Ezio Blasetti, Lydia Kallipoliti, Camille Lacadee and François Roche in conver- sation with L, G and C. Recorded on June 6th and 7th, 2013
EB: Ezio Blasetti
LK: Lydia Kallipoliti
FR: I’m in Greece now, so its personne.1
G: Where have you worked and why are you working where you are now?
EB: I have worked with many people. It is probably too many to list them all. I have worked for Vito Acconci for a couple years. I worked with Alisa Andrasek for a similar amount of time parallel to that. I have many collaborators starting from my best friends from undergrad, we started an office in Athens and in New York, more recently with Danielle Willems. I am known as a prolific collaborator, where I find an interest in a particular project or in someone who does interesting work and I have something to contribute.
LK: I have worked as an educator at the Cooper Union and Columbia University in New York and as an architect in New York and Greece.
CL: I’ve worked in Europe, and Asia—mainly in Japan, India, and now I’m in Bangkok, since I started Muay Thai.
P: Where and why and what? That’s the question? Ah! Mmmh, to verify the gender of Ariadne, supposed as potentially Lesbian in our story, lost in translation, abandoned by a macho (Theseus) and waiting an alcoholic (Dionysus).
L: What is the implication of the workshop being in Greece?
EB: Why is it here? I come from Greece. You could say this is coincidental but it is not. We are coming from this region and we feel what the problems of this region are, academically, socially, and economically. I will always come back to a place like this, to contribute to a discourse that I came from.
Greece provides a unique background in terms of not only the economic crisis, but being at the center of a global experiment, and it was intriguing as a start of a particular narrative. At the same time, construction and architecture in Greece have been in a very difficult position the last few years, and because of the crisis, there has been a halt. We have a lot of Greek architects that have spread around the world, including myself, and it is hard for them to come back.
LK: There are several layers of implications. Obviously coming from Greece, at first I am motivated by a romantic idea to bring to my place of origin the foreign world that I infiltrated coming to the US east coast. Although after 1 years in the US, this encounter seems naïve at best. Being a foreigner at whatever context, is part of who I am.
In any case, Greece is the birthplace of tragedy, so, every time people come here and congregate in a closed system a tragedy occurs. I do not know if the locale has an actual impact or if tragedy unfolds coincidentally in workshops, but it does; to such an extent that both the country–Greece-and the nature workshops have become suspicious in my mind. If you have read William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies, you quite lucidly see how a closed system—whether it is a cybernetic system or an ecosystem or a social system composed of people—at some point produces its own output and regenerates it as input, and starts to malfunction. In the book it happened to a group of young people cast away in an island, but the case of workshops is strikingly similar. So workshops are basically social experiments as well as educational experiments with a lot of people working together intensely, closely and constantly; hating each other, loving each other, and so forth. This intensity is really productive as an experience and it is the reason I keep getting involved in organizing summer workshops. In Greece, it gets more dramatic because the weather is great, the attitude to life is looser and people start quickly to creatively misbehave.
We somehow manage to reach another level of communication and experience each other’s work, ideas and visions at a different layer more intrusive to one’s aspirations.
CL: Last year we were in India, a place where I have lived and worked… I knew what you could and could not do there. It’s a country where everything is about local negotiations… It is the same way in Bangkok or in Crete. When the plane was landing here, a Greek woman told me the Cretan slogan is “Freedom or Death.”
P: To bring antidote economy into a Schengen gate community.
L: What, if any, are the political implications of the work?
EB: There are always political implications. What we started doing in the middle of the workshop with the general assemblies has been probably one of the more refreshing political statements we could do. It is not that it has been resolved, but a proper political statement is not about resolving something. It is about posing the right questions. Is there something outside of the group? Honestly, maybe there shouldn’t be something outside of the group.
We are trying to define a territory of production, which is the most difficult part of Europe today, to define a niche, to be able to use the funds to produce something new, that could intrigue other things to happen.
