The Open Project, Ryan Neiheiser, Xristina Argyros. Imagining Architecture Beyond the End Times – The Architecture Exchange Workshop Series 2, 2016.
Yes, our current world is getting more turbulent, complex, and crowded. And yes, architects are fading from relevance, struggling to maintain a social and political relevance; we are guilt-ridden, anxious, complacent, and confused.
The making of architecture is slow, and the discipline of architecture is mired in limiting, cumbersome, and tired professional bureaucracies. Architecture is having an increasingly difficult time keeping up with the conversation.
Within the discipline, we lazily rely on quick labels and pedigree to categorize practices, while outside the discipline, the public thinks that architects either “do residential” or “skyscrapers.” The rich and complex interplay of space, aesthetics, customs, laws, economics, and politics is reduced to dumb labels of style and scale.
The pressure of having “a project”, of self-defining a practice ahead of the work that it will do, is part of the problem. The manifestos of the 20th century cast a long shadow. Anxious to be part of the conversation, recently graduated architecture students and young practices scramble to find something to say, to define themselves, to prematurely brand themselves in order to differentiate themselves from the glut of architects graduating each year. This rush to brand legibility further stagnates the profession, unnecessarily typecasting and dumbing down the conversation. Tired tropes, expected ghosts, and recycled manifestos proliferate.
The best architecture emerges from fervent obsessions and passionate positions – by nature messy, plural, evolving, and incomplete. Forcing them into singular static position boxes and distilling universal truths is both reckless and limiting.
Heroic projects have played important roles in the history of architecture, disrupting modes of thought and galvanizing entire new movements. However, the singular, totalizing project no longer disrupts, but often simply gets lost in the crowd, just another loud cry amongst so many others. Even at its most sophisticated and thoughtful, the single project can have the unfortunate result of siloing the discipline, not into productively antagonistic camps, but rather into isolated cliques that rarely interact.
This is the shot across the bow against the project as such. Against the singular, universal, totalizing, and heroic project. This is a call for multiple projects, or more precisely, a call for an open project.
The complexity and pace of our increasingly unstable, mediated, and connected world demands a new architectural agility. Architects must adapt a schizophrenic mindset, passionately consumed by multiple projects at once. Out of this multiplicity, a new open project emerges, in the parallax view between several heterogeneous projects. In the often delirious gap between the budgets, contexts, and politics of programs as diverse as a residential extension, a masterplan, an exhibition, and an art museum, architects can’t possibly stretch a singular project to encompass them all. And the whiplash between sites and contexts is only growing as the role of the architect continues to expand – to curator, activist, entrepreneur, consultant, brand advisor, event coordinator, and even financial planner.
The open project is a kind of triangulation between a series of instincts, intuitions, and hunches. It is motivated by the local granularity of each single project; the particular concerns, questions, associations, agendas, and theses developed for each context. At our best we leave our preconceptions at the door, but bring all of our diverse and often irreconcilable obsessions with us.
The open project requires our ongoing participation in its making. It requires that we trust and nurture our instincts in the face of fashions and established schools of thought. It is highly motivated and carefully considered, but it is always multiple, almost, and just out of reach. It resides in the particulars of what lies in front of us, in our immediate local (a local that always points to and is complicit with the global). The open project is loose without being limp. It is contingent without being indeterminate. It is flexible, but not endlessly so. It is open without being ambiguous. It measures the world as it presents itself and allows life to unfold in all its complexities. The open project has many particular agendas, but no overarching schema. It recognizes that each project has different ingredients, so the final meal will always be different. The open project embraces the humanness of the architect, with her own subjectivities, opinions, fears, hopes, proclivities, and obsessions. It rejects the a priori.
