Sunday, November 14, 2010

Collective Lost&Found Libraries and Insertions in Ideological Circuits

When I lost a very good book few months back I remember one of my friends telling me not to grieve over it as it had only become one of the many articles that form a collective pool of lost objects and something had become little more public in a world infested with privatising even thoughts and ideas. For me it was nice to imagine a city where people would be conscious of these lost and found objects, where as a gesture one had to leave an 'exchange' for the object they wish to take with them only to be lost again when they desire. Or seeding a city with books purposefully lost along strategic locations on designed topics to be found by an unsuspecting audience member, could very well come to be a tool of revolution, atleast a literary one, maybe.

(one of the works of Cildo Meireles, with the question "Who killed Herzog?" stamped, refering to the suspicious death in prison of the journalist Wladimir Herzog sourced from TATE also a very good interview of the artist here)
One of the artists whose work I really enjoyed seeing at Tate Modern, Cildo Meireles believes in using pre-existing systems to ones advantage which he refers to as Insertions into Ideological Circuits. Where objects of daily use that get circulated through a huge number of people (currency, soft drink bottles, or maybe even the London tube free newspaper) can be appropriated to send messages to a far diverse and wider audience. In an interview the artist explains "While having a beer with a friend at a bar in Rio, he remarked that an olive stone could never be removed from a bottle unless the mechanical process for washing bottles was changed. As I pictured this olive stone inside a bottle, I concluded that there are circulation mechanisms within society which could be used by artists as counter-information. Newspapers, radio and television are circuits for transmission with a very broad reach, yet they are vulnerable – that is to say, they are easily controllable."
Another artist whose work comes close to this is Omer Fast whose work T3-Aeon involved altering the soundtrack of The Terminator movies rented from New York area video stores. The sound tracks were interviews that served as a secret anonymous record of incidences that had transpired in the private space. Like Michel Gondry's Hollywood comedy Be Kind Rewind the possibilities of remaking stories and inserting them within this system is infinite.

(image sourced from the artist's blog here)

(image sourced from the artist's blog here more images can be found here)
In present day digital age, while the corporate thugs go on a witch hunt to close down different services that allow free exchange of files that are private properties, I came across the DeadDrops project by Aram Bartholl! It is fantastically smart move in the present context, goes along the lines of juxtaposing two public spaces together and just plays along the "what is in the box" curiosity for people to start plugging in along walls, booths, curbs and all sorts of places to exchange files that they have no clue of. And yes there is always fear of catching viruses but that is true for even delicious looking street food! its public space so get over it!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

1st para: found a nice blog, 2nd para: a long painful rant, 3rd para: Happy Diwali

Of the different kinds of architectural drawings made during different stages of the project, there are two types that almost tend to sit on either side of the process establishing a dialectics. One conceptualising architecture as a form of knowledge while the other casting it as knowledge of form. To me it is the conceptual stage that is most intriguing, during which architecture formulates itself as a built indicator/critique of various socio-political and environmental trends. Sometimes the drawing that conceptualises the product is so exquisite that the built project is read as a representation of that drawing.

(borrowed from Nikita's blog Drawing Architecture, one of the many drawings found on her tumblr site. Above is drawing by Ivan Leonidov for Ministry of Heavy Industry)
If you too like me enjoy seeing these kind of conceptual drawings then I found a very nice tumblr blog maintained by Nikita a student of Architecture with a keen eye for good drawings, skilled doodler and with great sources for some really beautiful drawings that are not easily available on the net. Added to my sidebar under depositories, I hope she continues sharing some great drawings.

But if you are more into "i like getting things built and done man" (in the manner of a pass out with zero imagination and trying to earn some redemption through picking up some fairly conventional standard details from ridiculously predictable sources like your employer or worse, books recommended by your builder) then go read some Neuferts and hope that someday the house you build will have fantastically standard details that will work but will just be another standard house in the village and not Villa Savoy.

(sourced from Ghee Happy)
In order to end this post on a better note, now for something completely different, Wishing everyone A Very Happy Diwali!