LK: We are within a city, within an island. Inside the island we are in a fortress. Inside the fortress we are creating a labyrinth. That kind of nested entrapment fascinated me throughout this workshop. At the beginning I was hoping that the workshop would interrogate this nested entrapment. You are in a country that is asphyxiating because of the financial crisis, which basically reflects a crisis of societal values. A lot of contemporary critics argue that it is not a crisis that just happened, but the crisis had commenced many years ago as a disalienation from the roots. We are currently only experiencing the effects as shadows and echoes. This line of thinking aligns with Slavoj Žižek’s three interpretations of the Greek crisis: the natural catastrophe, the lazy Greeks, and the trap of Brussels, that is the trap of technocratic liberalism.
The frustration here is so pervasive that people expect immediate and direct solutions to problems, which is convoluted if not futile. So, the immediate and easy assumption is that once you go to a country where there is a crisis, you have to propose solutions to this crisis. But, that is a very linear -cause and effect- response which is not always productive as one would expect. When a problem is so multi-dimensional and weaved in so many parameters of culture, it is not so easy to address it at face value. One might need first to invent novel ways to engage with the problem itself and understand the diversity of its facets. Our regression into mythology was the catalyst of this workshop to approach contemporary questions of the crisis.
Going back, regressing into mythology and the examination of human nature through a kind of architectural experience brought to the forefront vital issues imbued in contemporary culture, but from a side road, a reroute into the unconscious of the crisis. This was probably the most significant contribution of this summer laboratory.
The role of the site was also significant, because it revealed different scales of entrapment that metaphorically spoke of a multi-scalar psycho-spatial realm of enclosure in a complex economical and socio-political territory. It would be extremely naïve if we would argue that by coming to Greece, we would use architectural solutions as a tool for societal reform, that is to solve aspects of the deeply rooted financial crisis. I think that by providing questions and not any answers or solutions to problems, just by forcing people to think and act in different ways and question their daily lives, is what constitutes change.
CL: I don’t know yet…
P: To develop some narration, and then to be able to create an archeology of the futures.
C: How do you view the workshop format in comparison to academic studios and professional practice?
EB: Honestly, I’ve never worked on a competition in an office where thirty people are involved. It is a little bit insane. Usually there is one or two in charge, and then there is a bunch of other people that are working towards it.
So I cannot really compare it to a competition. In a competition there is a brief. There is a client. There is a particular agenda. There is also the office organization, namely the hierarchy that drives the production. There is none of that here. There is a brief, but it is a very open ended brief.
Then academic studios, at least the ones we are used to in the US, have a different type of production. I would say it is much more about how to allow for an individual person, an individual talent to grow its own individuality, to find its own language. Not that, that isn’t present here, but we are trying to test something more collective in the sense of a production that we define as a group. It’s very rare. It’s not that you can’t do it in an academic setting—and we are all academics—but it is a departure from that type of institution, where the critical discourse is particularly formatted, the way it happens in studio meetings and final reviews. This workshop format aspires to afford us to be more playful and more open-ended on what is the final product of our work. The question of format came up in our discussions as well, so the very structure of the workshop is open-ended in this case.
For me what is happening here is asking how we can define a collective language as a series of groups and as a larger collective. That’s also reflected in the production. The production is individual groups and everyone together. The Siamese twins that Francois is talking about between the movie and the architecture are all parts of one experiment.
LK: Educational experience is very much related to the protocols set for production and guidance. In the setting of the GSAPP studio where you have one instructor, you basically steer minds and ideas. We can use the metaphor of the midwife, the captain, or a general enabler who allows action to occur while not necessarily inserting his/her own energy as part of this process. Studio is not about providing solutions, but a dialectic process of the distillation of values, important to the individuality of each student while at the same time steered towards a mental framework set by the instructor.
This sounds fairly classical and platonic, but the workshop is totally different. The workshop is mostly about production, about collective production, about war, about struggle, about exhaustion, dealing with exhaustion, societal systems, how a small community forms and reforms. It is a condensed time where a lot of things happen during the creative process and there is no sense of authorship or agency. The workshop is very much an experiment in living, as well as an experiment in producing while living intensely. In many ways, it defies issues of agency and authorship within a collectivity where your ego is dissolved. It is a very hard and useful exercise, although sometimes intolerable.