The open project celebrates architects as collectors, as observers, as gatherers. It seeks out spatial logics that draw us in and keep us looking. It is both more of the same and something different. The open project is always relative and it doesn’t always add up. The open project demands that each of us take a position, but only provisionally. The open project celebrates the unexpected discovery. The open project is playful. It is spatial, visual, aural, and physical. It is messy, subjective, opportunistic, flawed, open to interpretation, nuanced, and personal. The open project is unfinished.
The future cannot be attempted through universal, totalizing, or definitive agendas. It must be chipped away at one thoughtfully considered and unexpectedly designed project at a time. Progress will not come through revolution, but rather in the loosely networked advances of an entire generation of architects working their hardest to stay tuned into the latest conversations, flows, whispers, trends, loopholes, and opportunities. Only in this way will we find our way to something truly new. It is a thousand small experiments (not one single manifesto) that will cut against the current global malaise.
In short, architects need to loosen up, stop worrying so much about defining themselves, open their eyes, look around, ask questions, nurture their obsessions, and get to work.
00 – Gottfried Böhm, Neviges Pilgrimage Church, Germany, 1962. Photo: Xristina Argyros. Fractured and singular, futuristic and ancient, material and ephemeral – a paradoxical space that is intensely contingent and casually monumental – Böhm’s church is a provocation (and diagram?) for our current social, political, cultural, and, by extension, architectural moment. We can’t quite tell what it is, but we’re hooked, and we need to look closer.
01 – Daniel Gustav Cramer & Haris Epaminonda, The Infinite Library, Book #24, 2011.
02 – Max Bill, Variation 12, 1938. Image Courtesy http://blog.andreasneophytou.com.
03 – “Call to Action” is just what it says, a passionate plea for an architecture of activism. Seven years after the start of the most recent economic downturn, at a time when war, poverty, terrorism, and disease proliferate, as many of the worst problems we confront reach a breaking-point, architecture seems crippled by crisis fatigue, unmotivated and listless. The discipline has fallen victim to a scarcity of both resources and willpower. This has not always been the case. There have been historical periods when architects demonstrated social agency and conviction – see the early modernist’s advocacy for social housing and new forms of urbanism, Buckminster Fuller’s attempts to use design to solve the earth’s energy and resource problems in the 40s and 50s, or the many radical practices in the 60s that strove to subvert systems of power, or some of the grassroots attempts to rethink collective forms of resistance in the 90s and early 00s. What initiatives can architects take to make architecture count today? How must architecture evolve in order to make a relevant contribution? We each must define our role in a new architecture of activism.
04 – According to Bill Buford, writing in Granta 8 (summer 1983), “Dirty Realism is the fiction of a new generation of American authors. They write about the belly-side of contemporary life – a deserted husband, an unwed mother, a car thief, a pickpocket, a drug addict – but they write about it with a disturbing detachment, at times verging on comedy. Understated, ironic, sometimes savage, but insistently compassionate, these stories constitute a new voice in fiction.” Fredric Jameson, in his published lecture, The Constraints of Postmodernism (The Seeds of Time. New York: Columbia UP, 1996), re-appropriates the term “dirty realism” in order to describe one strand of postmodern architecture – namely the messy, program-driven, simultaneously universal and localized architecture of Rem Koolhaas and his OMA. Stan Allen has more recently used the term to describe the work of SANAA, and to draw parallels with the earlier projects of OMA, especially their shared concern for the “space of activity, the messy realm of movement and public interaction.” (from “SANAA’s Dirty Realism” in Learning from Japan: Single Story Urbanism, edited Florian Idenburg, Baden, Lars Müller, 2009). Finally (for now), a small offhanded thought from Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, brings the term full circle and back to the literary world. He writes that it’s “Odd to glimpse infinity precisely in a finite curve, eternity precisely in the seasonal” (330). Savagely messy locales that point to the global, and insistently messy totalities that point to the local. To be continued…
05 – Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri, Wilkinkarra (Lake Mackay), 2012. Image Courtesy Scott Livesey Galleries.
