Surgical Double Theater

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1998.11.15 21:03
[architecture opted otherwise]
extremity architecture (the Pyramids, Stonehenge, anything pre 550 BC)
architecture of fertility [and pregnancy] (the Romans and the Subcontinentals more or less lead the world here)
assimilating architecture (from absorption to purge)
metabolic architecture (which centers on anabolism and catabolism, the creative and destructive operations of metabolism)
osmotic architecture (exchange and equilibrium - outside/inside)
electro-magnetic architecture (i.e., architecture of light)
and ultimately, architecture of all high frequencies (and even I don't know what that is exactly, but it's out there mostly in the far, far future)

1998.12.05 11:30
assimilating architecture?
Since c.1500, humanity (however, mostly Western/European culture) has operated predominantly under the influence of an assimilating imagination--a process whereby everything about this planet, and even beyond, has been and still is run through the workings of absorption -- absorption of land, data, capital, whole societies, etc. (Science in general is a very assimilating process, and genocide is just one example of absorption in the extreme--purge.)
According to chronosomatics, a theory based on the interrelationship of time and the human body (The Timepiece of Humanity - the calendar incarnate), there are roughly 200 years left where assimilation will play a major role with regard to the human imagination, and, more importantly, the next 200 years of assimilation will also be the largest and grossest 'chunks' of assimilation yet, perhaps culminating with the total and complete knowledge of every bit of rhyme, reason, cause and effect of the human genome. Chronosomatics also shows us that metabolism (equal doses of creation and destruction) has been steadily becoming the new and eventually predominate operation of the human imagination. Therefore there is a strong pluralism within the operation of the human imagination today as well.
Are there thus some things within the last 500 years architectural history that relate to the notion of an assimilating architecture? Is there something about the present state of architectural affairs that points to an assimilating and/or metabolic architecture? For example, is the high eclecticism of the late 19th century one form of assimilating architecture? Is Le Corbusier's Purism akin to assimilating architecture in the extreme? Is the current widespread/global land development precisely a continuation of the assimilating process begun by the likes of Christopher Columbus? Will humanity, 200 years hence, have come extremely close to assimilating (for better or for worse) every square inch of this planet?
Personally, I think the answer is yes, but that's not the worst of it. After assimilation ceases to be a major element within the operation of the human imagination, humanity will spend 500 years working under the influence of an almost purely metabolic imagination. Imagine living on Earth when pretty much everything thought and done is create and destroy, create and destroy, create and destroy. . . . .

The imagination of frequency surpasses all other modes of the imagination.
The electromagnetic imagination is the most illuminating and clear.
The osmotic imagination endeavors to find all things equal.
The metabolic imagination simultaneously creates while it destroys.
The assimilating imagination is extremely absorbent of data.
The fertile imagination is the most reproductive.

1999.03.10 08:48
Re: epic architectural past
I think the "human story," like the movement of the present, is essentially linear. The first humans were extreme, and the best examples of extreme architecture are the Great Pyramids and Stonehenge. Circa 550BC, humanity began to operate with a highly fertile imagination, and this "age of highest fertility" lasted till circa 770AD, at which time humanity's imagination became [additionally] pregnant. At the first trimester of pregnancy, circa 1500, humanity began to assimilate itself and its place in the universe. By 1700, the metabolic imagination began to work in conjunction with the assimilating imagination.
We are today still primarily a humanity operating in both an assimilating and metabolic fashion, and thus our architecture too is primarily both assimilating ("international") and metabolic (creative/destructive).
Of course, the "human story" continues, and to discern how it will continue, you just have to analyze the sequential slices of the human body starting at the lowest tips of the rib cage and moving upwards.