Saturday, October 30, 2010


"If we were able to take as the finest allegory of simulation the Borges tale where the cartographers of the Empire draw up a map so detailed that it ends up exactly covering the territory (but where the decline of the Empire sees this map become frayed and finally ruined, a few shreds still discernible in the deserts — the metaphysical beauty of this ruined abstraction, bearing witness to an Imperial pride and rotting like a carcass, returning to the substance of the soil, rather as an aging double ends up being confused with the real thing) — then this fable has come full circle for us, and now has nothing but the discrete charm of second-order simulacra."
Jean Baudrillard, "The Precession of Simulacra"

Sunday, October 17, 2010

To Learners of New Languages and Old

According to Foucault, the relationship between thought and language is that of geometry and algebra, where all the geometric shapes spontaneously pre-exist in nature waiting to be drawn and discovered but it is the algebric expression that provides the shape a meaning that is precise to its nature, where the spontaneity of the shapes' existence gets tuned in a mathematical meaning that when played will become that shape. And sometimes it is formulation of an algebric expression that could lead us to an undiscovered shape.
I loved this metaphor as it immediately makes one conscious of the proximity of language to space and social structure.This simultaneous Independence and symbiotic interdependence between language and thought I believe makes it even more crucial to conserve, learn, understand, speak and make new languages or else we lose out on all hopes of making something truly original that sprouts from the fertile soil of human conscience.
Some linguists estimate that a language dies every two weeks with the death of its last speaker. Apparently India tops the list with 196 endangered languages, geographically most of them located in the North and North-Eastern regions which had an interface with rest of the Asian landmass.
Maybe some decades down we may come to inherit a handful of fine words distilled to perfection by the utilitarian global culture, that quite ironic for their meaning sum up the true essence of human rot: LOL & LMAO!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Photography of Time Travel

(the white lines in the sky are a result of the sun moving across the sky and variations in the sun path through the year. photograph sourced from here)
Recently I came across German photographer/artist Michael Wesley's monochromatic photographs that are a part of his open shutter project, which record the image over long periods of exposure sometimes lasting 3 years.
In the past I have also written of Michael Kenna's long exposure photographs in low light conditions giving absolutely stunning high contrast images that beautify the very constraint, the static nature of a photograph. Here the image isnt a split second capture but something that has been and will continue to be. The environments recorded are almost meditative minimal landscapes of silence.

(image sourced from here)
But when a similar methodology gets used in urban environments that attempts to record months of moving images in one frame the result is as magical. Within the greater Order of Things in the branch of still photography I believe it is like discovering dialectically opposite twins.

(image sourced from here)
Michael Wesley's monochrome photographs that continue capturing the image over a period of 2 to 3 years constantly as the glass eye of the camera gazes continuously at one focus and the world around it changes, it instantly transforms into a time machine with its precise control over the speed of light, absorbtion of the memory of the past, experience of the present and dreams of the future on the film. The images thus recorded are as magical as the moving pictures, they record the very ghosts of time, the paths of the sun as it speeds across the horizon, the glare of a glass window on a particuilar day in winter.

(image sourced from here)
I wonder what would it be to have a camera positioned whose exposure time will work through generations, what would one like to focus their eyes on for the next 80 years if they know it will only be their next generation that shall see what it looked like.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

London Open House

(Roger's Channel 4 building)

(Roger's Maggie centre, small and very beautiful building as opposed to the channel 4 building.)
The London Open House is one of a kind architectural event that celebrates the city and its endeavours in articulating its built environment. Inspite of being architectural it seems to work at an urban scale as the entire city is turned into a gallery / museum exhibiting different buildings of architectural importance with people walking, running, cycling and in case of lazier ones like me taking the tube between different buildings of their choice that are made open to public over this open house weekend.

(Building to the left with circular windows and hideously out of scale pattern is FOA design and next to it sit buildings by generic practices that decided to 'design elevations based on copy, paste and array commands in autocad' according to my fellow architectural photographer for the day Dominyka Togonidze)
The buildings vary in scale, typology, date of design and conception. The entire process of careful selection of buildings that intrigue you the most out of a list of 800 and imprinting them on the London map with a game plan based on your preferred order of tastes in the course of this architectural buffet and the desire to savour everything laid out on the table makes it a truly urban experience. This year we covered the Greenwich Yatch Club, Maggie's Centre designed by Richard Rogers & partners. Another building that we visited was Roger's Television Channel 4 building which again wasn't open on that particular day of the open house.