06 – Roni Horn, TOO V, 2000. Image Courtesy Hauser & Wirth.
07 – Gerhard Richter, Stadtbild Madrid [Townscape Madrid], 1968. ©Gerhard Richter, 2013.
08 – In 2007, the British artist Mike Nelson created an installation entitled “A Psychic Vacuum” which filled the abandoned Essex Street Market in New York City’s Lower East Side with a tangled warren of rooms and corridors. Disoriented, the visitor emerged from the labyrinth into a large undistinguished room filled with sand. Slowly, and only after some concerted spatial arithmetic, it became clear that the spaces just inhabited were in fact buried beneath this pile of sand. Covered completely, the legibility of the spatial void hovered just beyond reach as one’s mind struggled to reconstruct its recent spatial history. Stubbornly unstable in form, the void nonetheless remained conceptually vibrant in its overt obscurity – in the nagging presence of its absence.
09 – John Stezaker, Marriage (Film Portrait Collage) XXXI, 2007. Image Courtesy Saatchi Gallery.
10 – Plan of Hammam ar-Raddi, unknown source. See also entry #13, Insides with No Outsides.
11 – NEIHEISER ARGYROS, Iconic Banal, 2008. Typical floor plan for a midtown high rise with iconic monumental void. Unrealized.
12 – Scale relates, locates, sizes, and stabilizes. It offers a history and proposes a future. It authenticates. It confirms pedigree. It provides a common point of reference. It is the descriptive placard next to the work of art. It is useful, and it is complicating. It too often gets in the way.
13 – Fredric Jameson, in his published lecture, The Constraints of Postmodernism (The Seeds of Time. New York: Columbia UP, 1996), to help describe one strand of postmodern architecture that he calls “dirty realism,” (seen entry #04 above) references the “cyberpunk” aesthetic first described in Gibson’s early novel Neuromancer, and visualized later in the movie Bladerunner, both distinctly dystopic visions of the future told from the vantage of the early 1980s. But he also identifies characteristics of these former futures – “interfusions of crowds of people among a high technological bazaar with its multitudinous nodal points” – in the globalized reality of the 1992 present of his lecture. Jameson calls this new present, this increasingly complex and abstract system of interrelations, the “unmappable system of late capitalism itself.” For Jameson, the present has become one giant “inside with no outside”, unable to be seen in its entirety and too unstable to support a distinguishable future. How do we conceptualize (and therefore render legible) this type of formless interiorized space? How do we comprehend the shape of a space with no exterior, an inside with no outside? The challenge is that there is no way to get any distance from these spaces, no exterior vantage from which to “take it all in.”
14 – Jean-Marc Bustamante, Tableau, from the series Landschappen 1978-1982. © Galerie Paul Andriesse, Amsterdam.
15 – This is a manifesto for a new architectural agenda, one that reclaims a social and political agency for geometry. “Participatory Geometries” are spatial logics that draw us in and keep us looking, that transform passive gazes in active movements, and that demand that each of us take a position. “Participatory geometries” create architecture that supports multiple readings and interpretations, architecture that people will disagree about, architecture that engenders an engaged public.
16 – Rosalind Krauss, in her article “Grids” from 1979, recognizes the grid as a persistent emblem for the modern in visual art and outlines both a centrifugal reading of the grid that compels acknowledgement of a world beyond the frame, and a centripetal reading that understands the grid as mapping the space inside the frame onto itself. Alan Colquhoun has argued that functionalism in the modern movement was not simply about utility, but rather the unification of the mechanical and the spiritual. Krauss locates the grid’s power in its ability to suggest logic while simultaneously providing “a staircase to the Universal.” It is precisely in this shared notion of an overtly cool functionalist logic subverted by, yet coexistent with, an undercurrent of irrational significance, which explains the happy marriage of the visual effects of the grid with the intentions of the modern movement.
17 – Jean Prouvé, Chaise Standard, 1930.
