Himalayas on Google Terrain Maps.
Excerpts from Soviet civil defense posters from 1986. In the top illustration, the milk sign (молоко) has been added as if to accentuate the quotidian nature of a possible nuclear explosion.
The 14th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice has been going on for a few days now. This time, titled “Fundamentals”, the grand show is spearheaded by Rem Koolhaas (OMA/AMO). Anyway, for any architect-type on a social platform or so, not being there for the opening buzz leaves a strange feeling. Did you miss out on something or was it just a three-day social media explosion? Was this where architecture again happened and being late to the party means the time-portal for relevancy is now shut?
This also brought me back to the feeling when two years ago, I touched upon, perhaps from a more positive angle, how these days much of what gets communicated, displayed and even somewhat produced in architecture happens in the feed, of websites and social media. But this morning, reading Kieran Long’s thoughts on @dezeen on Koolhaas and the Biennale I paused at this: “Each room is a like obsessive series of retweets: it is not at all clear if these quotations from others equal endorsements.”
And I think this is an interesting note. Because if in Koolhaas’ words, we’ve now become so distanced from the truths of architecture, it should mean that, well, either architecture is in a bad state, has perhaps already died, or that it has become a more loose playground for thinking (which of course is more descriptive of the discipline Koolhaas’ office is researching and practicing). But as the article quote states, if everything can be hash-tagged with #architecture, there is a danger of creating meaninglessness in the architecture feed. But if we would really be worried about the curated quality of #architecture, would architecture have lost its meaning in the first place? I think Long’s note ultimately kind of asks an important question: where is architecture today created?
At the same time, contemporary architects confronted with the narrowing specifications set by the industry and economy are forcibly spreading out to every direction and form of practice. Who is to blame, if it all follows the general (though disappointing) global development of “cultural Amazonization” of past best practices and skill sets?
Anyway, I will make my way to Venice by the end of the month and formulate my opinion more closely, also to test the wordings of the instamedia feed. And, before the afterthoughts, some more pre-thought (including mine) on Koolhaas’ are gathered in the latest issue of CLOG: REM, out next week.
Photo from the CLOG launch party at Bruno bookstore in Venice by Tommaso Fido.
Contributors to the issue include Michael Abrahamson, Stan Allen, Joseph Altshuler, Serafina Amoroso, Haik Avanian, Cecil Balmond, Dorin Baul, Aaron Betsky, Petra Blaisse, Jim Bogle, Ole Bouman, Mat Bower, Eric de Broche des Combes, Brian Bruegge, Galo Canizares, Stephen Cassell, Archie Lee Coates IV, Rene Daalder, Ozge Diler, Ryan Drummond, Keefer Dunn, A. A. Dutto, Erez Ella, Valeria Federighi, Kim Förster, Jeffrey Franklin, Joseph Godlewski, Adam Himes, Matthias Hollwich, Julia van den Hout, Frances Hsu, Bernard Hulsman, Hans Ibelings, Klaus, Charlie Koolhaas, Tomas Koolhaas, Andrew Kovacs, Jimenez Lai, Stephanie Lee, Thomas Lozada, Winy Maas and Jacob van Rijs, Brandon Martinez, Isaac Mathew, Kyle May, Philipp Oswalt, Roberto Otero, Steven K. Peterson, Wim Pijbes, Jacob Reidel, Michael Rock, Joanna Rodriguez-Noyola, Fernando Romero, Alejandro Sanchez, Mika Savela, Jonathan A. Scelsa, Kyle Schumann, Brian Slocum, Galia Solomonoff, Frederieke Taylor, Will Thomson, Madelon Vriesendrop, Luke Yosuke Willis, Human Wu, Albena Yaneva, Alejandro Zaera-Polo and Zoe Zenghelis.
Meet me in Paris in 1934 World’s Fair, New York. From the 1930s American perspective, Paris was a cruise destination.
Regardless of what you think about PSY’s latest track Hangover, feat. Snoop Dogg, the video of the song signals the kind of changes in visual culture that are becoming more and more commonplace in the global future, and where South Korea has already today become an urban cultural exporter. In the video Seoul is a depicted as an iconography similar to any world city, and without too much exoticism and touristic flair, everything just is in Korean. Of course, another question is whether you need American hip hop all-stars in the mix for validation. I would say not really. It’s more a sign of the times and music business stuff. In the past, there aren’t that many examples of something similar. Prabhu Deva’s urban Bollywood choreographies and appropriation of the city through dance video never made it to the world cultural zeitgeist, despite his fine, fine moves.
Map of the Outer Geography of the Odyssey and of the Form of the Earth According to Homer. From The World, A Classical Atlas, 1870
Stylclair: ses meubles Duralumin Brochure for metal tube furniture by Marcel Breuer ca. 1934.
Relief map of California. From The Home and Its Relation to the World (1921) by Harold W. Fairbanks.
While technically, a dream house brochure from 1925, this could easily double as cover for an architectural whodunit.
The black and white photos here are from the 1934 World’s Fair “A Century of Progress”, held in Chicago. They depict replicas of villages and cities from around the world as in the ideology of World’s Fairs, it remained popular to represent various regions with what would now seem to be theme parks, or at least themed environments.
The colored photos are from suburban Shanghai, where in total nine European themed cities have emerged (British, Scandinavian, Italian, Spanish, Canadian, Dutch and German), bearing some similarity to the early modern World’s Fair treatment of “internationalism” – sans the Western fascination for the Orient.
If you Google something about themed cities of China, the results usually carry the certain tone of humorous unbelief, like “A Weird German Ghost City in China,” or “Odd British Town in Shanghai Serves as Set for Wedding Photos.” But I think the same disbelief is there when looking at both photos. Laid side by side, they are capturing somewhat similar strains and trajectories of becoming modern and becoming global.
As there currently is very little incentive to start building “authentic Dutch towns” in the U.S., it’s because the American contemporary culture already exists in its own right (and perhaps from the viewpoint of the rest of the world, sometimes frustratingly so). Anyway, who knows, once these themed cities will become culturally obsolete for China, perhaps we will see and possibly be part of some new Chinese forms of modernity. And I think that’s the kind of worthwhile thought to follow behind the humorous images.
Research and Practice in the Urbanity.
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