Issue 20.3 cover by © Claudia Westermann, quarantine fruits (2021)
Issue guest edited by CRAC | Crosscultural Research on Architecture Collective
Projected Interiorities, or the Production of Subjectivity Through Spatial and Performative Means
AMIR DJALALI and CLAUDIA WESTERMANN
Even those who consider themselves lucky to have escaped trauma, long-term illness and death, have experienced radical changes to their conception of life in its relation to public and private domains due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When public space turned into a dangerous realm, private interiors were assigned a new role, and with these shifts, also new questions about the relation of interiority to any type of exteriority emerged. The first four contributions in this Projected Interiorities issue of the journal Technoetic Arts reflect from an architectural and urban point of view on the conception of the public and private, their past, present and future. Yet, the pandemic contributed more widely to a re-evaluation of interiority, not at last because the public and private realms seemingly coalesced via digital processes. While this journal issue cannot cover all these questions, it indicates the range of the pandemic turn in thought, collecting contributions from theory and practice, including architecture, art, philosophy and literary studies. With authors of a variety of disciplinary backgrounds based in China, India, Norway, France, the UK and the USA, this issue of Technoetic Arts covers not only a multiplicity of methodological approaches but also diverse regional and cultural perspectives on the idea of Projected Interiorities.
Inflecting the house – upside down and ungrounded between walls, windows, mirrors and screens
During COVID-19, private living spaces have become settings for activities usually taking place elsewhere. Work, education and leisure activities have moved in while we have moved out and now frequently project our private interiors onto the screens of others when meeting online. We see ourselves reflected while reflecting each other, and we peek into the lives of strangers while staging our own for the world to see. If such virtual cross-extensions of public and private domains are not completely new, then they have been taken to a whole new level during the pandemic. The article explores such projected interiors extended between screens and walls and the implications these have for the thinking and making of a future living space. It asks how in response to the current environmental crisis the experience of the pandemic interior might help project new spaces radically different from the ones of pre-pandemic times. Two versions of a drawing made in the early 1920s by the Swiss-German artist Paul Klee evoke the experience of spatial relationships familiar from the pandemic house. Creative writing of an inflected space detected in the drawings identifies an opening in the fabric of the interior potentially leading us into the future.
Everyday Life and Spatial Transformation: The Construction of a Community’s Interiority in the Void Deck
The void deck, originally developed for housing projects in Singapore, refers to the open space located on the ground floor of the residential building. The model of the void deck was exported to Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) and later used in a growing number of high-rise residential developments in China. Taking community interiority as a new perspective, the discussion of void decks and everyday life investigates whether the void deck endows a new layer of interiority to communal life as a special type of threshold space in China's highly dense and high-rise residential environments. The growing number of domestic objects in the void decks represents a consensual reconstruction of community interiority, allowing the reflection and rediscovery of the resonant membrane that mediates every relationship between people and things living in a substantially enclosed community. The study of void deck, its status, and its transformation reflects how neoliberal community spaces and new social relations in the communities in China have been changing: the communities are evolving from a consumption-based and top-down designed space, circling back to a deeper relationship between people and community within the urban transformation.
Practising Collectivity: Performing Public Space in Everyday China
TERESA HOSKYNS, SITI BALKISH ROSLAN and CLAUDIA WESTERMANN
This article investigates the specific cultural and collaborative nature of China’s public spaces and how they are formed through performative appropriations. Collective cultural practices as political participation were encouraged during the Mao era when cultural activities played a key role in workers’ education and participation. Since the opening-up period, performance in public space has become widespread in China and creates alternative community spaces to capitalist spaces of consumption. Using Habermas’s theory of communicative action, we argue that cultural practices performed in public space create a proletariat public sphere that plays a wider role in governance and China’s democratization.
Further, the article examines performative practices in public space. It traces the popular activity of public square dancing through history and counters it with a parallel study of a much younger skateboarding practice. The two practices are very differently rooted. Yet, both practices appear to move through cycles of disruption and appropriation, followed by an affirmation of governmental rule. The study reveals that western ideas of citizenship and individual leisure are less applicable. Public spaces are largely managed through collaborative practices, whereas contemporary scholarship reaffirms Fei Xiotong’s description of Chinese society as individuals positioned within a complex network of concentric circles.
