• A MACHINE FOR LIVING IN
  • ALTERNATIVE MODERNITIES BY JAMES HOLSTON
  • ARCHITECTURE OR TECHNO-UTOPIA?
  • ATMOSPHERIC AND MATERIAL ENVIRONMENTS IN MICHELANGELO ANTONIONI’S CINEMA
  • BADIOU, ALAIN – LOGICS OF WORLDS
  • BEHRXILIA
  • BODIES IN ALLIANCE AND THE POLITICS OF THE STREET
  • BRASIL
  • BRASILIA, CONTRADICTIONS OF A NEW CITY
  • BRASILIA, OR THE VIEW FROM A MOVING AUTOMOBILE
  • BRAZILIANIZATION OF BRASILIA
  • CARTICHECTURE
  • CHARACTERS
  • CINEMA
  • CONFLICT OF VARYING SPEEDS
  • CONTRASTING CONCEPTS OF HARMONY IN ARCHITECTURE
  • CORPOS INFORMATICOS
  • CULTS
  • DEEPFAKE
  • DISURBANSIM
  • DUPLITECTURE
  • ECLECTIC CITY
  • FABLE OF AN ARCHITECT
  • FICTION OF THE MODERN BY LOUIDGI BELTRAME
  • FICTIONS OF EVERY KIND
  • FIRST HYMN TO BRASILIA
  • FORBIDDEN PLANET
  • G
  • GAGARIN, YURI
  • H
  • IMAGES OF BODIES
  • ISOMORPHISM
  • JULIETA GUIMARÃES COSTA
  • KUBITSCHEK, JUSCELINO
  • LIQUID MODERNITY
  • LISPECTOR, CLARICE
  • MODULO
  • NATIONALIST MODERNISM
  • NEIVA, TIA
  • NEUROLOGICAL AND ARCHITECTURAL SINUOSITIES: THE NIEMEYER BROTHERS
  • NIEMEYER IN ISRAEL & PALESTINE
  • NIEMEYER MASKS
  • NIEMEYER: THE FUTURE IS LUMPY
  • OF OTHER SPACES: UTOPIAS AND HETEROTOPIAS
  • PILOT PLAN
  • POST EXOTICISM
  • QUEERING ARCHITECTURE
  • SEEING LIKE A STATE
  • SILVA GUERRA, JOSÉ
  • SITUATIONIST THESES ON TRAFFIC
  • SKIN
  • SPACE SYNTAX
  • TEMPO DE BRASILIA
  • TERMITES
  • THE ARCHITECT AS TOTALITARIAN
  • THE METAPHYSICS OF CONCRETE
  • THE THREE STAGES OF TRANCE
  • TIÃOZINHO
  • VACANCY – CITIES IN FILM
  • VILLE RADIEUSE – THE RADIANT CITY
  • VLADIMIR CARVALHO
  • WALKING IN SPACE
  • WHITE HEAT, GREY STONE
  • X
  • X-RAY ARCHITECTURE
  • YARA, MOTHER
  • YOKAANAM, MESTRE
  • ZAMENHOF, LUDWIK LEJZER
  • ZIZEK, SLAVOJ: THE END OF UTOPIA

A MACHINE FOR LIVING IN

“I think, like Vitruvius, that architecture includes both buildings and machines, and I think that it includes landscapes, too. The notion that machines escaped somehow from the tyranny of buildings is more an illustration of what it must have been like back there in modern times – like being in a plane taking off, hanging on to the arms of the seat with the safety belt tight over your stomach, and staring your own mortality in the face, with your mind blank and your pulse racing.

Machines for Living in might refer to something else. Not a machine at all, an analogy itself, in fact.”

ALTERNATIVE MODERNITIES BY JAMES HOLSTON

Ritual practice in the Valley of the Dawn reveals a detailed set of correspondences between sacred and secular capitals. Both express their ambitions through the idioms of the modern institutionalization of power. From bureaucracy, law, science, higher education, and telecommunications they deploy similar sets of specialized vocabularies, structures, and procedures. From the idiom of bureaucracy, both use notions of minister, adjutant, directorate, council, petition, signature, and so forth to articulate office, organization, authority, and procedure. From that of law, both institute tribunals and prisons that engage judges, juries, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and witnesses in the name of justice. Both also share a vocabulary of industry and telecommunications, including radar, antenna, space ships, factories, currents, and tuning. Both present their deepest knowledge in terms of science, employing concepts such as energy, ectoplasm, ionization, and magnetic fields. Both have universities that offer advanced degrees in this knowledge. Both legitimate their enterprise in terms of a recapitulation of history that announces a new era.

As such, they are structured by a model-copy relation. Each derives its persuasive force from its capacity to demonstrate a model-in-the-making in its own constructions, principally in ritual and in architecture, respectively. Thus, Brasilia not only imitates the model of a Le Corbusian or CIAM modernist city. In becoming its most complete realization, in digesting it, so to speak, the model becomes Brazilian, to use the anthropophagic notion of intake (antropofagia) with which Brazilian literary modernism of the 1920s defined new forms of national identity in relation to the metropolitan world. In digesting Le Corbusier (the 1971 Brazilian film How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman comes to mind), Brasilia mirrors to Brazil the imagined modern nation that its construction was to bring into being. Its master planning is proof of the state’s abilities to create something new, to capture modernity-its institutions, forms of knowledge, modes of power, and radiant future-by means of its likeness. The copy becomes an original.

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ARCHITECTURE OR TECHNO-UTOPIA?