CL: Well it’s concise… it’s very concise… it has to be considered as very precious time…
P: Too much Cretan.
G: In comparison to an academic studio?
P: Too much Cretan.
HG: That’s the biggest problem, the absence of a platform that could be something apart from the authoritarian system. The city municipality is the only authority that gives the decisions and most of the time they make the wrong decisions. Without independent spaces to discuss the interventions that are going on in the city most of the time you will be unsuccessful.
C: So it’s a two-step process, first to develop an actively aware and motivated public, and then provide a political structure where exchanges between citizens and decision makers can occur.
HG: On twitter, the district representative of where I live is everyday posting photos of different buildings they are starting to work on. And every time he posts something, I challenge him “Who is the architect of the work? How did you decide? Do we need this?” I don’t think he likes me, but maybe if I ask him a thousand times…
C: Then maybe he’ll take the time to figure it out. Or maybe other people will start asking.
HG: Yes, you should do it. Poke him. I am not asking him to make him feel bad, but just to start a dialogue.
C: Or professional practice?
P: Too much Cretan.
L: Too much Cretan?
P: I should explain. In an island, there is a concentration of the same profiles, the same culture, the same ghetto of thinking and attitude. I like more the polyphony, the multitude, the multiple genders, in a sense of Edouard Glissant, on this notion of Creolity. Here in Crete, it seems exactly the opposite. Everybody is coming as Minos (step father of the Minotaur) from the same soup. I’m really not so surprised how Mediterranean islands are both a paradise and a penitentiary…in the pursuit of the Rossellini movie Stromboli. In a way we started the workshop with a Zorba dance, and viewing with the consciousness of where we were supposed to be—in a testosterone island, in the tradition of the bull monster. But in fact, we were more interested by the sadness and solitude of Ariadne’s animal brother.
Here, we are shooting a kind of movie, using the props the workshop realized, a kind of movie that could be viewed as a protest again the Schengen barrier, against its ideology of fortress, prison, jailing the European nation in the delusion of protection. So in a way, the workshop is done mainly to manipulate this contradiction by construction, by shooting, by meanings...
L: Can this be a new mode of experimental architectural production?
EB: If I understand your question correctly, the question is, “is this mode successful and could other people do it as well?” I’m not sure. For me the condensed time period of the workshop is a large factor in everything. Is our mode of production sustainable if it were to be continued over a longer period of time and turned into a working model?
I don’t think that what we are doing here is so groundbreaking, other than it has a different scale. We are testing a different scale. Similarly, the Kickstarter for us was just a start. We did it towards the end of the preparation to test the format. What can we do? Let’s figure out all the technical issues and prepare the next experiment. There is definitely more potential in what we have done here for crowd funding, but also in other types of funding, through sponsors.
When you are asking about architecture, I think we are heading in multiple directions here. For example, in Kickstarter, the most successful projects are movies that collect millions of dollars by selling tickets to the premiere all over the world. You have a premiere in Milan, Paris, New York, etc. Each ticket costs $2,000. Honestly, financially it is definitely sustainable at the current moment.
If we look at this mode of production as a hybrid with an educational purpose, there are a lot of similar examples. Not so long ago, the education of architecture was taken care of within an office/studio. There is a long history of defining education through production.
LK: I have been for many years, allegedly, an expert in sustainability, because of my work on experimental ecologies, ecosystems, and cybernetic theories. But I hate the word “sustainable.” The most sustainable form of production is one that makes you unsustainable; to evolve and change out of utter necessity for survival of the mind. Some use the world resilience but this is also an inadequate term as it becomes a direct natural metaphor and a remnant of Darwinism.
The format of the workshop is definitely neither new nor experimental. It is actually a very regressive educational format, hoping to reinvent the world and the tools with which we work; the way we think, analyze, inspire, design and act. It is close to the nineteenth century model of utopian communities which were resisting industrialization.