Smart Cities, Connected Cars, and Autonomous Vehicles: Design Fiction and Visions of Smarter Future Urban Mobility
The article takes a speculative and design fiction approach to the critical analysis of the role of smart and autonomous vehicles (AVs) in the context of smart cities. The article explores arguments that these cars of the future will have decisive impacts on mobility, sustainability, and road safety. The article examines the main parameters of smart city and smart car developments and then focuses on the visions of increasing AI-driven autonomy. The article demonstrates how these debates are linked to speculative design as full autonomy does not currently exist but takes a speculative position as to what the critical issues are that face smart/autonomous city visions (enhanced surveillance and data mining) and considers the potentially hazardous ethical dilemmas that AVs may face once fully rolled out onto city roads. From a design fiction perspective, the article envisions the viability of AV prioritizing public rather than private transport as a means by which the ‘techno-utopic’ visions of smart city/AV integration can be realized and make positive urban impacts to enhance future urban living in rendering future cities as more sustainable, efficiently mobile, and safer urban spaces.
Subjectivity in Flux: Contextualising Don DeLillo’s White Noise
IRFAN MOHAMMAD MALIK
The idea of the subject as a construct, of various external influences, was not new to the cultural and literary circles in the 1980s when DeLillo published White Noise. In the 2nd half of the 20th century, poststructuralist and postmodern theories unsettled the established ideas of the humanist tradition like the concept of the subject. The idea that the subject is constituted by external factors posed a challenge to the modernist notion of the subject as authentic and independent consciousness. Influenced by poststructuralist and postmodern theories, novelists in post-war America, especially during and after the 1980s, portrayed their protagonists (the subjects) as textual constructs rather than authentic heroic figures we often find in modernists’ works of art. DeLillo engages with technological developments and socio-cultural changes in post-war America and explores how such developments/changes influence an individual’s subjectivity. Critics have described Jack Gladney, the protagonist of White Noise, as a late-modernist displaced to negotiate the postmodern landscape. This study, which is purely of scholarly interest, attempts to show how Gladney vacillates between the notions of modernist authentic subject and the de-centred postmodern subject created textually. The article also attempts to explore how DeLillo’s fiction engages with the idea of the subject during the 1980s.
Toward a New Aesthetic: Noumenism and Noumenist Poetics
Since each term only has significance in contrast to its negation, the distinction between the noumenal and the phenomenal is a Kantian philosophical postulation that is as arbitrary as any binary (e.g., presence-absence) when submitted to Jacques Derrida's method of deconstruction. According to Noumenism – a philosophy founded on the non-dualistic reinscription of phenomena and noumena – works of art possess elements which are simultaneously sense-data, and no data to any mind. This paradoxical status is achieved by means of an artist-invented mechanism which allows its generative workings to run amok. The mechanism itself is a ‘compound-image’ formed by the paranoiac-critical activity of abolishing the mutual exclusivity of two or more different systems (i.e., the organization of related elements into complex wholes, methods, procedures, techniques, etc.). To illustrate this, an analysis of “No.6” from Noumenist poet Jason Johnson’s Hymns from Purgatory is undertaken. As they develop, refine, or adopt their own philosophies of art, today's artists and tomorrow's are challenged to reckon with the ideas put forward in this paper.
Confined with a coyote: The Question of the Face BORDⓇ
This text discusses the impact of immersive technologies on our identity and relationship to digital and analogue modalities in a non-normative way. It references the work of Joseph Beuys, specifically his iconic performance of being confined with a coyote in a gallery space for three days, to construct connections between borders, edges, limits, and identity, face presentation, representation, and projection towards ourselves and our audiences. We reference the works of Marcel Duchamp and George Orwell and compare the immersive devices of the 19th century to current technology. Various works of art and literature are used to illustrate the impact of technology on society and the individual's relationship to the collective imagination. The text raises questions about the limits or nonlimits of exposure of identity through machinic and technological devices or processes in the context of privacy of expression in a contemporary networked world.
||| Founding Editor: Roy Ascott Issue 20.3 Editors: CRAC (Crosscultural Research on Architecture in China) Editorial Organism: Tom Ascott, John Bardakos, Dalila Honorato, Hu Yong, Claudia Jacques, Claudia Westermann Production Manager: Faith Newcombe
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