On The Smithsons

In relation to the text I came to think of a few references.

First one is a quote from Harvard professor Svetlana Boym, who gave a lecture on her practise and art at the “After The Fall”  symposium. In general I’m not sure  I deeply agree with the elements I gathered from her theory and ways of thinking, that relates to the question “what if?” instead of “what is/was”, “non-linear history”,  a “constant estrangement” and “the disruption of seamless narratives”. She talked a lot about a new era of the “Off-modern” as in off-beat, off-road and the like , that I find more a reinvention of the reinvention – which I guess is what we have always been doing – than an actual fresh or new aproach to the concept of  “era’s”. Then again I just got acquainted with her.  Do have a look at her “Off-manifesto” here.

The Smithsons are talking about “…a freely organized whole; where the general objective is an active built-place, and not the creation of individual monuments in nineteenth century style, as in the Hansaviertel district of Berlin.” Though I’m aware the reference is quite direct, I think there’s also another (many!) way(s) of conceiving “the monument” and this is where Boym’s quote becomes interesting in a way where Smithsons freely organized whole could actually be inscribed in the idea of monument. She simply says:

 

“The monument is all about what is not the monument”

 

Second I remembered a book I read years ago by Steven Johnson, called “Emergence – the connected life of ants, brains, cities and software“. In a passage he talks about ant colonies and how the individual ant is as dumb as can be and that it has no consciousness, what so ever, of the society it’s life and tasks are structured around. So – stick enough of them together and you have spontaneous intellligence, a bit cheap-ish said. He takes us from the mysterious life of slimemolds, through neurons to Slashdot. The whole book is about  “bottom-up” strategies and the self-emerging organisations that we find in many aspects of structuring life. The book is quite easily read – and fun too. This is Stevens blog.

In relation to the brutalist-post-war- intellectual-tech-architect’s ways of thinking, which might be described as a top-down strategy – a bottom-up strategy is an interesting contrast to look into: Is there a wikitecture?

 

Last, but not least, Christian Skovgaards comic “Selvtægtsmanden”, with a story situated in the Robin Hood Lane Scheme, is available here (also just for a look). I will see if I can get hold on a copy to bring to the studio.

– Cameline

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