18 – The Monument on Flagler Memorial Island, an uninhabited artificial island in the city of Miami Beach in Biscayne Bay, Florida, United States. Courtesy of the Florida Photographic Collection, 1922.
19 – NEIHEISER ARGYROS with Giancarlo Valle and Benjamin Critton, Streetfest Competition Entry #1, City Within a City, 2013.
20 – Richard Long, A Line and Tracks in Bolivia, 1981. Participating in the shaping of a void.
21 – The open project is a kind of triangulation between a series of instincts, intuitions, and hunches. It is motivated by the local granularity of each single project; the particular concerns, questions, associations, agendas, and theses developed for each context. The open project requires our ongoing participation in its making. It requires that we trust and nurture our instincts in the face of fashions and established schools of thought. It is highly motivated and carefully considered, but it is always multiple, almost, and just out of reach. Umberto Eco’s, The Open Work, is an obvious reference here, a helpful point of departure.
22 – Another Pamphlet is perversely anachronistic – it is printed on paper and distributed via, gasp, the post. Against the haze of digital distraction we crave an object to hold our attention – something to touch, to fold, to tuck in our back pocket, to discard.
23 – Harold Bloom. The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. On page 6 Bloom quotes Oscar Wilde, ″Influence is simply transference of personality, a mode of giving away what is most precious to one’s self, and its exercise produces a sense, and, it may be, a reality of loss. Every disciple takes away something from his master.″
24 – John Miller, Social Portraits, from the show “Counterpublics”. ©John Miller, Courtesy of Campoli Presti, London.
25 – Georges Candilis, Alexis Josic & Shadrach Woods, Free University Building, Berlin, 1963.
26 – Carlo Scarpa, Olivetti Showroom, Venice. Photo: Ryan Neiheiser.
27 – Le Corbusier, Beistegui Apartment, Paris, 1929. Beautifully demonstrating the power of the frame, and the role architecture plays as an instrument for editing.
28 – Minor revolutions occur all around us. Objects collide, translate, rearrange, emerge, subside, accumulate, associate, collapse, and decay. This world we inhabit – this city, this building, this stuff that surrounds us. This matter. This material. It acts, agitates, and networks, just like you and me.
29 – Oswald Mathias Ungers, The City in the City – Berlin: A Green Archipelago, 1977. The image that launched a thousand ships… A galvanizing diagram for a tactical formalism, an empowering role for architecture in the making of the city.
30 – Ernesto Lapadula, Giovanni Guerrini & Mario Romano, Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, competition winning entry, Rome, 1938. Seamless juxtaposition of the modern cube and the classical arch. According to George P. Mass, there exists only one building in Rome that “rises above the level of uninspired neo-classicism… to place itself in the past, present, and future simultaneously.” See George P. Mras, “Italian Fascist Architecture: Theory & Image,” Art Journal 21. No. 1 (1961). See also entry #41 below, “the future as present.”
31 – “I am for an art that takes its form from the lines of life itself, that twists and extends and accumulates and spits and drips, and is heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself.” -Claes Oldenburg.
32 – NEIHEISER ARGYROS, Data Center Spa Hybrid, 2012. While architectural forms repeat themselves throughout history, programmatic innovations can allow for new architectural typologies to emerge. The project rethinks the box-like, monolithic nature of data centers and proposes a thermal spa and tropical garden that capitalize on the wasted energy produced by the servers. In this case, the datacenter ‘’box’’ is hollowed out as a public space, and a new hybrid infrastructural/architectural typology is imagined.
33 – Bridget Riley, Bagatelle 2, 2015. © Bridget Rile. Image Courtesy Karsten Schubert Gallery. Also, see note #31 above, on “Participatory Geometries.”
34 – Le Corbusier, Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Massachusetts, 1963.
