Barangaroo Doppelganger Images

Here are some images from the first couple of ‘Barangaroo Doppelganger’ Performances

Barangaroo Doppleganger Photo Anthony Browell 01

Image Anthony Browell
Barangaroo Doppleganger Photo Anthony Browell 02

Image Anthony Browell
Barangaroo Doppleganger Photo Anthony Browell 03

Image Anthony Browell
Barangaroo Doppelganger Photo Kathryn Chang 01

Image Kathryn Chang
Barangaroo Doppelganger Photo Kathryn Chang 02

Image Kathryn Chang

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Barangaroo Doppelganger Performance – April 16th 2015 – April 16th 2016

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In 1994 Joseph Cindric, the “trolley man” of Sydney streets, died after walking between Walsh Bay and Hyde Park every day of his life. Known to all of Sydney, since the end of World War 2, he nonetheless died alone and homeless with artist Richard Goodwin, his assistant and 2 nurses the only people at his funeral in Rookwood Cemetery. Goodwin had produced a number of exhibitions, which looked at this singular existence of Cindric, and his relationship to a machine. The machine, now in the Powerhouse Museum thanks to Goodwin, was loaded with only things to keep the trolley going including his tradesman’s tools. Cindric wasn’t an alcoholic and he had a pension. Nevertheless he lived this homeless life of prosthetic attachment with the regularity of a clock. Cindric’s existence fit Goodwin’s ideas, as an artist/architect, for what he calls “Prosthetic Architecture” and “Exoskeleton” as ways of making art about the insect-like human condition.

Goodwin became obsessed with Cindric in the 1970s making an Australian Film Commission funded film in 1980 and replicas of his trolley several times. He granted Cindric the honour of being the only true inhabitant of Sydney and the city’s conscience – his life a moving monument to nomadism. He was a public artwork in the flesh according to Goodwin. Yet his past was dark and unknowable.

Since the 1970s Richard Goodwin has made many major public artworks in Sydney and pioneered the hybridity of artist/architectural practice and theory, leading to his role as Professor at UNSW Art and Design in Paddington.

His career spans nearly 40 years of practice, including his inclusion in 3 Venice Biennales of Architecture, and numerous sculpture awards. He has pushed the site of public art to the skin of architecture, questioning architecture itself. More recently he is critical of what is now happening within the genre of public art, especially its compliance with bureaucracy and complicity with the urban planning of Barangaroo. Goodwin is reprising his Joseph Cindric work, attaching himself to a replica trolley, to become Cindric and forming a doppelganger for the city. The work is inscribed with the words “Barangaroo Masterplan” on a black box on the trolley, and also features a gilt bronze replica model of the new proposed Casino on the front.

“Barangaroo Doppelganger” is a performance artwork in which Goodwin will retrace the steps of Cindric and his trolley, over a period of one year. This endurance work questions the phenomenon of the inclusion of such a monolith as the Casino, from outside what was already a compromised urban planning process.

Public art has a proven track record in both enhancing and critiquing the city. Yet we rarely see artist’s opposition to city planning and political issues affecting the culture and social construction of the city.

The city is a plastic material for the arts, not just a site.

In an age of fear, conservatism, light shows, and fireworks, this performance calls on art to lead rather than to follow.

 

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ARCHITECTURE AND CONSCIOUSNESS – GOD IN REVERSE. PAPER PUBLISHED

Richard’s paper “Architecture and Consciousness – God in Reverse” which was presented as part of the ‘Mediated City’ conference, put on by Architecture_MPS, 01-03 April, 2014, Ravensbourne University London, has been published on the Architecture_MPS website and the pdf is avaliable to download here

You can also find other papers relating to Architecture, Media, Polotics and Society on their website http://architecturemps.com/

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Symposium: Beyond the Face of Public Art

 

Richard Goodwin was one of the panel of artists discussing how their private art practice diverges from or informs their public art practice, the role of the public artist in place making, how artists retain artistic integrity while satisfying stakeholders, and the integration of art into architecture and urban design.

