what could have been
The news from Ireland is dim and grimmer. It looks like it's leading the way in the collapse. It's sad to think of all of the people who will lose their jobs and their homes there, here, and elsewhere.
But the missed opportunities are sadder to me. Instead of a bubble economy that produced the vertiginous architecture of emptiness that Sam Jacob so eloquently wrote about, a decade without significant work marked only by horrific mcmansions, the excess funds of the bubble could have been used for something far more interesting. The sacrifices were going to come, but for what? Then the sacrifices that people are experiencing now would have been worth something.
If only we could agree that during the next moment of insanity, we will acknowledge its insanity and do things that have lasting significance and value, works that reflect our time. Maybe Dada Capitalism could be the next movement (an aside… this is what comes up on Google for "Dada Capitalism")?
Instead of absorbing into itself, a Dada Capitalist architecture would look out into the world, creating architecture fiction, a term that Bruce Sterling coined after reading this brilliant piece on modernism by J. G. Ballard, to suggest that it is possible to write fiction with architecture.
This is very much like what Robert and I developed for our AUDC studio last fall although sadly were ignorant of the theoretical work by Sterling and Ballard at the time. It might have explained what we were up to for our students although our approach was to turn not so much to science fiction as to ecstatic realism, taking Werner Herzog as our model. In the end, the work wound up being somewhere in between science fiction and documentary film. It'll be up soon, I hope.
So in the future, lets ditch architect as pseudo-engineered performance, be it for form's sake or for an empty Whole Foods greenness. Instead take risks again, let's make ecstastic architecture and architecture fiction, let's re-imagine the world.
For inspiration, take this nest by Benjamin Verdonck, a Dutch artist. More here, including photos and video of Verdonck living in the nest. The last time I was in the Netherlands, in 2003 or so, there was a sense that the architecture movement of the 1990s was finished. I imagine little has changed since then.
What if the young Dutch architects had pursued something like this? I think they would be leading the way again.