35 – Vitruvius makes a distinction between symmetry – the proper internal arrangement of the parts of a work – and eurhythmy – the proper arrangement of objective proportions relative to a subjective observer. The ability of the observer to think and move introduces contingency into an otherwise stable condition.
36 – Brice Marden, The Attended, 1996-9. © Brice Marden.
37 – Yve-Alain Bois has traced the emergence and evolution of this radically new concept of space, one legible only to the moving spectator. In his article “A Picturesque Stroll Around Clara-Clara” of 1983, Bois identifies a strand of thought working against the classical notion of a unified, a priori sense of space and suggests in its place what he calls a modern picturesque space. He writes, “this space, from Rodin to Serra, is one 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.”
38 – Moscow metro map. Drawing by Ryan Neiheiser. See entry #37 “Modern Picturesque”, entry #15 “Participatory Geometries”, entry #13 “Insides with no Outsides”, and entry #10.
39 – An acknowledgement that everything we do has been done before, that everything we make comes from somewhere, and yet it is still worth doing, still worth making. In a new context, with a new agenda, in a new time, each act, each gesture, can be liberated from its past, and can be revolutionary. See the artist Harris Epaminonda’s take on history and influence… “I simply never keep a record of the sources I am using. It is a decision and a liberating moment of freeing the object from its past.” The word “another” contains this paradox, of simultaneously being both “more of the same, and something different.” Another Pamphlet, another practice, another office, another project…
40 – NEIHEISER ARGYROS, The Gallery House, 2015. A split personality house for the passionate art collector. The house weaves together spaces of domestic everyday life with idealized spaces for viewing art. On one side of the central axis of the house are rooms specifically crafted for viewing a range of different types of art, with carefully controlled light and room proportions. On the other side of the axis are individually designed rooms for living. The house curates the experience of both, forcing the inhabitant to constantly move back and forth between art and life, between spaces of contemplation and spaces of interaction. Acting as a sort of “palette cleanser”, the house refreshes, or resets the inhabitant’s mode of thinking throughout the day. Importantly, both types of space are always visually present – the warm glow of the fireplace visible from within the gallery, and vice versa, the newly acquired sculpture visible while preparing drinks for guests.
41 – William Gibson, science fiction author and inventor of the term “cyberspace,” identifies a recent collapse of the future into the present. However, not only is the future already here, but for Gibson there is no future distinguishable from the present. He writes, “Fully imagined cultural futures were the luxury of another day, one in which ‘now’ was of some greater duration. For us, things can change so abruptly, so violently, so profoundly, that futures like our grandparents’ have insufficient ‘now’ to stand on. We have no future because our present is too volatile. The only possibility that remains is the management of risk. The spinning top of the scenarios of the present moment.” – William Gibson, Pattern Recognition, New York: Berkeley. 2003. p. 57.
42 – Screen capture from L’Eclisse, Michelangelo Antonioni, 1962.
43 – Henri Cartier-Bresson, Madrid, Spain, 1933. © 2015 Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos, courtesy Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris.
44 – In Sert, Leger, and Giedion’s famous position paper, “Nine Points on Monumentality” and in Giedion’s subsequent essay, “The Need for a New Monumentality,” the argument is made for modern architecture’s necessary role in reordering the social landscape through the design of legible civic centers, monumental ensembles, and public spectacles. Monumentality, according to Giedion, springs from the eternal and inevitable need to create shared symbols that embody the collective activity, organization, or ambition of a particular people and time. The discrepancy between the picturesque space of Giedion’s civic plaza (public subject as awe-struck witness) and the “modern picturesque” (see endnote #37) space of Koolhaas’ Very Big Library competition entry (public subject as beguiled participant) reveals important divergences in their respective understandings of the status of monumentality. The “Nine Points” document invokes a monumentality that is the symbolic expression of a single “collective force,” of “the people,” and of a necessarily unified “consciousness.” This stability, cohesiveness, and completeness is echoed in Giedion’s call for a monumental architecture marked by legibility and spectacle. Koolhaas’ project on the other hand, with its multiple ambiguous void shapes floating hidden from view, suggests multiple, contingent forms of symbolic expression; a monumentality dependent on active interpretation and interrogation. The monumentality of the Very Big Library proposal is located not hovering in the silhouette of the city skyline, nor emerging from the center of a large open square. It won’t comfortably be captured in a post-card snapshot or easily abstracted into a letterhead logo. It is a newer monumentality, a monumentality that resides in the lingering memory of collective inhabitation.