I think that if I were to set up a curriculum, I would institute a kind of limbo, like a perpetual lingering movement, between different modes of production, between the framework of the studio and the madness of the workshop. Having small intermissions of a different rhythm, enabling different zones of production in different locations, is vital, but not by replacing the studio. Embedding workshops within the studio might be a start.
CL: I don’t know…
G: Why in a DIY workshop have we been dependent on surrendering/fictitiously crediting so much of the actual physical creation to the machine?
EB: DIY is literally what we are doing. We have to perform every possible work. Effectively the robot is a character for the film. It is not an alibi. It is a fetish object that reflects the machine that we are as a group. It’s interesting that in all the studios I’ve taught with Francois - I don’t necessarily come from a background in robotics, I come from a background of design, computing and scripting - once you define the process as a robot, then computation becomes more direct in how you tell the story. The generative methods that we use in computing become more direct because you have to think of a way to program something. It doesn’t even matter if it’s a robot, a person, or something else that produces. You have to find a very particular, and very well defined process that then produces a building or something as a result.
LK: Let’s first separate the science fiction fear of a machine apocalypse controlling human will from the machine that we have at the workshop; let’s also put aside the traditional hesitation that machines reduce or halter the agency of the architect. This machine that we have here is a very pathetic machine. It just poops merengue right? So in this sense, it is like a little beloved creature that shits everywhere; something that is totally useless.
CL: I think in the film we rather show the failure of the robot than the actual performance. It will be very ambiguous suggesting that the robot built this structure…
P: I’m sorry I have to admit I don’t understand the question. Could you repeat?
C: So the question is, why in a workshop that has been defined as a DIY workshop we are crediting through a fiction so much of the physical product that we have been producing to the machine?
P: Why was the workshop supposed to make a fiction which is at the same time trapped as a production of the machine which is not able to produce the work that it is pretending to do? Is this the question?
P: Ok, you answer that question.
G: Is there a contradiction in using 3D printer in DIY workshop?
LK: The contradiction of low-tech DIY technology and machines is not viable in a world where 3d printing has already becomes a ubiquitous DIY culture. MoMA and so many other stores, sell 3d printers, not their products. The culture of DIY homemade electronics is rapidly rising. Right before I left NYC, I bought a little with instructions on how to build your own lying detector and your own radio and all the components in an IKEA format.
Everything comes with a series of instructions where you can purchase and make things in a series of cooking steps, using high-tech parts with quite limited assembly skills. Therefore, we might need to look beyond the low-tech/ high tech controversy as open source electronics have taken off.
CL: I love contradictions… and we are using a DIY 3d printer…
P: We cannot come naively from a supposed techno-elitist part of the world dominated by science and ignore intentionally that the major part of the work is hand-made. To be an architect today is to navigate in this ambivalence, which is sometimes a dilemma. Many times there is a potential of narration using the malentendu between science and craft, between the right and the false, the massive production and the uniqueness, the reason and the madness... Here the malentendu is becoming an incestuous wedding party…
L: How will the proliferation of 3d printers change the relationship of the layman and the designer?
EB: It’s already changing the role of designers. We already have major companies in the game where you can buy 3d printed objects immediately. I hope that computation will be an important part of that.
Computation will allow for, not just customization, but enough diversity in the world of tomorrow where everything is accessed by downloading. It is already very easy to do that today.
CL: I don’t really care about this…
P: A 3D printer is a tool, generating a vanity of controlling, justifying expertizing performance coming from computers, and very often drifting the students, architect, designer in a lazy absurdity of a design. 3D printing is nothing else but a pottery machine, but at the wrong scale. As an instrument, it has its own place in the chain of research and production, as a feticism, it produces very strange collateral effect…a loss of interpretation, of gestalt, of gestaltung.
Scale one 3D prints are at the opposite, they question the procedures and the knowledge of fabrication, and re-evaluate the transmission of data, from an intention to its transfer into a physical petrification—as the wife of Lot, in the Bible, became a salt statue after looking back to Sodom and Gomorrah. So it’s seems that being able to play this tooling, being able to fulfill desires and objectivize them, we should first face Sodom and Gomorrah.
