Philosophies

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

Category: RESPONSES MODULE 03

Heteroglossary

by shydes

Concept

There is no concept with only one component. All concepts are connected to problems without which they would have no meaning and which themselves only be isolated or understood as their solution emerges.

Deleuze, G et Guattari, F. (1994) What is a Concept? What is Philosophy? New York: Colombia University Press: 15-34

Tool

Etymology: Old English tól neuter, = Old Norse tól n. plural (compare Norwegian tøler ) < Old Germanic *tôwlom , tôlom , <*tôw- to prepare, make (cognate with Gothic taujan : see taw v.1) + agentive suffix -lom , -el suffix1.

Anything used in the manner of a tool; a thing (concrete or abstract) with which some operation is performed; a means of effecting something; an instrument.

“tool, n.”. OED Online. March 2018. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/203258?rskey=bj5bv5&result=1 (accessed April 19, 2018).

 

Zone of Neighbourhood, Humans being together

 

Care                         

More than maintenance […] caring as a loving connection […] fostering […] caring relations […] concern of feminist thinking

Puig de la Bellacasa, M. (2011). Matters of care in technoscience: Assembling neglected things. Social Studies of Science  Vol 41(1): 85-106.

Care by Volvo: A new alternative to owning or leasing a Volvo car. Welcome to the future of the car experience, where a simple monthly subscription is all you need. This is Care by Volvo – a symbol of our commitment to give you back more time to do the things you love.

https://www.volvocars.com/intl/cars/care-by-volvo

Care by me: A mutual agreed action to relief everyday life.

Conflict

[…] communication which included solving conflict as well as building partnership. Lefebvre understands conflicts in Marxism terms, as a quality and not as a problem.

Schalk, M et al. (2009). Taking care of Public space. Architectural Research Quarterly Vol 13 no 2: 141-149.

There is a chance that a conflict can become a forum for change, when norms are not only repetitiously and performatively re-enacted and re-experienced, but also overwritten and changed.

Schalk, M et al. (2009). Taking care of Public space. Architectural Research Quarterly Vol 13 no 2: 141-149. (Inexcitable Speech. Zum Rechtsverständnis postmoderner feministischer Positionen am Beispiel Judith Butler, inHornscheidt, Antje / Jähnert, Gabriele/ Schlichter, Annette (Hg.), Kritische Differenzen – geteilte Perspektiven, Opladen: Westdeutsche Verlag 1998, 229-252)

Assignm 2c SHC

Inequality                    

Ranking, violates a moral norm of equality […] inequality is avoidable […] morally unjustified […] hierarchical differences

Therborn, G. (2012). Killing Fields of Inequality. International Journal of Health Services, Vol 42, No 4: 579–589

Equality                      

That every person is considered as much as everyone else in a political and often an economical aspect […] Used since 1713, more common since1960s.

(my translation) Nationalencyklopedin, jämlikhet. http://www.ne.se.proxy.lnu.se (accessed 2018-04-12)

Equity

Moore P. (2016), industrial designer, gerontologist, author,  Keynote Cumulus Conference, Hong Kong

Class

Class is a term that in the social sciences is used to separate people into groups based on economic and social criteria. The concept was established in the 1800s as a basis for both classical liberalism and early socialism. The concept of class has been the most relevant in Marxist theory, where social classes have different roles in or in relation to the production of goods and services. What is in focus is the power over ownership, and in Marxist thought the concept is also a cornerstone of a theory concerning social mobilisation, so-called class struggle, aimed to change the economic power structure in society.

https://www.genus.se/en/wordpost/class/ (accessed 2018-04-12)

Segregation

Etymology: < late Latin sēgregātiōn-em, noun of action < Latin sēgregāre : see segregate v.

  1. The action of segregating.
  2. The separation or isolation of a portion of a community or a body of persons from the rest.

“segregation, n.”. OED Online. March 2018. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/viewdictionaryentry/Entry/174893 (accessed 2018-04-19)

Late Latin segrega’tio ‘separation’, ‘separation’, of Latin ‘grego’ separating (from the flock) ‘), the spatial separation of populations.