45 – NEIHEISER ARGYROS, Civic Frame, 2015. “The city was first and foremost a void, a marketplace, an agora, and all its subsequent development has been just a means of fixing this void, of delimiting its outlines.”- Jose Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses. Civic Frame is a new form of urban infrastructure. It is sixty individual and identical units that can be combined in an infinite number of arrangements to strategically delineate – or frame – the city. Civic Frame invents a new urban typology – part public park bench and part wall – the two functions symbiotically support one another. Civic Frame provides a flexible and participatory tool for provisionally establishing limits, edges, boundaries, and frames; empowering the urban citizen to define their own space for discussion, debate, expression, and engagement.
46 – Giuseppe Terragni, Casa del Fascio, Como, 1932-1936.
47 – “It exists in the mind / Before it’s represented on paper it exists in the mind / The point—it doesn’t exist in the world / The classic is cool / a classical period / it is cool because it is impersonal / the detached and impersonal / If a person goes walking in the mountains that is not detached / and impersonal, he’s just looking back / Being detached and impersonal is related to freedom / That’s the answer for inspiration / The untroubled mind.” Agnes Martin, “The Untroubled Mind”, 1993.
48 – Collective legibility is the ability for a public to read that something has form… that something stands in contrast to its background – a figure against a ground. Importantly “legibility” is made plural here, to distinguish this idea from its association with the “monumental” and “new monumental.” Collective Legibilities allow for multiple simultaneous readings, encouraging multiple publics to stake ownership (even provisionally) in the spaces of the city. Chantal Mouffe’s formulation of “agonism” and Yve-Alain Bois’ formulation of the “modern picturesque” are relevant here.
49 – Koji Tajima, Pattern, 2013.
50 – “The task at hand is to identify the originality and potential of a hybrid aesthetic model in constant interchange, highlighting the technical and conceptual complexity which such a model implies. It is in this challenge, which perhaps a few years ago could not be dared to be identified, where we should learn to look and see the sense and pleasure of things and processes in which we build; forgetting the singular tense of the words – essence, truth, form – in order to articulate a new ‘plural language’, ‘mestizo’, and ‘foreign’ to transcendence: this is the beauty which is to come, the beauty of the 21st century.” Beauty in the XXIst Century studio brief, Princeton University, spring 2007. Inaki Abalos.
51 – Screen capture from 8 1/2, Federico Fellini. Image of the actor Marcello Mastroianni; confident, relaxed, the epitome of coolness.
52 – Everything, always, with enthusiasm.
53 – Channa Horwitz, Circles, 1988.
54 – The practice of architecture is as much an act of editing as it is an act of creative production. Out of the hundreds of often competing forces – constraints, ambitions, opinions, expertise, histories, and passions – the most profound act of the architect is that of reduction, of seeing through the noise to isolate a few clear notes. But this is more than an act of passive removal; it is a profoundly active gesture that requires great confidence and always necessarily risks nothing less than complete failure.
55 – This is a call for an Architecture Without Qualities. Or, more specifically, a call for an Architecture Without stable, singular, or a priori Qualities (“To be worthy of criticism, a building must possess qualities.” Colin Rowe, Oppositions, 1976). This is an architecture that attempts to free architecture from itself; from its obligations to provide a memorable image, to champion a recognizable style, or to endlessly invent new forms. An Architecture Without Qualities is not a retreat to the ordinary, or a denial of design agency. Architecture must deftly champion a position that teeters precariously on the knife-edge between seemingly intractable contradictions – a background architecture that is lodged in the foreground of our memories, a neutral architecture that charges inhabitants with an insatiable desire to participate, a formless architecture that reveals an underlying geometric rigor, a quality architecture without specific qualities.
