M+M Colloquium: Britt Eversole and Yetunde Olaiya
April 21, 2014 | 5.00pm | N107, Princeton School of Architecture
"Architettura Parametrica and the Problems of Intellectual Virginity—Italy, 1960."
School of Architecture, advisor: M. Christine Boyer.
"To address the complexity and interconnectedness of architecture, changing cities and unstable economies after World War II, architect Luigi Moretti called for more rational design and analytic techniques that could be applied dynamically and at multiple scales. He called his approach architettura parametrica—design methods using logico mathematical, physical, electronic, biological, psychological, sociological and economic parameters. To study parametricism's applications, in 1957 he joined with philosopher of science and computer researcher Bruno de Finetti to found The Institute for Mathematical and Operational Research on Urban Planning [IRMOU]. IRMOU brought together architects, programmers, demographers, sociologists and mathematicians to experiment on urban, territorial and economic modeling using Italy's first computers. However, I hypothesize that Moretti's parametricism and the research undertaken at IRMOU changed around 1960. The failure of the Italian parliament and squabbling political parties to realize reforms capable of combating the urban crises of overdevelopment and land speculation prompted Moretti and de Finetti to redefine the cognitive and ideological effects of rational methods and computers on design practices. Using "objective" methods to suppress their own artistic visions or political beliefs, architects would confront design problems by always "beginning anew, without ideas or preconceived interpretations...in a state of absolute intellectual virginity." Beyond reframing architecture and planning as a decisional science, architettura parametrica represents the liberal drive to use technology to marginalize politics from design practices and underscores the limitations of democratic participation in the transformation of the city."
Britt Eversole is a PhD candidate in architectural history and theory in the Princeton School of Architecture. He holds a Bachelor of Design from the University of Florida, as well as a Master of Architecture and a Master of Environmental Design, both from Yale University. He has taught at Yale University and was the Walter Sanders Visiting Fellow at the University of Michigan in 2008-2009. His dissertation, "The Disenchantment with Democracy: Architectural Models of Political Organization in Italy" rereads the aspirations and problems in Italian architectural experimentation and theorization in realizing a post-fascist democracy. He hypothesizes that Italy's "difficult democracy" offers an index for studying the complex intersections of Italian politics and architecture, and, conversely, that architectural and urban experimentation provide an instrument for studying the aporias and limitations of democracy itself.
"Jean-Henri Calsat: The Making of the Expert."
School of Architecture, advisor: M. Christine Boyer.
"At the end of the Second World War, French Black Africa became the site of intense architectural production in a complete reversal of fortune. Where colonial authorities blamed their prior inaction in these territories on climatic concerns, they now took great pains to cultivate both a technical expertise and a framework with which to convey it to the architects on site. It was neither a coincidence that these efforts came at a time when France most needed to restore its image after the war nor that these underdeveloped African territories would make especially good showcases for French intervention. How such political objectives infiltrated the technical domain of postwar architectural production in French Black Africa constitutes the larger question of my dissertation. Focusing on one of the domain’s key operatives, Jean-Henri Calsat, the presentation will track the strategic and unintentional ways his work as both technical consultant, cultivating the new expertise, and architect-planner, incorporating said expertise into his designs, came to be politicized."
Yetunde Olaiya is a PhD candidate at the Princeton University School of Architecture, specializing in the history of modern architecture and urban design in sub-Saharan Africa. She was the recipient of the 2012 Carter Manny Award for dissertation research and is currently a fellow at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies.
M+M Colloquium: José Aragüez and Phil Taylor
April 15, 2014 | 5.00pm | N107, Princeton School of Architecture
"Form Beyond Shape: The Logic of Singularity in Vittorio Giorgini’s Topological Approach to Design."
School of Architecture, advisors: Beatriz Colomina and Sylvia Lavin.
"The contribution to disciplinary culture of artist and architect Vittorio Giorgini has remained concealed to wide architecture audiences. This talk focuses on the research branch concerning shell structures and surface topology that he developed between the late fifties and the mid-eighties. I contextualize his trajectory by critically examining a number of aspects that played a central role in the construction of his artistic ideology, such as his involvement with the so-called “Florentine School,” his subsequent encounter with André Bloc, and his referents in the fields of art and architecture (from Kiesler to Moore, Klee and Matta, among others). I further show that what sets Giorgini apart from designers like Kiesler and Bloc—and from the whole of the Florentine School for that matter—was the fact that, behind the sculptural, seemingly whimsical appearance of his shell structure designs there was a consistent geometric logic. In the tradition of D’Arcy Thompson’s biological structuralism, Giorgini looked to the living world with a view to grasp its organizational structures, rather than to seek formal imitation of external appearances. His fascination with nature became a heuristic device that triggered a restless search for geometric structure in design. In my reading, such a structural quality was closely tied to the singularity of Giorgini’s project, in the sense of yielding a self-determined formal vocabulary that fell outside the framework of codified linguistic formats."
