Author Archives: areed622

Simulacra and Hyper-reality

Simulacra & Hyperreality Within the Paradigm of Architecture

Up to now, assignments relating to architecture have worked within the modernist meta-narrative focusing primarily on formal issues. Previous projects have examined the subject of architecture non-linguistically. Our approach has been (ideally) modernist. We have re-presented the subject formally thus having subordinated linguistic interpolation (labels.) Presumably, meaning was derived from an intrinsic internal resonance between the sublime and form but we (necessarily) function within western aesthetic paradigms assuming their universality thus implying innateness.

We now explore the opposite extreme and using architecture as a social metaphor, examine the ideological underpinnings of postmodern society. Generally, architecture reifies economic, political, social, religious, industrial, etc. societal elements. Contextually, it functions primarily iconically. It easily assumes the role of an egalitarian mechanism we may use initially to explore the interpolation of language between subject and perception, and then the similar interpolation of ideologies. Revelations regarding various agenda should be inescapable and should consequently help guide the creation of your project.

This project explores meaning. Our perception of reality is colored and limited by interpretation. It is interpolated by language rich with layer after layer of meaning. Our past projects have through formalism, attempted to remove interpolation but we must ultimately question if form and color are innate. The subject is therefore questioned and we are left only with language and consequently must view our concept of reality skeptically.

Jean Baudrillard, in Simulacra and Simulation[i] discusses Jorge Luis Borges’ “On Exactitude in Science”[ii].

“If we were able to take as the finest allegory of simulation the Borges tale where the cartographers of the Empire draw up a map so detailed that it ends up exactly covering the territory (but where, with the decline of the Empire this map becomes frayed and finally ruined, a few shreds still discernible in the deserts — the metaphysical beauty of this ruined abstraction, bearing witness to an imperial pride and rotting like a carcass, returning to the substance of the soil, rather as an aging double ends up being confused with the real thing), this fable would then have come full circle for us, and now has nothing but the discrete charm of second-order simulacra.

 

Abstraction today is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror or the concept. Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor survives it. Henceforth, it is the map that precedes the territory — precession of simulacra — it is the map that engenders the territory and if we were to revive the fable today, it would be the territory whose shreds are slowly rotting across the map. It is the real, and not the map, whose vestiges subsist here and there, in the deserts which are no longer those of the Empire, but our own. The desert of the real itself.

In fact, even inverted, the fable is useless. Perhaps only the allegory of the Empire remains. For it is with the same imperialism that present-day simulators try to make the real, all the real, coincide with their simulation models.”[iii]

This project may be representational or may be conceptual. You may choose to document simulacra within an architectural genre or you may choose to create your own. You are not strictly limited to photography and may add to or modify your photographic project with other media. Be prepared to discuss your project with me. The project must be shot outside of class. Film processing must not be done during class either. Class time is reserved for printing, discussion and other aspects of production not previously listed.

You will have two weeks to complete this project.

(The following is from Wikipedia)

“The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth–it is the truth which conceals that there is none.

The simulacrum is true.”[iv]

Simulacra and Simulation is most known for its discussion of images, signs, and how they relate to the present day. Baudrillard claims that modern society has replaced all reality and meaning with symbols and signs, and that the human experience is of a simulation of reality rather than reality itself. The simulacra that Baudrillard refers to are signs of culture and media that create the perceived reality; Baudrillard believed that society has become so reliant on simulacra that it has lost contact with the real world on which the simulacra are based.

Simulacra and Simulation identifies three types of simulacra and identifies each with an historical period:

1.First order, associated with the pre-modern period, where the image is clearly an artificial placemarker for the real item.

2.Second order, associated with the industrial Revolution, where distinctions between image and reality breaks down due to the proliferation of mass-produced copies. The items’ ability to imitate reality threatens to replace the original version.

3.Third order, associated with the postmodern age, where the simulacrum precedes the original and the distinction between reality and representation break down. There is only the simulacrum.[v]

Baudrillard theorizes the lack of distinctions between reality and simulacra originates in several phenomena:

1.Contemporary media including television, film, print and the Internet, which are responsible for blurring the line between goods that are needed and goods for which a need is created by commercial images.

2.Exchange value, in which the value of goods is based on money rather than usefulness.

