Being there, seeing it, experiencing it. Architecture, no matter how many images you put in a journal, you don’t have a clue what it’s like until you really see it. So I always tell architectural students, you’ve got to travel. You’ve got to go and look at stuff. There’s no way you’re going to learn by just reading about it.

- Richard Meier

play it both ways

So I am reading a piece in the recent issue of Perspecta on Taboo, and thinking about what type of agency an architectural historian / theorist can have.  In the piece, the author visits India and wants to photograph monuments to the Maoist movement there.  Knowing the Indian government would not allow this, the historian hires a car and plans a route which will take him past the Maoist monument to one which is actually approved by the Indian government as a tourist site.  When asked by the guards along the street where he is headed, he plays the American tourist harmlessly headed to look at historical architecture leveraging a whole set of assumptions about how harmless connoisseurship of old architecture is. They let him pass, he snaps a few shots of the censored monument and then a few of the approved site.

As I often do, I wonder at this field which likes to play it both ways: stodgy, cultural elites on the one hand and engaged, revolutionaries on the other.  In what ways are these two modes structurally related, and in fact essential to the field?  And in what ways might scholars of architecture use that dual face to do interesting things, and expose ideas that might be hard to find reception for otherwise?

Kent Coffey Perspecta.

So lately since I moved into the big bedroom & my roommates & I have been refurnishing the apartment, I have become obsessed with danish mid-century modern furniture. I want my whole apartment furnished in it. Sadly, it’s pretty pricey vintage stuff.. usually.. but I came across a really low priced bedroom set on craigslist & picked it up over the weekend. I was sooo excited! It’s basically my dream bedroom set, it’s 1964 Kent Coffey Perspecta. Super score!!

An inverted travelogue does not trek into the epic territory of heroic adventure, but rather wanders in the opposite direction toward the wrong events in the wrong story. One finds here an expansive field of information unconstrained by aplomb, heroism, exoticism, or authenticity. There is no host. There is no first person. The trajectory only occasionally attaches itself to the wrong travelers for some temporary momentum through the looking glass. This is not the story of the friend who rented a motor boat to buzz around Loch Ness and then spent the rest of the day reading the autobiography of David Niven. One does not find the famous woman who draws the blinds to read the Jane Austen novel for the fourteenth time while in Trieste. Indeed. Watching DVDs in a darkened hotel room in Eastern Europe at 3:30 in the afternoon on a sunny day does not portray the same languorous, unexpected cool. This is something closer to being wrong. The engines of the inverted travelogue are the travelers..

- The Wrong Story, Perspecta, Vol. 41, Grand Tour (2008)

Today we submitted a proposal for Persepcta 49: Reflection...

Jennifer Dempsey, Nicholas Hunt and I submitted a proposal to be editors for Perspecta 49, due to launch in Fall 2016. Perspecta is The Yale Architectural Journal, the oldest student-edited architectural journal in the United States. It is “internationally respected for its contributions to contemporary architectural discourse with original presentations of new projects as well as historical and theoretical essays.” Below is only the Statement of Purpose portion of the proposal… enjoy!

Perspecta 49 proposes that the concept of reflection is a far more complex topic than that of a mirror image. In language, reflection connotes the act of contemplation, often the process in which we draw from our past. It describes an intellectual action that amplifies a line of thinking. In physics, reflection is the interference between two different media, which causes an abrupt change in direction of a wave (light, sound, etc.). The behavior of reflection allows us to perceive an image through light. In mass culture, our desires are reflected as a semblance of a collective identity. Here, reflection becomes an unconscious phenomenon of our shared experience.

Reflection raises issues that are philosophically rich, technologically relevant and culturally significant, rendering it a fertile lens through which to contemplate architecture. Perspecta 49 will bring together various accounts of reflection to consider the ways this prolific term influences the disciplines of art, architecture and culture.

French psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan identifies the significance of reflection in the formation of individual consciousness in his work, The Mirror Stage. The Mirror Stage describes the formation of the ego in an infant when it encounters its image in a mirror for the first time. The child’s identification with the mirror image establishes a conception of the subject (self) in relation to the object (external world).1 The system of consciousness identified in The Mirror Stage is elaborated into three realms in Lacan’s larger body of work: the Imaginary, the Real and the Symbolic. These orders will provide three themes in which to ground the discussion of reflection.

Above Image - Architect, Francois Roche, curates the single circulating image of himself which is a photoshopped combination of him and his wife. The image of his firm, ideas of identity, and ‘architecture as entity’ are seen in his hypersensitivity towards copyright, and his concern with public perception.

Images at Top: A baby and its reflection. La Reproduction Interdite by René Magritte.

(post by Daisy Ames)