(some really interesting designs by Adjaye associates. All photos in this post including these are courtesy of Dominyka Togonidze)
Also visited two buildings by Adjaye Associates in Shoreditch which were the Rivington Place and Dirty house unfortunately both not listed on the open house this year. Both the buildings are black and very minimal with some interesting details, formal strategies and material palette. I think Adjaye's is one of the few new practices that we can look forward to for more interesting work.
On the whole it was a great day filled with
archi- conversations, arguments and gossips while we went on a treasure hunt building to building collecting elements, details, materials, form and colours in our minds to be put to use in fantastically improvised versions when the time/project comes!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Concrete Flower to Death

In the Park of Eternal Glory next to the Wall of Memory rests a white concrete building to Death. The Kiev Crematorium designed by Architect Avraham Miletsky in the year 1975. The dynamic spatial sculpturing of space makes one wonder if the building is in a constant state of infinitesimally slow motion as its white concrete petals bloom and rotate producing a meditative grinding sound, while warm Death embraces the body inside.

(image sourced from here. There are also some more images here and here)

Saturday, August 14, 2010


During my early days in architecture all of us during a brief phase had taken to worshipping Tadao Ando, which secretly we still do in some obscure corner of naivety unpolluted by the realisation that it cannot be that simple, life is far more complicated, filled with contradictions that need to be represented in our spaces, objects, skews and corners. Ando had been popular for quite sometime then but it was during my first year in Architecture that he built Church of the Light a building that worshipped space, made concrete an inch more beautiful than what the modernist had left it as and we drooled.

It is this rich simplicity that draws me to Hiroyuki's work of which I have written before.
Hiroyuki will be exhibiting three new pieces in his next show at Art Sites, a gallery in Riverhead, NY. If you are the lucky few around do visit...I personally would like to see the scale of these objects...and if they open up like loosely held 3d jigsaw puzzles, or do they crack like egg shells, are they hollow or filled with a heavy fluid, is there a temperature difference in the blacks and whites, browns and greys...I guess I will definitely be banned from entering the gallery or his workshop!
I hope the art work sells and and pray definitely not to clients who would use it as bourgeoisie conversational props with their boring guests in plush living rooms with matching minimal aesthetics.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Surreal House & the Third Manifesto

For surrealists and people who love them, the Barbican's Surreal House is an exhibition you wouldn't want to miss. The exhibition is a collage of artists, filmmakers, architects and last but not the least Freud. It allows one to move around and pick and choose and relish what one desires from a buffet of anarchy, dreamscapes, metaphysics, sub conscious and pianos that hang upside down from ceilings making eerie sounds. Few rooms play short movies by the surrealists and people randomly stop by to peep in, look, maybe sit through the entire film (I couldn't help but sit through Jean Cocteau's very beautiful film La Belle et la Bete), or just leave half ways.

(one of the scenes from the movie Beauty and the Beast by Jean Cocteau)
For me personally the exhibition as well as the work displayed being able to allow the fractured pick-and-choose-help-yourself experience was very nice and only enhanced the nature of work for me. The focus stayed on the playfulness of the work as people genuinely seemed to smile, laugh and enjoy the films, sculptures and images.

(Tim Noble & Sue Websters scuplture "Metal fucking Rats" sourced from here is also a part of the show and one of my favourites)
If you are around and believe in Andre Breton and his deranged friends or just simply love Salvador Dali, Marcel Duchamp, Rene Magritte, Alberto Giacometti, Man Ray, Joseph Cornell or Louise Bourgeois then this exhibition is worth a visit, who knows you might be one of the fortunate few to come across some old pages from the draft of the third manifesto somewhere out there in the surreal house planted by one of the many living hopes that we may learn to dream again.
Talking of dreams, I wonder what Inception would had been, had the surrealist made it? With sleek, polished clear dreams corroded by Freudian psychoanalysis, where Joseph Cornellian objects in boxes retrieve different memories for different individuals sitting in the audience, where cities fold on itself but also cut, paste and form collages of resistance and revolt, with the audience contributing their own dreams to a narrative that unfolds like an exquisite corpse and the movie ending differently for different sittings, like Giacommetti's sculptures, Max Ernst's paintings and many other artifacts from the third manifesto. Now, that would be a good movie!