Nationalencyklopedin, segregation. http://www.ne.se.proxy.lnu.se/uppslagsverk/encyklopedi/lång/segregation(accessed 2018-04-12)

A high priority issue for the government is to break segregation. The work is done on several fronts and ten ministers work together to reverse the development and contribute to reduced gaps and to create a safe Sweden where we keep together

http://www.regeringen.se/artiklar/2018/03/regeringen-vaxlar-upp-arbetar-for-att-bryta-segregationen/ (accessed 2018-04-19)

Human Needs

[…] fundamental human needs are not only universal but are also entwined with the evolution of the species. They follow a single track. […] Fundamental human needs must be understood as a system, the dynamics of which do not obey hierarchical linearities. This means that on the one hand, no need is more important per se than any other; and that on the other hand, there is no fixed order of precedence in the actualization of needs.

http://www.wtf.tw/ref/max-neef.pdf (accessed 2018-04-12)

Zone of Neighbourhood, Ontology

 

Knowledge                  

Is the quiet knowledge really quiet? A vocational practice as a mediator of quiet knowledge, ie such knowledge conveyed through training and socialization into a profession´s tradition. The most important moments in a professional practice are thus quiet, ie contextual, cultural bound, implied and bound to be expressed in skills and talents. One acquires the quiet knowledge by learning to live in a given practice.

[my translation]      Molander, B. (1993). Kunskap i handling [Knowledge in practice]  http://arkitekturforskning.net/na/article/viewFile/729/673  (accessed 2018-04-19)

[…] The knowing itself is partial in all its guises, never finished, whole, simply there and original; it is always constructed and stitched together imperfectly and therefor able to join with another to see together without claiming to be another.

Haraway, D (1988). Situated Knowledge: The Science question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective. Feminist studies Vol 14 No 3: 575-599

Illustration of Knowledge

based on the text;  Gustavsson, B. (2000). Philosophy of knowledge: Three Forms of Knowledge in a Historical Perspective

Presentation Approches

Zone of Neighbourhood, Methods

 

Participatory design

Participatory design (PD) is an approach where all stakeholders are involved in the design process. Traditional design projects typically include the paying client and professionals within similar and related industries; in participatory design, members of the wider community — from the users who are directly affected by the design, to the local business owners who may be peripheral to it — are also recognised as legitimate stakeholders with the ability to impact the project. The extent of their involvement can range from being passively informed of a project’s development, to actively sharing roles and responsibilities in decision making. While there may be times when informing is a necessary part of the process, we believe that real impact is often made when we intentionally build up a person’s capacity to contribute at higher levels.

http://participateindesign.org/approach/what/ (accessed April 19, 2018).

Action research

A succinct definition of action research appears in the workshop materials we use at the Institute for the Study of Inquiry in Education. That definition states that action research is a disciplined process of inquiry conducted by and for those taking the action. The primary reason for engaging in action research is to assist the “actor” in improving and/or refining his or her actions.

Guiding School Improvement with Action Research, by Richard Sagor

  1. Selecting a focus
  2. Clarifying theories
  3. Identifying research questions
  4. Collecting data
  5. Analyzing data
  6. Reporting results
  7. Taking informed action

http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/100047/chapters/What-Is-Action-Research%C2%A2.aspx (accessed 2018-04-19)

Meta design

We define metadesign as an emerging framework of practice that will enable designers to change, or create, behavioral paradigms

https://metadesigners.org/Metadesign-Introduction (accessed 2018-04-19)

Tham, Mathilda, professor at Department of design, Linnaeus University, Illustration from presentation at JST, Tokyo. 6th of April 2018.

Heteroglossary

by mashahupalo

1 Rhythmoterritory 

Elisabeth Grosz in her reading of Deleuze and Guattari (Chaos, Territory, Art, 2008) unpacks how a milieu or a combination of them after establishing relationships give birth to rhythm, and through this form a territory. In other words, there is no territory without a rhythm, no parking territory without a traffic rhythm.