3.Multinational capitalism, which separates produced goods from the plants, minerals and other original materials and the process used to create them.

4.Urbanization, which separates humans from the natural world.

5.Language and ideology, in which language is used to obscure rather than reveal reality when used by dominant, politically powerful groups.

A specific analogy that Baudrillard uses is a fable derived from On Exactitude in Science by Jorge Luis Borges. In it, a great Empire created a map that was so detailed it was as large as the Empire itself. The actual map grew and decayed as the Empire itself conquered or lost territory. When the Empire crumbled, all that was left was the map. In Baudrillard’s rendition, it is the map that people live in, the simulation of reality, and it is reality that is crumbling away from disuse.

The transition from signs which dissimulate something to signs which dissimulate that there is nothing, marks the decisive turning point. The first implies a theology of truth and secrecy (to which the notion of ideology still belongs). The second inaugurates an age of simulacra and simulation, in which there is no longer any God to recognize his own, nor any last judgement to separate truth from false, the real from its artificial resurrection, since everything is already dead and risen in advance.[vi]

Thus, Baudrillard further distinguishes three orders of simulacra associated with three historical periods: first order simulacra belong to the pre-modern era in which images were clearly copies or representations of some original; second order simulacra arise with the industrial revolution, photography and mass reproduction technologies in the nineteenth century – the image obscures (dissimulates) and threatens to displace the real; third order simulacra are part of our postmodern era; the image is said to completely precede and determine the real, such that it is no longer possible to peel away layers of representation to arrive at some original.

It is important to note that when Baudrillard refers to the “precession of simulacra” in Simulacra and Simulations, he is referring to the way simulacra have come to precede the real in the sense mentioned above, rather than to any succession of historical phases of the image. Referring to “On Exactitude in Science“, a fable written by Borges, he argued that just as for contemporary society the simulated copy had superseded the original object, so, too, the map had come to precede the geographic territory, e.g. the first Gulf War: the image of war preceded real war.

Henceforth, it is the map that precedes the territory – precession of simulacra – it is the map that engenders the territory and if we were to revive the fable today, it would be the territory whose shreds are slowly rotting across the map.[vii]

Criticism

With such reasoning, he characterised the present age as one of “hyperreality” where the real object has been effaced or superseded, by the signs of its existence. Such an assertion — the one for which he is most criticised — is typical of his “fatal strategy” of attempting to push his theories of society beyond themselves. Rather than saying, that our hysteria surrounding pedophilia is such that we no longer really understand what childhood is anymore, Baudrillard argued that “the Child no longer exists”.[viii] Similarly, rather than arguing — as did Susan Sontag in her book On Photography — that the notion of reality has been complicated by the profusion of images of it, Baudrillard asserted: “the real no longer exists“. In so saying, he characterized his philosophical challenge as no longer being the Heidiggerian/Leibnizian question of: “Why is there something, rather than nothing?”, but, instead: “Why is there nothing, rather than something?”[ix]


[i] Poster, Mark; Baudrillard, Jean (1988). Selected writings. Cambridge, UK: Polity. ISBN 0-7456-0586-9.

[ii] On Exactitude in Science . . . In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast Map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.

Suarez Miranda,Viajes de varones prudentes, Libro IV,Cap. XLV, Lerida, 1658

From Jorge Luis Borges, Collected Fictions, Translated by Andrew Hurley Copyright Penguin 1999

[iii] Jean Baudrillard. Simulacra and Simulations. Op cit.

[iv] Jean Baudrillard. Simulacra and Simulations. Op cit.

[v] Hegarty, Paul (2004). Jean Baudrillard: live theory. London: Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-6283-9.

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] In the essay “The Dark Continent of Childhood” in the essay collection Screened Out, 2002.

[ix] In the essay “The Dark Continent of Childhood” in the essay collection Screened Out, 2002.

Technology & Ceremony : Societal Quantification

The development of civilization is only meaningful when examined relative to the past. Without technology, which is easily quantifiable and can only increase since all past technology belongs to it as well, advances are limited to societal refinements. These are quasi-quantifiable. Ceremony validates social structure. It creates a social identity. Ideological structure is a prerequisite to stability. Ceremony, aesthetics, social rules, provide ideology with an exoskeleton. Societal rigidity is an artifice separating civilization from animal associations and ideology provides common objectives required for the success of society, generally, and nationalism, specifically.