Fiction is not just escape from reality but can produce an engaged withdrawal. Foucault commented on this quality in his own work, noting, “I am well aware that I have never written anything but fictions.” And of fiction’s importance, he continued: “I do not mean to say, however that truth is therefore absent. It seems to me that the possibility exists for fiction to function in truth, for a fictional discourse to induce effects of truth, and for bringing it about that a true discourse engenders or manufactures something that does not as yet exist, that is, fictions it. One fictions history on the basis of a political reality that makes it true, one fictions a politics not yet in existence on the basis of a historical truth.” Etienne Balibar and Jacques Ranciere have also recently turned to the political virtues of constructing fictions. For Balibar this revolves around the need to identify through experimentation and experience “places of fiction” for political life in the face of the foreclosure of notions of utopia. For Ranciere, likewise, fiction offers a space of projection that is less utopian than virtual. As he explains, “Politics and art, like forms of knowledge, construct ‘fiction’, that is to say material rearrangements of signs and images, relationships between what is seen and what is said, between what is done and what can be done.”

# ARCHITECTURAL THEORIES /// Architecture or Techno-Utopia by Felicity Scott

ATMOSPHERIC AND MATERIAL ENVIRONMENTS IN MICHELANGELO ANTONIONI’S CINEMA

“Those stolen cinematic moments reveals Antonioni’s construction of a very dexterous mix between material and atmospheric environments all along his films. Red Desert, as I had the occasion to write before, can probably be said to embody the paroxysm of such dialogue. Nevertheless, his materialism finds its essence in the presence of the human female body who, by its posture contrasts and challenges this environment.“


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BADIOU, ALAIN – LOGICS OF WORLDS

“Let’s consider, for example, the city of Brasília, artificial capital of Brazil, which we can think of as a “pure” city, since it rose up from nothing – bare plateau in 1956, inaugurated in 1960. What does it mean to say that Brasília is a place, a space? First of all, of course, that we know what it means to say ‘living in Brasília’ or ‘coming to Brasília’. Thus there is a referential set, the set of elements that constitute Brasília. The interior of this referential set is ‘Brasília’ itself. If I am ‘in the city’, that is because I am part of the instantaneous composition of Brasília; that there is a place means first of all that a multiple is given, such that its interior is identical to itself. Dealing as we are with the referential totality ‘Brasília’, with the global site of localizations, we can assert the following: the interior of Brasília is Brasília.”

In Brasília, it is the buildings, columns, doors, and desks that function as interior to the world Brasília, even if they are imported from other locales. Badiou’s Brasília is a world (not a warehouse) owing to a guiding singularity indexing the multiplicities and contingencies of the city.

“In the evenings, as I lost myself, I often imagined – through the bay-windows of an apartment in Brasília’s south wing, in the still clarity of the sky – that the cartography of stellar signs, whose earthly lineaments the city’s monuments seemed to trace, was telling me that I would be there forever. The bird stretched on the dry soil, the lunar lagoons, Niemeyer’s stylized cement: everything told me that Brasília’s fragments, opened up in this way and orienting me through the night, had incorporated me into the birth of a new world.” (Logics of Worlds, 414)

BEHRXILIA

The questions that have to be asked about Brasília are: “What went right?” and “What went wrong? What was left from the original dream? How has Brasília adapted to these modernist ideas? What is Brasília’s message? What is left that is good? What is left that is bad? What was worth it? What was not worth it? “I think these are the questions that have to be asked, “What worked and what did not work in Brasília.”

Brasilia was a socialist experiment in a capitalist society, and I wanted to point out here the generosity of the creators of Brasília, who thought far, who thought high, who thought well, seeking a more egalitarian society with less social differences, etc. … I wanted to emphasize this generosity of the creators of Brasília. And what became of all this is that Brasília is an attempt to do something different, to make/come up with a new proposal of living, to live. Then Brasília is what’s left from an attempt. But almost nothing was left from the utopia, maybe nothing or very little besides the proposal of a utopia, the own possibility of dreaming.

BODIES IN ALLIANCE AND THE POLITICS OF THE STREET

In the last months there have been, time and again, mass demonstrations on the street, in the square, and though these are very often motivated by different political purposes, something similar happens: bodies congregate, they move and speak together, and they lay claim to a certain space as public space. Now, it would be easier to say that these demonstrations or, indeed, these movements, are characterized by bodies that come together to make a claim in public space, but that formulation presumes that public space is given, that it is already public, and recognized as such. We miss something of the point of public demonstrations, if we fail to see that the very public character of the space is being disputed and even fought over when these crowds gather. So though these movements have depended on the prior existence of pavement, street, and square, and have often enough gathered in squares, like Tahrir, whose political history is potent, it is equally true that the collective actions collect the space itself, gather the pavement, and animate and organize the architecture. As much as we must insist on there being material conditions for public assembly and public speech, we have also to ask how it is that assembly and speech reconfigure the materiality of public space, and produce, or reproduce, the public character of that material environment. And when crowds move outside the square, to the side street or the back alley, to the neighborhoods where streets are not yet paved, then something more happens. At such a moment, politics is no longer defined as the exclusive business of public sphere distinct from a private one, but it crosses that line again and again, bringing attention to the way that politics is already in the home, or on the street, or in the neighborhood, or indeed in those virtual spaces that are unbound by the architecture of the public square. So when we think about what it means to assemble in a crowd, a growing crowd, and what it means to move through public space in a way that contests the distinction between public and private, we see some way that bodies in their plurality lay claim to the public, find and produce the public through seizing and reconfiguring the matter of material environments; at the same time, those material environments are part of the action, and they themselves act when they become the support for action. In the same way, when trucks or tanks suddenly become platforms for speakers, then the material environment is actively reconfigured and re-functioned, to use the Brechtian term. And our ideas of action then, need to be rethought. In the first instance, no one mobilizes a claim to move and assemble freely without moving and assembling together with others. In the second instance, the square and the street are not only the material supports for action, but they themselves are part of any theory of public and corporeal action that we might propose. Human action depends upon all sorts of supports – it is always supported action. But in the case of public assemblies, we see quite clearly not only that there is a struggle over what will be public space, but a struggle as well over those basic ways in which we are, as bodies, supported in the world – a struggle against disenfranchisement, effacement, and abandonment.
Of course, this produces a quandary. We cannot act without supports, and yet we must struggle for the supports that allow us to act.