Below is a video of the event.

Part One

Part Two

Seven Fables for the Drone Age, Anna Johnson

Below is an essay by Anna Johnson, written for the Australian Galleries exhibition “Drone Dorje + The Drone Stripped Bare of all its Brides”.

SEVEN FABLES FOR THE DRONE AGE

 

BREATHING UNDER GLASS

The cracks that lace the glass casing of Marcel Duchamp’s “The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors (Even)” provided the final stroke and the ultimate physical irony.  The artwork was literally broken, so what better meditation on the futility of aesthetics, and the ultimate impotence of modern art? This work, created over the course of a decade or more, planned with meticulous notes and drawings and obscure hypothesis was completed by accident. The glass cracked and the major “drawn surface” of the work and its implicit fragility was rendered by a random act that did not belong to the artist.

Pablo Picasso’s majestic anti-war painting, “Guernica”, bears a strange (poetic if arbitrary) relationship to the Bride Stripped Bare. When the work was returned to Spain at the end of the Franco regime in September 1981 it was hung in the at the Cason del Buen Retiro in Madrid, and it could only be viewed under bomb and bullet proof glass. Was the government worried that someone was going to assassinate the painting? Literally try and kill the idea. The bodies were already dismembered, their blood drained into the monochrome of newsprint and the painting itself had served as a media messenger, touring the world urging an end to Fascism.

How did it look beneath glass, without breath, sheathed and protected? And why are some things in art perpetually concealed in rhetoric and symbolism? Murder, like rape, are rarely stripped bare in the realm of aesthetics. The frame creates the fetish. And Duchamp seemed keenly aware of this in what I view as his final ready-made artwork: his gravestone.

Upon the stone was carved this epitaph:

“D’ailleurs, c’est toujours les autres qui meurent;” :

 “Besides, it’s always the others who die”.

Such a cutting wit speaks coolly for the commonly shabby ethics of the civilized world.

War, like death happens to other people. Bombs drop, elsewhere. Villages are on fire, far away. The crack in the glass looks beautiful in the museum and because it’s art…it’s not broken.

 

STOLEN BLUE PRINTS

The complex installation of “Drone Dorje” by Richard Goodwin includes detailed working drawings and models for the major works: a replicated sculpture of a drone and two very large scale mixed media drawings. The models mirror the intricate studies that Duchamp might have made for his “Bride Stripped Bare” but equally they stand for (or evoke) world war two cartography, contemporary CIA documents, architectural models and blue prints and the supposedly benign intricacy of scientific hypothesis.

To build the drone, Goodwin’s atelier had to trawl the internet and gain access to concealed information. The layers of this process mimic the layers of the drawings themselves. Duchamp is pure stealth. He is still being decoded. But the form and function of the drone stripped bare and unsheathed for intimate appraisal is the ultimate act of exposing the obscenity rather than the eroticism of contemporary war-fare. Here is a phallus that is sex and death in one, and its’ blow is silent. There is no irony here, the fetish of the swollen prow and its toxic cargo can be seen from every angle.

It is mapped and it is named.

 

THE SHADOW AND THE STAIN

The spectacle of poverty is different in the shelter of the gallery. Here a shanty dwelling has been built to house a video shot in a slum on the outskirts of Mumbai. We can go into the structure and sit in the darkness but without stench or danger. Or, more truthfully, we can look at the houses built on a single lane of an active highway through a slit, like the missing paling in a fence. It’s like a glimpse through a car window. What we might see on the way to a hotel.

Richard Goodwin chose to enact his “Drone Dorje” ritual on a patch of pavement that was actually constructed on top of a working roadway. It is common in India for whole lanes of highways to be subsumed into dwellings so that people are living not just in the street but on the freeway itself. The residents of the slum where this performance was enacted were invited to participate using their own skills and traditional ritual materials. Local women tenderly stitched a cotton skin onto the drone, and, upon completion placed Marigold wreathes upon its length. The original concept, to burn and offer ritual burial to the Drone was deemed too physically contentious to complete and so the relic we have is simply the offering. The artist say’s he chose this place as it was as physically close to the actual target zone of military aggression by the United States to Pakistan as he could safely reach.