Saturday, July 24, 2010


At the end of history we have two architectural caricatures the serpentine pavilion by Jean Nouvel and Anish Kapoor's ArcelorMittal Orbit (which has been very nicely covered by Martin of Kosmograd), that seem to embody fragments of Russian constructivism ironically sponsored by global capital. Instead of being monuments to the masses these are schrizophenic objects that represent the disjunction in architectural practise and its context. They neither have the sense of intrigue and adventure that Russian constructivism had nor the formal ambition of Tschumi's Parc de la Villette's Follies. We are in the process of evolving a language with no memory. And what is most intriguing is that these assemblages of red-confusion come through Jean Nouvel and Anish Kapoor who have works in their name that I personally find quite interesting.
But being red, the Serpentine Pavilion does give some good photos...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Letters from Zihuatanejo

(photo "Rain" by Michelle Compton, UK, sourced from here)
Some years back I remember reading an excerpt from Murakami's After Dark, describing a street scene seen by one of the characters as "Even at a time like this, the street is bright enough and filled with people coming and going—people with places to go and people with no place to go; people with a purpose and people with no purpose; people trying to hold time back and people trying to urge it forward." I find the quote as beautiful as Wong Kar Wai's Chunking Express slow motion shots of Cop633 as he sips on his black coffee in the rain&people filled street of Hong Kong as the beautiful Faye Wong looks on, like Italo Calvino's Marco Polo experiencing different cities in the same city, as spatial explorations get entangled with time, memories, inhabitants and languages. For now it is summer here and happy memories, old friends and familiar places keep me company...while time passes in beautifully choreographed slow motioned shots.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Concrete Geometries

Few weeks back Me and Kostas participated in a call for exhibition put out by the AA, called Concrete Geometries Spatial Form in Social and Aesthetic Processes.
Below is our entry which consisted of repackaging of our Master's thesis. We didn't get through, which may be one of the signs that we need to stop hamming around our thesis and find something new....I have also a put some text along which was submitted for the competition.

The world as we know it is being rapidly shaped by two major processes Globalization and Urbanization. These two processes are able to bring about social, cultural, political and physical changes within geographies that they touch . These changes in turn transform the geography into yet another specialized terrain constituent that fits within the mega mechanism of global processes, developing in trajectories different from rest of the surrounding region.

Metaphorically the form and mechanism of the Rubik’s cube allowed imagination of an object that drew parallels with this condition of transforming and shifting terrain through globalization. This was imagined to be a spatial experiment, where we could simulate conditions of symbiosis or parasitism between two or more geographies and social structures that cross path due to the turning of the Rubik’s cube. Each surface was imagined to be a city designed through Italo Calino like narratives designed based on our present conditions of existence and at the same time fractured by the rotational mechanism of the cube, that allowed for a deconstruction of these narratives similar to Calvino’s “If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller” opening up numerous possibilities of interpretation based not only on the object to be read but also on the reader, the authors and the city outside.

Each surface of the cube was to be one city, thus the 6 cities were:
1)Panopticon: The city of Surveillance
2)Heterotopia: The city of Gardens
3)Noah: The city of Archives
4)Alice: The city of Labyrinth
5)Leviathan: The city of Hierarchy
6)Celestial: Struggle against gravity

In the book “The Architecture of Deconstruction” by Mark Wigley the writer traces the architectural translation of the philosophical term deconstruction based on Heidegger’s rethinking of building in Destuktion und Abbau. Destruktion means “not destruction but precisely a de-structuring that dismantles the structural layers in the system” and Abbau means “to take apart an edifice in order to see how it is constituted or de-constituted”
With the above abstract as a prologue it is easier to clarify what the cube supposed to insinuate as form and structure. In remobilizing these terms we are trying to advocate that the cube is trying (at least) to construct first a series of contradictions between systems and forms.