56 – NEIHEISER ARGYROS, Urban Village, 2015. A proposal for a mixed use development near a transit hub in Graz, Austria.
57 – Superstudio, Liebe Grüsse aus Graz von Superstudio – New Graz landscape. A postcard from 1969. © Skira, 2003.
58 – Mies Van Der Rohe, Lake Shore Drive Apartments, 1949.
59 – Greg White, Svalbard, 2010.
60 – Nothing is created from scratch; everything we design emerges from overheard ideas, continued concepts, and our observations of the world around us. We collect quotations, tear them out of context, and (re)arrange them in a new form. Architecture is a process of collecting, classifying, and synthesizing our magnificent obsessions, and then skillfully re-deploying them, projecting them out into the world.
61 – NEIHEISER ARGYROS, For a Newer Monumentality: Reimagining Les Halles, 2009.
62 – Walter Benjamin wrote, “What is decisive in collecting is that the object is detached from all its original functions to enter into the closest conceivable relation with objects of the same kind.”
63 – NEIHEISER ARGYROS, Bazaar Urbanism, 2013. A city within a city.
64 – Photo of Buckminster Fuller’s Montreal Biosphere in flames, 1976.
65 – The work of the painter Charline Von Heyl has been described as a “dark playground of aesthetic transgression.” Playful, unruly, disturbing, and intensely focused. In an interview of Charline Von Heyl in Bomb Magazine (Fall 2010), Shirley Kaneda wrote, “Each [Von Heyl painting] is simultaneously form-driven and formless, leaving one with both a strong afterimage and a shifting after-impression. The result is a suite of works that is unfriendly to its beholder, provoking the impulse to look further while refusing to stay within the mind.” This shifty-ness is what we associate with the “darkness” above… like playing on a playground at dusk, when forms vibrate into contingent greyness.
66 – Sculpture, Langen Foundation, near Neuss, Germany. Photo: Xistina Argyros.
67 – Mel Bochner, Three, Four, Five. 1973. Image Courtesy Mel Bochner.
68 – NEIHEISER ARGYROS with Giancarlo Valle and Isaiah King, The Informal Grid, 2012. An ideas competition entry on the 200th anniversary of the Manhattan Grid. The grid of the 21st century introduces new logics into the system, questioning the boundary between built and natural, challenging the stability of established neighborhood identities, transforming the symbolic into the associative, and rendering the formal informal.
69 – NEIHEISER ARGYROS with Giancarlo Valle and Isaiah King, Little Monsters, 2012. Twelve unique chairs commissioned by the Storefront for Art and Architecture in NYC.
70 – “As opposed to the purely formal possibilities opened up to architecture by new digital modeling techniques of the 90s (blobs or iterative computational patterns), there might be a newer – more potent, and revolutionary – form of digital architecture that has less to do with digital representation techniques than with a conflation of digital IT organizations with energy collection and distribution organization. If architecture becomes both energy collection and information content production infrastructure (solar panels and a pc), and urban planning takes on the role of organizing systems of energy and information exchange, there seems to be the potential for a radical new form of both architecture and urbanism.” From New Geographies 04: Scales of the Earth, Ryan Neiheiser and Julien de Smedt.
71 – Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, Projet de cimetière de la cité idéale de Chaux, published 1804.
72 – Jensen Klint, Grundtvig’s Church, Copenhagen, 1921. Photo: Xristina Argyros
73 – Wade Guyton, Untitled, 2010. Collection of the artist. Photograph by Lothar Schnepf.