The change in the nature of society is paralleled by the development of technology. Ceremonious social events were stiffly structured by rules governing behavior. Civilization was defined by social rules. Ceremony and aesthetics are manifestations of those rules. The proliferation of technology seems to be inversely proportional to the (declining) importance of these social characteristics. Technology now defines civilization and behavior limiting rules are no longer required to fill that role.

Althusser expands Lacanian theory by asserting ideology’s authority as essentially “The Law of the Father.” The transfer of the signifier is the interpolation of the subject. Lacan’s subject is composed of language. Althusser’s subject is corrupted by ideology. The assurance of the West’s political stability is based on this concept. Stabilizing ideologies have been rigorously installed and although radical viewpoints may effect change, their influence can only be minimal and therefore they are tolerated. Political instability can be explained by an unstable, a lack of, an ineffectual, or a de stabilized Ideology. Technology de stabilizes traditional macro ideologies and replaces them with consumerism. Entrepreneurial capitalism is replaced by multi national capitalism and the individual is replaced by the functional unit and the egocentric myth of the individual is not exposed, only forgotten.

A Few Notes Regarding Postmodernism

During the late 60’s and early 70’s one occasionally heard the slogan “Be here now.” This slogan apparently elevates the present to a primary position and abstracts the past and future. In terms of one’s attention, the nonpresent becomes mere distraction. The linear meta-narratives of the 40’s and 50’s, school, marriage, job, car, house, family, were rejected. The threat of nuclear obliteration had made the future far from certain and those responsible for the rules of the past were also responsible for the Vietnam war and the bomb. The initial inspiration of the enlightenment had metamorphosed into the limiting dogma of universal programs. The promised salvation of the individual, the salvation of Man, had yielded instead, Hitler and Stalin. The great meta-discourses of the enlightenment were crumbling evidenced by this antihistorical, and finally an ahistorical collective consciousness.

Science was having difficulty maintaining its authoritative position following its gift of the nuclear age in spite of the advertising campaign embodied in the space program. The space saga brought science to television as an attempt to appeal to the flourishing popular narcotic passion for spectacle while covertly enhancing the greater program of power structure justification and ideologies. Science was obscured and converted to technology and technology, a child born from the evolving efficiencies required by capitalism, was absorbed by consumerism. News, a big part of the informational drone, has no memory. It carries the “be here now” standard that has mutated into an advocate of remote experience. “Newsworthy” denotes consumability. “News maker’s” actions and programs are adjusted, or at least the released stories are edited to assure interesting copy on the six oclock news.

(Pure) science itself was beginning to reject, at least partially, linear rules of reason and started to admit intuitive leaps. The speed of light can never be attained because when it is approached, mass becomes infinite, time goes to zero and the required energy becomes infinite. Similarly, an asymptotic relation exists as the primal moment of space-time is theorized; the point of ultimate origin. It too can never be mathematically reached by means of traditional linear logic; time is zero and can only be approximated by division. The goals of quantum and astro physics begin to align with those of metaphysics and even accept some of the same tenets and intuitive methods. Although the enlightenment program is still implicitly alive within the program of theoretical physics, the final stronghold of the applied Greenbergian dogma of distinct disciplines is radically eliminated.

Renewed interests in Marxist ideals during the 60’s and 70’s, was transformed during the 80’s, into yuppified capitalist complacency. Oppositional historicism had changed to ahistoricism. Western pre-war Marxists had died, became disillusioned with communism (the distorted realization of Marxism) or, they too had been seduced by the comforts of capitalism.

The linearity described by Hegelian synthesis seems rather to describe the apparent linearity of the beginning iterations of a fractal series. The dialectic of thesis, antithesis and synthesis may not ratchet linearly toward their ultimate becoming but instead, after a logically reversible infant stage, branch into the irreversible multiplicity of natural chaotic expression. The anticipation of the ultimate perfect expression of humanity is forgotten, lost in the fragmented A.D.D. / sound-bite new world order, pulsing through the distraction of the exponentially expanding network of text messages, IMs, chats & twitters woven through a media matrix of misinformation distilled down to an essence of jingoistic keyword baited banter bought and paid for by multi-national corporate sponsors.

