The Anti-Aesthetic Essays

And it may well be that both art and architecture are fields too important to be left to their professional defenders.And anyway, if Foster’s observations are accurate, architecture has itself been dissolved, our ways of building and dwelling transformed into cinematic encounters under consumer media’s management.

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What is perhaps intriguing is the parallel between Foster’s perspective, which targets the use of digital media in so far as they are the tools that have facilitated architecture’s having become image and that of the Nouvel/ Baudrillard dialogue, in which the electronic media facilitate a general dematerialization and a world without “outside.” Baudrillard, informed by the media theory of Marshall Mc Luhan, developed a more “performative” vision of architecture’s relationship with new media.With this title, The Art – Architecture Complex, Foster invokes that sense of capitalist conspiracy first expressed in the 1960’s phrase “military/industrial complex.” The book is massively informative but characterized by the author’s trademark polemic with regard to the pluralism that is post modernity in general.Foster has long made clear his preference for purity over plurality.In this way, Realism marks the beginning of the Anti-Aesthetic movement.The next stage in the Anti-Aesthetic movement is found in Dadaism (1915-Present).” (2) Foster’s attitude with regard to electronic media culture makes him a traditionalist.Another writer afflicted with what is often called “Benjaminian nostalgia,” the historian of architecture Kenneth Frampton, invoked a practice he called “critical regionalism,” in which architechtonics, truth-to-materials, site-specificity and other such dreams of the decade were the key aspects of building.For Foster it seems adequate to blame “capital” and to rest with the predictable commitment to a theoretical perspective drawn from the Frankfurt School.Following Debord’s thesis, apparently there was once a time when the world was “directly lived.” Applying this to architecture, we could argue that, in former times, buildings were not constructed with “images” and surfaces, or facades, but were in the round and made of substantial stuff like stone, glass and steel.Around the time that Karl Marx wrote his critique of society and stated that religion was the opiate of the people, artists were also rebelling against conventional forms in a movement known as Realism (1850-1940).Realism rejected the idea that art should try to find beauty in this world or the next.


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