DUE 31, 19 May 2017
For Participatory Geometries, by Neiheiser Argyros


  1. This is a call to action.
  2. The architecture of our built environment demands too little of us.
  3. The spaces that surround us cultivate individual moods and collective atmospheres.
  4. Increasingly reduced to spectacular noise, saccharine one-liners, and tired tropes, architecture is becoming less effective and less relevant.
  5. At the scale of the city we are overwhelmed by the spatial logics of private commercial development and public popularity campaigns.
  6. Decisions are made based on what is least bad.
  7. Consensus rules.
  8. Participation can be a radical act of independent thinking.
  9. Participation demands confrontation and conflict.
  10. (Participation is a form of beauty.)
  11. Participation can be social and political, but it can also be spatial, visual, aural, and physical.
  12. Individual acts of participation can create collective experience.
  13. Alone, together. Together, alone.
  14. Geometry is a tool for interrogating shape, size, the relative position of figures, and the properties of space.
  15. There are many geometries.
  16. Participatory geometries are spaces and forms that are legible (and even appealing) to many, but open to individual interpretation.
  17. Participatory geometries acknowledge the simultaneous presence of multiple perspectives.[i]
  18. The geometries of participation are both under-thought and over-looked.
  19. Participatory geometries are spatial logics that draw us in and keep us looking.
  20. Participatory geometries transform passive gazes into active movements.
  21. “Participatory geometry” is an oxymoron, an uncomfortable pairing of two oppositional modes of thought, the social and the scientific brought into productive tension.
  22. Participatory geometries charge the spaces we inhabit with meaning and mystery.
  23. Participatory geometries are open, almost, and undecided.
  24. Participatory geometries are ”suggestions, which, while only suggestions, we hope you will take seriously.”[ii]
  25. Participatory geometries are both more of the same and something different.
  26. Participatory geometries complicate authorship by making the architect and spectator equally responsible for the work.
  27. Participatory geometries are contingent.
  28. The legibility of participatory geometries is subjective and fleeting.
  29. Participatory geometries upend the classical notion of universal a priori space, and replace it with a space “of passage and displacement from the center, a space interrupted by the discontinuous time of involuntary memory, a slender space whose divergences it is up to the spectator to explore, while eventually connecting its threads for himself.”[iii]
  30. Participatory geometries demand an active collaboration between a spectator and a space.
  31. Participatory geometries are comprehended through a sort of parallax of spatial observations.
  32. Participatory geometries demand a willingness to (by definition) participate in the making of one’s surroundings.
  33. Participatory geometries produce the nagging presence of an absence.
  34. Participatory geometries are both difficult and easy, requiring close attention and rewarding distraction.
  35. Participatory geometries don’t add up.
  36. Participatory geometries are scaleless.
  37. Participatory geometries are simultaneously open[iv] and closed – open to interpretation, and yet closed in on themselves through a kind of internally looping self-referentiality.
  38. Participatory geometries are coolly logical, but contain an unsettling smudge of messy irrationality.
  39. Participatory geometries are casually precise.
  40. Participatory geometries point to the total while defining the local.
  41. Participatory geometries are more often collected than created.
  42. Participatory geometries demand that each of us take a position.
  43. Participatory geometries are the ever-shifting target.
  44. This is the shot across the bow.

May 10th, 2017

Image Captions:
a_ Bridget Riley, Bagatelle 2, 2015.

b_ Carlo Scarpa, Olivetti Showroom, Venice. Photo: Ryan Neiheiser.
c_ Daniel Gustav Cramer & Haris Epaminonda, The Infinite Library, Book #24,
d_ Neiheiser Argyros, Bazaar Urbanism, 2013.
e_ Roni Horn, Else 11, 2011.
f_ Neiheiser Argyros, Gallery House, 2015.
g_ Unité d’habitation Roof, Le Corbusier. Photo by Rene Burri.
h_ Gabriel Orozco, Installation in Moderna Museet, 2014.
i_ Neiheiser Argyros, Wellness Center, 2015.
j_ Allyson Vieira, Cortège, 2011.
k_ expired patent, unknown source.
l_ Gerhard Richter, Stadtbild Paris, 1968.
m_ Iakov Chernikov, Skyscraper Palace, 1925.
n_ Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri, Wilkinkarra (Lake Mackay), 2012.
o_  Ellsworth Kelly – brushstrokes cut into thirty-five squares and arranged by chance, 1953.
p_ Neiheiser Argyros, New Cyprus Museum, 2017.
q_ Hans Dieter Schaal, Boulevard of the History of Architecture, 1972
r_ Birdman set model.
s_ Fischli Weiss, Outlaws, 1984.
t_ Manfred Mohr, P-300/B, 1980.
u_ Kenneth Martin, Chance and Order V, 1970.
v_ Neiheiser Argyros, Urban Village Graz, 2015.
w_ Giorgio Morandi, Natura Morta II, 1953.
x_ Eduardo Paolozzi, Utopia 1, 1986.

[i] See Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, (Chicago: Univ of Chicago Press, 1958) p. 57. “The reality of the public realm relies on the SIMULTANEOUS PRESENCE OF INNUMERABLE PERSPECTIVES and aspects in which the common world presents itself and for which no common measurement or denominator can ever be devised. For though the common world is the common meeting ground of all, those who are present have different locations in it, and the location of one can no more coincide with the location of another than the location of two objects. Being seen and heard by others derive their significance from the fact that everybody sees and hears from a different position. This is the meaning of public life… Only where things can be seen by many in a variety of aspects without changing their identity, so that those who are gathered around them know THEY SEE SAMENESS IN UTTER DIVERSITY, can worldly reality truly and reliably appear.”
[ii] From John Ashbury’s poem, Spring Light, in Houseboat Days (New York: Penguin Books, 1977).
[iii] From Yve-Alain Bois, “A Picturesque Stroll Around Clara-Clara,” in Richard Serra (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000).
[iv] See Umberto Eco’s concept of the “open work” in the The Open Work. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987).