Re: ARCHITECTURE: Decon...

On Thu, 2 Dec 1993, Raymond Lauzzana wrote:

> 2 Penny Deconstruction - A quote from David Burliuk
>
> Disharmony is the opposite of harmony;
> duissymetry is the opposite of symmetry;
> deconstruction is the opposite of construction;
> a canon can be constructive.
> a canon can be deconstructive.
> construction can be shifted or displaced.
> THE CANON OF DECONSTRUCTION.
>
> The date on this poem is 1918.
>
>
> Ray Lauzzana

Ray, I understand that poetry can be more incisive when direct
discussion can get convoluted-- but in this case I think this is a gross
oversimplification. I want to lift out some of Mark Wigley's statements
at the first DeconstructIVIST exhibition (from the catalogue) to help
rectify this dilemma.

-Architecture is a conservative discipline that produces pure form
and protects it from contamination.
-It is the ability to disturb our thinking about form that makes
these projects deconstructive. It is not that they derive from the mode
of contemporary philosophy known as "deconstruction".
-Deconstruction itself, however, is often misunderstood as the
aking apart of constructions. Consequently, any provocative architectural
design which appears to take structure apart-- wheter it be the simple
breaking apart of an object ot the complex dissimulation of an object into
a collae of traces-- has been hailed deconstructive.
-Deconstruction is not demolition, or dissimulation. While it
diagnoses certain structural problems within appparently stable
structures, these flaws do not lead directly to the structures collapse.
ON the contrary, deconstruction gains all its force by challenging the
very values of harmony, unity, and stability, and proposing instead a
different view of structure: the veiw that the flaws are intrinsic to the
structure.
-A deconstructIVIST architect is therefore not one who dismantles
buildings, but one who locates the inherrent dilemmas within buildings.
The deconstructivist architect puts pure form of the architectural
tradition on the couch and identifies the symptoms of a repressed
impurity. The impurity is drawn to the surface by a combination of
gentle coaxing and violent torture: the forms are interrogated.
-To do so, each project employs formal strategies developed by the
Russian avante-guard early in the twentieth century. Russian
Constructivism constituted a critical turning point where the
architectural tradition was bent so radically that a fissure opened up
through which certain disturbing architectural possibilities first became
visible. Traditional thinking about the nature of the architectural
object was placed in doubt. But the radical possibility was not then
taken up. The wound in the tradition soon closed, leaving but a faint
scar. These projects reopen the wound.
-The Russian avante-garde posed a threat to tradition by breaking
the classical rules of composition in which the balanced, hierarchical
realtionship between forms creat a unified whole...There was no single
axis of hierarchy of forms but a nest of competing and conflicting axes
and forms...They saw architecture as a high art but one sufficiently
grounded in function that it could be used for revolutionary goals;...But
these radical structures were never realized...INstability had been
marginalized. Indeed, it was fully developed only in what had
traditionally been considered marginal art forms-- theatre sets, street
decorations, typography, photomontage, and clothing design...the
instability of the pre-revolutionary work had never been proposed as a
structural possibility. The early work was not concerned with the
destabilizing structure. ON the contrary, it was concerned with the
fundamental purity of structure. Its irregular geometry was understood as
a dynamic relationship between forms floating in space rather than as an
unstable structural condition intrinsic to the forms themselves.
-The Russian avante-garde was corrupted by the purity of the modern
movement...(so) obsessed by an elegant aesthetic of functionalism, not by
the complex dynamics of function itself. ...Like the classiscists, (the
moderns) articulated the surface of a form in a way that marked its
purity. They restored the very tradition they attempted to escape,
replacing the classical skin with a modern skin nut not transforming the
fundamental condition of the architectural object. Architecture remained
an agent of stability.
-(The prijects in this exhibit) in a sense complete the enterprise
(of Russian Constructivism), (and) in doing so they also transform it:
they twist Constructivism. This twist id the "de" of "de-constructivist".
...Irregular geometry is again understood as a structural condition rather
than as a dynamic formal aesthetic. ...This disturbance does not result
from an external vilence. It is not a fracturing, or slicing, or
fragmentation, or piercing. ...It displaces structure instead of
destroying it.
-What is finally so unsettling about such work is precicely that
the form not only survives its torture, but appears stronger for it.
...It becomes unclear at first which came first, the form or the
distortion, the host or the parasite. ...No surgical technique can free
the for; no clean incision can be made. To remove the parasite would kill
the host. They comprise one symbiotic entity. This produces a feelingof
unease, of disquiet, because it challenges the sense of stabel, coherent
identity that we associate with pure form.
-In recent yearsm the modern understanding of social responsibility
as a functional program has been superseded by a concern for context. But
contextualism has been used as an excuse for mediocrity, for a dumb
servility to the familiar. Since deconstructivist archtiecture seeks the
unfamiliar within the familiar, it displaces that context rather than
acquiesce to it.
-Even thogh it threatens this most fundamental property (structure)
of architectural objects, deconstructivist architecture does not
constitute an avante-garde. It is not a rhetoric of the new. Rather it
exposes the unfamiliar hidden within the traditional. It is the shock of
the old. ...Deconstrctivist architecture locates the frontiers, the
limits of architecture, soiled up within everyday forms. It finds new
territory within old objects.
-With these projects, all the theory is,loaded into the object.
...Indeed the force of the object makes the theory that it produced
irrelevant.
-The disquiet these buildings produce is not merely perceptual; it
is not a personal response to the work, nor even a state of ind. What is
being disturbed is a set of deeply entrenched cultural assumptions which
underlie a certain view of architecture, assumptions about order, harmony,
stability, and unity. Yet this disturbance does not derive from, or
result in, some fundamental shift in culture. This disquiet is not
produced by some new spirit of the age; it is not that an unsettled world
produces an unsettled architecture. It is not even the personal angst of
the architect; it is not a form of expressionaism--the architect expresses
nothing here. The architect only makes it possible for the tradition to
go wrong, to deform itself. The nightmare of deconstructIVIST
architecture inhabits the unconscious of the architect. The architect
merely countermands traditional formal inhibitions in order to release the
supressed alien. Each architect releases different iunhibitions in order
to subvert form in radically different ways. Each makes thematic a
different dilemma of pure form.
In doing so, they produce a devious architecture, a slipery
architecture that slides uncontrollably from the familliar to the
unfamilliar, toward an uncanny realization of its own alien nature: an
architecture, finaly, in which form distorts itself in order to reveal
itself anew. The projects suggest that architecture has always been
riddled with these kinds of enigmas, that they are the source of its force
and its delight-- that they are the very possibility of its formidable
prescence.

Thank you for your time and pacience. All of the above was written by
Mark Wigley, Associate curator of the Exhibition (of Deconstructivist
Architecture)

John Pohorylo, Tufts UNiversity Senior [email protected]
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