Architecture + Philosophy research seminar, ResArc, Sweden: Dr Hélène Frichot, Critical Studies in Architecture, KTH Stockholm

Month: June, 2013

Conceptual Cluster 13: Noopolitics

by katja2013

“(…) architectural and urban processes, procedures, and products commingle to form complex systems of recurrent and recursive circuits, which, in the end, help produce novel forms of networks that empower the imagination and constitute the cultural landscape with new objects and subject relations.” Deborah Hauptmann [1]

The notorious and much debated China Central Television Headquarters in Beijing (CCTV) by architect Rem Koolhaas is exceptionally interesting on many fronts, and already its representation.  The CCTV building (already as assignment, to make an icon) as icon represents the power/ media in China, but through its changing loop-form is at the same time deflating this image. It does not give the communist party in China an easy icon. Rem Koolhaas does not deny Noopolitics but engages with it, through the strange images, which do not have any fixed meaning. Its image is inconsumable. As audience you become a participant in asking what it is. It asks more questions, than it gives answers.

Both on a content and on a formal level the conflation of different media (loop, program, construction, tectonics, scale, bigness) produces a fundamental dissymmetry between media, provoking a distortion or destabilization of identification and representation.

In the case of the projection of the Olympic athletes sponsored by Nike on the façade of the CCTV building, it conflates the virtual and the real, the presence of the building and the representation of and on the building alternatingly or simultaneously visible, and at certain times even coincide, without ever becoming final or absolute.

[1] Deborah Hauptmann, ‘Introduction: Architecture and Mind in the Age of Communication and Information’, in Deborah Hauptman, eds. Cognitive Architecture: From Biopolitics to Noopolitics, Rotterdam 010 Publishers, 2010.

film: A 45.000 sqm choreographed slideshow of China’s best athletes on 4 columns of the building, facing the west side and the south side, using 80 state-of-the-art projectors, special custom lenses to compensate the excessive and obtrusive artificial night lights, the biggest multi-projection system ever created on a glass surface.

Conceptual Composition 14: New Materialisms

by katja2013

Interior China Central Television headquarters / Photo © Philippe Ruault

Interior China Central Television headquarters / Photo © Philippe Ruault

Interior China Central Television headquarters / Photo © Philippe Ruault

Since I have a Judeo-Christian religious background, it is obvious to me that one must link any definition of the accident to the idea of the original sin. The content of this idea is merely that any person has the potential to become a monster. Now, this idea of original sin, which materialist philosophy rejects so forcefully, comes back to us through technology: the accident is the original sin of the technical object. Every technical object contains its own negativity. It is impossible to invent pure, innocent object, just as there is no innocent human being. It is only through the acknowledged guilt that progress is possible. Just as it is through the recognized risk of the accident that it is possible to improve the technical object. Paul Virilio [1]

A rigorous geometrical logic invades the spatial and representational concept without ever finalizing its tectonic effects. An ‘Accidental’ tectonic emerges that is both foreign, strange, provoking and enabling. A tectonic far beyond what Semper, Frampton or other phenomenologist could have imagined. The rationality of its construction (absoluteness, autonomy) does not just affirm power, but also undoes it (contrary to what Mies tried to do)

[1] Paul Virilio, “surfing the Accident, “ in The Art of the Accident: Art Architecture and Media Technology(Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 1998) p. 30

Quote in: Keller Easterling, Enduring Innocence global architecture and its political masquerades, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press books, 2005 p123