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BRASIL

Brazilians claim to have invented the airplane, the typewriter, the chest X-ray. They claim to have discovered the meson-pi, fought the Triatoma megistus, and discovered the Ultra-Terrestrials. They built Brasília, they burned the Amazon, they were the champions of the world.

BRASILIA, CONTRADICTIONS OF A NEW CITY

Commissioned by Italian typewriter manufacturing company Olivetti in 1966 to showcase the construction of Brazil’s newly completed modern capital, Brasilia (and who then promptly shelved the completed work, perhaps because of its implicit critical inquiry), Joaquim Pedro de Andrade’s exquisitely shot, articulate, and impassioned film, Brasilia, Contradictions of a New City, as its name suggests, is a tale of two cities: one, a paradigm for racial and social integration and progressive urban living; the other, an unattainable (and unaffordable) idealized promise land of unlimited employment that can only be reached by boarding congested rural buses or commuting from neighboring shantytowns that have sprouted along the city limits, housing other pioneering migrant laborers who, years earlier, made the same journey in search of similar opportunity. A tour of the city’s cross-grid traffic system, described as the intersection of two major axes (that implicitly form an ‘X’ mark), provides an astute introduction to the city’s novel urban design, relegating the placement of cemeteries to the outskirts of the major axes so that funeral processions (and symbolically, death) never cross the city’s major intersection. Juxtaposing Brasilia’s all modern architecture and meticulous construction of planned communities with interviews of blue collar workers living in makeshift houses, itinerant workers from the provinces who leave their families behind to work in the city’s ongoing construction projects, and low level civil service employees who were forced to relocate their often large families into cramped apartments with the centralization of government offices in the new capital, de Andrade reinforces the dichotomy of urbanization and gentrification as intrinsic processes of institutionalized socioeconomic segregation (a theme that also surfaces in José Luis Guerín’s En Construcción).

BRASILIA, OR THE VIEW FROM A MOVING AUTOMOBILE

Whereas during the economic crises these utopias existed only on paper, the dream of the modern ideal city became a reality in the prosperity of the 1950’s. When the Brazilian city planner Lucio Costa was commissioned in 1957 with designing the new Brazilian capital from the ground up, he merged the ideas of Le Corbusier and Wright. The plan for Brasilia resembles that of an airplane and, interfused with green areas, the city was designed in such a way that it should primarily be navigated by car and be seen through the car window. In those days, the view from a moving automobile did, in fact, become a principle of urban planning. Kevin Lynch captured the essence of this tendency in his book The Image of the City (1960), in which he illustrated how industrial American cities like Jersey City and Los Angeles—so full of contradictions and defined entirely by automobile traffic—could be perceived as aesthetic phenomena and be articulated in a planning context. 

BRAZILIANIZATION OF BRASILIA

[…] Brasilia is not a perfect city, and like all cities it has aspects that don’t work. Like everywhere in Brazil, inequalities exist, as do spatial exclusions and frustration with the slow pace of necessary transformation. But what is most interesting is how Brazilians have adapted to these challenges, and how they have brought Brazilian traditions from across the country with them to Brasilia while developing new urban practices. Also like everywhere in Brazil, bars spread their tables out onto the sidewalks, and social life flourishes in public spaces—only in Brasilia it is within a rich modernist design that stretches across the Brazilian plain. Indeed, in our explorations of the city we found that the people have Brazilianized Brasilia. 

The Brazilianization of Brasilia 

CHARACTERS

From Le Poeme de ‘Angle Droit by Le Corbusier

I am a builder
of houses and of palaces
I live among men
amid their tangled web
of being.
To make architecture is
to make a creature. To be
full to fill oneself to have filled
oneself to burst exult
icy cold amid the
complexities become a happy
young dog.
become order.
The modern cathedrals
will be built upon this
alignment of fish
of horses of Amazons
constancy rightness
patience waiting desire
and vigilance.
Will emerge I can feel it
the splendour of raw concrete
and the greatness that was
essential to imagine the marriage
of lines
weighing up the forms
Weighing up…

CINEMA

“What if, from its very inception, the cinema was — and still is — precisely a way of organizing masses of human beings into processes of imagining, producing and exchanging stories and images, that at one and the same time solicits our sense of futurity while foreclosing our hopes that we might be agents ourselves of that future? The cinema makes us modern, and it does so by announcing to us that the future is already here, so, naturally, what usually follows this future-that-is-already-here is nothing short of apocalypse — an apocalypse we can only imagine resolving itself in our favor through some kind of heroic return to a recognizable, if reconfigured, Edenic, long-gone past.
Cinema implants the technologies of our ultimate destruction into the very means by which we create our dreams and fantasies: how else can we account for the fact that no one seems to notice that Meliès’ A Trip to the Moon stages a massive and apocalyptic race war as its dénouement, or that Interstellar and its thousands of antecedents locate the future as the simultaneous destruction and reproduction of the social relations that defined our (fantasies of our) quaint, rural past? Cinema congeals around its individual heroes and heroines precisely this obvious refusal of the idea of a collective, co-created future.

So, when we worry about the future of the cinema, we worry about the future of that which produces, at the very core of its being, a no-future future. We worry about the future of this thing with no future, which constantly solicits us to imagine, finance, create and exhibit to each other this no-future, this walking death of our imagined past.”