Hugh Pearman in two recent posts wrote:
"Architectural operating systems (as opposed to surface styling) are predominantly Gothic or Classical."
"what I called the 'architectural operating system' as a deliberate computer analogy--might clarify rather than confuse, for me if nobody else."
I suggest a wholly other batch of "architectural operating systems" that derive from the morphology and physiology of our own bodies, the machines that we are instead of the machines that computers are.
Some architectures are extreme.
Some architectures are fertile.
Some architectures are pregnant.
Some architectures are assimilating.
Some architectures are metabolic.
Some architectures are osmotic.
Some architectures are electro-magnetic.
Some architectures are total frequency.
Figuring out what buildings/architects fit in which category(s) may well be the ultimate architectural parlor game. (hint: Classical is high fertility and Gothic is early pregnancy)
Hugh also made reference to the notion of architects having "to have his or her 'personal myth' to believe in and guide them." For what its worth, I have "discovered" my own myth, and its called The Timepiece of Humanity or the theory of chronosomatics.

2000.02.03 11:43
an answer to "Now what?"
Hugh Pearman states and asks:
Such being the case, we can conclude that Decon has run out of steam as a manifesto-led movement, and we must look to its successor. Ideas, anyone?
Steve Lauf replies:
Is Decon the only thing to have run out of steam? Has the now pervasive and generally accepted way of looking at and being critical of architecture also run out of steam? For example, does moving from seeing Decon as reactionary to now (maybe) seeing the New Austerity as the latest reaction really convey a sense of meaning beyond the oscillations of fashion and trend? Has each new "critical" building become nothing more than the latest "creation" of the now global fashion show? Likewise, has the element of shock become ingrained within the (elite) architectural profession, the same way shock has become "stock-in-trade" in a good deal of high fashion? [I'm not saying there is anything wrong with the architecture that receives attention and the industry surrounding it being akin to the fashion industry, but I do think there is something wrong about not recognizing the phenomenon as such.]
Here's how I now look critically at architecture (and urban design) both currently and historically:
What architecture is extreme?
What architecture is fertile?
What architecture is pregnant?
What architecture is assimilating?
What architecture is metabolic?
What architecture is osmotic?
What architecture is electromagnetic?
What architecture manifests the highest frequencies?
What I've found so far is that some architectures fall straight into some of the categories above while some architectures are categorical hybrids. Here are some examples:
the Pyramids, Stonehenge, St. Peter's (Vatican), Bilbao(?) -- extreme, extreme architectures.
the Pantheon, Hall of Mirrors, Versailles, entry sequence of Schinkel's Altes Museum, Kimbell Art Gallery -- examples of the best osmotic architecture there is.
Classical Greek and Roman Architecture -- pure architecture of fertility.
the Hindu Temple -- the ultimate transcendence from an architecture of fertility to an architecture of pregnancy, whereas the Gothic Cathedral is an architecture of pregnancy, albeit virginal.
all of 20th century Berlin -- the metabolic (create and destroy and create and destroy and ...)
to understand architecture of assimilation, look at the Renaissance, but also look to early 20th century Purism to understand assimilation in the extreme, i.e., purge.
today's architectures are by and large assimilating and/or metabolic (contextual and/or 'deconstructivist'?).
you're very lucky if you ever see pure examples of electromagnetic or frequency architectures today because they are almost entirely architectures of the far off future.
There are many more examples to offer, but that's all for now.
In general, I see all architectures as reenactionary (as opposed to reactionary).
Architecture reenacts human imagination, and human imagination reenacts the way the human body is and operates. The human body and the design thereof is THE enactment. The human imagination then reenacts corporal morphology and physiology, and architecture then reenacts our reenacting imaginations.