Pastiche is a significant feature of postmodernism. It is blank parody, an adaptive appropriation that recycles the past. Its appropriative characteristic puts it at odds with the fundamental modernist tenet of unique authorship, of personal style. The break may be expanded to include a rejection of Greenbergian formal supremacy in favor of a new humanism. Jameson differentiates pastiche from parody in terms of linguistic norms or more accurately in terms of the deconstructed belief in those norms.[i] Just as idealized solutions must assume some fundamental standard for aspiration, parody ridicules its subject by inferring a norm. Pastiche does not. Its potential for multiplicity implies the characteristic nonlinear synthesis of fractals. Consider the return to materialism in the 80’s. The “Father Knows Best/Leave it to Beaver” meta-narrative of the 50’s was reduced to fetishistic consumerism. The material characteristics of that narrative became emblematic of postmodern fulfillment but the ideologies were forgotten. George Bush’s call for a return to family values reflects the potentially serious consequences for the capitalistic power structure arising from the unprogrammed society. It is clearly a simplistic view denying the non linearity of postmodern society, and is contradictory in that the real project is economic ideology and must therefore embrace consumerism as axiomatic. The “Father Knows Best”/nuclear family ideology is consequently reduced to just another nostalgia film.

Jameson focuses on fragmentation of the subject arising from the ahistorical “schizophrenia” of consumer society. His view is essentially Marxist. For him, arising from multinational capitalism, are the organizational man and corporate bureaucracies. The bourgeois individual, from the days of entrepreneurial (monopoly or imperialistic) capitalism, is an antique. He suggests a more radical view that posits the individual as myth. The myth probably originates from alienation converted to individualism by the ideologies of religion, the totalizing discourses of the enlightenment and finally, the rugged individual of capitalism. It is from the disappearance of the individual, that Jameson’s “schizophrenia” originates. He sees it in Laconian terms, as a language disorder resulting in no sense of time or history. “It is because language has a past and a future, because the sentence moves in time, that we have what seems to us a concrete or lived experience of time…schizophrenic experience is an experience of isolated, disconnected, discontinuous material signifiers which fail to link up into a coherent sequence. The schizophrenic…does not know personal identity…since our feeling of identity depends on our sense of the persistence of the ‘I’ and the ‘me’ over time.”[ii]

Habermas sees fragmentation resulting, from division of the totality of life into independent and narrow areas of specialization, which are solely the domains of experts. The enlightenment’s promise of liberation is therefore denied to the public due to the inaccessibility of specialty language. “The differentiation of science, morality and art has come to mean the autonomy of the segments treated by the specialist……With cultural rationalization of this sort, the threat increases that the life-world, whose traditional substance has already been devalued, will become more and more impoverished.”[iii] He calls for a return to a modified modernist project, one that will provide a unity of experience.

Lyotard explains fragmentation in terms of the loss of meta-narratives in post industrial society. He sees as modern, “…any science that legitimates itself with reference to a meta-discourse… making an explicit appeal to some grand narrative…”[iv] and post modernity as the abandonment of any form of universal philosophy. The master narratives; the dialectic of the spirit, the emancipation of the worker, the accumulation of wealth, the classless society, were socially unifying programs giving direction and promises of change. Their loss of credibility, of legitimacy, their inability to compel consensus, implies fragmentation, and even societal schizophrenia inferred by the general loss of the stabilizing effect of meaning. Their loss of legitimacy was inevitable. Quantum mechanics and atomic physics yields an applicable theory. The energy required to define a system/universe is at least equal to the energy contained in that system. Lyotard clarifies with a quote from Borges. “An emperor wishes to have a perfectly accurate map of the empire made. The project leads the country to ruin – the entire population devotes all its energy to cartography.”[v]

“The idea of perfect control over a system, which is supposed to improve its performance… in fact lowers the performance level it claims to raise. This inconsistency explains the weakness of state and socioeconomic bureaucracies: they stifle the systems or subsystems they control and asphyxiate themselves in the process.”[vi]

Since the end of WW II, social structure has radically changed. The seats of power have shifted from the traditional political class to “…a composite layer of corporate leaders, high level administrators, and the heads of the major professional, labor, political, and religious organizations.”[vii] Not only are economic policies becoming less and less matters of state, but multinational capitalism is diffusing national boundaries.

