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id ascaad2006_paper11
authors Stanton, Michael
year 2006
title Redemptive Technologies II: the sequel (A Decade Later)
source Computing in Architecture / Re-Thinking the Discourse: The Second International Conference of the Arab Society for Computer Aided Architectural Design (ASCAAD 2006), 25-27 April 2006, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
summary Nearly ten years ago I published an article in the Dutch journal ARCHIS called "Redemptive Technologies." It derived from comments I made during a conference held in New Orleans in 1994. At that point the machine aesthetic associated with the "new technologies" generated by the computer had not established a precise formal vocabulary but were generating great excitement among the architectural avant-garde. It addressed the limits of the imagery and data produced by this machine and the simple but very political problem of cost and obsolescence. Now the millennium is well past and the somewhat apostolic fervor that accompanied the interaction of a very expensive consumer device with architecture has cooled. Discussion has generally moved from the titillating possibilities opened up by the device, many of which have so far not come to pass, to the sorts of hard and software available. An architectural language closely associated with the imagistic potential of new programs, biomorphism, has now come and gone on the runways of architectural taste. And yet, in recent articles rejecting the direct political effect of architectural work, the potential of new programs and virtual environments are proposed as alternative directions that our perpetually troubled profession may pursue. This paper will assess the last decade regarding the critical climate that surrounds cyber/technology. In the economic context of architectural education in which computers are still a central issue, the political issues that evolve will form a backdrop to any discussion. Furthermore, the problem of the "new" language of biomorphism will be reiterated as an architectural grammar with a 100-year history - from Catalan Modernismo and Art Nouveau, through Hermann Finsterlin and Eric Mendelsohn's projects of the 1920s, to Giovanni Michelucci and Italian work of the post-war, to Frederick Kiesler's Endless House of the late '50s, continuing through moments of Deconstructivism and Architectural Association salients, etc. These forms continue to be semantically simplistic and hard to make. Really the difference is the neo-avant-garde imagery and rhetoric involved in their continuing resurrection. Computer images, but also the ubiquitous machine itself, are omnipresent and often their value is assumed without question or proposed as a remedy for issues they cannot possibly address. This paper will underline the problem of the computer, of screens and the insistent imagistic formulas encourage by their use, and the ennui that is beginning to pervade the discipline after initial uncritical enthusiasm for this very powerful and expensive medium. But it will also propose other very valuable directions, those relating to reassessing the processes rather than the images that architecture engages, that this now aging "new" technology can much more resolutely and successfully address.
series ASCAAD
email ms22@aub.edu.lb
full text file.pdf (388,367 bytes)
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