74 – Mark Lombardi, World Finance Corporation and Associates c. 1970-84, Miami-Ajman-Bogota-Caracas (7th version), 1999. Image Courtesy Pierogi Gallery.
75 – O.M. Ungers, Neue Stadt, Cologne, 1961-64. Image Courtesy Socks-Studio.
76 – NEIHEISER ARGYROS with Chris Parkinson, Urban Platform, 2012. An urban wall within the city that collects, condenses, and distributes.
77 – Graham Harman, in The Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics, 2009. “The world is a series of negotiations between a motley armada of objects, some growing stronger through increased associations, others becoming weaker and lonelier as they are cut off from others. No object is merely matter, rubble to be moved around by the mightier actors. Each object is granted the dignity to participate.”
78 – Luis Barragán, Barragán House, Mexico City, 1948-48. © Barragán Foundation.
79 – “Repetition and discontinuity, paradoxically, are the two hallmarks of contemporary Athens: at a large scale, the Athenian urbanisation is repetitive and homogeneous — it lacks hierarchy, public space and a clear anatomy — while on the other hand, if we look at the scale of architecture, every city block is built in a fragmented and chaotic way.” Pier Vittorio Aureli, Maria S. Giudici, Platon Issaias, “From Dom-ino to Polykatoikia.” Domus 962, October 2012. See also, Deleuze, Gilles, and Paul Patton. Difference and Repetition. London: Continuum, 2001.
80 – Rundetaarn, 17th century, Copenhagen. Photo: Xristina Argyros.
81 – NEIHEISER ARGYROS, Wellness Center, 2015. Participatory geometries organize overlapping interior and exterior spaces.
82 – Tacita Dean, The Russian Ending, 2001. Image Courtesy Niels Borch Jensen.
83 – NEIHEISER ARGYROS mark, logo, signature, icon, trademark, gesture, whim, association, hunch.
84 – Gottfried Böhm, Neviges Pilgrimage Church, Germany, 1962.
85 – Hal Foster has written of Gerhard Richter’s work that each new painting, or new series, “can appear somehow casual, almost interchangeable, even when they are highly wrought and quite individual,” evoking the “condition of the blasé” (“Semblance According to Gerhard Richter”, in Gerhard Richter, October Files, p. 119). For the author Georg Simmel, this blunted (blasé) sensibility meant a loss of ones capacity to value differences; a world of low contrast. But in Richter’s work, Simmel’s capitalist grey malaise is paradoxically harnessed as a productive aesthetic strategy. Without a context or narrative to provide scale, we must drift through the fog ourselves. When nothing in particular is worth getting excited about, everything acquires a slight glimmer.
86 – Gabriel Orozco, Asterisms, 2012, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The open, collected, provisional, evolving, and entirely subjective project.
87 – NEIHEISER ARGYROS with Giancarlo Valle, Linda Farrow Eyewear pop up store, New York, 2012. A refined formlessness.
88 – Alfred Hitchcock, North by Northwest, 1959. Still image from final scene, on top of the monument.
89 – “Despite many funereal celebrations, the author has not so much died over the past 50 years as repeatedly come back to ever proliferating forms of anonymous life from bureaucracies and corporations to avatars, algorithms and hydrastars. Today, rather than subjects and objects, producers and consumers, authors and readers, we are surrounded by phenomena that alter the world through variable forms of anonymous exchange.” – Sylvia Lavin’s introduction to the “Anonymous” conference at the Princeton University School of Architecture; Saturday, November 9, 2013. Anonymity underlies the Another Pamphlet project as well. From the invitation to participate sent out to all contributors… “Above all it is a group effort. Distinct voices are provisionally brought together into a contingent collective. But while the contributors and the ideas they offer are vital, particular authorship is obscured. The authors are given credit for participating, but the ideas stand on their own. The collective dialogue is given primacy over the individual position.”
90 – Le Corbusier, rendering of Plan Obus for Algiers, 1933.