TWO SESSIONS THIS WEEK: WEDNESDAY 6:00PM AND FRIDAY 6:30PM
// NEW GROUNDWORKS
PROFESSOR DAVID GISSEN
Associate Professor, California College of the Arts
Wednesday, May 25 // 6:00pm in RMIT 8.11.68 (!- not 6:30pm as in our Friday sessions -!) Building 8, Level 11, Lecture theatre 68, to the right of the lifts // 360 Swanston St, Melbourne
Presented in collaboration with Kerb Journal
This lecture offers an overview of my interest in an anti-naturalistic
approach to nature within the discipline of architecture. An anti-naturalist approach avoids positioning nature as either an external or internal essence — a concept found within aesthetics that emphasize natural systems, flows, and processes. In place of neo naturalism, I often examine those natures that are produced within and through the trauma of urbanization and its history. Things such as mud, dankness, and smoke interest me as counter-natural substances. Such natures are generally, but not absolutely, threatening, troubling, stagnant, and inherently difficult to absorb into both nature and architecture as a thing and idea. I label these troubling forms of nature “subnature” and remain intriqued by their potential agiational relationship to the natural within architecture. In explaining these concepts I will often
turn to a variety of historical and contemporary work that rethinks the
concept of “ground” in architecture from this anti-naturalistic perspective.
DAVID GISSEN, Associate Professor, California College of the Arts, is a
historian and theorist of architecture and urbanism. Recent work focuses
on developing a novel concept of nature in architectural thought and
developing experimental forms of architectural historical practice.
David is the author of the book Subnature: Architecture’s Other
Environments (Princeton Architectural Press, 2009), editor of the
“Territory” issue of AD Journal (2010), and editor of the book Big and
Green (Princeton Architectural Press, 2003). His essays are published in
journals such as AA Files, AD Energies, Grey Room, Log, Volume, The
Radical History Review, The Journal of Architecture, The Journal of
Architectural Education, and Thresholds; magazines Architectural Record, Metropolis, Domus, ARCADE, Cabinet, and Constructs; and books Models and Drawings (Routledge, 2007), Design Ecologies (Princeton Architectural Press, 2009), Writing Urbanism (Routledge, 2008), The Ethics of Dust (TBA/Venice Biennale, 2009), and The Religious Imagination in Modern Architecture: A Reader (Routledge, 2011). His curatorial, experimental historical, and design work has been staged at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, National Building Museum, Yale Architecture Gallery, Maryland Institute College of Art, Toronto Free Gallery, and The Museum of the City of New York.
Gissen lectures on his work internationally, including recent invited talks at Princeton University, The Royal Danish Academy of Art, The Bartlett School of Architecture, The Humanities Center of the University of California Santa Barbara and “Postopolis!” LA, sponsored by The Storefront for Art and Architecture. He is the recipient of various awards and grants including Graham Foundation grants, the Richard J. Carroll Lectureship from Johns Hopkins University, and the Chalsty Award at CCA.
** ON FRIDAY ***
//THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE DISASTER
University of Technology Sydney / University of Greenwich, London
Friday, May 27 // 6:30pm in RMIT 8.11.68
Building 8, Level 11, Lecture theatre 68, to the right of the lifts // 360 Swanston St, Melbourne
This lecture considers the irruption of the designed destructive event in the order of the project of architecture. The artificial disaster brings onto architecture destructive sudden forces that operate against it with an intensity and a speed that are different from those that are at play in it. It imposes on architecture the man-devised, forceful and violent interference of a project that is alien to that of architecture.
The violent orchestrated event in space is interpreted here as a paroxysmal – explicit, sudden, violent – actualisation of the forces that contribute to the shaping of the environment. Design and planning are about space definition and form making, while the destruction inflicted by the disaster concerns the undoing of form, of planned orders, of structures (be they societal, urban, economic, national).
Through a series of examples, this lecture explores those practices which – in architecture and around architecture – work on and with the energy released by the disastrous event. It aims to understand the effects of the planned disaster on the wider questions that the discipline of architecture needs to ask, and suggests that silence – or, the project of silence of architecture – is an act of design too.
TERESA STOPPANI is Reader in Architecture at the University of Greenwich, and Visiting Professor in Architectural History and Theory at the University of Technology Sydney. Her research focuses on re-readings
of the city through unorthodox approaches to urbanism and architecture, and includes the book Paradigm Islands: Manhattan and Venice. Discourses on architecture and the city (Routledge 2010). Recent writings include: considerations on Piranesi’s architectural space as open and dynamic, proposing ways of how this may engage with contemporary spatial practices (Footprint, 5, 2009); an exploration of the significance of dust in Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project (The Journal of Architecture, 12:5, 2007), proposing reconsiderations on obsolescence and uncontrollable space; works on the map and the grid which reconsider space as apparently measured and ordered, but subject to new configurations (Architecture Research Quarterly, 12:3-4, 2009). Forthcoming publications include a study of the complex relation of architecture with the artificial disaster (in Space & Culture, ‘Spaces of Terror and Risk’, 2011), and an exploration of the connection between
the material and the critical in architectural representation, through a study of lines and erasures in the graphic works of G. B. Piranesi (in I. Wingham (ed.), Mobility of the Line, Birkhauser, forthcoming).