Identity is getting harder to find. “…The old poles of attraction represented by nation-states, parties, professions, institutions, and historical traditions are losing their attraction.”[viii]

With the advent of computers, the state of learning and knowledge has changed from the traditional analog continuum of linear acquisition, from which the individual derived identity and position, to a digitally quantified and commodified status determined by application. Knowledge is no longer an end in itself but it is produced for its monetary value. “Knowledge in the form of an informational commodity indispensable to productive power is already, and will continue to be, a major – perhaps the major – stake in the worldwide competition for power.”[ix]

Commodification is being applied democratically, to all things. It appears to be a primary cause leading to the failure of the project of modernism. The avant-garde’s function was to provide a challenge to the autonomy of art, the art institution, its commodification and to propel the project forward. Habermas, a proponent for the return to modernism, and a bit of a romantic, describes the avant-garde: “The avant-garde understands itself as invading unknown territory, exposing itself to the dangers of sudden, shocking encounters, conquering an as yet unoccupied future. The avant-garde must find a direction in a landscape into which no one seems to have yet ventured.[x]” Clearly, Habermas’ view fuses the avant-garde with the enlightenment project. His view is optimistic and may have held true for the affirmative modernist program. A pessimistic view, expressed by Michael Newman paraphrases Thomas Crow, and describes the avant-garde: “…as a kind of research and development arm of the culture industry, setting in motion a one-way cycle of exchange: oppositional practices upward, the return of cultural goods downward such that modernist negation becomes, paradoxically, an instrument of cultural domination”[xi]

“A definition for postmodernism depends on how modernism is defined. Confusion may arise because modernism and postmodernism are used as both aesthetic categories and terms for cultural phenomena which coincide with epochs of history.”[xii] Newman suggests further confusion may arise from the lack of a clear definition of modernism. He identifies two branches of the project. First, is Clement Greenberg’s neo-Kantian formalist doctrine that insists on the racial purity of each discipline, and the second branch, a “critically reflexive tendency which might include Cubism, Dada, photomontage, the readymade and conceptual art.”[xiii] However, Bürger sees modernism and the avant-garde as separate phenomena. Modernism attacked traditional styles and techniques but the avant-garde attempted to change “institutionalized commerce with art”[xiv]. Modernism is concerned with linguistic strategies and formal issues, the avant-garde is involved in historical conflict and change. Newman’s view may be more accurate now. Currently, oppositional art is being produced but nothing is able to shock anymore. Senses have been dulled by extremes in media. Explicit acts of sex and violence, exposure to diverse cultures presented as anthropological artifacts or as contrived evidence of human homogeneity, consumable news, have all been pumped into our collective, democratized experience through our electronic sixth sense. We are addicted. We crave larger, more potent doses. The avant-garde’s teeth have been electronically removed. No longer dangerous, the avant-garde is greedily consumed by the art industry.

The two branches described by Newman may be traced to their Kantian and Hegelian roots. The Kantian view develops the autonomy of art from the necessarily subjective judgments required to define the aesthetic as an indication of the autonomous individual. Within the mutability of this subjective response the transcendental (immutable) is found. Mode, style, that which arises from influence and is mutable by obsolescence, had to be categorized as separate. Symbolist theory made a distinction between content and form and the aesthetic was viewed to reside in the latter. Greenberg would see kitsch in the former.

The Hegelian view sees “the withering away of art into social practice or theoretical discourse.”[xv] This certainly seems to describe a great deal of the art produced today. Content enjoys a restored status and the rule of autonomy for art is ignored rather than challenged but the issue of political correctness is apparently the new aesthetic. The restrictions imposed by the Greenbergian dogma provided boundaries for art based on formal considerations. Now the rules apply to content, and these limitations must be observed in your work if it is to be included in this year’s salon.