23 Fragments on the Future of Cinema

CONFLICT OF VARYING SPEEDS

The formal coherency of Brasilia would prove to be too static to support the dynamism and complexity of urban development. As early as the 1960s, the first indications of what Rem Koolhaas ascertained in the middle of the 1990s began to emerge, namely, that there was a conflict “between the slowness of architecture and the volatility of the market”. The discrepancy between the pace of machines and of humans preoccupied urban utopians in the 1960s and 1970s. Yona Friedman published the manifesto L’architecture mobile in 1958 and, in 1960, La ville spatiale. Friedman envisioned a megastructure, in other words a city that suited industrial reality. It was to be capable of flexibly adapting to the movements and requirements of its users. A static framework on high supports would be extended above existing cities, creating an infrastructure within which the individual parts could be continually changed. Cedric Price pursued similar goals in London in the 1960s. His project Fun Palace—a precursor to the Centre Georges Pompidou—was also a flexible megastructure that was intended to culturally reactivate the north of London, which was scarred by industrial decline and unemployment. Shortly thereafter, Ron Herron built upon Price’s projects. In the Archigram magazine, he developed a plan for a Walking City, which foresaw mobile, highly engineered cities that would be able to move throughout the world and offer their services. The city should no longer be structured according to and around transport routes, but rather it should become such a route in and of itself.

CONTRASTING CONCEPTS OF HARMONY IN ARCHITECTURE

http://www.katarxis3.com/Alexander_Eisenman_Debate.htm

excerpt from the 1982 debate between the modernist architect Christopher Alexander and deconstructivist designer Peter Eisenman from “Contrasting Concepts of Harmony in Architecture:”

“CA: I do believe the history of architecture in the last few decades has been one of specifically and repeatedly trying to avoid any primitive feeling whatsoever.

PE: This is a wonderful coincidence, because I too am concerned with the subject of roofs. Let me answer it in a very deep way. I would argue that the pitched roof is — as Gaston Bachelard points out — one of the essential characteristics of “houseness”. It was the extension of the vertebrate structure which sheltered and enclosed man. Michel Foucault has said that when man began to study man in the 19th century, there was a displacement of man from the center. The representation of the fact that man was no longer the center of the world, no longer the arbiter, and, therefore, no longer controlling artifacts, was reflected in a change from the vertebrate-center type of structure to the center-as-void. That distance, which you call alienation or lack of feeling, may have been merely a natural product of this new cosmology.

The non-vertebrate structure is an attempt to express that change in the cosmology. It is not merely a stylistic issue, or one that goes against feeling, or the alienation that man feels. When man began to study himself, he began to lose his position in the center. The loss of center is expressed by that alienation. Whether understood by modern architecture or not, what Modernism was attempting to explain by its form was that alienation. Now that technology has gone rampant, maybe we need to rethink the cosmology. Can we go back to a cosmology of anthropocentrism? I am not convinced that it is appropriate.

Le Corbusier once defined architecture as having to do with a window which is either too large or too small, but never the right size. Once it was the right size it was no longer functioning. When it is the right size, that building is merely a building. The only way in the presence of architecture that is that feeling, that need for something other, when the window was either too large or too small.

CORPOS INFORMATICOS

Corpos Informáticos does not make urban intervention – it makes urban composition…. If art is life, it composes and decomposes. In the streets and alleys, it develops disorder so that the passerby becomes a wanderer.
(Bia Medeiros, founding member of Corpos Informáticos)

http://www.corpos.org/
http://corpos.blogspot.com/

CULTS

“People don’t join cults; they are tricked into affiliation in something misrepresented to them. No one needs to “wake up.” Cult members are not asleep. In fact, they are more hypervigilant as making a mistake has dire consequences in a cult environment. Roach had charisma, no doubt about it. But life for an ordinary cult member is dull and boring. The rituals add some excitement. People don’t snap out of cults, in fact there’s a gradual dissolving of the self. Most cult members leave voluntarily. Idealizing may help explain the first part of cult involvement, but people stay because they are trained to be afraid through the process of indoctrination. Yes, cult members are thought to be, mostly by the press and people who should know better, stupid or not intelligent. But all successful cults manipulate emotionally and physically, and intelligence won’t protect you from that. Try making good decisions when you’re sleep and protein deprived.” http://psyris.com/cultspecialist

DEEPFAKE

A deepfake is content, generated by an artificial intelligence, that is authentic in the eyes of a human being. The word deepfake is a combination of the words ‘deep learning’ and ‘fake’ and primarily relates to content generated by an artificial neural network, a branch of machine learning. The most common form of deepfakes involve the generation and manipulation of human imagery. This technology has creative and productive applications. For example, realistic video dubbing of foreign films, education through the reanimation of historical figures, and virtually trying on clothes while shopping. There are also numerous online communities devoted to creating deepfake memes for entertainment, such as music videos portraying the face of actor Nicolas Cage. However, despite the positive applications of deepfakes, the technology is infamous for its unethical and malicious aspects. At the end of 2017, a Reddit user by the name of ‘deepfakes’ was using deep learning to swap faces of celebrities into pornographic videos, and was posting them online. The discovery caused a media frenzy and a large number of new deepfake videos began to emerge thereafter. In 2018, BuzzFeed released a deep fake video of former president Barack Obama giving a talk on the subject. The video as made using the Reddit user’s software (FakeApp), and raised concerns over identity theft, impersonation, and spread of misinformation on social media. Following these events, the subject of deep fakes gained traction in the academic community , and the technology has been rapidly advancing over the last few years. Since 2017, the number of papers published on the subject rose from 3 to over 250 (2018-20).

https://arxiv.org/pdf/2004.11138.pdf

 

DISURBANSIM

Public-House for 100 People (1930) – Disurbanism

“The exceptional growth in the strength, quality, quantity, and speed of the means of mechanical transport now permits separation from centers: space is here measured by time. And this time is itself beginning to be shortened.
The revolution in transportation, the automobilization of the territory, reverses all the usual arguments about the inevitability of congestion and the crowding together of buildings and apartments.

We ask ourselves, where will we resettle all the urban population and enterprises? Answer: not according to the principle of crowding, but according to the principle of maximum freedom, ease and speed of communications possibilities.

All these linked functions make up a single organizational complex. But the city was also a complex. Having destroyed one form of the city, will we not be creating a new city? If you like a quarrel about terminology, let this complex be a city.

Let us call it, shall we say, the Red city of the planet of communism.”

Mikhail Okhitovich, “On the Problem of the City”

DUPLITECTURE

Venice Water Town Hangzhou, scale slightly different to the original.

