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<eyebeam><blast> split ends

As I've been reading the posts to this forum - and as with last summer's
<blast> discussion, I've read most of the interventions - I've often
asked myself what my point of entry would be, why I haven't been
compelled to post, where I would position architecture within these
discussions.  Lately it occurred to me that maybe the end is a start for
me.  The following is my very improvised (and, well, long) proposition.

One of the things most telling about this discussion in comparison to
the last ones that I have followed is the relatively minor focus on
architectural speculations - developments in perception and production -
at the frontiers of art, advertising, electronic visualisation media,
global economic shifts, new social structures, TNCs, you name it.  These
are some of the ends of architecture, in the sense that architectural
production, perception, representation and other definitions find their
origins and even their clients in these places.  Changes at these
frontiers alter the essence of the field.

Here ("here") in San Francisco, many architects are finding new life
breathed into their profession (if a short gust) thanks to the new boom
in the software industry. Many big computer companies here are both the
client and the manufacturer of the software being used to draw their new
suburban office parks.  These developments are spontaneous responses to
the sudden need for office space. The condition is temporary and the
technologies built into these buildings will be quickly outdated, but
the results in the landscape are built to last.  Poignantly, this forum
has articulated a constellation of these forces, where everyone except
architects perform architectural speculation in response to the
changes.  One end here is the permanence built into most construction
today, an aspect of construction that was questioned intelligently
decades ago by Reyner Banham.

In "Towards a Pop Architecture" and "A Throwaway Aesthetic," Banham's
concerns were always naturally crossdisciplinary. In assessing the force
of consumption in industry's development of culture, he naturally
posited the birth of a "Pop Architecture" early: in Mies.  He went on to
claim that architecture's condition would soon cast permanence to the
wind and develop our cultural ethos on a model of demountable bubbles
for living ("A Home is not a House").  This obviously echoed his love
for Archigram's ambiguous work with temporary, mobile, and deployable

The exchange occuring between visual art exhibition forms and music
events / clubs has been very exciting.  Art exhibitions on the one hand
are showing new and creative forms of instability - nomadic galleries
and events, floating independant curators, artist-curators, and net art,
to name a few.  Club culture, particularly rave culture, is likewise
constantly inventing new architectural situations.   A favorite example
of mine is the "Air-Rave" where seats are removed from an airplane and
ravers board where they please -- London, Paris, Athens, Istanbul --
moving to Trance and Techno for a full 24 hours sometimes.  Apologies,
techno fans, for any geeky factual errors here. I have never done it;
only heard about it.  These are sites of social interaction, where major
capital is mobilized and new architectural "products" are perpetually
invented, all without the intervention of architects. Now it is the
exchange between the two spheres that is growing exciting.

While there is dialogue between artists and music makers (DJ Spooky's
interventions on this list are the most obvious present example, and I'd
love to hear his comments on all this), architects have had very limited
play either in this melding of cultures or in radically reconsidering
permanence in building practice.  There have been some interesting
recent cases of temporary buildings, but they are to my mind too
anomolous and rarely take the chance to expand and invent with other
fields.  Meanwhile, ephemeral structures in music seem to have their own
struggles, as rave culture may be growing institutionalized and
assimilated into dominant systems of order and economy. In Vienna, local
police organize "Official Raves" now, with set locations, curfews, and
specially mounted "grafitti walls."

I have been involved in a couple of different speculative projects to
plan obsolescence into architectural work. This is as much in the
interests of reexamining the cultural ethos that surrounded Banham's
writings as it is to engage architecture with its "ends" - to make
"split ends" - since temporary constructions seem to always return to us
architects as a sort of loose end.

One attempt is an exhibition that I hope to mount, one that looks
critically at a history of temporary architectural constructions in this
century and the conditions to which they responded.  It quickly becomes
clear that if an information pavilion in 1928 had a radically different
raison d'etre than one made in 1995 (cf. Berlin Info-Box), then the same
is true of architects and their very profession.

Another effort has been the few projects for temporary constructions
that I have designed in collaboration with other people, as the
organization T.R.O.U. The name and the organization are very informal
and stand for nothing. They are a sort of front behind which different
work can be done by different working groups of people, focusing on the
ends of architecture at other fields. Last year we did one work in
Berlin as a competition entry for a public space.  T.R.O.U.'s current
endeavor is an installation, the work of myself and local poet Eugene
Ostashevsky.  Another project on the boards is to consider the design of
elements of a mobile club. CD, Compact Discotheque, is an idea to
consider the potentials of such an intervention as a new architectural
model for public space.

I have some comments on our use of computer visualization technologies
and Coco's post, but I think I'll pause here.

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