2 Opti-Toxic Narrative

Techno-optimism of digital mobility platforms and traditional automobile manufacturers about autonomous shared fleets of vehicles streaming down the streets of our cities is one of the most pervasive global narratives that proposes an all-inclusive explanation of future mobility. Marco Armieto and Massimo De Angelis in “Anthropocene: Victims, Narrators, and Revolutionaries“(2017) argue that such grand narratives – in their example it is a tale of Anthropocene – make it increasingly difficult to develop knowledges oppositional to “global truths”.

3 Driver Care 

Bruno Latour indicates a necessity of caring for the technologies that we introduce into this world. It is not that he uncritically glorifies Sports Utility Vehicles or Aramis transport system that never came into being but rather suggests that prior to demonising “others” there is a responsibility of understanding their concerns (Latour, 1992). Caring for drivers in a climate of pervasive pedestrianisation of cities becomes almost controversial.

4 Movement Parasite

In line with thinking of Michel Serres in “The Parasite” (1980), any parking space is a parasite of the territory that it serves. He underlines the specificity of the parasite that can develop “only in certain organism and is carried only by a certain vector”. Infrastructures of stillness are not random or generic; they appear in very specific places of the city organism, they feed from it. They mark the start points of automobility vectors across the urban body, and slightly alter their directions.

5 The Thing in the Making

A responsible critic assembles and “offers the participants arenas in which to gather”. This is the path of engagement with the “matters of concern” that Bruno Latour suggests in his essay “Why Has Critique Run Out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern” (2004). He advocates for the realism of an object that turns into a Thing comprising a myriad of contradicting opinions, concerns and decisions.

6 Navigation Umwelt 

Each human subject that moves through the transportation grid constructs a specific environment-world consisting of “carriers of significance” or of “marks”. This personal navigation Umwelt has the same underlying logic as an environment of an animal.  One of the founders of the ecology, Jakob von Uexkull, distinguished this notion from the Umgebung, that he defined as “the objective space in which the human being is moving”, free from perceptual.

7 Conversing with the Text

The text reveals and conceals, like any other conversation partner. Understanding it requires interpreting. David Tracy in “Plurality and Ambiguity” (1987) lays down the rules of conversing, questioning and listening to the text to avoid being its passive recipients. The texts of urban planning legislation are repositories of professional values that can tell plenty about societal aspirations and dreams at a specific moment of time. But only if we read and converse with attention and respect.

8 Protomapping

Maps get a sense of meaning as a thick overlay of information that is brought into relation through a process of gathering and assembling. James Corner in “The Agency of Mapping: Speculation, Critique and Invention” (2011) develops this line of thinking further by illuminating the power of mapping to construct prototypes of futures to consider and debate.

9 Site of Negotiation 

In “Why Site Matters”(2005) Andrea Kahn and Carol Burns understand the site as a composition of three areas: area of control, area of influence, and area of effect. They overlap physically and engage in different sets of relationships. By approaching the site as a table of negotiation between different forces – legislative, economic, or cultural – we acknowledge its power to shape the urban fabric.

Reflection on The Agency of Mapping by James Corner

by shydes

I have always loved maps. I gather maps wherever I go. Pile them up at home, thinking that they will be a great project one day. What is a map? Or what is NOT a map? Carroll´s Mein Herr said after he had realized that the map they had was useless: “So, now we use the country itself as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well”.

Mapping, definitions: James Corner:  a way of re-shaping worlds where people live. Reformulate what already exists and actualize the potential. Searching, finding, unfolding. Description of reality that is culturally situated. Deleuze and Guattari: Experimentation in contact with the real. But what is the real? Whose reality will be on the map? The one who are doing the activity, will be the one telling us what he/she wants us to see. The inverted map by Torres- Garcia shows who have been in charge of constructing the maps and the world.

What can a map do? Winnicott suggests that we should include transitional objects possessed by imagination. What a possibility to have transitional parks where citizens can imagine a perfect spot. My view on this, is that we often plan every inch of our space in the city just because we can. We can afford it and we want everything to be planned. No space for imaginary places.