It is interesting to consider the apparent objective quality of style. In an expression’s initial manifestation, prior to its modality, it may exhibit transcendence, and in a way, stylization objectifies, or reifies the initial expression through consensus. This notion finds validity within the modernist program, but if viewed from a deconstructuralist viewpoint, it falls apart because it assumes universal or fixed meaning, which is necessarily a quality of the transcendent, and from a poststructuralist viewpoint, relies on authorship; “The Author-God,” and Greenberg’s metaphysical self dissolves into the cultural stew pot. Whereas Greenberg’s subject / author, because of the work, is immutable, transcendent, unique, and therefore immortal, for Foucault, the text kills the author. “He becomes a victim of his own writing.”[xvi] Foucault’s assertion extends Barthes’ view of modern text. Derrida further expands it to be inclusive of all representation. Derrida’s view aligns with, what I will call, an organic, or fractal viewpoint where signifiers and signified are constantly breaking apart and reattaching in new multi-dimensional combinations, mutations without an absolute defining origin. Non linearly organic, meaning is dispersed throughout the signifier’s infinite and untraceable (nonlinear) genealogy. Meaning is therefore only momentarily present and infinitely transitory. The Heisenburg uncertainty principle coupled with Brownian motion provides a subatomic analogy if we substitute momentary meaning for position and mutant ancestry for motion. Brownian motion provides an impenetrable barrier to the regressive mapping of the signifier’s nonlinear lineage.

The unconscious, unknowable Other is Lacan’s contribution to this “chaos theory of meaning”, expanding it to “chaos theory of being.” The Lacanian view expands Freudian psychoanalytic theory and substitutes signifier for phallus. Subjecthood is substituted for ego[xvii], and arises from transference of the signifier. “The subject is born insofar as the signifier emerges in the field of the Other. But by this very fact, the subject – which was previously nothing if not a subject coming into being – solidifies into a signifier.”[xviii] In the pre-verbal stage, the child / pre-subject is profoundly divided, identifying with everything, but in another sense, undifferentiated, unlabeled reality implies a non-judgmental unity. Acquisition of language and the laws of language are transferred with the father’s name and authority. The transfer marks an alienation of the psyche but return to a pre-verbal state is impossible. The Oedipal complex is the child’s transition from a natural, externally self identified and desiring condition, to the laws, language and organization of cultural group exchange.

Lacan sees the real, that which is absolute, as unknowable. It is what resists symbolization absolutely. Jameson views the Lacanian “real” as simply “history” and ignores the potential metaphysical implications.

Perhaps postmodern consumerism when viewed from a fetishistic viewpoint, can be seen as the transference of infantile desire and as a projection of identity onto the external. The object of desire becomes that which will complete, make whole, just as the mother is the infant’s pre-verbal identity as well as object of desire. “The magic of the fetish depends on the projection of consciousness into the object, and then forgetting the act of projection.”[xix] The obsession for material acquisition arises out of the transformation of this most primal identity related response. The dualist nature of the infant and its object of desire fragments into the multiplicity of potential consumables.

Althusser expands Lacan’s theory by asserting ideology’s authority as essentially “The Law of the Father.” The transfer of the signifier is the interpolation of the subject. Lacan’s subject is composed of language. Althusser’s subject is corrupted by ideology. The assurance of the West’s political stability can be explained by this concept. Stabilizing ideologies have been rigorously installed and although radical viewpoints may effect change, their influence can only be minimal and therefore they are tolerated. Political instability can be explained by an unstable, a lack of, an ineffectual, or a destabilized Ideology.

Postmodernism, as a cultural phenomenon, is associated with multi-national capitalism, consumer based society, the proliferation of computer based informational systems, and a collapse of authority of the meta-narratives of the enlightenment. Progress is seen as a myth. Politically, it is at odds with Marxism and culturally, it rejects the project of modernism. The formal transcendence of abstract expressionism has been challenged by a neo-conservative return to humanism. The austerely elegant functionalism of the international style in architecture has been replaced with a new stylistic eclecticism. Deconstruction of the existential models of authenticity and inauthenticity and of the semiotic opposition between signifier and signified have respectively left the individual and meaning without concrete definition. Appropriation and pastiche have replaced the unique expression of transcendence.

In spite of the social structure and in spite of their own arguments, there seems to be a common desire expressed by theorists for a return to the modernist project. Habermas openly leads the pack and calls for a resurrection of modernism in a transparent and fully communicational society. Lyotard takes issue with Habermas’ position because it assumes the possibility of universal rules for language games. In spite of this, he expresses a kind of nostalgia for a return to openly narrative discourse.