The Drone model was taken to India in a suitcase in separate units, the operation of the ritual created a parallel to stealth but there was no mockery in the act.

“Drone Dorje” brings the weapon to the wound.

At first the room that contains disparate objects and esoteric drawings feels theatrical. Upon closer study there are symmetries at play, conversations being held and  we might be being asked to laugh at our assumptions about the purity of science or the wisdom of government. Like a shanty built in a road there is no safety. Everything is tremulous and everywhere is a target.

The term ‘war zone’ is an antiquity.

One such act of mirroring: The width of the charcoal drawing that the proto Drone sits upon is perhaps the exact width of the slum itself. And unlike the crisp beauty of the equations and dancing numbers of the major drawing, the ‘landing strip’ looks like residue, a drop cloth soaked in soot. Or blood as imagined by Picasso. In newsreel black and white.

 

THE PERPETUAL PERIPHERAL

What is on the edge of our vision? Often famine. Usually war. Because war is all the time and because war is no longer officiated by geography or ground troops. Death is deployed to places we’ll never see by machines with no witness. The disparity of wealth is astonishing. Imagine a village with no electricity or running water being targeted by aerial surveillance that costs billions. Do drones count sheep as well as civilians?

A Drone is the ultimate prosthetic. Richard Goodwin’s continued interest in where the body ends and art or architecture begins in the form of exoskeletons, has led him to question the drone as a prosthetic device. This machine extends the wish to kill without “engagement”. The human hand is removed but only remotely. Individuals are still operating the machine. Deployment infers choice.

 

BLIND PENETRATION

It’s not a model aeroplane. It is a remote assassin. The victims are unaccounted for. The targets are not public domain. The prow has strange proportions, like a bullet or an extinct bird. I had never seen one before, and this one is smeared with the ashes of the dead. Made of paper. Heavy as lead. Someone needed to lift the veil.

 

REDEMPTION SONG

If war is the most basic duality: them and us, good versus evil, theology versus ideology. Then only anti-dualist philosophy can shatter and heal the sanctioned philosophy of violence.

The Dorje stands for everything a Drone is not. 1.  It is a mystical talisman and symbol of integration on many levels both explicit and subtle. Where Drone is absurdly expensive a Dorje is priceless. Where a Drone is without conscience a Dorje aspires to pure consciousness, liberated by vigilant awareness.

As an art object it transcends the realm of sculptural integrity and begs us to consider spirit as equal to matter. Duchamp exposed the impotency of art when it was reduced to pure base materiality. Yet sculptural objects held within the hand have always emanated power. From the Venus of Willendorf to a Buddhist bell, what we touch is made sacred.

The more that is stripped bare the more we need to believe in. Science has no sutra. Science attests to material entities and projected outcomes but it is growing further and further detached from human rights, moral codes or the redemptive forces of progress. Art, like a dirty mirror, is almost as empty. The spectacle has been under glass for decades. The revolution is televised and the rituals that sought to integrate the highest dimensions of human experience are an exotic side show .

In this project, Richard Goodwin collates impossible dualities. A tiny exquisitely wrought model of a Drone is cast in Bronze like a Tantric ritual object. And the maps to arms are drawn with the tenderness of an erotic etching. A billion dollar deployment weapon sits on the paper landing strip of a slum and everything is compressed into one conversation. It fills my heart with a strange elation. The idea that we still might have a choice.

Can we meditate upon a Drone and follow its path into complete nihilism and despair or can we hope for something more historically enduring than a stain?

An artist can provide little more than a side-show. The bride or the corpse glimpsed through a black curtain or the veil of broken glass. But art still has the power to bring death to life and it’s not elsewhere. It never was.