Duplitecture is an intentional, functioning copy of a pre-existing, and often familiar, piece of architecture. For example, “Hangzhou’s replication of Venice takes duplitecture to the city-level.”

A few examples in China, the site of the term’s inspiration, include an Eiffel Tower in Hangzhou and Shanghai’s “Thames Town” . Ranging from single structures to entire communities, duplitecture is distinguished from mere models or miniatures (as are common in theme parks or historical institutions) by its use – duplitecture is not decorative or merely artistic.

The term was coined by Bianca Bosker in her 2013 book, Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China. She points out that while China is notorious for knocking off intellectual property (in the case of consumer technology and fashion as well as duplitecture), copying isn’t considered bad in and of itself. In Chinese aesthetic tradition, creating a good copy is valuable and respectable, not only as a great learning tool, but as a showcase of technical ability.

In his piece for Wired, “Imitation Can Be the Sincerest Form of Innovation”, Clive Thompson quotes a Chinese art scholar, relating a good copy to “a wild goose that flies along with its companion.” Thompson also points out that even “outright art forgery” has never been considered as dire a crime in China as it is in the West. He continues, quoting Bosker: “People in the US look at copies of these buildings and go, ‘How unoriginal!’ But in China they go, ‘Isn’t this awesome? Look what we’ve done! We made the Eiffel Tower!’”

Of course the human-drawn lines separating concepts of tribute, homage, allusion, reference, copy, plagiarism, and duplicate are easily blurred – to some, copying is even a religious virtue.

https://archinect.com/news/article/114120516/archinect-s-lexicon-duplitecture

ECLECTIC CITY

The Eclectic City is older than Brasília, but not by much. It was founded in 1956, when the disciples of self-made messiah Master Yokaanam (formerly Lieutenant Oceano de Sa of the Brazilian Air Force) followed him into the wilderness of the Central Plateau, just months before the new capital’s construction got underway. Members of the brotherhood like to suggest a causal link between the two events, but if it was part of Yokaanam’s plan to bring the national capital along with him when he left Rio de Janeiro, that was merely a small first stage on the way to a much more ambitious goal: to establish here the nucleus of a great, global civilization, ruled by cosmic justice and love.

Yokaanam received the assignment one day in 1944, in the midst of a routine flight over central Brazil, when a mysterious entity appeared to him and told of the glorious destiny that awaited him on the ground directly below. At the time, the young pilot’s future plans did not include carving out a life in the middle of nowhere, and he told the mysterious entity as much. The being made no reply, but almost instantly Yokaanam found his plane plunging headlong into a close encounter with the promised land, and when he came to in a hospital bed, he thought better of his reluctance. The very next day he began preparing for the move.

But it wasn’t just the strong-arming of higher powers that gave Yokaanam’s project its urgency. Like many people in close contact with the psychic dimensions since then, he’d been informed that the central highlands of Brazil were among the few regions on Earth marked for exemption from the earthquakes, floods, and pestilence that were to usher in the coming age of spiritual plenty. And he had it on good authority as well that these end times were fast approaching, in the form of a huge planet, 300 times the size of ours, winging its way silently and invisibly earthwards for a near collision that would sweep the less psychically evolved two thirds of humanity out into space and set the great transition rolling.

“In those days this was something a crazy person would say, a nut,” says Brother Myron with the cheerful calm that marks his every utterance. “But today, I believe scientists have acquired some information about this planet. NASA itself, if I am not mistaken, now knows about it, and it seems they’ve even given it a name — Barnard I.”

If at times Brother Myron sounds (and, even in his prophetlike raiment, looks) less like a devout spiritualist than like a pocket-protected, factoid-friendly technocrat, that’s no surprise, or even much of a contradiction: before an inner voice summoned him to the Eclectic City four years ago, he trained and worked as an economist, and ultimately the career change wasn’t as radical as it might seem. For decades Brazil’s social engineers have been poring obsessively over the economic indicators, looking in desperation for a pathway out of the thralldom of foreign debt and chronic semidevelopment and into the sovereign prosperity long promised by Brazil’s abundant natural resources. Myron’s quest is not much different, with the notable exception that he has actually found the pathway, and knows that following it is just a matter of waiting, attentively and virtuously, for the cosmic plan to unfold.

And unfold it does. The Master’s spirit may have departed his wiry, grey-bearded body over seven years ago, but with every new pilgrim who follows an inner voice to the Central Plateau, Yokaanam’s mission comes closer to completion. For those who live in it, the Eclectic City by its continued existence proves what Brasília’s futuristic grandeur only hints at: One day Brazil will lead the nations of the world, humbling the great Northern powers of today. One day New York City, and all the banks Brazil has sold its economic soul to for a shot at becoming a player on the world stage, will lie sunken beneath the waves of the cataclysmic leap into the Aquarian Age, while Brasília shines pristine and safe, a haven for the enlightened elite that is gathering there even now.

“Yes, you all are the First World,” says Myron, aiming a serene smile at his American visitor. “And we here are what you call the Third World. Very well. But one day” — and here his serenity strains to suppress a mischievous glee — “one day all this will change.”

Julian Dibbell, “Tropical Millennium”

FABLE OF AN ARCHITECT

Architecture like building doors
to open; or like framing the open;
building not to maroon or bind
nor building secrets to conceal;
building doors open… onto doors;
houses naught but doors and roof.

The architect reveals for man
(open homes might heal the world)
doors-through-which, not doors against;
by which to unleash reason, light and air.

