Tag Archives: Owen Hatherley

EP Elaboration: After the War

Right, I should really try and finish this series of blog posts. Today: After the War.

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Thinking of something to write is harder than you might think

In the absence of any particularly interesting thoughts I’ve had over the past week (I was vaguely thinking about writing about BBC4’s Women documentary, but others have written about it better than I could have, and it’s more than a little suspect for a man to start criticising documentaries for not being feminist enough. Relatedly, you should obviously read Nina Power’s One Dimensional Woman, and this. The plight of women today is intimately connected to the capitalist society we live in, and the BBC documentary didn’t seem to have any intention of even acknowledging that), here’s some interesting bits and pieces from what I did seen this week.

Firstly, if you’ve not seen the Merton chatroulette videos, may I direct you to John Walker’s post here? My favourite’s the Ben Folds one, where he (and his entire audience) sing songs to random people who were connected to them. There’s something really heart-warming about a whole group of people just singing to random people; a kind of I love you to a complete stranger. There needs to be more of that kind of thing.

Next, I can’t actually remember where I found this, but here’s a short documentary about Le Corbusier, Varese, and Xenakis’ Poème électronique.

I’d heard the music before, but never seen what the pavilion actually looked like. And it looks fantastic. And 2 million people went there to experience it! There’s a distinctly odd sensation seeing the pictures of the pavilion as it was. In many ways it seems incredibly similar to certain recent buildings, and yet it possesses something that the work of Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid lacks. Maybe it’s the sense that when it was built, it was a vision of the future, and yet now that the future’s come to pass, there’s the distinct feeling that we’ve been cheated. Superficially it looks the same, but the wider modernist project (to create a better future) that the original pavilion was a part of has been all but abandoned (as I understand it, when schoolchildren are asked to imagine the future, they now nearly always imagine dystopian, apocalyptic scenarios), and all that’s left is a clumsy facsimile (I think this is what Fredric Jameson means by pastiche?). Again, see Owen Hatherley’s Militant Modernism. The VR stuff at the end seems completely pointless and again, little more than a poor facsimile of something that disappeared long ago. Surely one of the fundamental properties of architecture is that it is physical, and tangible?

Finally, via Coilhouse, a short piece of visual music:

Very simple, but effective. I’d like to do something similar, but in the absence of any useful software I’d probably have to code it all by hand in C++. Which would take a while, and really I only want to do a couple of quick sketches.