 

  1. (Meditation upon the dorje will guide the body, mind and spirit to the awakened state where all the psycho-cosmic elements of our incarnation are integrated and raised to their highest level. It is both the Path and its Symbol. And it is an exquisitely curious artistic design that can be appreciated even if one is only at the preliminary stages necessary for the esoteric exploration of its utility. Sourced from www.dorge.org)

 

With thanks to the artist for this conversation,

Anna Johnson, October, 2013

 

 

 

Refiguring Dystopia: Richard Goodwin 1991-2012

Refiguring Dystopia, the survey exhibition curated by Gavin Wilson which traces Richard Goodwin’s career as a sculptor and architect from 1991, open’s on the 6th of February and runs till the 22nd of March at Galleries UNSW, COFA Campus, Cnr Oxford Street & Greens Road, Paddington.http://www.cofa.unsw.edu.au/galleries

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Performance to Porosity Book

Performance to Porosity Cover

We have taken control of the stock for the book; “Richard Goodwin: Performance to Porosity” Craftsman House, 2006 ISBN: 0975768425 so it is now available from the online store at our website – www.richard-goodwin.com or directly at this link so go, have a look around, perhaps even order a copy, and we’ll send it off to you a.s.a.p. … The book includes essays by Paul McGillick, Sand Helsel, Michael Tawa, Andrews Benjamin and Gavin Wilson and spans all scales of Richard Goodwin’s work.

Denatured Contingency: The New Engine of Sustainability

Professor Richard Goodwin 

Director: The Porosity Studio

UNSW COFA

Visiting Professor Donghua

University Shanghai

richard@richard-goodwin.com

 

When Ives Klein performed “The Leap into the Void” in 1967, from a brick wall adjacent to the street, he rendered the architecture impotent in relation to the act. In other words, architecture, although deemed solid and eternally strong is actually very weak and plastic by comparison with the idea as represented through a performance. This apparent paradox has always underpinned the ideas, which I have labelled “Porosity” and which describe for me the edge condition of architecture in a particular way. Porosity is now a buzz-word and has its roots in urban thought as far back as Walter Benjamin. No previous articulation of the porous nature of architecture however, has ever conceived of or classified a type of architectural permeability, which has arteries of a new classification of space. This new type of space is between public and private (I have named “Chiastic Space” – found as it is within the crossover between public and private – hence Chiasmus). It is also well understood by city dwellers without a conscious understanding of its particularity and possible significance. This book seeks to reveal the significance of Porosity within the cities of the world and how it might be used to accelerate and inform the radical transformation of existing structure in order to three-dimensionalise public space systems in the city. This emphasis on existing interior spaces, which generated new spaces of transformation ultimately led to the naming of city architecture as the architecture of Invagination.

 

The following paper builds on the arguments which inform my city (Porosity) research, and develop the idea that we exist in the “Age of Contingency”. In other words, I put forward the provocation that “denatured” or reconsidered and reframed “contingency” is the new engine of sustainable design and a counter position to Modernism in architecture. It still finds its place at the end of every artist and architect’s budget list: contingency 10%. The need to rethink this alienated concept ascribed to chance, to stop seeing it as “other” to successful and flawless process, is the basis for this paper. The denaturing of contingency, as the territory of chance, the accidental and the incidental, comes at a time when the world is facing a new awareness of climate change and the threat of an ever increasing and demanding population. By this I mean that scientists are now united in large numbers in a chorus of blame in relation to the effects of increased amounts of carbon in the atmosphere as the result of human activity.This has consequences which can be debated, however there is little doubt about rising sea levels and the consequences this will have on zones of large population by the sea, such as Indonesia. Add to this the effects of the aging of the Global population and you have a formula, which needs calculus. At the same time we are witnessing the replacement of ideology with the politics of fear, and multiple technological revolutions. Fear’s handmaiden “violence,” now dominates our collective consciousness.