2000.10.24 16:50
brown (lauf 2)
I much appreciate your thorough response to my questions/ponderings vis-à-vis your "evolution in architecture." You have thus provided what I take to be a continual fine tuning of your thesis/argument for "evolution in architecture," and your points are well expressed. I too am working on a "theory" of architecture (style) that relates architecture to a "process" larger than architecture itself, that is, the notions that 1) human imaginations reenact corporal morphology and physiology, and 2) architecture (style) reenacts human imaginations. The main theory is called chronosomatics (meaning literally time + the body), and the primary text on chronosomatics is entitled The Timepiece of Humanity (which was online for a few years at, but is presently not available there).
As your replies aid in the continuance of your theory, so too my initial reactions to "evolution in architecture" aided me in expressing my ideas. I'd like to see our mutual aiding further via an understanding that each of our texts potentially co-exist in a metabolic fashion.
You ask: "What has 'metabolic process' have to do with it?" The metabolic process within humanity, and, more or less in all (animal?) life, is a creative-destructive duality wherein the corporal destruction of matter releases energy thus providing creative impetus. I theorize that the metabolic process is (just) one of the human physiologies reflected in human imagination, and, subsequently, the metabolic process becomes reflected in human activities and events. [Note: the other corporal physiologies like fertility, assimilation, osmosis, etc. also play key roles within human imagination, but the theory of chronosomatics suggests the metabolic process as being one particularly dominant in our times.]
The issue of morals and morality inevitably arise within the "metabolic process" because it engenders creation and destruction in equal measures. I feel I should read your responses that include the issue of morals more closely before I offer a more complete reply. I can state now, however, that I treat morals vis-à-vis the metabolic as a secondary second system of analysis because creation and destruction are equal and interdependent within metabolic activities and events. [Note: I believe Hugh Pearman's latest post "war and architecture" describes perfectly a metabolic process we can all relate to. It's all about destruction, the release of energy, and then creation equal to the destruction.]
"Corporeal" Capitalism may name the metabolic process as expressed by capitalism on a global scale, moreover, a global capitalism that began in the late 1400s.
I have to stop at this point for now. I'm personally feeling the release of a lot of energy (and I don't think I have to any more explicit feelings about the destruction that causes the energy), and there is a lot of creative work ahead of me.

2005.04.11 11:18
Many African nations did not reach independence until the early 1960s--childhood stamp collecting taught me at least that.
I'm not too sure that I would relate Le Corbusier and Kahn as the same type of 'International Style'.
South America does indeed appear to have much more 'International Style' architecture than North America.
Reread Loos because the whole anti-ornament issue stems from a critique of 'primitive' tattooing, which very much evokes 'colonialism thinking'.
All this discussion has reminded me of something I sent to design-l over six years ago: assimilating architecture?

2005.08.16 11:28
the agnostic design of spiritual space
I have some ideas about how to design sacred space, and they have to do with making it osmotic and electromagnetic. Some of Kahn's best architecture is osmotic and electromagnetic.

2005.08.16 11:41
the agnostic design of spiritual space
Kimbell Art Museum is the prime example (although I myself have never been there). The common spaces of Erdman Hall also have a sacred quality. As to osmotic and electromagnetic, that's literal and figurative both, very much like the medium being the message.

2006.03.30 12:11
Lost ! Need help!!
Physical scars are not always synonymous with healing. For example, youths of Sierra Leone were abducted and scarred by rebels and then forced to fight their own people. Subsequently, these youths were literally marked as enemies of their own people. There is a doctor from Kansas (I think) that is there now removing what scars he can via plastic surgery.
The "scars" of damnatio memoriae are an interesting case where the scars of erasure actually work to help remember what was erased.

2007.07.11 16:45
Verb: Featured Discussion
Is it all still pretty much operative criticism?
Perhaps architectural criticism needs to begin operating differently where:
some criticisms are extreme™
some criticisms are fertile™
some criticisms are pregnant™
some criticisms are assimilating™
some criticisms are metabolic™
some criticisms are osmotic™
some criticisms are electro-magnetic™
some criticisms are total frequency™
But maybe that will only happen when (we begin to realize that):
some architectures are extreme™
some architectures are fertile™
some architectures are pregnant™
some architectures are assimilating™
some architectures are metabolic™
some architectures are osmotic™
some architectures are electro-magnetic™
some architectures are total frequency™

2007.08.04 14:41
Koolhaas & Eisenman Discuss "Urgency" at the CCA
About 180 more years of an architecture dominated by the combined assimilating and metabolic imaginations, and then roughly 500 years of an architecture dominated by a pure metabolic imagination. All the while the profane osmotic imagination remains in the background. So much for the physiology, morphologically a bi-polar structural cage will continue to branch and grow (till completion c. 3091).
inside scoop from the ongoing embryonic development within



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