metropad 2 : effect

i think the problem with ruby’s notion of v-effect is a subtle deviation of meaning, not from the heavier notion of estrangement, but actually from the added term, effect. this is a highly ambiguous word, with two poles of signification. one tends more to the surface, the other to function. i think ruby leant towards effect as impression or mark, more than effect as an active conductive or catalyzing force. in the end, it fell even further to the pole of surface, where effect refers to illusion (against brecht's intention of "uncovering" and "bringing down the fourth wall").

ruby began the seminar by showing gonzález-iñarritu’s “powderkeg”, a bmw film (commercial), considering this confusion of “art” and advertising an example of the v-effect (huh?) the second example was a massive attack video that looked like a fucked-up zombie biotech commercial (mhm…), and finally he showed pictures of the toilets at amsterdam’s schiphol airport, that feature reproductions of artwork as part of a gag-promotion strategy for an inside-the-airport wing of the rijksmuseum. *cough*

i have to admit his lecture was more sophisticated and well structured. he presented some great slides of olafur eliasson's tinted rivers and indoors environmental interventions, and then shifted to the cute cheesewhizzy reconversion of the groeninge museum in brugge by 51n4e architects. i like these plays on space, but they don't seem particularly challenging to convention or reflexive. people laying down on the floor of the tate's turbine hall in front of a fake sun or sitting down on a red carpet in front of a flemish primitive painting simply doesn't seem that radical or thought-inducing.

ok, so the architect / artist breaks with the usual rules and plays with contextual adulteration, expecting uncontrolled responses from the audience. the problem is that in our sweetened apathetic times, these responses rarely go beyond amusement. it's no longer easy to shock, we are a sedated generation. estrangement in this sense falls to the background, to styling, to a quaint footnote experience or even a sales strategy.

i think ruby got it wrong. the artist/architect should drop the self-flattering position of the catalyzer and the innovative subversive tactical blabla missionary. curiously enough, he had a much more interesting possibility right under his noses. at one point in the lecture, he showed clips from kubrick's 2001, commenting on the weird superposition of xviiith century and future anterior hypermodern motifs. but what's more suggestive, i think, and appropriate for recovering brecht's v-effect as technique and not style, is an attitude similar to the one we're confronted with in the film's last sequence. leading (modern) man is sucked in by the future debris of his own cultural production, hero falls powerless to his own action's and culture's inescapable effects. meaning must expire (along with traces of common sense-belief-morality) to be reappropriated or discarded. instead of insisting on producing, the architect/artist must first him or herself be estranged. in this sense, architecture (like art) should be more a process of revealing and unravelling, instead of additional layering (think audc's exposure of one wilshire or francis alÿs's quietistic mexican martyrdoms). effectist architecture further cloaks, hides behind fancier and lacier veils. it perverts the tactic of making strange by making cool.

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