Reflections: The extreme power of the Municipalities planning offices. Do the planners understand that? Are the people working there ticking boxes or are they imagining better futures? Tools from modernism. Tools from the past to form our future is not an ideal combination. I would love to see kids and all citizens making maps of our milieu where transitional objects take place. Where mapping and planning are a joint activity to “unfold and support hidden conditions, desires and possibilities nested within our milieu”. It should not be one map of the city. There should be several layers showing different perspectives. Gender, age, culture etc. One map to use at dark nights on my way home, another one for a sunny Sunday stroll.

I have lived in the countryside the most time in my life. I loved walking in the forest with trees that are several hundred years old. No street names, no shops. You turn by a big oak, big rock or where there is a funny grown pine. That would be a great map. How would it be made trustworthy? The big oak may be looking small to someone visiting, living close to Redwood national Park.

Thank you, Suha, for sharing the article. I will try to use it in my research how to share in the city. How could a map for sharing look like?

The cyborg alchemist

by helenawesterlind

diagram3-01

I placed my human-computer/artist/alchemist/writer/shamans/scientist in the center and on the horizon line of a new canvas. I put the DIPswitches of the computer board on her chest as if it were a part of her dress. A giant keyboard sits in front of her and her hands are poised to play with the cosmos, matter, words, games, images, and unlimited interactions and activities. She can do anything. The computer screen in the night sky offers examples. There are three images that graphically display different aspects of the same galaxy, using new high-technological imaging devices. Another panel exhibits a diagram of a gravity well. The central panel offers mathematical formulas, one from Einstein and the other a calculation found in chaos theory. In the same panel a game of tic-tac-toe has been played using the symbols for male and female and the woman has won. In the foreground hovers a neon sign of the philosopher’s stone, the ultimate goal of alchemy, and a reminder of the cyborg’s ability to deconstruct and reconstruct matter as she wish. She transforms dust into super matter and water into substances with magical properties. The historical desert plain replete with pyramids, is implying that the cyborg can roam across histories and civilizations and incorporate them into her life and work. Finally I placed the shamanic headdress of a white tigress spirit on her head and arms…

(modified image and text by  Lynn Randolph, the artist behind the cover of Haraway’s Manifesto for Cyborgs)

 

Bureaucratic Phantasies

by bojanboric

I introduce the concept of bureaucratic phantasies. Inspired by the surrealist fascination with the bureaucratic operations of the unconscious, I plan to test the theoretical possibilities of this concept in the realm of the urban conditions through discussion based on urban phenomenon in post-Socialist Chisinau. This concept interrogates the idea of the urban unconscious as an archive of urban memories merging with the continuous processes of refinement of the bureaucracy repeatedly producing fictions projected as holograms into real spaces, more real then reality itself. The memories of unrealized futures, dreams, desires, never told personal histories are processed through the procedural repetitions embedded within austere bureaucratic procedures, calculations and statistics. Hidden in the corridors of the state archives and the urban space itself, today they are unleashed and mutating.

Bureaucratic Phantasy is an incomplete bureaucracy, a kind of bureaucracy that leaves room for interaction. It is also possibly a space of resistance and a space with many contradictions and complexities. Through this concept I intend to explore relations between micro realities of urban space and institutions of society involved in social production and reproduction. According to Lyotard, in the post-modern era, there is a “crises of metanarratives” but they have not disappeared. They only made a “passage underground” deep into the unconscious. “This persistence of buried master-narratives is what I have elsewhere called our “political unconscious”(Lyotard).

Bureaucratic Phantasy is a concept of material and non-material, human and non-human apparatuses linking the notions of seemingly opposite meanings, that of “phantasy “and “bureaucracy”. The meaning may seem paradoxical  only initially, expressed through an inherent conflicts in society, producing mythologies as norms for productions of truth and notions of reality. Its archive of memories operates through urban unconscious, as something not anticipated. Often, in form of a document that suddenly appears or disappears, materializes in reality without apparent reason or meaning.

Bureaucracy is an apparatus and a social institution associated with the state power with unclear boundaries. “Phantasy” according to the dictionary formulation “is the faculty or activity of imagining impossible or improbable things”. In order to understand the meaning of bureaucracy, Max Weber argues, one needs to begin to question boundaries of the state as a social phenomenon emerging from beyond the state. Bureaucracy is an invention and part of the phantasy of the society itself, part of its unconscious; it is reproducing itself through performative actions within the society while constantly developing and shifting boundaries, norms and regulations.