Creating these crucial conditions of ambiguity each one of the cities that occupy the 6 faces of the cube they don’t remain attached as binary systems but they are subjects to external forces of un-building. Near the edges of the cube where the cities form the first inaccessible limits, each organism-community reached points of weakness, Weakness of adapting and merging with the other. So for us the process of contamination through the transformations of the Rubik’s cube is the construction of inner penetrations cracks and flaws. This is an operation that demonstrates the extent to which the structures depend on both of these flows and the way that are disguised.

The 6 cities were designed as narratives where one of the many forces that shape a city became crucial and amplified to an extent that it shaped the social and physical geography of the city. Thus the cities have been designed to a detail of a day in the life on a citizen in each of the city, witnessed by an observer who travels along all the cities that shift, collage, and re-assemble to generate parallel geographies of our global landscapes and at the same time speculative geographies that are in waiting....

Friday, May 14, 2010

Kochi (Cochin) and Kozhikode (Calicut)

(The Chinese fishing nets along Kochi coast look like elaborate apparatus to do something more than simply catch fish, but this is one of the many living artifacts that have survived and become a part of everyday life here.)
Nora's first time visit to India started with us taking a fast-short trip to Kerala, specifically to two very beautiful town-cities Kochi and Kozhikode with travelling Sahil as our host, translator and glocal guide. This was my first trip to Kerala and had the best time.
A continuous blanket of dense tropical cover growing over red laterite soil, every now and then sparing space for houses, roads and small town centres that occur with calculated uniformity throughout the state get purged together by the heavy humid air that seems to blur boundaries between forest and the city. The two cities mostly lay hidden among the multi-storeyed emerald green foliage anchored to the sky by coconut palms and towering over a lush ecosystem inhabited by purple crested, yellow winged, orange bottomed birds, lizards and mammals all chirping, hooting, singing and laying equal claims to this "gods own country" and all spotted, classified and explained in precise detail by Sahil. The climate and soil lay the stage for fertility and its worship, nature grows and devours at the same pace that all man made gets eroded, corroded, mossed over adding to the green that seems to envelope and seep through just about every thing.
Kuttichira Jami Masjid in Kozhikode with its skew that changes the axis of the street.

(Sahil explained that this mosque, one of the many old mosques present in Kerala built by the Arab traders who were then provided to settle and have families here by the then ruler the Zamorins comes up in a time when Islam has not formalised its Islamic Architecture and so these mosques look completely different from present day mosque. Moreover the architecture of these mosques is also influenced by the local artisans and craftsmen more at comfort with making boats & Asian temples.)
Both the cities are port cities and have their genealogy influenced by global trade that assured their place in stories by travellers, map makers, explorers and historians. A place visited by Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese, Jews and many more people from different places which hadn't become nations, belonging to faiths that hadn't become religions and all in search of places that hadn't been seen on world maps. These two cities certainly took roots in a time when the world had a place for curiosity and cultures mixed more seamlessly, with one of the oldest Jewish synagogues having its floor adorned by Chinese tiles, some of the oldest mosques having pitched roofs and ornamentation done by Hindu boat making artisans, Portuguese churches responding to tropical climate, fishermen using Chinese fishing nets and Indian spices unifying all these differences, that got traded and bartered along the silk route.The experience of seeing oldest institutions, housing typologies, neolithic carvings, endemic flora and fauna and many other artifacts from a stage where man, nature and civilizations were swimming in primordial soup of forming our present is no short of magic, like an archeologist's dream of time evidenced by living fossils.
(The pedestrian path to the Jewish synagogue presently serves as a flea market for tourists but has very interesting shop and house typologies that contain elaborately carved and conserved smaller artifacts like wooden posts, statues, doors, windows, brass handles etc.)
The Jewish synagogue is a very good example of one such architecture formed out of mixing of historic and cultural narrative. The synagogue was originally built around 4th century by the Malabari Jews who had come to be a prosperous trading community in Kerala. This synagogue was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1500s. The second synagogue was built through Dutch patronage and with protection from the Raja of Cochin and so came to be known as Paradesi synagoge which translates as foreign synagogue.

