miércoles, 6 de julio de 2011

The clear and the blurred

The clear and the blurred. (extract)
Juan Ramírez Guedes

The relationship between the representation and inhabiting, like clearness and evanescence, emerge as conditions of complexity and contradiction in the contemporary architecture.
In order to tackle this brief thinking about the current scene of the contemporary architecture, we will use the two images that come along with these lines. It is about two recent works of the same international architecture office, Herzog & De Meuron, which are related with recent buildings ended in two different places in the world, almost at the antipodes, Madrid and Beijing. These are two buildings of culture and sports, two privileged categories within the context of a universal architectural production, in many cases aimed at the construction of a symbolic image, which crystallizes into an object, a discourse of social and political hegemony. This represents a significant symbolism.

The reduction operated through this selection is useful for talking about that complexity and contradiction. Indeed, these are two works from the same authors, from the same year and with a similar iconicity condition, but it is a paradox that they find reduced from their own and without using a generic discourse, an “expanded field” of meanings, which meets with the characteristics of this complexity and contradiction. These characteristics are presented, still today, so long after the publication of Robert Venturi’s book, as, maybe unfocused, essential attributes of the contemporary architecture.

And that contemporary architecture, which makes for us more visible in the mass media, including the Internet, but also in the specialized papers and even more in the classrooms, is a liturgical architecture, devoted more to the representation than to the “presentation” of inhabiting. At the distance that separates the objects of the representable space and the liveable space, lies an inherent contradiction in the architecture of life “other”, life “beyond” or “closer” to the action of inhabiting, of the ceremonial life and the too much exhibited life of the museums and stadiums, of the areas of celebrations of the consensus, areas such as those represented by these two objects presented in this hurried and compressed thoughts.

But even in the consciousness of this contradiction, in a way which denatures the ontological condition of the architecture as an utilitarian art, these objects also show a complexity that makes them transcend above the contradiction that limits it. Here is where the criticism has to go back to its discourse and recognize in the vibrant forms of the CaixaForum, in its worrying levitation, it the alienation that produces the overlapping of heteroglosic volumes, in its strange relation with the emptiness of the square, the capacity of moving, attracting the sensibility of the audience and turning him into an “inhabitant”, got out of its insensitive routine practice of the space, in order to, at least, ask him some questions… and then go back again to an enigma that resonate in the retina as a De Chirico painting.

The cloudy image of The Nest, surrounded by the mists of the pollution produced by the activity of this enormous crowd of Beijing, offers the perfect transfiguration of a vision of future like in the movie Blade Runner, where the technological discourse and the environmental impact coexists continuously and informed us about our critical condition as contemporary inhabitants.

The contrast between the shadow and the light of the Forum building is here reformulated as the fractal combination of the clarity and the technological perfection with the fluid and entropic evanescence of the world. The coexistence of the clear and the blurred: the conditions of the contemporary architecture. 

Our conditions. 

Published in: 
Architecture Context Culture. Intersections of arts in the project