According to Donna Harraway, we live in mythical time, the society is changing through the logic of the bio-political machine. There are new “fruitful couplings” emerging from this coupling of politics and fiction as well as science and fiction. “The pre-cybernetic machines could be haunted; there was always the spectre of the ghost in the machine.” (Harraway D.) I would argue that the new forms of haunted political spaces are evolving today and along with the technological advancement and through the “mutation of capitalism” (Deleuze, Control Society). In the twenty-first century control societies the “real” is produced through fictions as much as through science, the ghost is still there. In this process, the boundaries such as that between the public and private are broken. “Our machines are disturbingly lively, and we ourselves frighteningly inert.” (Harraway D. Cyborgs)

The state is an imaginary social institution and as such it continuously produces imaginaries through bureaucracy. While reproducing the notion of the real it re-produces its own state imaginary. The loop goes on in a vicious cycle, the actions are initiated and produce other actions, creating myths, these produce spaces, then through acts of bureaucracy produce an imaginary state, these produce society, and it goes on and on…..

Deleuze refers to the similar process occurring in the contemporary state which he calls the control society. While in disciplinary societies there is a beginning and the end of a process, Deleuze argues that in the control society, there is always an ongoing transition, a transformation, “you never finish anything” (Deleuze, Control Society). As in Kafka’s Trial, the post-Socialist city is suspended in transition between two societies, one determined by disciplinary judicial norms expressed through the state of the “apparent acquittal (between two confinements)” and “endless postponement” (constantly changing) a characteristic of the control society.

History is not linear, it is a product of an unconscious process embodied in workings of bureaucratic phantasies. Through stories about the Ghost Boulevard and the concept of the bureaucratic phantasy, I investigate the nature of a different kind of bureaucracy. Such imaginary concept is a part of social and cultural reproduction and as such instrumental in production of spatial phenomenon. The Bureaucratic Phantasy represents an imaginary institution, a product of interface among various social forces; however, although a product of imaginary or even poetry, it manifests itself in a rational and calculated way, within its own internal logic and with the tendency of suppressing individual memories. Its endless archive is located somewhere between the arkheion, the official city of statistics, forms numbers, well categorised and the domus expressed through stories, narratives. It is manifested in space but also in public memory through virtual worlds, apparitions (in media or in space). “The question of the archive is not, I repeat, a question of the past…but rather a question of the future” (Derrida, Jacque Archive Fever)

It is mirroring society while producing its own public memories. It is a phantasy that replicates itself, and as in a dream reflects a distorted imagery, an illusion of what is normal and expected. According to Foucault, state itself is an imaginary formation, “Maybe after all, the state is no more then a composite reality and a mythisized abstraction, whose importance is a lot more limited then any of us think.” (Governmentality, MF) The project of the utopian future itself has become an artifact, a part of the burried grand narrative, now incorporated into the present, how is it going to be imbedded into the narrative of the present time? The space of the Ghost Boulevard, does not exist, it’s “real” is configured through continuous performance of the bureaucratic phantasies, through mythical reconfiguration, it is produced through the interface between the society and institutions. Because the Bureaucratic Phantasy is an incomplete bureaucracy, as it has not yet reached its maximum level of efficiency, it has allowed itself to be perceived as a machine for producing imaginaries, dreams, fictions. It is ambiguous; partially a machine that seems broken, a repository of images and memories, it recycles history and does not rely solely on objective reason such as raison d’etat. It is a cultural machine, a library of the past knowledge, a brain whose calculations have lost original purpose, still it is filled with elaborate data, plans and other artifacts of knowledge that could be transplanted into the present at any time as some kind of noise or as the ghosts of rational objectivity.