 

Sydney Transformation based on Porosity Research, 2005

Sydney Transformation based on Porosity Research, 2005

 

Many major cities in the world today are comprised of historical centres, with a variety of lineages, and the bones of modernist interventions, including high-rise housing, industrial zones and commercial tower clusters. The vision of utopia, and control over so called “nature”, has only left an architectural honeycomb of despair, as urban planning fails to prejudice social construction over all else. These bones need to be transformed rather than destroyed. To do so is to act essentially in a sustainable way. How can something be something else? This idea embraces a dissolution of the physical manifestation of Modernism and capitalism i.e. cities. To develop the argument I will cite two texts. The first is the book “Violence” by Slavoj Zizek and the second is “Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials” by Reza Negarestani. In the former, Zizek unpacks civilisation to reveal the cause of violence by looking at what he calls the post-political bio-politics of our age, while the latter helps to redefine “decay” as an integral part of survival rather than a final end point or return to nature. The city can logically be seen as a decaying entity, much in the same way as the city of our body, as host to millions of organisms and processes, is decaying while we are living as well as after we are dead. The human response to personal contingency or ill-health, is usually to seek medical solutions, to change lifestyle or to attempt psychological transformation. The city does the same, while being simultaneously convinced of its immortality thanks to a capitalist market based ideology dependent on infinite growth. In most western cities today, this is endorsed by the utopian idealism of the now aging carcass of Late Modernism. Our own bodily immortality is taken care of by religion if we choose to have faith, or by a belief in the infinite life of atoms if we don’t. The trouble with Modernism, Post, pure or Baroque, in the face of a threatening carbon “pollution” equation, is its preoccupation with “tabula rasa” and the designation of systems of overall, rather than local control: ie Utopian Models. The endless desire to “clean the slate”, prior to new work commencing on site, is coupled with an overly zealous heritage mafia around the world.

By this I mean that Modernism’s natural “modus operandi” is to eliminate the old and re place it with the new in a pure form. The work of Mies Van Der Rohe and Le Corbusier never entertained hybrid forms, combining old and new in chimeric monsters, and yet today we see a legacy of modern intentions infused with old structures designed by leading architects. The Tate Modern in London by Herzog and De Meuron is a shining example of this form of transformation. The old power station is still remembered without sentimentality about its every patina and fitting, as has happened in many new adaptations trying to tell too many stories about past lives when the new life is clearly what matters. Such projects are however, very difficult to have passed by planning authorities, who in my experience, usually endorse modernist practice by completely separating old and new.

Please excuse the generalisation but in my case it comes from 30 years of practice and I have yet to find an exception. Over protective of the old and any transformations, which physically transform these structures, heritage architects resist the natural tendency of old cities to eventually transmute and transmogrify. The net effect is to render adaptive interventions of old structures very difficult to get approved by urban planning officials. There are no sophisticated licenses or legal instruments in place, to my knowledge internationally, to encourage radical transformations, which will help the carbon problem. How does this help the carbon problem? To envelope space has a building and carbon cost. To re-use as much enveloped space as possible, as a city grows, has an effect on this equation and deserves consideration when planning new structure. By way of example, Renzo Piano’s building at Aurora Place in Sydney is clearly a desirable addition to our collection of city towers. It is elegant, intelligent and sympathetic as a design and well equipped as a tectonic machine. However, it was built on the site of the former State Office Block towers, a NSW government building complex, which was demolished in 1997 in order to make way for Renzo’s vision. The highly esteemed, Ken Wooley designed towers were clad in bronze plate. Of course their fittings and design were out of fashion in a superficial sense and here would no doubt be many self-serving reasons why they would be difficult to renovate. But they should have maintained these buildings for reasons of sustainable design. No amount of sustainable technologies fitted within the new building can balance the carbon equation necessary for the complete rebuild of viable original structures. The argument is not against Piano, but against the use of this particular site. Clearly one of the greenest things developers and architects can do is to radically refurbish old structures where possible or seek different sites. What is the use of a city where only 5% of its buildings are perfectly designed as sustainable entities, while the remaining 95% are carbon greedy? Only by conceding boundary, height and amenity constraints, in return for significant improvements, to social construction and carbon neutrality, can old architecture viably form new architecture. Specifically, the transgression of some boundaries or exceeded height restrictions may be necessary in order to attach new solar collectors, windmills or above ground pedestrian bridges and/or transport services. For Modernists the idea of a responsive and reactive architecture of organically derived geometries, which does not conform in some way to the ideals of minimal functional solutions, is still unthinkable. Through the Modernist’s tired lens these new geometric forms, which may fill the gridded interstices of our existing urban fabric, can only be symptomatic of a new and grandstanding expressionism. Hence the animosity is directed at pioneers such as Frank Gehry.