(A houseboat on the Kochi backwaters.)
The Backwater is a labyrinth of lakes, canals, dykes, islands, rivers all separated and connected by nature and man strategically to channel tidal sea water and inland freshwater to form a very unique ecosystem of fantastic natural beauty. This was one of the highlights of the trip, that allowed us tourists to voyeur into this ecosystem while the locals went about their everyday lives.
P.S. Somewhere out there in Kerala is a grandma who makes the best prawn pickle, which I prescribe as the top of the list food that you pack in case of a nuclear winter, apocalypse, or in everyday life. Happiness guaranteed even if you don't see the sun for the rest of your life!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Swan Song

(The sounds were recorded by Mark Fischer an engineer who used to work on US Navy sonar and software for defence and aerospace companies but he now records the underwater conversations between whales and dolphins and transforms the waves into art.)
Hiroshi found himself anxiously rechecking calibrations on the piezoelectric transducers. The wavelet patterns of the specimen he had been studying for the past 12 years had changed its spectrogram in a matter of days. He had slowly become aware of the responsibility that had been entrusted to him. He was one of the 7 researchers across the globe given responsibility to record, study and archive the life of the last 7 animals of this dying species, the Megaptera novaeangliae.

(Fischer uses a a branch of maths dealing with wavelet that transforms sound to intricate patterns. The patterns look intricate and remind me of Yantras and Manadalas that always seem to be encoded with something more that what we can comprehend.)
Despite suggestions to attempt breeding programs, besides the scale, the sheer magnificence of these gentle giants made it almost immoral to reduce them to conserved specimens of the human guilt. Instead it was voted by the Councils, Corporates and Governments alike, to allow the animals to die in dignity. On their deaths, divers would dive to collect complete DNA samples to join the ranks of numerous other animals on the Noah's Arc a Cryoarchive Lab in the middle of the Indian Ocean that promised a day of resurrection. It was observed that all the 7 animals had started singing the same song over the past few months, the separation between the North Atlantic and the North Pacific songs had merged into a singular string of notes. Slowly the number had further reduced from 7 to 4 to the last.

(Fischer has taken advantage of the striking look of his graphs, selling them as art through his company Aguasonic Acoustics, based in San Francisco.)
Hiroshi knew it was the Humpback's Swansong, something that had to leave a lasting reverbrance in the oceans of time. He wondered what are the conscious dying words of the last animal. like the million languages that had slowly faded away over the last century, from the memory of human speech, to die at the hands of 2 global languages. what were the words of the last person of a dead language, knowing that he alone made sense of sounds that had earned their syntax over years of collective efforts. And it was then that Hiroshi realized the very nature of this tradition, the preparation towards the end, the making of the Fayyum potrait that will stay and tell beings to come that I was here, I swam through the oceans of time changing with the world around, from paws to wings, from mammal to fish. And the whale had selected Hiroshi as his artiste biographe.
(Came across Mark Fischer's blog here)
Hiroshi quickly ran sono-trans, a program that interpreted different sounds, ran a comparative meaning-sound analysis to provide the closest 'meaning/gesture' that it could mean and group these together to form what we could understand as sentences. But this time, it did not make any sense, the sounds were different, they never repeated. The sound had no semiotics, no syntax. With no one to sing to had the animal broken away from the very rules of its language?...Hiroshi ceaselessly recorded every sound, every song and every gesture made by Moby, his whale, with whom he had lived, slept and ate in a submersible, away from the world. It soon dawned upon Hiroshi that the whale was not an individual animal anymore but a representative of a collective that once was. It did not have the luxury of leaving behind a self indulgent fayyum potrait but what it was leaving behind was the Rosetta stone itself. The very genetic code of its language, its existence and the collective memory of the entire species. Hiroshi witnessed the last animal sleep, with its body swaying limply along the ocean floor that had suddenly lost its voice.