Jameson’s identification of the Laconian “Real” with history, and his desire to recover social history from its misrepresented invisibility, suggests a desire to restore individual social identity. Although he does not call for a return to modernism, he is critical of the commodification of postmodern aesthetic production: “This whole global, yet American, postmodern culture is the internal and superstructural expression of a whole new wave of American military and economic domination throughout the world: in this sense, as throughout class history, the underside of culture is blood, death and horror.”[xx] For Jameson, the cure resurects the avant-garde: “We have seen that there is a way in which postmodernism replicates or reproduces-reinforces the logic of consumer capitalism; the more significant question is whether there is also a way in which it resists that logic.”[xxi]


[i]Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism and Consumer Society, in Hal Foster (ed), The Anti-Aesthetic, Essays on Postmodern Culture, Bay Press, Seattle Washington, 1983.

[ii]Fredric Jameson, op cit.

[iii]Jürgen Habermas, Modernity – An Incomplete Project, in Hal Foster (ed.), The Anti-Aesthetic, Essays on Postmodern Culture, Bay Press, Seattle Washington, 1983.

[iv]Jean-François Lyotard, in an interview with Christian Descamps, in An Introductory Guide to Post-Structuralism and Postmodernism, Madan Sarup, University of Georgia Press, Athens, Georgia, 1989.

[v]Borges, A Universal History of Infamy, Dutton, New York. 1972; quoted in Jean-François Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1984.

[vi]Jean-François Lyotard, op cit.

[vii]Jean-François Lyotard, op cit.

[viii]Jean-François Lyotard, op cit.

[ix]Jean-François Lyotard, op cit.

[x]Jürgen Habermas, op cit.

[xi]From Modernism and Mass Culture in the Visual Arts, quoted in Revising Modernism, Representing Postmodernism, Michael Newman, ICA Documents 4 Postmodernism.

[xii]Michael Newman, Revising Modernism, Representing Postmodernism, op cit.

[xiii]op cit.

[xiv]op cit.

[xv]Michael Newman, op cit.

[xvi]Michael Foucault, Language, Counter-Memory, Practice. Quoted in: Michael Newman, Revising Modernism, Representing Postmodernism, op cit.

[xvii]For Lacan, the ego is unknowable because to do so would require an impossible reflexivity.

[xviii]Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, Quoted in: Michael Newman, Revising Modernism, Representing Postmodernism, op cit.

[xix]W. J. T. Mitchell, Iconology, University of Chicago Press, 1986.

[xx]Jameson, New Left Review, No. 146, quoted in An Introductory Guide to Post-Structuralism and Postmodernism, op cit.

[xxi]Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism and Consumer Society, op cit.

Bibliography

Best, Steven and Kellner, Douglas; Postmodern Theory, Critical Interrogations, Guilford Press, NY, 1991.

Bürger, Peter; Theory of the Avant-Garde, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1984.

Burgin, Victor; The End of Art Theory, Criticism and Postmodernity, Humanities Press International, NJ, 1986.

Cole, K. C.; Sympathetic Vibrations, Reflections on Physics as a Way of Life, William Morrow & Co., NY, 1985.

Eagleton, Terry; The Ideology of the Aesthetic, Basil Blackwell Ltd, Oxford, UK, 1990.

Foster, Hal (ed); The Anti-Aesthetic, Essays on Postmodern Culture, Bay Press, Seattle, WA. 1983.

Frascina, Francis and Harrison, Charles (ed); Modern Art and Modernism, A Critical Anthology, Harper and Row, NY, 1984.

Frascina, Francis (ed); Pollock and After, The critical Debate, Harper and Row, NY, 1985.

Harvey, David; The condition of Postmodernity, Basil Blackwell Ltd, Oxford, UK, 1990.

Holman, Hugh C. and Harmon, William; A Handbook to Literature, 6th edition, Macmillan Pub. NY, 1992.

Karl, Frederick R.; Modern and Modernism, The Sovereignty of the Artist 1885-1925, Atheneum, NY, 1985.

Lyotard, Jean-François; The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1984.

Mitchell, W. J. T. ; Iconology, University of Chicago Press, 1986.

Newman, Michael, Revising Modernism, Representing Postmodernism, ICA Documents 4 Postmodernism.

Sarup, Madan; An Introductory Guide to Post Structuralism and Postmodernism, University of Georgia Press, Athens, Georgia, 1989.