2.
Till from fear of the untold free
he spurned living in the open clear.
Where spans would open, he walled
up dark to shut; where glass, concrete sheer;
till man re-pent: in chapel-womb,
pampers of the nave, foetus once again.
(Melo Neto 1968)

FICTION OF THE MODERN BY LOUIDGI BELTRAME

Brasilia was the project of a politician looking for an architectural legacy. When Juscelino Kubitschek was elected president of Brazil in 1955 on the slogan “fifty years of progress in five,” he accelerated a long-planned national scheme to locate the new capital in the interior of the country, away from Rio de Janeiro and the pall of its colonial past. Kubitschek commissioned a master plan for the new capital from Lucio Costa, who turned to Brazilian architect Niemeyer for the design of all the major buildings. Seen today, Brasilia’s national congress, cathedral, cultural complex and supreme federal court all bear Niemeyer’s distinctive mark. All are monumental in scale, embracing the sensuous, curving forms Niemeyer is famous for. Seen from the air, the city is a huge map of Modernism, with white, half-spherical forms resting between precisely strutted towers, and hyperboloid structures surrounded by perfectly flat plazas and pristine reflecting pools.

FICTIONS OF EVERY KIND

Everything is becoming science fiction. From the margins of an almost invisible literature has sprung the intact reality of the 20th century […] Given its subject matter, its eager acceptance of naiveté, optimism and possibility, the role and importance of science fiction can only increase. I believe that the reading of science fiction should be compulsory. Fortunately, compulsion will not be necessary, as more and more people are reading it voluntarily. Even the worst science fiction is better — using as the yardstick of merit the mere survival of its readers and their imaginations — than the best conventional fiction. The future is a better key to the present than the past.

JG BALLARD – http://www.jgballard.ca/non_fiction/jgb_fictions.html

FIRST HYMN TO BRASILIA

Star of the Brazilian Plateau
more than a star, novel constellation
detached from the blue of the firmament
and fallen from the open spaces of immensity

Your light is no longer light, for it inflames
any unbeliever who comes to see you;
and, soon, your heat will transform
the course of seeing in order to believe.

BRASILIA! BRASILIA!

FORBIDDEN PLANET

G

GAGARIN, YURI

President Jânio da Silva Quadros (left) and Major Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (left). On August 3, 1961 Jânio decorated the Russian astronaut with the Order of the Southern Cross – the same award he gave Che Guevara 15 days later.

H

IMAGES OF BODIES

Lately 3D scanners have been deployed as a new technology of truth. 3D scanning equipment is being used for police work, to investigate homicides, accidents and explosions and also to investigate the whereabouts of missing people.  3D scanners generate pointclouds, measurements in virtual space- which can in turn be printed and rendered as 3D objects.

A lidar scanner captures data through laser, white light or infrared refraction. In the words of one of the main manufacturers, it:  „(measures) a scene with an extraordinary level of speed, accuracy and completeness.”[2] and transforms it into a pointcloud in virtual space. The points correspond to locational measurements.

To quote a few samples from the website of Leica Geosystems: „This technology is used globally by law enforcement agencies for crime scene investigation, vulnerability and threat assessments, post-blast investigation, police action inquiries, accident investigations and more.“

The ScanStation is objective and completely measures everything it can “see” for later analysis and diagramming.“

In this terminology, we immediately recognize many tropes that are common in more traditional discussions of documentary evidence. The new technology promises all the things that documentary representation promised ever since: objectivity, full and truthful representation of events, only this time augmented by an additional dimension. A 3D point cloud is no longer a flattened image, missing depth and extension. It is a copy with a volume, dutifully replicating the shape of the initial object.

So what then does the notion of documentary mean, if applied to the 3D replication of objects and situations? What is then the relation of 3D technologies to traditional ideas of documentary evidence? How are notions of documentary truth updated or displaced by 3D technologies? How does the ability to create 3D reproductions affect ideas about documentary truth? What does it mean to replace representation by replication?

Hito Steyerl:
https://www.eipcp.net/e/projects/heterolingual/files/hitosteyerl/index.html

ISOMORPHISM

Brazilian concrete poetry was launched by Haroldo de Campos, Augusto de Campos, and Décio Pignatari, who at the time were barely in their twenties. These gifted and ambitious young poets issued the “Pilot Plan for Concrete Poetry” in 1958, a manifesto whose title and spirit mirrored the modernist aesthetics of the International style in architecture and celebrated the construction of Brasília. Opposing a vague “poetry of expression,” which had thrived in the postwar period (the so called Generation of 1945), concrete poetry laid particular emphasis on the material elements of language, doing away with the concept of the line of verse and substituting it by visual arrangements of words on a page that could be read in any direction. This move attempted to replace a discursive mode of language by an “ideogrammic” method of poetic composition. As the “Pilot Plan for Concrete Poetry” stated: 

Concrete poetry: product of a critical evolution of forms. Assuming that the historical cycle of verse (as formal-rhythmical unit) is closed, concrete poetry begins by being aware of graphic space as structural agent. Qualified space: space-time structure instead of mere linear-temporal development.

Furthermore, instead of espousing a vision of language that blindly acquiesced to the Saussurean divide between signifier and signified, Brazilian concrete poetry aimed at remotivating language by integrating sound, image, and meaning to the highest degree, a “verbivocovisual” approach where no single element is privileged. The strict correspondence they sought between these elements could be termed “isomorphism,” or similarity in form. The form, in other words, aspired to reflect the content: “We call isomorphism the form-subject conflict looking for identification”.

In an article published in 1957, one year before the “Plano Piloto,” Haroldo Campos had elaborated on the notion of isomorphism as the result of an evolution from the phenomenology of composition to a more advanced “mathematics” of composition: “The passage from the phenomenology of composition to the mathematics of composition coincides with another passage: that from the organic-physiological to the geometric-isomorphic”; this advanced stage would effectively entail the “elimination of the descriptive poem: the content of the poem will always be its structure” 

Odile Cisneros: https://www.erudit.org/fr/revues/ttr/2012-v25-n2-ttr0844/1018802ar.pdf

JULIETA GUIMARÃES COSTA

While Brasilia was initially hailed for its futuristic vision and scale, it later came under stinging criticism as a city without soul whose wide avenues were dangerous for pedestrians. Mr. Costa felt impelled to defend his work.