 

Let’s change the lens. Change and flux are superficially read as messy, like decay. Yet so called nature is only decay. Trees are an elaborate form of mould. Architecture and urban planning which allows for radical transformations, with unlimited typologies, naturally leads to more complex environments. The rectangle has been very useful, but perhaps its time at the centre of design practice is past. How about we build on it like a coral reef?

 

 

Denatured Contingency—the dissolution of architecture, 2011

Denatured Contingency—the dissolution of architecture, 2011

 

Fundamental to the metaphor of a coral reef type of city growth, and its attendant transformations, is a city of even greater complexity, equal in some ways to the complexity of slums. As with the low-rise slums of Mumbai, by way of example, the architecture born of social interaction and collective work in pottery, recycling waste and textiles manufacture, the physical shape of spaces and streets follows the demands of conversation and interaction. When converted to poorly built high-rise approximations of Corbusier’s city dream, as has happened in parts of Mumbai, the isolation of poor people within their units, cut off from direct interactions, has led to catastrophic human conditions. This conclusion is based on my own experience and observation. We need to learn from the social construction of slums and to also make clear observations of our own cities. This is the method of my Porosity Research, made possible by the Australian research Council and the College of Fine Arts, UNSW. It leads hopefully to cities, which embrace an eclectic mixture of styles and ages of construction and the continual licensing or designing of new public spaces within private precincts. This focus on adaptation, transformation and social construction, creates cities, which grow according to conversations, like a coral reef free of utopian control.

The aesthetics of the new hybridity and complexity can be linked to the mathematics of chaos and parametric geometry, already putty in the hands of young practitioners and university students. The complexity of the new mathematics renders it possible to describe the imperfect orange surface as easily as the Euclidean geometry describes the perfect sphere. The old aesthetics aspire to or perceive the perfectly spherical orange as more beautiful than the lumpy, slightly mouldy orange. But what happens when the imperfect orange is easily transported into a mathematical model and its rough surface can be scrutinised at different scales or in different materials. Its complexity can be represented as easily as its pure cousin the sphere. Arguably, in these circumstances, our aesthetic depth is extended and changed. The ideal and impossible reality of the perfect sphere is replaced by a formula for each real shape. This organic truth will surely change aesthetic ideals. The new geometries associated with parametric design, and the revolution of being able to economically build a structure in which all component parts are different, could run hand in glove with the metaphor of complex decay or the coral reef. To quote Negarestani:

 

Decay is an artificializing process that is promulgated on the substratum of all modes of survival (beings). In other words, decay – unlike death – is not external to survival, for it perpetuates itself on the substratum of survival, in order to indefinitely postpone death and absolute disappearance. In decay, the being survives by blurring into other beings, without losing all its ontological registers. In no way does decay wipe out or terminate, on the contrary it keeps alive. This is where the process of decay – despite all apparent connections – separates itself from the transgressive war machines of termination, annihilation, tragedy and violence.

