After Art (POINT: Essays on Architecture)
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Art as we know it is dramatically changing, but popular and critical responses lag behind. In this trenchant illustrated essay, David Joselit describes how art and architecture are being transformed in the age of Google. Under the dual pressures of digital technology, which allows images to be reformatted and disseminated effortlessly, and the exponential acceleration of cultural exchange enabled by globalization, artists and architects are emphasizing networks as never before. Some of the most interesting contemporary work in both fields is now based on visualizing patterns of dissemination after objects and structures are produced, and after they enter into, and even establish, diverse networks. Behaving like human search engines, artists and architects sort, capture, and reformat existing content. Works of art crystallize out of populations of images, and buildings emerge out of the dynamics of the circulation patterns they will house.
Examining the work of architectural firms such as OMA, Reiser + Umemoto, and Foreign Office, as well as the art of Matthew Barney, Ai Weiwei, Sherrie Levine, and many others, After Art provides a compelling and original theory of art and architecture in the age of global networks.
162. Koolhaas has published this essay in several places, making it a kind of signature manifesto. 51. The expression I have quoted recalls the Comte de Lautré-amont’s famous expression, beloved by the Surrealists, describing an encounter with a young boy as “beautiful as a chance meeting on a dissecting-table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella!” Koolhaas’s fascination with surrealism was abundantly evident already in his Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan (New York:
Alejandro Zaera-Polo, “The Politics of the Envelope: A Political Critique of Materialism,” Volume 17 (2008): 104. I think Somol means something similar by his term shape, as when he declares, “Shape is PROJECTIVE.… To radically paraphrase Carl Andre, a shape is a hole in a thing that is not.” See R. E. Somol, “12 Reasons to Get Back into Shape,” in Content, 86–87. The term projective is crucial here, for in recent architectural discourse it signals a move away from “critique” (understood as
contemporary art, has served purposes quite similar to those of American museums: they are typically the projects of wealthy private individuals who wish to assert their status as part of a cosmopolitan elite, or they are directly related to development projects. An excellent source of specific studies and general observations on the globalization of such a museum model is Hans Belting and Andrea Buddensieg, eds., The Global Art World: Audiences, Markets, and Museums (Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje
essay in this series hones a single point while situating it within a broader discursive landscape, and thereby simultaneously focusing and fueling architectural criticism. These short books, written by leading critics, theorists, historians, and practitioners, engage the major issues concerning architecture and design today. The agility of POINT’s format permits the series to take the pulse of the field, address and further develop current issues, and turn these issues outward to an informed,
and Wolverton state, “[Our book] hardly touches on informal knowledge, the type of knowledge we get from reading a newspaper, fixing a motorcycle, parenting a child, or creating a work of art.”1 The (widely shared) assumption of these authors is that visual intelligence is insufficiently disciplined to cross the threshold of “formal” (i.e., genuine) knowledge. • Deceptive: As sources of pleasure, images deceive. They create the ideological fantasias that Guy Debord so lustily condemned in his