Are you ready to face the devil?
On the side, we could re-question not only the procedure of fabrication, but also the notion of series, of repetition, of massification of repetition (copy) that is coming intrinsically from the capitalism model. If you print one, you could print theoretically one million. At the contrary, the craftsman is always producing one, as a series of permanent anomaly, as a repetitive process which excludes the repetition of the output. What we call malentendu, above, is about this particular point. How could you define a position from this 3D print feticism, which is literally the pursuit of the Fordism, if you simultaneously don’t re-question the process of repetition?
Uniqueness, nostalgia, melancholy, the dust of the stone of Venice, to quote Walter Benjamin, are potentially able to be manipulated with and within technologies. But I’m afraid that your vision is more attached to a brainwash of so many Anglo-Saxon schools of Architecture, where technologies are voluntary framed in cold, blind, mute and deaf…strategies of ignorance.
C: 3D printing obviously has...
P: You’re obsessed about 3D printing, so look at my back [P shows his back], 2D hand made prints…it’s called a Tattoo, that I did for the cover of Log #25 in NY. The machine, as a bachelor machine, has been used as a writer, a painful writer applied on the flesh of the architect, as a masochism process… just buy the Log #25… 10 boxes, to see how I articulate machines and meanings, sadism and masochism...
Nobody will see that the interview is in front, on my back, again, in front of a classical painting with three naked plumb girls, dancing and floating in the air in an ecstasy parable. What do you mean by doing such a scenography, such apparatus for this interview? Is it intentional? Or is it the counterpoint you need, as an oedipal fleshy erotic compensation to talk about cold technologies….?
C: The obsession with 3D printing...
P: your obsession!
C: my obsession...
P: The obsession okay. Your obsession, please go on your obsession.
C: My obsession with 3D printing is because I believe there is this false promise promoted, as a direct translation from a digital world to the physical world, which allows for manifestations previously impossible. Yet in my experience, it seems that many of these projects designed using parametrics with unique components end up actually being fabricated in a very fundam entally analog way. Such as bending each one of the pieces of steel by having to recalibrate the machine every time and having to build a custom clay extruder. It seems that in a way parametric and computation design has reverted fabrication back to something more manual.
P: I think my only interest is to define a trajectory about the raison d’etre, the reason of being which legitimates a process, an intention, a know-how. I’m listening to your argument, but you should go further…Parametrics are not done to create anomaly, or to discover rarity or uniqueness. It’s done to construct retro-future issues from Stanley’s Odyssey. The success of Zaha and Patrick, it’s mainly because they are constructing with computer a “back to the future ideology,” as plugged into the heroic period of the sixties, but without any other heroism than to sell this period for Upper-middle class!… It is eviscerated of any questioning about the system at the origin of the modes of alienation.
This is very reassuring for clients, industry, politics, academia to know what they are buying, a vintage picture given to the style of the day. It’s not really iconoclast, at the contrary, it’s more the sign of conservatism, a reactionary regression over design conservatism, refugees in a Beaux Art reproduction, to please to a world of cretinized petit-bourgeois.
Reducing computer logic to parametric is similar to believing that the mathematic field is limited by trigonometry! I’ve to admit that I cannot entirely unrespect this attitude. If it was limited to a solitary aesthetic practice, everyone could develop his or her own notion of arrows of time. The drama is the number of stupid epigones who infiltrate the Academia to reproduce this attitude as the search for a holy grail!
L: What are your relationship, thoughts, and dreams with the robot?
EB: I am trying desperately to communicate with the robot. I am trying to write machine code. She only visits me in my dreams. Then suddenly I wake up and I don’t remember.
LK: I am conflicted about this. I love it because it is cool. It is really fun to see it and for it to exist among us mortals. It is part of the workshops fiction, though definitely not a performing machine. Maybe, this is why I like it more. You don’t know why it is there. Therefore, you cannot pursue it in any other way other than as part of a fiction. Is it necessary? Is it not necessary? In any plot, in any story, certain fictions are necessary. This is not a machine that makes bricks or ceramic tiles. It is ot producing a think. It is a character of the story.