”Don’t bother visiting Brasilia if you’ve already formed an opinion and have preconceived ideas,” he once wrote. ”Stay where you are. Let them say what they want, Brasilia is a miracle.”

Mr. Costa gradually withdrew from social life after 1956, when his wife, Julieta, died in a car accident after Mr. Costa fell asleep while driving. In recent years, the architect suffered from glaucoma and cataracts and was gradually losing his vision, said his daughter, Maria Elisa Costa.

”No, I’m only one person,” she remembered her father answering.

https://www.nytimes.com/1998/06/16/arts/lucio-costa-is-dead-at-96-planned-futuristic-brasilia.html

KUBITSCHEK, JUSCELINO

LIQUID MODERNITY

Forms of modern life may differ in quite a few respects – but what unites them all is precisely their fragility, temporariness, vulnerability and inclination to constant change. To ‘be modern’ means to modernize – compulsively, obsessively; not so much just ‘to be’, let alone to keep its identity intact, but forever ‘becoming’, avoiding completion, staying underdefined. Each new structure which replaces the previous one as soon as it is declared old-fashioned and past its use-by date is only another momentary settlement – acknowledged as temporary and ‘until further notice’. Being always, at any stage and at all times, ‘post-something’ is also an undetachable feature of modernity. As time flows on, ‘modernity’ changes its forms in the manner of the legendary Proteus . . . What was some time ago dubbed (erroneously) ‘post-modernity’ and what I’ve chosen to call, more to the point, ‘liquid modernity’, is the growing conviction that change is the only permanence, and uncertainty the only certainty. A hundred years ago ‘to be modern’ meant to chase ‘the final state of perfection’ — now it means an infinity of improvement, with no ‘final state’ in sight and none desired. (kl 82)

Zygmunt Bauman

LISPECTOR, CLARICE

Clarice Lispector was born in 1920 to a Jewish family in western Ukraine. As a result of the anti-Semitic violence they endured, the family fled to Brazil in 1922, and Clarice Lispector grew up in Recife. Following the death of her mother when Clarice was nine, she moved to Rio de Janeiro with her father and two sisters, and she went on to study law. With her husband, who worked for the foreign service, she lived in Italy, Switzerland, England, and the United States, until they separated and she returned to Rio in 1959; she died there in 1977. Since her death, Clarice Lispector has earned universal recognition as Brazil’s greatest modern writer.

“For many Brazilians she is an icon of their national literature, [known] as the most important Jewish writer since Kafka. She is a woman who asked, and answered, all the essentially Jewish questions: about the beauty and absurdity of a world in which God is dead, and the mad people who are determined to seek Him out anyway.

This great figure is duly celebrated in Brazil and throughout Latin America. Her arresting face adorns postage stamps. Her name lends class to luxury condominiums. Her works are sold in subway vending machines. One Spanish admirer wrote that educated Brazilians of a certain age all knew her, had been to her house and have some anecdote to tell about her, much in the way Argentines do with Borges.”

– Benjamin Moser

MODULO

Oscar Niemeyer. Modulo. 9 1958, 2

NATIONALIST MODERNISM

“Brasília or Maracangalha*?”

“In spite of his creative imagination … Lúcio Costa tends to yield to anachronisms … Lúcio’s plan envisions the city’s monumental axis above the municipal sector, beyond the ‘automobile parking lots following one beltway and the barracks following the other’ (quoting the architect). (But Pedrosa exclaims:) What barracks are these? According to him, they are really army troop barracks … (And he continues:) First, one asks oneself: Why these barracks within the city? Second, what are the specific functions of these troops when the new capital … is sheltered from sudden enemy landing and can only be reached by air? There is no military justification for detaching land troops … unless these troops were not meant for defense against external enemies, but, at certain moments deemed opportune, for driving their tanks, in the way we know all too well, through the city’s central axis, in order to affect the inhabitants themselves and weigh … upon the deliberations of one or more of the powers of the Republic. But why change, then? Why Brasília? Why dream of utopias?”

https://globalbody.home.blog/2020/04/10/nationalist-modernism-brasilia-or-maracangalha/

NEIVA, TIA

According to the popular narrative of the Valley’s origins, Tia Neiva was a young widow with a third-grade education and four small children when she moved to Brasília in 1957 to work as a truck driver in the ultramoderno capital city then under construction. Soon afterwards, she began to suffer from visual and auditory hallucinations that persisted until her death in 1985. Initially terrified by these “visions of illuminated beings, visions of deformed beings, disequilibrium, conflicts,” as a doctrinal tract described them, Tia Neiva soon became convinced that they were visitations from various spiritual and extraterrestrial beings, among them Pai Seta Branca and his female counterpart, Mãe Yara. In the course of her contact with these and other “spirits of light,” Tia Neiva claimed to receive esoteric teachings about the extraterrestrial origins—and eventual destiny—of humanity on the distant planet of Capela. Following Pai Seta Branca’s directions, Tia Neiva established a small spiritual community in 1959. Ten years later, after the dissolution of that group and convinced she had been chosen to prepare humanity for a new era referred to as the Third Millennium or the Age of Aquarius, Tia Neiva, together with Mario Sassi, founded the Valley of the Dawn.

– Kelly E. Hayes, “Intergalactic Space-Time Travelers, Envisioning Globalization in Brazil’s Valley of the Dawn”

NEUROLOGICAL AND ARCHITECTURAL SINUOSITIES: THE NIEMEYER BROTHERS

In a family of 7 siblings in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2 of the most remarkable national personalities decided to follow different fields at the beginning of the 20th century. Their life’s work would, however, intersect in at least 2 respects: the quest for innovation and a passion for sinuosity. The achievements of Paulo and Oscar Niemeyer are landmarks in the history of neurosurgery and architecture in Brazil. Among his many innovations in neurosurgery, Paulo Niemeyer first described the transventricular amygdalohippocampectomy in 1957 and introduced the operating microscope to neurosurgery in Brazil in 1971. His brother Oscar became a world-renowned representative of the modern architecture movement, sculpting graceful curves from concrete.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20871456 Cavalcanti DD1, Guasti JA, Preul MC.

