brian carroll on 31 Dec 2000 08:43:00 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] the aesthetics of de|con-struction

 < e x h i b i t >

 T H E   A E S T H E T I C S
      O F  D E C O N S T R U C T I O N :

 photographic gallery of architectural
 construction and demolition sites

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 < t e x t >

 deconstruction is herein used as a generic
 non-proprietary keyword to describe the
 pragmatic utility of theoretical (theory-
 rhetorical) ideas and ideologies.

 nothing can be said in terms of reason nor
 logic to further clarify, and importantly,
 simplify the concepts based upon language
 of which deconstruction represents. other
 than that deconstruction, as a word, can
 be seen to be of both 'construction' and
 'destruction' in its structure, that is:

 de-    struction

 the symbolic enhancement of the word, in
 its structural formalism, can be re-
 presented as:


 wherein the pipe `|' symbol represents
 a logical dividing line, and the hypen
 `-' represents a continuity between the
 infrastructural fragments of the word.

 therefore, de|con-struction, with logic
 and reason aided by visual symbols, can
 be seen as a questioning and answering.

 the sublime language in which deconstruction
 is used, as a keyword, is passively reflected
 in its application of the language of signs,
 and not as a vivid interrogation of language
 as a symbolic logic of these message signals.

 one example is in the realm of identity, in
 which the language inherited by most English
 readers/writers is fused with a perspective
 which is inherently privatized. this is best
 exemplified in gender, where the basis for
 public and private identity, and thus language,
 are grounded. it is more than coincidence that
 the deconstruction of the individual is still
 defined by gender today.

    he      man        male        mankind
   she    woman      female      womankind

  s|he   wo|man     fe|male    wo|man-kind

 a symbolic structural language transcending
 gender as identity need include both gender
 and its annihilation in the construction and
 the destruction of individual identity.

 the impossibility of this is evident in the
 concept of humanity, as it is based on the
 identity of man, and yet it conceptually
 represents, moreso than its literal signal,
 a communality of identity and a basis for

 therefore, the human identity is not to be
 based only on history nor her-story but on
 `the human story' of i, you, me, and we as
 human beings. the division of public and
 private identities then become easier to

 for example, speaking as wo|men, (men-or-
 women, or men-and-women) we will never be able
 to achieve a common human identity of equality
 as there is a choice for differentiating being.

 the philosophical example of this conundrum is
 the hermaphrodite as the identity which can
 transcend this trap, where man becomes woman
 and woman becomes man, sexually and conceptually.

 the hermaphrodite is the basis for an inclusive
 human being, a both-and either-or identity which
 at once negates and affirms constitutions and
 constructions of identity based on gender. this
 is because the hermaphrodite is literally a
 symbolic wo|man, whose logic deconstructs the
 signs of traditional Western identity.

 all human beings are hermaphroditic in the sense
 that to find community in the differences that
 divide us privately, we need to find commonality
 or continuity in those things that bind us together
 as one people, a unique and wide-ranging being that
 we share as a public beyond our individual selves.

 how else can `we' speak of 'our' future, or of working
 together as equals, than to speak in human terms?

 to do this does not require deconstructing texts,
 in as much as concepts and structures which pre-
 dispose action through traditional channels, be
 they institutional or relational.

 one way to do this is through aesthetics, the
 design not only of things but ideas, visions,
 and the symbolism they collectively carry in
 the cultural sub-, un-, & supra-conscious.

 architecture is a way of seeing this symbolism
 of deconstruction literalized in the aesthetics
 of physical, buildings in-formation.

 architecture is no different from words and language
 in that it has a structural relationship between
 fragments of ideas, as it both creates and destroys
 itself in order to exist.
 yet the paradox is denied, and the 'finished'
 building, much like the 'finished' text, are
 professionalized, aestheticized, and stylized
 as ideological constructions, building upon
 the inherited institutional reality, no longer
 challenging nor changing it. while there may
 be meaning in the symbolism, it remains mostly
 privatized and proprietary, guarding its source
 code to increase its rarity and value in the
 closed systems in which it functions. thus,
 the school of thought as a continuation of
 stable signs legitimately deconstructed to
 maintain the status quo continue the legacy
 of the `intellectual' corporate enterprise
 as private endeavor.

 to see architecture de|con-structed requires
 seeing architecture in between its various
 stages of becoming some-thing and no-thing.

 thus, to literally `see' the destruction and
 construction of the built environment, much
 like the hermaphrodite, we can see the common,
 public aesthetic which we inherited and from
 whose language we build. these are the laws of
 physics matched with lawless imagination.

 to see a building being destroyed, to see a
 construction sign, to see a stack of materials
 in the process of demolition and construction,
 is to see architecture as a de|con-struction.

 the crane, the scaffolding, the tools, the
 earth, rocks, metals, and concrete, most all
 are relatively ancient events being ever
 re-enacted in the processing of architecture.
 the construction site, in its varying stages,
 could be seen much the same 2000 years ago,
 in these same designed assemblages.

 aesthetic reflection and projection allow
 the architectural object to be matched by
 its empirical relation to material culture,
 and its ancient precedent. the construction
 sign, as symbolic warning of a zone of a
 culture's de|con-struction, is a universal
 visual language, transcending that of words.

 a construction site on any continent can be
 deciphered without spoken language. dirt is
 dirt. cranes are cranes. architectural signs
 are signs, not only as finished objects, but
 also as never-finished objects, eternally in-
 process, always falling apart, in need of
 repair, or of dismantling.

 the pragmatism of de|con-struction as everyday
 theory is seen in workers whom strip buildings
 of their valuable goods before they are to be
 demolished. they salvage what is left and use
 it to build something else. not as a pure
 object or entity, but as a collection of
 borrowed and re-structuralized fragments.
 these carpenters and citizens call themselves

 seeing the Venetian _primitive hut_ scaffolding
 along with the _purgatory_ and _archetype_
 events of Paris brings the local aesthetic
 of construction and demolition into a new
 and more universalized sense of a common
 architectural language, and thus being.

 while words continue to bore and drag on
 without saying, relying upon a fuzzy logic
 of finished surfaces and statements, it is
 proposed that the unfinished image simplifies
 and clarifies what words cannot. that there
 is a universality, a shared public, it is
 physical, it exists within a shared material
 culture, technological, both new and ancient,
 which is always in a state of de|con-structing
 itself. in this state, before it is a finished
 product, it is still possible to rearrange the
 structure so as to support- not the individual
 and privatized difference alone- but also the
 civic commonality we share as human beings.

 architecture is but one way of seeing it and
 de|con-struction is but one way of saying it.
 but there is something in their combination,
 when the application of theoretical language
 becomes a pragmatic common sense, immediately
 available with those with eyes and minds looking
 into the future while remembering the past.
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