CL: I don’t think I’ve ever dreamt about the robot. If I did it was as another figure... Actually I dreamt about everybody here except the robot... the robot is the absence of my dreams.
P: Robots. The robot is a good worker, as you know it’s a polish name to describe a good worker. The pathology of the supposing, the pretending dangerousness, the possibility of the real dangerousness, the possibility of the performance of the production, the possibility that we have to negotiate a kind of coexistence, coexistence as Ariadne here, coexistence with machinery process, the way also to re-fictionalize as Marcel Duchamp, as Picabia, as Edgar Allen Poe, re-describing, re-formalizing the relationship to the world through the machines which are normally supposed to indiscriminately release-slave us.
It’s the way to create new conditions of narrations, of infiltrating the abusement of the positivism of sciences… through machinism-scenario. It’s a crime to implement multiple machinism disorder, at the center of the power, which exclusively uses this code as an objectivism in a hoax of progress.
G: Is the robot a liberating high-technological aspiration, or a low-tech constraint that forces innovation to activate its believability?
EB: The robot is a vector of materialization of something that can be utterly abstract. It comes from a dream, a computation, or a drawing, but even that has a link back to materiality. It is an anchor of physicality for computation.
LK: Just because it takes really advanced skills to make the robot, does not mean that the robot itself is high-tech as an object. The robot is not a tool. It does not perform any functions. If it is believable, it is as believable as the character of Ariadne is today: as a myth. It’s not a tool..
CL: It is perhaps a potential for projection… In the film, an object of desire and agony… but what is it really for Ariadne…? a superego manifested… to satisfy her desires… to bring them life… that’s a terrible puissance… And what is it for us…
P: The robot is first a substitution of human forces and strengths. In our story, here in Crete, It’s supposed to replace the machism of Theseus and help Ariadne to wait a bit more before being trapped again by the Dionysian alcoholic. So in a way, it is a robot helper or nurse for suspended time, where its power of fabrication is able to replace the needs of negotiation with masculine forces. So it releases her [Ariadne] from here dependences. She will discover also some kind of tenderness with the machine. She is sucking the machine, she is caressing the machine, she is discovering that she could survive without the testosterone by re-negotiating a kind of degree of appartenance and belonging with the newer/neuro machine.
But in fact, beyond this ideal story done for the fictional movie, creating a prop, becoming a building, the actress refused to be masturbated by the machine, for a rather human epilogue.
G: In what way does fiction play a role in your own work? Are we using fiction as a driving force to design an actual physical artifact, or in the creation of a film are we actually designing the fiction?
EB: If it wasn’t for this question, I wouldn’t describe my work as having a particular relationship with fiction. At the same time, in attempting to answer the question, it’s not that my work has to do with reality either.
It is always somewhere in between. I guess I am flirting with fiction, I am not all about fiction.
L: At what point is architecture fiction, and when is it non-fiction?
EB: Usually, architecture is more about the types of environments that it can produce and those always have a fictional part inside of them. There is an element of storytelling through creating an environment.
If I was to interpret the nonfiction part as truth, I will have to reverse it. Someone arrives at a particular truth by being very precise in their fiction. There is a collective moment of belief that defines a truth. It is more difficult to define what nonfiction is. If it is just flattening, oversimplifying, a particular behavior in terms of construction or production, I was never really interested in that. To make architecture you need to elevate the object or building into a different realm.
C: Looking at a lot of the work on your website, it appears that many of the projects seem to occupy a scale-less space. It appears as if they require a certain level of fiction or storytelling to explain their use to become architecture, or does it exist without explanation or an accompanying story?
EB: Does a drawing need a use to become architecture? No. The most influential architectural drawings for me have no specified use. They are languages in and of themselves. Does that expand too much the field of architecture? Probably. I wouldn’t say that they are scale-less. Scale is much more important for me than use. In terms of my own work, I have been focusing a lot the last few years to keep the scale to a closer relationship to the human body. That has been a double-strategy. It is easier to find a common ground with clients and fabricators without sacrificing the abstraction. My work is deeply invested in abstraction but is also tied to the human body and how it can inhabit it.