According to Weber, Bureaucratic organisation has proved to be superior to any other kind of apparatus due to its technical advantage. This was the main reason for its advance through history. When fully developed to its optimal level, it resembles the well functioning machine. “Precision, speed, unambiguity, knowledge, of the files, discretion, unity, strict subordination, reduction of friction, and of material and personal costs” (M. Weber) From today’s vantage point we can also talk about bureaucracy as a method of management of information embedded into the world-wide-web as the global system of management of information and society. But the bureaucracy can also be thought as an imaginary social invention, that when fully established to its highest optimal level is difficult to destroy. “Where the administration has been completely bureaucratised, the resulting system of domination is practically indestructible”. (M. Weber, Bureaucracy). Although the bureaucracy is produced in democracy, the conflict inevitably emerges as the democracy then needs to restrict the power of bureaucracy. Consequently, according to Weber, bureaucracy makes any “revolution” in the true sense of completely building a new type of rule and authority virtually impossible.Furthermore, according to Weber, bureaucracy is dependent on the “calculable rules” and “without regard for persons”. As the bureaucracy becomes more developed, the more it is “dehumanized”, and this is praised as the “spatial virtue of capitalism”. In turn it demands the need for “experts” who would support this apparatus and provide for its legitimacy with their expert knowledge. Such Weberian bureaucracy is obsolete, something else is occurring now, through emergence of a new beast.

The performative practice within which bureaucratic apparatus operates is relies on repeated creation and recreation of public perception of the bureaucracy, meanings and the actors involved. In it the state institutions subvert their own assumed logics. It is however, intangible and hard to grasp and locate as it operates through an interface between the public, it is constructed only as a virtue of the public imaginary, “Performance assumes an interface between actors and spectators; they both constitute and are constituted by an audience”. (The Antrhopology of the State, Gupta). In other words it is through the re-enactment of the minor bureaucratic procedures and daily routines that the institutions of the state are constituted but can also be destabilised. The “partial perspective” (Harraway D. Situated Knowledges) provides the only possible avenue towards reaching objective vision that constructs reality, through this interface in the in-between space. Donna Harraway, calls it “the power to see”. This is also where the possible resistance may reside.

I propose that the notion of contemporary public space dependent on such interface between various shifting agencies play continuously in the space of the city such as the “Ghost Boulevard” through the bureaucratic phantasy. Instead of excavating ancient artifacts from the ground, the artefacts are produced and invented  by being named, traced and mapped as links in the complex web of relations, they are created without the need to be excavated. Their meaning is broadened beyond the physicality of objects, things. Furthermore, through the composition of “partial perspectives”,  I seek to reveal the gaps in logic, inconsistencies and flaws in the system. These are expressed in the narratives and are regulated through varieties of traces, red lines, voids, numbers, words and images. These supposed “flaws” in the system are not necessarily presented as negative nor positive, they are just part of the complex narrative of the present and perhaps clues for what the future may be.

Where does the cyborg end?

by hannesfrykholmuma

Donna Haraway uses the term blasphemy as something that “protects one from the Moral Majority from within, while still insisting on the need for community.”[1] There is in the notion of blasphemy a built in tension. Blasphemy is an “ironic faith”[2], an act of seriousness and dedication that is still at the heart of the project it is desecrating. I think the cyborg should be read in this way, as deeply blasphemous – an impossible hybrid between previously separated worlds that also challenges our notions about given divisions. It is clear that the cyborg also implies non-human forms of life and systems.

I wonder where the boundary can be drawn between the techno-chemical systems and the animated flesh? Haraway asks, “Why should our bodies end at the skin”? How does the integration between architecture and cyborgs happen? Is the technology of the built environment also part of a cyborg system? Perhaps the aircrafts are temporary wings for our bodies, the escalators automated steps for our legs and the interior air-conditioners a cooling system that replaces our bodily perspiration? If we think of ourselves as constantly renegotiated amalgamations between on the one hand animated flesh with specific behavior, and on the other hand infrastructural “stacks”[3] of rhythms, flows and physical mechanisms, where does this put the practice of architecture?

Hannes Frykholm

[1] Donna Jeanne Haraway, “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 1980’s,” in Feminism – Postmodernism, ed. L.J. Nicholson (New York: Routledge, 1990), 190.

[2] Ibid., 191.

[3] H. Benjamin Bratton, “The Stack,” Log 35 (2015).