Update: article: lonely whale

Friday, April 09, 2010

Rant #2367

Over the past year and a half as the world rolled languidly through a long recession, and continues to do so we witnessed the practise of architecture at its innovative best, right from a sudden surge in design offices wanting to satisfy their social obligations by 'hiring/taking on board' unpaid interns to ideas competitions with the entry fee being almost the same as the winning prize.

(Description from - " President George W. Bush comments to the media as he tours the Masdar Exhibition Monday, January 14, 2008, at the Emirates Palace Hotel. Said the President, "I hope that my visit shines a spotlight on the Middle East, the opportunities to work constructively with our friends and allies, and shows people the truth about what life is like here in the United Arab Emirates. This is a remarkable place. Its architecture is beautiful. But the can-do spirit is amazing." White House photo by Eric Draper" January 14 2008)
To me George Bush visiting Masdar exhibition, Fred Goodwin being hired as the advisor to the RMJM group and finally Zaha Hadid's Petroleum Research Centre (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) aiming for a LEEDS exemplify the very crème de la crème of hypocrisy that got brewed to perfection during this recession.

(Architecture giant RMJM has hired disgraced former Royal Bank of Scotland boss Fred Goodwin to work as senior advisor on international business. Image sourced from: Architects Journal)
Unlike the last Slump this time there were no alternatives churned out through the crisis, there was no mass unrest, there were no social movements that could change the course of architecture. Instead the processes of outsourcing and back officing just got more finely tuned to exploit the difference in labour cost through technological innovations like Revit, turning third world cheap labour into cad-monkeys.
While many out there eagerly crusade for architecture to be understood as a more diverse field than just the business of built environment, the production of built environment is still controlled by a certain nature of practice and all diversity sits on its fringes throwing paper balls of criticism/influences that hits its double glazed curtain walls and fall into the bin. These diverse alternatives are not really alternatives within the practice but just alternatives of personal choices, as we negotiate around our everyday needs and ethics.
The field that once had the modernists is now a collaborative of bunch of technical experts, consultants, speculators, agents and most importantly managers putting together a historically, socially and culturally acontextual box that is not a building but has been reduced to being just another consumer product like an ipod, car or toothbrush.

Update to the above post:
came across a blog post by a student from The Bartlett, Chris Hildrey on the Archinects School blog Project. The post summarizes the contradictions within the academic and professional spaces ..."
The source of my nervousness is that the move from uni to practice is, in my case at least, one from a world where it is possible to get away with useless beauty, to one where is it possible to get away with ugly utility. And neither world will tolerate the others’ vice well."
continue reading here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I came across works by two very interesting artists last week, Nicolas Moulin who envisages ruins of mega monolithic concrete blocks in a deserted landscape while the other being Hiroyuki Hamada who designs comparatively small, vaguely futurist looking monoliths.

(Some of the many Hiroyuki's tablets that could easily come to be a parts of totem pole of a dystopian space age civilization, whose technological advancement has come at the price of erosion of memory of history and language...where technology is god. Images sourced from:
Hiroyuki's artifacts that seem to draw semantic nourishment from manga, minimalism, space debris, Japanese Zen, Buddhism, God particles, Shivalingam, crustaceans, Mars and brush by closely to Nicolas's Béton Brut work that sends roots to Normandy Bunkers, Corbusier, Oplismeno skirodema, Berlin Wall, Moai, Rosetta stone, Noah's Arc etc according to me are not thriving on but are just the opposite. They are soil samples of the very ground that anchors the tree of Being, from where all these references germinate.

(Images of Nicolas Moulin's collages sourced from Vulgare one can also find an online blog recording by the artist and Amanda Crawley Jackson called Beton brut)
The ability of both these artist to have art works that spread roots through history and simultaneously come across as being so basic that it forms a part of Lebenswelt, the very ground of universality which anchors the roots of metaphysics, to be understood in equal ways by every member of the human race is according to me the true essence of their work.
Scale, texture and form, that is all to it, as wise old university stalwarts would put it, which according to me has more truth to it than the combined cacophony that we seem to have inherited from the circus that was post modernism and these two artists working independently in different circles and continents seem to echo just that. The simplicity of works is refreshing and it just looks very very sexy.