Sennet, Richard; The Conscience of the Eye, The Design and Social Life of Cities, Alfred Knopf Inc., NY, 1990.

Wallis, Brian (ed); Art After Modernism, Rethinking Representation, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, NY, 1984.

Urban Cliff Project Proposal

Abstract

Tacit acceptance of the proliferation and enlargement of U.S. urban centers, their ubiquitous encroachment into rural areas and of historic architectural aesthetics/idioms generally oppositional to naturally occurring structures suggest that an integration or perhaps a reverse penetration of natural into the man-made urban environment could function as a referent of its prehistory while questioning both structural and landscape architectonic idioms.

Many cities’ plans include plantings and parks but although nurtured, they seem to exist only by permission. They are often locked in cages of sidewalk or kept under control within carefully defined limits. Generally, public landscape idioms derive from two sources, namely the 18th century English garden (an interpretation of the Japanese garden) or from the 17th century French garden (e.g. Versailles.) There is a commonality within these idioms of control over nature and that each aligns with a particular aesthetic. Note that the “naturalistic” English garden’s aesthetic is in fact a highly controlled expression based on preconceptions of “picturesque.”

Rarely are natural elements allowed to freely coexist with an urban setting. Although architectural examples integrated with pristine natural environments exist, urban centers generally do not. This is particularly true within the American idiom. The traditions of settler, pioneer, conqueror of the wilderness embody the need to control and dominate. This fused with America’ s love affair with the automobile and the overwhelming influences of consumerism and technology have modeled American cities.

Proposal: The Urban Cliff

A local cliff will be climbed and photographed. The photography will be a contiguous series of images representing approximately 30 ft (vertically) and 6 ft (horizontally) of a that cliff. These images will be spliced together and printed at full scale producing a 30 ft long x 6 ft wide print. It is proposed that this be installed on the exterior west wall of the elevator shaft of the Warwarsing Town Hall building. The print material will be resistant to weather and the installation is intended to be semi-permanent. It is further proposed that the installation be done during the July 1st opening of the 2 other art venues in Ellenville and that it be done using conventional climbing equipment. All phases of the project will be videotaped.

Abstract

Tacit acceptance of the proliferation and enlargement of U.S. urban centers, their ubiquitous encroachment into rural areas and of historic architectural aesthetics/idioms generally oppositional to naturally occurring structures suggest that an integration or perhaps a reverse penetration of natural into the man-made urban environment could function as a referent of its prehistory while questioning both structural and landscape architectonic idioms.

Many cities’ plans include plantings and parks but although nurtured, they seem to exist only by permission. They are often locked in cages of sidewalk or kept under control within carefully defined limits. Generally, public landscape idioms derive from two sources, namely the 18th century English garden (an interpretation of the Japanese garden) or from the 17th century French garden (e.g. Versailles.) There is a commonality within these idioms of control over nature and that each aligns with a particular aesthetic. Note that the “naturalistic” English garden’s aesthetic is in fact a highly controlled expression based on preconceptions of “picturesque.”

Rarely are natural elements allowed to freely coexist with an urban setting. Although architectural examples integrated with pristine natural environments exist, urban centers generally do not. This is particularly true within the American idiom. The traditions of settler, pioneer, conqueror of the wilderness embody the need to control and dominate. This fused with America’ s love affair with the automobile and the overwhelming influences of consumerism and technology have modeled American cities.

Proposal: The Urban Cliff

A local cliff will be climbed and photographed. The photography will be a contiguous series of images representing approximately 30 ft (vertically) and 6 ft (horizontally) of a that cliff. These images will be spliced together and printed at full scale producing a 30 ft long x 6 ft wide print. It is proposed that this be installed on the exterior west wall of the elevator shaft of the Warwarsing Town Hall building. The print material will be resistant to weather and the installation is intended to be semi-permanent. It is further proposed that the installation be done during the July 1st opening of the 2 other art venues in Ellenville and that it be done using conventional climbing equipment. All phases of the project will be videotaped.

Andrew Reed: Urban Cliff I Andrew Reed: Urban Cliff II
Urban Cliff #1 : West 41st Street, NYC; 1991; (Andrew Reed)
Urban Cliff #2 ; Ellenville, NY; 2006; (Andrew Reed)