LK: The fiction of this workshop or the plot of the movie?
G: In the projects you’ve done before. Do you use it as part of the design process as François does, or other architects. Or are you in the opposite camp where fiction/narrative are not architecture?
LK: Between narrative being unrelated to architecture and narrative being architecture, I think an interval position might be constructed. Narrative does play an incredibly important role to the development and migration of ideas. But at the same time, it cannot replace architecture as a language, as a craft, as a skill, as a series of protocols and tools. I definitely believe in narrative in identifying the kind of agency of the architect, in redefining the use of the architect as a thinker, as a social innovator in society.
Perhaps sometimes it goes too far into the realm of science fiction and I do still
P: Is there fiction in my own work, and if there is why? Why fiction? Where is your reality? Mine is elsewhere? The narration-fiction I, we manipulate is embedded in a biographical dimension. Fiction as we talk is a structure of the real, and mine confuse intentionally illusions of perception, multiple paranoia, and… buying a cigarette at the tobacco shop, on the other side of the street. I’m not sure that you could see and touch what you seem to imply as being the opposite of fiction. There is no world outside the fictional one, no parallel universe where the truth could be adopted as a real state. You are students in architecture. All things that describe the door to access to the real world have been condemned and hidden from you, to justify its existence, developing a frustration of an inaccessible zone. But imagine, just imagine that has been done as a strategy to let you believe that this area exists.
Please open your eyes: Fiction Versus Untruthfullnessssss…. That is the only choice, for tracking the intrinsic lie of the reality that keeps slipping as the illusion whenever we have the pretension to get closer. Doing the fiction fictionally functionally as a weapon, is like the sentence of Godard “doing political movie, it’s to do political cinema politically”, as a format which acts at the same time on the issues and on the mode of production.
G: So everything is fiction?
P: Capitalism is a tale for children that deeply affects-infects us. Financial capitalism is developing the ultimate degree of perversion, as a fiction of profit, which impoverishes the planet and the human condition of life. The virtual money has a deep impact on our daily life, on the value and impairment. The potential of destabilization of the fiction, of the story telling, in all merchandising aspect is now arriving at a level of power, of perversion, which cannot anymore deflate. We are not any more citizens but actors of scenarios which are written without authors. It’s for our needs, a necessity, to write as an author, to take the risk to infiltrate the mainstream of this story telling with and by the same substances it uses to maintain its position of power.
L: So, to you is fiction the story telling of a narration? Or a role game played by actors?
P: Where are the actors? Are you talking of the real actor of the movie? We are in Crete and the actors—we haven’t talk about the actors yet, about the notion of mimesis. It means, by acting, how to reproduce something which could be similar to life without copying life. Without directly, and literally copying life’s appearance. How can you transmit the emotion of something which is corresponding to the sensation of an emotion directly and literally doing a simulacrum of mimic, a mimicry of life stereotypes.
So it means, how does it operate? How acting will operate?
How fiction operates? How are we infiltrating desalienation and alienation simultaneously? How are we, through story telling able to recompose the multiple fragments of our “biotopes”, to question, to denounce, to re-arrange, in the re-agencement notion of Deleuze to develop not a design as a statement but apparatuses of knowledge able to create a design process, as an artifact.
G: Is all architecture fiction?
P: As Lacan states, all theory is from a fictional structure, to quote exactly, “all truth has structure of fiction.” Why architecture should be outside? Who said that?
C: What is the perception of the architect today covering authorship and how is it changing? Is it different form reality?
EB: I would like to think that our generation would lead to different types of organizations. I am very optimistic here, but hopefully our generation will lead to that because of the different means of communication we have with each other and with the tools of production. I think if you look a generation before us, the way they were personalizing a particular language, a particular office name, and how they were branding themselves was probably at the end of a time where you could do that. Everyone now changes jobs, changes environments, changes countries, and continents much faster.
