What Questions are Left to Ask?
We are in the midst of witnessing a flood of major global changes brought about by the production of colossal amounts of information and the raw computer power needed to process it. In ASD12: Chronocopia we will confront those emerging conceptions of the world that – at first glance – may seem unrecognisable, but which are true indicators of our contemporary existence. Chronocopia is the ‘abundance of time’. As a condition, it has emerged from these massive qualitative changes in knowledge that our civilisation is currently producing.
As our conceptions of our contemporary world continue to evolve, we seem to be in a moment that craves ever increasing forms of optimisation – the holy grail of which involves eliminating all indeterminacies. When allied with the abstraction brought about by mass computation, our shared Real has become a sequence of media constructs that divorce us from our capacity to comprehend the world. Estrangement is our new commonality.
What Time is It?
By employing the notion of chronocopia, ASD12 will re-strategise the way we have always understood change as enacted in relation to – and defined by – time. It is commonplace to use historical ‘events’ – condensed into phases such as the ‘ice-age’, ‘post-war’ or ‘Trumpian’ – as a way to deduce broader cultural readings of the world. It is a mechanism of comprehension. Yet the sensationalist stories and twenty-four/seven coverage that dominate our contemporary era – and which only seem to be accelerating with massive global expansions in media, economy and social relations - can be read as a distraction that keeps us from deciphering what we are actually witnessing. Much of what we now consider to be great innovations, first appeared as heretical, or threatening, while actually paving the way for further advances in human knowledge.
Since, in a sense, we only know what we have already discovered, what is the architecture that could be discovered through a deeper understanding of the world we live in? ADS12 will delve into the mechanics of these massive changes, which lie beyond the slick mediations of this thin surface level of understanding, in order to examine new figures of behaviour that break all reference to acknowledged norms, habits and attitudes. We will ask what intuitions and opinions can be formed out of these understandings that operate beyond our current comprehension of architecture?
As a method, we will stockpile disregarded, misinterpreted or simply disconcerting moments of time, before redeploying them as creative material to re-render our current state and bring about new possible architectures.
In order to attempt to understand the now, we first need to admit that our perceptions are limited by these cultural productions and ephemera – they confine our capacity to perceive. How can we personalize the patterns of our civilisational histories to act out new architectural scenarios? What forms of behaviour have arisen in moments of radical cultural expansion and upheaval? ADS12 will work with group sequences and individual perceptions to stretch our common empathies, bring about deeper notions of meaning, and enact progressive forms of architecture.
Beyond imagining the architecture where time is no object, as the idea of chronocopia suggests, ADS12 will consider all kinds of temporality – of different lengths, speeds and characters (such as man-made, natural or planetary) and types of patterns (such as cyclical, oscillatory, absolute or linear) – in order to collapse these kinds into the architecture we design. We believe that creation is not a linear, cumulative, homogeneous process, but rather an overlap of conflicting times, speeds and durations. Within this overlap the architectural project becomes a fertile ground for the abundant reproduction of indeterminacies – it becomes a powerful tool to confront a world seeking total predictability and the eradication of error.
We believe that individual studio projects only become effective when the sense of time they enact is read against local scenarios – sites, details and authors. Indeed, the word ‘scenario’ derives from the Greek skene – the space for the changing of masks and costumes – that was the first dramatic space, often taking the form of a detached building, within which the action was played out before being opened to the public view. In ASD12 we will not only consider these scenarios as specific locations with their own temporal registers, but also as operative forces within larger territories.
We imagine projects that may unravel the relations found in such scenarios as:
- The right to be forgotten and the non-stop saturation of real-time news coverage
- The indeterminacy of knowing when creative work is ‘done’, set against the hourly targets of Wells Fargo's high-pressure sales culture
- A Greek fir that can live up to half a millennium and the wildfires outside Athens in 2018 that leapt over hills in seconds
- The instantaneousness of a selfie taken by Mars Rover, as opposed to the decades Galileo spent designing the first basic thermometer
By examining the relations between these events, which overflow from one term into the other, we will attempt to decipher and work with these linkages, using them to navigate toward the possibilities of a new architecture for the present.
The Live Project will involve the establishment of an inclusive entity, ‘High Holdings’, that is bound together by the logic and strictures of a holding company – an entity whose internal operations and material productions offer innovative possibilities for experimentation and critique. High Holdings will operate in conjunction with Pa.LaC.E.
The work of Valle Medina and Benjamin Reynolds (Pa.LaC.E) can be understood as 'conceits' borrowed from the metaphysical poets, as drawn-out and as turns of images. Their works comprise numerous discrete décors that access ideas – together they create a 'sense', or vector. Their works play out through exhaustive 'idea surveys' that stem from their interest in large acts of human endeavour – encyclopaedic projects, expeditions, taxonomies, etc. – which also 'reinforce the naturalisation' of their work within the ceaselessly shifting contexts in which they operate.
Benjamin Reynolds graduated with AA Diploma (Honours) from the Architectural Association, London. He has taught Diploma at the AA and is currently visiting professor at ATTP in TU Vienna. Valle Medina is an architect and a graduate (summa cum laude) from the Applied Virtuality Theory Lab, Department of Architecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ). She is currently visiting professor at The Institute for Architectural Sciences, TU Wien.