 

This reveals a link between Modernism and violence. In the book Cyclonopedia, Negarestani is talking about the Middle East as a life-form or entity, subject to this decay and as he calls it an “undercover softness”. It is therefore compelling to make similar parallels to the city and its architecture and art within our current predicament. Negarestani continues: “In line with paramechanics, decay perforates the formation of power to no end, and by doing so prevents power from investing in the consolidation of its formation.” The embrace of continual or perpetual radical transformation of existing structure, as opposed to complete demolition and reconstruction, is a type of “decay”. The process is clearly more sustainable than the “tabula rasa” approach of Modernism. Why? Because these voids are holes in the social construction of the city and because they are later filled with building that represents control over nature.

 

 

Porosity: The Architecture of Invagination, 2005

Porosity: The Architecture of Invagination, 2005

 

Violence can be associated with the voids left by demolitions in the city in the name of Modernism. Alternatively decay, and its characteristic processes of continual transformation, is the natural antidote to power structures seeking control. Each system has its own geometry and each of these sends signals to its users, whether they are artists or architects. These signals prescribe both the language and its usage in the form of design outcomes. Already we are seeing built manifestations of the new mathematics in the form of designs by Frank Gehry, Herzog and DeMeuron, and Zaha Hadid. However it is too early to find examples of cities, which are dominated by structures, built on top of the existing urban fabric and synthesizing with it to form a new paradigm. The only manifestations of this model in the form of a premonition of things to come can be seen in the slums of cities like Delhi. Decay has complex and organic geometries, which remain open ended, indeed which resist containment. Negarestani invites us to register this complexity as a lack of resolution: “Through decay, the solid entity is taken over neither by integrated life nor death, but by irresolution”.

The definition of denatured contingency can be linked to the acceptance of irresolution as a characteristic aesthetic and to the need for open-ended growth. It is therefore defined as an “organic” phenomenon. Contingency is an organism, a landscape and a site. It is nature as a system. If we look carefully at the city, we can see it as an organism. The natural evolution of city infrastructure has brought this phenomenon about. If in fact it is a type of evolution, then the only problem is speed, or the lack, of in order to avoid a collision with climate change. It can be argued that the politics of “fear”, perpetrated post 911, is defeating democracy. The violence associated with these fears is now seen around the world. The long feared third World War is happening, in a radically untidy form, echoing what Slavoj Zizek calls the “Post-political Bio-politics,” of today:

 

That is to say, with the depoliticised, socially objective, expert administration and coordination of interests as the zero level of politics, the only way to introduce passion into this field, to actively mobilize people, is through fear, a basic constituent of today’s subjectivity. For this reason, bio-politics is ultimately a politics of fear, if focuses on defence from potential victimisation or harassment.

 

The politics of fear is also gating off communities with more “Berlin Walls” than we could have ever imagined possible post WWII. The walled city and gated community are identical to the pristine modernist tower structure, with its minimalist pretensions of style, and massive security system preventing access to city pedestrians beyond the pavement. The progression of this drive for security has seen our cities become less porous to public access. This impermeable tendency is the subject of my research under the name Porosity. It also forms the political barrier between the old systems of Modernist control and the age of contingency. Porosity as a philosophy acts as an agent for change, promoting and facilitating the embrace of contingency as a way forward in design process. The Porosity research study prejudices interior space over the envelope of individuated boxes. In response to this embrace of contingency, Porosity recognises the need to create a more equal balance between public and private space beyond the limitations of what constitutes outside i.e. roads, footpaths, parks and public buildings. All the data gathered in this process of analysis, via the Porosity Index, results in three-dimensional representations of possible connections to other buildings – as described in “What a Building Desires”. As a result this body of work drives architecture from the inside out. Deformations of interiors become exteriors in a confusion of surfaces, which bring to mind the Klein bottle. This single surface idea about architecture, driven from the inside out, is thus a type of invagination penetrating through the phallus-centric vertical stacking of layers of conventional building typologies. This system invites complexity and radical transformation via chance. The term “invagination” and its relationship to the “Klein Bottle” (Klein Bottle refers to the single surface, theoretical (mathematical) bottle, which describes the development of the Mobius Band into a form which continually penetrates itself as the neck of a bottle, which folds into the body of the object.) model also create representations of the inside on the outside of architecture as part of the overall expression of the architecture. One can argue this already happens. The simplest examples of this extension of the inside function spanning through public space are the bridging structures which encase pedestrian movement between structures. These commonly link department store buildings and co-owned buildings with the same program with bridging While these examples display a convenient connection in answer to existing commercial pressure, Porosity seeks to transform underutilised pathways within existing architecture that can be used in the project of reorganising people movement above and below ground and in enriching the social construction of the city by actively creating new types of public space. The architecture of invagination favours the permanent transience of public use over the singular architectural object and places material construction itself into continual becoming.