José Aragüez is a New York-based academic writer and architect. He is currently pursuing a PhD in the History and Theory of Architecture at Princeton University SoA, where he also teaches graduate studio as an assistant instructor. José holds a Diploma in Architecture and Urbanism from the School of Architecture at the University of Granada in Spain (Honorable Mention, University Graduation Extraordinary Prize, and 1st National Prize in Architecture), and a MSc., post-professional degree in architecture from Columbia University (Honor Prize for Excellence in Design). José has taught studios and seminars at Columbia University GSAPP and the School of Architecture at the University of Granada. He has presented his work internationally at ETH Zurich, Istanbul University of Fine Arts, School of Architecture at the Polytechnic University of Madrid, EAHN Brussels, SAH Buffalo, Columbia University, Technion School of Architecture in Haifa, Boston University and Université de Montréal, among other venues. His most recent award was the 2013 Collection Research Grant at the Canadian Center for Architecture.
"Raoul Ubac and “The Other Side of the Face” of our Time."
Department of Art & Archaeology, advisors: Anne McCauley and Hal Foster.
"Against the backdrop of the Nazi occupation of both his bases in Brussels and Paris, surrealist photographer Raoul Ubac (1910-1985) published a 1942 essay entitled the “L’Envers de la face” that, in part, concerns three nearly abstract brûlage photographs of a human face in profile. With these works, the artist heated the emulsion of a photographic negative until the material support of the image began to melt, decomposing the image in the process. Bridging the political philosophy and anthropological interests of contemporaries thinkers including Georges Bataille and Carl Schmitt, but also looking back to Ubac’s artistic formation in the context of the Cologne Progressive Artist Group, this presentation will seek to illuminate the stakes of Ubac’s suggestion that “[f]aces are at the limit of human representation” and what this might mean for what philosopher Claude Lefort would come to call “The Image of the Body and Totalitarianism.” Ubac’s meditation provides a lens on the intersections of photographic and political representation, the face and the body politic, and the implications of such figuration in an age of apparent disenchantment of art."
Phil Taylor is PhD candidate in the Department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton. His dissertation, “Raoul Ubac’s Photographic Surrealism,” posits Ubac as a figure through which to develop new perspectives on the position of avant-garde photography in the 1930s, on surrealism and photography’s role within it, and on the relationship of the avant-garde to the tumultuous politics of the time. Phil is the primary author of Various Small Books: Referencing Various Small Books by Ed Ruscha, published by MIT Press, last year. Previously Phil curated the exhibition Of the Refrain (2008) at Robert Mann Gallery in New York. His reviews of recent exhibitions by Thomas Demand and of Dada and Surrealist objects have appeared in Modern Painters.
M+M Colloquium: Panayotis Tournikiotis
"LC/GR Le Corbusier and Greece"
April 2, 2014 | 5.00pm | N107, Princeton School of Architecture
Panayotis Tournikiotis (National Technical University, Athens)
Le Corbusier traveled in Greece twice and referred to the Parthenon and the Acropolis of Athens in most of his writings. The discussion will focus on his third journey to Greece and the perpetual recourse to the ideal example of antiquity in his quest for rational modernity.
[http://www.ekkremes.gr/portal/my_pages/bookdetails.php?id=23]Diagonal of Le Corbusier[/link] (in Greek) at Ekkremes Publications.
[http://iktinos2.arch.ntua.gr/english/staff_en/StaffDetailsEn.asp?code=Tournikiotis]Panayotis Tournikiotis[/link] is Professor of Architectural Theory at the National Technical University of Athens, School of Architecture. He has authored books including Adolf Loos, The Historiography of Modern Architecture, and most recently the Diagonal of Le Corbusier (in Greek). His recent work explores the reinvention of the city centre in metropolitan Athens.
M+M Colloquium: Jeffrey Schnapp
"Redesigning the Scholarly Book"
March 31, 2014 | 5.00pm | N107, Princeton School of Architecture
Jeffrey Schnapp (Harvard University)
Jeffrey Schnapp’s presentation will be concerned with the metaLABprojects series, in general, and with his forthcoming book in the series The Library Beyond the Book (Harvard University Press 2014), in particular. The series provides a platform for emerging currents of experimental scholarship, documenting key moments in the history of networked culture, and promoting critical thinking about the future of institutions of learning. The volumes’ eclectic, improvisatory, idea-driven style advances the proposition that design is not merely ornamental, but a means of inquiry in its own right.
The Library Beyond the Book at Harvard University Press.
Jeffrey Schnapp is the faculty director of metaLAB at Harvard and faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. His most recent books include Modernitalia, a collection of essays on twentieth century Italian culture; The Electric Information Age Book, with Adam Michaels; and and Digital_Humanities, a book co-written with Anne Burdick, Johanna Drucker, Peter Lunenfeld, and Todd Presner. He is Professor of Romance Languages & Literature and also on the teaching faculty in the Department of Architecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.
M+M Colloquium: David Joselit
"After Art: Information Politics"
February 18, 2014 | 5.00pm | N107, Princeton School of Architecture
David Joselit (CUNY Graduate Center)
Building on three concepts introduced in his 2012 book, After Art, Joselit will consider the contemporary politics of information in the age of Wikileaks. Since Conceptual art, the question of aesthetics has converged with flows of information, but our info-economy today has reached an unprecedented scale. Questions addressed will be: 1) How has art-as-information become a global currency; 2) How does the art world define the status of information as private property; and 3) How can we theorize an epistemology of search in recent aesthetic practices, under which content is less important than accessibility.
After Art on Princeton University Press.
David Joselit has taught at the University of California, Irvine, and Yale University. He is currently Distinguished Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center. He is author of four books including Feedback: Television Against Democracy (2007), and After Art (2012). Joselit is an editor of October and writes frequently on art and culture.