Towards a New Architecture
‘Let us summarize the principal characteristics of a rhizome...it is comprised not of units but of dimensions, or rather directions in motion’ Giles Deleuze.
We may have to wait for the “end of history”. Francis Fukiyama (1992) originally made claims of political and cultural stability in an essay of the late 1980s, perhaps the high noon of the Postmodern era. If his historical predictions seem premature a generation later, then by some consensus it is Postmodernism that has met its demise. In the search for a phrase to capture the successive state of our cultural condition a new contender was put forward in 2010 by Dutch academics Timotheus Vermeulen and Robin van den Akker (2010) ‘what we are witnessing is the emergence of a new cultural dominant – metamodernism’.
Architects and artists increasingly abandon the aesthetic precepts of deconstruction, parataxis, and pastiche in favor of aesth-ethical notions of reconstruction, myth, and metaxis. These artistic expressions move beyond the worn out sensibilities and empty practices of the postmodernists not by radically parting with their attitudes and techniques but by incorporating and redirecting them. In politics as in culture as elsewhere, a sensibility is emerging from and surpassing of postmodernism; as a non-dialectical Aufhebung1 that negates the postmodern while retaining some of its traits. In support of the metamodern this thesis will put forward an argument that a new sensibility is
1Aufhebung has the apparently contradictory implications of both preserving and changing. Translations from the German include "to lift up", "to abolish", or "to sublate”. The term has also been defined as "abolish," "preserve," and "transcend." In philosophy, aufheben is used by Hegel to explain what happens when a thesis and antithesis interact, particularly via the term "sublate." emerging in two new and distinct areas which can be interpreted as a rhizomatic convergence of art and architecture. * Socially engaged territory of practice:
Activists on the fringe of architectural practice are beginning to share much of the same value system as a particular group of contemporary artists whose practice is concerned with architecture and the built environment. Of particular interest here is the emerging idea that ‘architecture should be committed to being more than a building, that it should be about engaging people with their city’ (Galilee 2008). This comment was made in relation to Swedish architecture practice but equally signifies an attitude familiar to many art practioners.
* Dematerialisation as an aesthetic strategy:
Tendencies towards blending the real and virtual are emerging in the avant-garde of architecture. At the same time in art there is a turn towards the ephemeral and ethereal in the way art is treating the construction of space. Observations on these parallel impulses towards dematerialisation in both art and architecture will be presented and contrasted.
I consider these to be very interesting developments as it has not been since the 1960s that significantly disruptive ideas from art practice have made an impact on the autonomy of architecture. Moreover, art and architecture subsequently appear to have progressed on different if not divergent trajectories. I will argue that a new convergence in attitude or at least a set of parallel impulses can be identified between the two disciplines. The general narrative of this thesis, then, is to examine these impulses with respect to how they relate to each other and to critical theory. An objective will be highlight disruptive ideas in the spaces where art and architecture collide, with a particular emphasis on new ways of perceiving architecture both in formal terms and as a practice. Aspects of metamodernism will be used as motif throughout this text and therefore the relevant ideas of the theory merit some further elucidation at this point....
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