 

 

Porosity: The Architecture of Invagination, 2005

Porosity: The Architecture of Invagination, 2005

 

Porosity research operates primarily from a location between boundaries, in particular, the boundaries applied to public space and corporate architecture. This can be paralleled to the distinctions between psychic and somatic or inside and outside as previously discussed. Derived from the position of “flaneur” (Walter Benjamin) as opposed to Corbusier’s idealised “modulor” man, the perspective of the Porosity researcher is that of the tourist. The “settled”, the native, the “belonging” are no different from the estranged, rejected or homeless, only they do not know it yet. One needs strength to bear loneliness. It is “the belonging ones that do not have such strength and this is precisely why they run away, from the tale of the self-construction into the deceitful shelter of imagined membership.” Endlessly this era’s machinery and space are rendered obsolete or in need of repair. This rotting hulk is also haunted by the voices and imagery of its virtual other, the world-wide web of the internet, the psycho-babble of modern thinking. As we stumble away from pure Modernism, post-Modernism and late Modernism, we are left in the shadows to ruminate about a huge global armature of leftover architecture and machinery.

 

Porosity: The Architecture of Invagination, 2005

Porosity: The Architecture of Invagination, 2005

 

A simple equation hovers above this conglomeration in neon lights. “Make me into something else.” If we accept the mess and redundancy of the urban environment, as a landscape of opportunity, we must also accept architecture as malleable and in continual flux. This approach is predicated on the idea that structures are not pulled down and that the greenest thing an architect can do in most cases is to rethink the existing architecture beyond the boundaries of current defining urban texts, to find a balance between public and private space, not as a utopian vision but as recognition of our human needs which must be addressed. We could converse. We could embrace. We could argue. We could fall in love. The philosophy behind Porosity is that everything must be done in order to accelerate this as a practice. This includes the embrace of new structural ideas for old buildings. Unfortunately the current practice of heritage architecture enslaves buildings in a practice that fetishises building particularities and demands restoration, involving rebuilding. The result is a kind of botoxed finish denying its wrinkles and props of the aging process by categorising them as type of vandalism. It is far more respectful to juxtapose the old with new even as it forms a prosthetic or replacement part of something old.

 

 

What a building Desires, 2005

What a building Desires, 2005

 

Encouragement and financial incentives need to be given to transformations, which upgrade technologies in return for perhaps increased floor space ratios and/or building heights. The license to increase program and to make programmatic shifts could also be offset by the addition of low carbon power generation systems, which add to the grid of the city. At the core of these ideas lies the need to use architecture as an armature for new ideas. The endless becoming of architecture is a new aesthetic: Denatured contingency is the new engine of sustainability and the dissolution of architecture into landscape via a new paradigm of aesthetics.

 

References:

Bauman, Z. (1991) Modernity and Ambivalence. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Goodwin, R. (2011). Porosity: The Architecture of Invagination. Melbourne: RMIT Press.

Negarestani, R. (2008). Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials. Melbourne:Re.press.

Till, Jeremy. (2009). Architecture Depends. New York: MIT Press.

Zizek, S. (2008). Violence. London: Profile Books.