Modulation of memory

by hannesfrykholmuma

I am interest in the mechanisms of memory put in relation to the economization of our cognitive capacities, a process Sven-Olov Wallenstein refers to as noopolitics.[1] As Maurizio Lazzarato argues: “To remember something – like every activity of mind – is to actualise a virtual, and this actualisation is a creation, an individuation and not a simple reproduction.”[2] Remembering and recollecting fantasies can be seen as part of a becoming. To remember is not the act of the archivist roaming through old files in our memory banks, but instead a process that actively changes us. Instead of repetition or reproduction, the recollecting of past impressions is always virtual and points towards a difference. The act of memory and attention is to Lazzarato what generates certain flows of desire. To what extent is the current economic system modulating our memories and desires?

The process of modulating memories can perhaps be located in what has been called “the experience economy”. Formulated by Harvard economists B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore, the term describes how many successful business ventures today focus less on selling the commodity and more on the actual experience of consumption. Pine and Gilmore notes: “Commodities are fungible goods tangible, services intangible, and experiences memorable.”[3] (my emphasis) In the contemporary spaces of consumption the environment triggers certain experiences and desires through its design. I think the experience economy can be seen as one way in which our memories and desires are integrated to the productive logics of the current economy. How can we as architects challenge this system for memory modulation?

Hannes Frykholm

[1] Sven-Olov Wallenstein, “Noopolitics, Life and Architecture,” in Cognitive Architecture: From Bio-Politics to Noo-Politics ; Architecture & Mind in the Age of Communication and Information, ed. D. Hauptmann and W. Neidich (Rotterdam: 010 Publishers).

[2] Maurizio. Lazzarato, “Life and the Living in the Societies of Control,” in Deleuze and the Social, ed. M. Fuglsang and B.M. Sørensen (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006), 185.

[3] B. Joseph Pine and James H. Gilmore, The Experience Economy (Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2011), 98.

 

A ride in the car; capsules and capitalism come up in conversation.

by helenjrr

Eric was loitering in the parking lot next to the architecture school, where he said he’d be when I called. No one really knew the status of Eric Packer’s enrolment at the school: it was unclear whether he’d dropped out, or whether in fact he’d ever enrolled – he certainly had never taken part in an orientation day exercise, or queued for a student card. There were rumours that he’d been kicked out of the AA, or possibly the Berlage; there were rumours that he only did architecture in order to appease the demands of his mother, the CEO of a global construction company. Whatever the truth, Eric spent his days plying the share market, playing Candy Crush, and driving around the city in a slick German sedan with his best friend, Vija De Cauter. He referred to Vija as his “Chief of Theory,” presumably because they always submitted papers and projects based on conversations had whilst idling in peak hour traffic and aimlessly cruising the edges of the city. I liked Eric; even if he channelled a serious Patrick Bateman vibe at times.

“Afternoon,” drawls De Cauter as I get in on the driver’s side. “Eric wants a haircut. You wanna join?”

I nod, immediately acquiescent. “Sure.

What’re you reading, Vija?”

“Deleuze. Agamben. Lazzarato. Foucault.”

I shouldn’t have asked. The car crawls lazily through the boom gates of the campus perimeter, outwards – that is, towards nowhere – not in any discernable direction, not taking the main highways, and not the arterials, just the feeders and local streets of the surrounding suburbs, which are (as always) leafy, idyllic, and still.

“You grew up in the suburbs, didn’t you?” Eric now, head turned, thumb hooked through the steering wheel. Not condescending, but not particularly committed to the notion. A foreign territory for the Erics and Vijas of the world. Hence their love of cars, I reflect. A novelty.

“Yep,” I reply, trying to sound non-committal. “Thinking of making the move?”

“In one way,” muses De Cauter, “we’re all suburbanites. Even us fervent city dwellers have to fight the suburbanization of daily life: cars, phones, tvs and computers are basically the tools – and, let’s face it, causes – of this process.”

“Capsules,” continues Eric, going straight through yet another roundabout, “all of it. Home to office. Office to home. Neoliberal individualisation plus suburbanisation.”

“The third law of capsularisation,” concludes Vija, happily.

I smother a laugh at their entitled irony. “Capsularisation? From the two of you? You couldn’t be more cocooned if you tried. Driving around all day, in this… car? Seriously? You live in a dream world. And you love it.”

