in the name of vanguard aesthetics — the ideology of the new — its covert message is that of historicism. The new is made comfortable by being made familiar, since it is seen as having gradually evolved from the forms of the past. Historicism works on the new and different to diminish newness and mitigate difference. It makes a place for change in our experience by evoking the model of evolution, so that the man who now is can be accepted as being different from the child he once was, by simultaneously being seen — through the unseeable action of the telos — as the same. And we are comforted by this perception of sameness, this strategy for reducing anything foreign in either time or space, to what we already know and are.”

It seems Krauss is establishing a historical project that is building off of notion of ideology as a kind of system of thought. Such an ideological system makes up the structural anatomy of Krauss’ “conditions of possibility.” The possibility of meaning, knowledge & culture – all deceivingly universal terms for how we perceive the world.

“Yet I would submit that we know very well what sculpture is. And one of the things we know is that it is a historically bounded category and not a universal one. As is true of any other convention, sculpture has its own internal logic, its own set of rules, which, though they can be applied to a variety of situations, are not themselves open to very much change. The logic of sculpture, it would seem, is inseparable from the logic of the monument. By virtue of this logic a sculpture is a commemorative representation. It sits in a particular place and speaks in a symbolical tongue about the meaning or use of that place.”

Such a notion of monument, place, and history are in direct conversation with Benjamin’s notion of the “aura” and the shifting role of art. “…the unique value of the ‘authentic’ work of art has its basis in ritual… Instead of being based on ritual, it begins to be based on another practice – politics.”

“With these two sculptural projects (Gates of Hell 1880 & Balzac 1891), I would say, one crosses the threshold of the logic of the monument, entering the space of what could be called its negative condition — a kind of sitelessness, or homelessness, an absolute loss of place. Which is to say one enters modernism, since it is the modernist period of sculptural production that operates in relation to this loss of site, producing the monument as abstraction, the monument as pure marker or base, functionally placeless and largely self-referential.”

“In this sense sculpture had entered the full condition of its inverse logic and had become pure negativity: the combination of exclusions. Sculpture, it could be said, had ceased being a positivity, and was now the category that resulted from the addition of the not-landscape to the not-architecture. “

“Our culture has not before been able to think the complex, although other cultures have thought this term with great ease. Labyrinths and mazes are both landscape and architecture; Japanese gardens are both landscapes and architecture; the ritual playing fields and processionals of ancient civilizations were all in this sense the unquestioned occupants of the complex.”

“The expanded field is thus generated by problematizing the set of oppositions between which the modernist category of sculpture is suspended. And once this has happened, once one is able to think one’s way into this expansion, there are — logically — three other categories that once can envision, all of them a condition of the field itself, and none of them assimilable to sculpture.”

“From the structure laid out above, it is obvious that the logic of the space of postmodernist practice is no longer organized around the definition of a given medium on the grounds of material, or, for that matter, the perception of material. It is organized instead through the universe of terms that are felt to be in opposition within a cultural situation.”

“I have been insisting that the expanded field of postmodernism occurs at a specific moment in the recent history of art. It is a historical event with a determinant structure. It seems to me extremely important to map that structure and that is also important to explore a deeper set of questions which pertain to something more than mapping and involve instead the problem of explanation. These address the root cause — the conditions of possibility — that brought about the shift into postmodernism, as they also address the cultural determinants of the opposition through which a given field is structured. This is obviously a different approach to thinking about the history of form from the of historicist criticism’s constructions of elaborate genealogical trees. It presupposes the acceptance of the definitive rupture and possibility of looking at historical process from the point of view of logical structure.”