Benjamin H. Bratton cites dozens of headlines from the news that touch on issues he has addressed in his new book, The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty. He argues that a disruptive “delamination of jurisdiction from geography” is underway, brought about by discrete networks and platforms of global computation that he calls The Stack. For Bratton, the Stack consists of Earth, Cloud, City, Address, Interface, and User. He discusses each of these layers in detail, concluding with thoughts on the Stack of the future. While acknowledging that current ecological, sectarian and financial emergencies could lead to a regressive Cloud feudalism, he offers hope that robust, inhuman artificial intelligence may finally clear the air of self-destructive humanist daydreams.
Jeffrey Kipnis proposes that the architecture’s value lies in work characterized by hysteria, and a passion for the backstory. Kipnis presents a vitalist matter theory approach to reality and experience, and reviews competing concepts of value. He acknowledges the usefulness of autobiographical and biographical strategies for interpreting work, but declares he does neither. He discusses the pentimenti of Velázquez, Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy as a performance, and Deleuze’s concept of the body without organs. Kipnis discusses significant backstories of specific projects, including OMA’s Très Grande Bibliothèque, the Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition, the Kukje Gallery by Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu, and Anna Neimark and Andrew Atwood’s entry in the 2016 P.S.1 competition.
Benjamin J. Smith discusses his interest in architecture that creates experiences where people can perceive themselves perceiving. He discusses experiences of vertical circulation, both in actual spaces and VR representations. Smith discusses time-based media in architecture in four categories: visualizations of the design process, “trailers” that establish a narrative, short films that situate aesthetic properties, and media installations. He concludes with a video of his own media installation featuring video feedback, user interaction, and language.
Ben van Berkel discusses in depth the Arnheim rail station (1996-2015), from the initial research, through UN Studio’s work with consultants, specialists and eight separate clients over twenty years to nudge a proposed train station into an “integral transfer location” that positively intensifies the experience of travelers. In response to questions from Hernan Diaz Alonso, Ben van Berkel discusss sustaining momentum. He stresses the need to be open to the possibilities of any style–minimal or maximal. He describes his office as being organized around recording, organizing and sharing ideas and discoveries. He agrees that architects today are stretched in many directions, but there’s still the possibility enhancing the utility and cultural effects of a project.
Farshid Moussavi proposes that style is about how elements in their multiplicity are experienced in everyday life. She illustrates her argument with several projects, including the John Lewis department store and cineplex, The Yokohama international port terminal, La Folie Divine residential tower in Montpellier, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland, the Victoria Beckham flagship store, and the mid-size office tower, 130 Fenchurch Street in London. She discusses the projects in terms of multiple elements assembled to engage users. In a discussion following the lecture, Moussavi and Elena Manferdini discuss the question of architecture’s audience, finish, color, and the role of the architect today. Moussavi argues that, despite the complexities of the contemporary collaborative building process, architects still have agency, and the ability to explore and invent.
Mark Julius Garcia, Hernan Diaz Alsonso and David Ruy discuss the SCI-Arc Gallery’s current exhibit “Close-Up,” that examines the state of the architectural detail in an era of continuous magnification. Ruy stresses that the exhibit highlights practices that claim authorship of details at a time when details are increasingly standardized. The panelists also discuss virtuosity, tools, and technique. Garcia summarizes the exhibition as,”Form, style, aesthetics, and beautiful things.”
Brett Steele characterizes thesis projects as Trojan horses that make existing architecture irrelevant. They also invent a distinctive way of being an architect. He cites the case Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, moving from Switzerland to Paris, renaming himself Le Corbusier, and producing the Dom-ino house plan in 1914. He notes how Corbusier’s publications established a precedent for later architects. Steele argues that architecture schools are important as stages where people can rehearse and refine their performance as architects. He stresses that the architect’s task of communication today must deal with information overload–hence editing is the essential skill. He discusses projects by Philip Johnson, Robert Venturi, Koolhaas, and Toyo Ito that provided a launch pad for their subsequent careers
Timothy Morton argues that everything is haunted, if only we would notice. The “Subtle Abuse” remix of Björk’s “Hyperballad,” segues into a critique of the anthropocentric view derived from agricultural religion, and its arbitrary axioms constricting our experience of space, time and causality. Morton stresses that the longing for a simple solution to problems is part of the problem. Similarly, it’s the concept of survival that has brought the Earth to the verge of collapse. Ecological awareness, on the other hand, provides a way towards solidarity with non-human beings that isn’t motivated by sentimental anthropomorphizing, but by waking up to who we actually are–an assembly of human and non-human components. Morton concludes, “We should pray to be haunted. We should pray to be Scooby-Doo.”