“And don’t you love joining us in Disneyland?” Eric is laughing now. At me.

“The grimmer and uglier reality on the outside becomes, the more hyperreality will dominate the capsular civilisation,” I respond, quoting De Cauter’s latest, and most infamous, essay, which she’d posted all over the school instead of just emailing to the professor. The Capsular Civilisation On the City in the Age of Fear was urban legend.

The conversation reminds me of the last time I was in Eric’s car. Maybe Sarah was right, I reflect: maybe we had all already heard the same opinions, expressed in the same way, before. It was a few weeks back that I’d heard this last. Vija had asked Eric what it was that capitalism produces, according to Marx and Engels. (Clearly a trap.)

“Its own gravediggers,” he’d said.

“But these aren’t the grave-diggers,” Vija had responded, flipping through the pages of Spatial Agency: Other Ways of Doing Architecture, a book we were reading for our theory class, and pointing at various architects doing various things. “This is the free market itself. It breeds these men and women. They are necessary to the system they despise. They give it energy and definition. They are market-driven. They are traded on the markets of the world. This is why they exist, to invigorate and perpetuate the system.”

The car pulls to a stop. Time in the car is always different, more slippery, than time outside. We’re in front of a suburban barber, nowhere special.

“Haircut time. You wanna stick around and watch?” The offer is casual, excluding agreement in advance.

“Nah, I’m good. Might get the bus into town,” I answer, somewhat reluctant to leave the leather-clad surroundings of the car, but in need of some air. I grab my bag, suddenly gasping for metropolitan urbanness. De Cauter and Packer disappear into the barbers.

Hidden spaces

by obannova

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I wonder where people hide and why do they do it? How different those hidden places would be in a big city and in the middle of nowhere? When we hide do we create or destroy? I try to investigate these questions in course of my research and see if there are issues that design or architecture can address.

It is a common impression that population density creates social, political, health and economic problems. But does opposition to the density necessarily solves those problems? Hectic urban environment offers certain convenience to people living there and as a result pushes its edges further consuming more land, resources, and people. Stress that comes along with urban growth and density requires higher level of adaptation from people living there to its conditions and not everybody can adapt to it or fight it. People start looking for places where to hide, catch a breath, refresh or recoup.

One of big cities phenomena is that in spite of the fact that a person living there is usually exposed to thousands around him he may live unrecognizable and unnoticed throughout whole life. That creates a perfectly hidden place for one who seeks it. My research is focused on extreme environments and habitability issues there. Psychological issues that people have to deal with there are similar in a very unique way to many that an urban habitant experience living in a very technologically advanced environment and surrounded by millions of others like him. Would those who come from these different environments even understand each other?

Coexistence

by obannova

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It may seem that coexistence or harmony is opposition of struggle although coexistence does not necessarily happen with a perfect balance or it may change with time and new players entering the scene. If “the unit of survival is organism plus environment” as Gregory Bateson said, then there always should be found a way of living in the environment without severely alternating it even if the environment is brutal and makes people to struggle to survive. There should be a way to look at habitation unit not like a protective barrier but as part of already existing system balancing between optimization of given tools and requirements and admitting conditions for environment to continue its natural evolution.

When Zoe Sofia talks about “container” technologies (Sofia, 2000)and awareness of containers being part of processes and environments she looks at it from different perspectives and argues passiveness of containers. She argued that “neglect of containers and containment functions is only the result of anti-maternal bias in western thought, but is encouraged by the unobtrusiveness of containers, traces of whose productive roles are not necessarily evident in the final product”.

Plato argues in Timaeus: “we should never speak as if any of the things we suppose we can indicate by pointing and using expression ‘this thing’ have any permanent reality: for they have no stability and elude the designation ‘this’ or ‘that’…” (Plato, 1965)  – that means that instead of forcing transformations that we would think are “good” we may try to “coexisting” and find layers of transformation where our needs don not contradict natural way of environmental evolution. If there were three distinct realities as “being, space and becoming” architect’s major task may be formulated as finding balance between them that would last for some time and conditions for that balance to happen.