What will that do to authorship? Personally I am much more keen and in support of an open source condition. Pretty much everything I have written the last ten years is up online. It is a vehicle for me to teach and test ideas, bringing it back to everyone else who is interested.
LK: The star architect is not dying now, in regards to authorship. He died a long time ago, perhaps along Ayn Rand’s Howard Roark in The Fountainhead. In the film and the book, the architect was portrayed as a misunderstood hero, a tortured manly figured adverse to all external conditions, rising in the end at the top of a tower. He was fighting against his own sense of authorship. Perhaps with Howard Roark, authorship had already started to vanish. It was portrayed so clearly that the architect’s identity was an artistic moment of genius, of inspiration, and creativity.
So then, everything happened; the sixties, the post-war period, experimental groups, the explosion and implosion of architecture as a discipline; its reconstitution as a language and so forth. There were architects thirty or forty years before Francois Roche, experimenting with organic materials, messing with biotechnology, experimenting with pneumatics, making political statements. All of that has already happened. Every political position has already been taken. There are so many ways with which the discipline has died, that the discipline has been erased. It is a very difficult way to find a position on what authorship means because it has meant
everything in the last fifty years. How can you be revolutionary when Delirious New York was a retroactive manifesto of a found object, when there were architects that designed artificial islands through biopolymerization in 1968 ? Of course they didn’t have the technology to carry through their assumptions to full development, but they were imagining what was plausible. It has already happened. What is the sense of authorship? I think it is a fractured sense of ego. New coalitions have to be formed. One has to discover a certain creative niche and what design agency means as a partial identity.
CL: What do you think our facebook generation will do? I have no clear vision… It seems that art and architecture so far kept a very traditional way of assigning authorship… It is more interesting in film… everyone has a precise job to do… the collaboration format is exemplary… why is it so? maybe because the cost of production depends on the time spent on it, you are paid by the hour… film is time and film in the making is also time… While in architecture we are generally so detached from immediate physical graspable world and action… Besides it is much more difficult to change role, to move, be versatile… while in film it seems easier… why? maybe architecture takes itself too seriously…
G: Do you think it’s giving more value to the name or to the work? Or in other words…
CL: Well… Who is taking the risk…? I guess I’m not answering your question…I don’t know I mean at some point there is someone taking a risk… And the person who is taking a risk naturally has authorship, carries it with him/her… but what does it bring? how to use it as a vector… to continue, to go further…
P: Wow, wow, … if we talk about authorship with the authors—who is talking? Who has the right to talk at my place, at your place? Or do you have the right yourself to talk and take a position? Who gives you the territories from where you have the right to emit your position and from where you get this authority? From where and how? And to whom? You are producing this kind of authoritarianism or this kind of this promotion of your authorship. And from this position to whom or where is the economy coming back? What is this economy? How and what is the service you exchange against this economical feedback. Authorship is a transaction. What is the transaction architects are doing now? It seems very weak, in a way; we are floating in a void. Learning how to copy in academia, even with the latest technology (see the public letter I wrote on Sci-Arc)2, doesn’t give you the authority to negotiate your authorship as a value in the post-capitalism system…
Capitalism pays traditionally very poorly whoever is servile and would pay generously who even is able to destabilize its foundations. There is an integral resignation of the architecture critic. I speak about criticism as Baudelaire made the criticism in an existential report. The only position of a creator today is to develop an operative strategy of resistance (see Log # 25, I edited on Reclaim Resistance-Resilience), a renegotiation with industrial and academic forces, to re-evaluate the needs of media and their format... I do not deny that I feel more and more disappointed, but it is a feeling with which I continue to produce with, even becoming the substance of our production, as the ambiguity of a Charming Distress. But I must admit that for our projects and scenario, the feelings of disappointment had to be constitutive of our aesthetic, and that since our first step. So it is not so new. I sometimes think it was possible for me to give up ... but at the same time giving up needs courage. Let’s finish by a Jean Eustache sentence “not worth it to make the effort.”
1 personne, from French, nobody… and it is Odysseus’ answer to escape from the giant Polyphemus!