NIEMEYER IN ISRAEL & PALESTINE

From an article by Adam Curtis on the 100 year ethnic struggle and clashing utopian visions in Palestine. Niemeyer would later contribute to the planning of Tel Aviv’s architecture and the Dizengoff Center.

Starting in the 1930s, the Israelis set out to try and build in Palestine the new kind of Zionist society that Theodor Herzl had laid out in his novel Altneuland – Old New Land. The new capital was called Tel Aviv – which was the Hebrew title given to Herzl’s novel by it’s translator. It roughly means “a new spring coming from an old mound”.
The new city was constructed as a grand experiment in town planning. It was based on plans drawn up by the Scottish town planner, Patrick Geddes. His ideas about how cities could be planned came from the same utopian traditions as Herzl’s belief in a socialist planned society. What linked them was the technocratic belief that flourished in the 1930s – and again in the 1950s – that you could shape the environment around human beings as a total system that would make them stronger, more confident and morally better human beings.  It was a grand dream. Here is Patrick Geddes.

And here is the utopian city that was built according to his plans – it was called “The White City”. Many of the architects who actually designed it had been trained in the 1930s at the Bauhaus school and were deeply influenced by the ideas of Le Corbusier. One pamphlet described the ideas behind it:

“The city is an experimental laboratory for the implementation of modern principles of planning and architecture, it has influenced the whole country.

The plan was based on the idea of creating a new place for a new society, where the Zionist ideal would come true through the Modern Movement. It is also a synthesis between Oriental and Western cultures.”

NIEMEYER MASKS

In Niemeyer and Costa Masks, Architects Protest the City of Brasilia, © Danilo Verpa/Folhapress

Wearing masks with the faces of Oscar Niemeyer and Lúcio Costa, architects and urban planners swarmed the 50th Annual IAB (Institute of Architects of Brazil) Awards in Rio de Janeiro this week. The architects were protesting a contract the city government of Brasilia struck with a Singaporean firm to create an urban masterplan outlining the next 50 years of Brasilia’s future.

The protesters, who argue that any urban revision of the city ought to be undertaken by Brazilians themselves, chanted in homage to the late Oscar Niemeyer: “Niemeyer, yes! Brasilia by Singapore, no!”

http://www.archdaily.com/318939/in-niemeyer-and-costa-masks-architects-protest-the-city-of-brasilia/

NIEMEYER: THE FUTURE IS LUMPY

[T]he problem starts. It’s a familiar one for Niemeyer followers, namely the disjunction between the idea and the execution. At Brasília you rarely feel this is an issue, such is the quality of construction and maintenance. But here, it’s the main thing you feel. The ramp leading to the larger dome is a case in point. The idea is clear enough, a drawn line translated into concrete. It’s sweeping gesture in pen turned into 3D. But the execution in concrete is all lumps and bulges which can be seen from a distance. Close up, the ramp has a highly irregular quality, and is in parts quite angular, a representation of the building process. The same is true of all the big buildings here: a pure form on paper in turns into a botched exercise in reality. It’s the future remade as a primary school art project.

The question is, does it matter? As far as I could tell in my conversation with Niemeyer it did not. To focus on the details was to misunderstand the scale of his imagination. His architecture was a representation of an ideal world that would come to pass at some indeterminate time in the future, and in which such minor details would be taken care of.

https://richardjwilliams.net/2013/11/10/niemeyer-the-future-is-lumpy/

OF OTHER SPACES: UTOPIAS AND HETEROTOPIAS

The space in which we live, which draws us out of ourselves, in which the erosion of our lives, our time and our history occurs, the space that claws and gnaws at us, is also, in itself, a heterogeneous space. In other words, we do not live in a kind of void, inside of which we could place individuals and things. We do not live inside a void that could be colored with diverse shades of light, we live inside a set of relations that delineates sites which are irreducible to one another and absolutely not superimposable on one another.

http://web.mit.edu/allanmc/wSww/foucault1.pdf

PILOT PLAN

POST EXOTICISM

• Neither revolutions nor dreams turn out well. It’s about that, too; about nostalgia overwhelmed by bolshevism which hasn’t fallen apart; about passionate, violently unforgettable and never-forgotten daydreams; about love in a vacuum; about horizons in a vacuum; always within reach, always ruined.

• Shamanism implies a mediation between indescribable forces, known only to the shaman, and a clientele of beggars, anxious querents, and sometimes tourists who have come at random. Mediation takes the form of a dancing trance and a breath. Don’t tell us that the core of post-exotic processes and the basis of its relationship with its sympathizers can’t be found there.

• Destroying reality until not a stone remains, living in the ruins of reality, then clearing the way to welcome, out of the ruins, those who survived.

• Getting images out. Transmitting images. A large number are black and white, but images rather than words. Strong images rather than useless language.

• We are internationalists, cosmopolitans, opposed to discrimination, fervent opponents of capitalism, and even though our defeat has made our minimum program temporarily obsolete, we remain members of a society founded on radical, fanatic egalitarianism without any tolerance for old masters, and steeped not in blood but in intelligence, freedom, and brotherhood.

http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/post-exotic-novels-n%C8%AFvelles-and-novelists-part-one/

QUEERING ARCHITECTURE

To speak of queering space or architecture is to speak of a utopian gesture, of what Henri Lefebvre once described as experimenting with utopia: “the exploration of human possibilities, with the help of the image and the imagination, accompanied by a ceaseless criticism and a ceaseless reference to the given problematic in the “real”.”  To experiment with utopia is to play with “imaginary variations on themes and exigencies defined by the real as understood in the broadest sense; it is to see problems posed by reality and to see the “virtualities held within it”.”

The aim in this instance then will be to imaginatively explore the possibilities of queering space/architecture at the confluence of three concerns: the significance of queer thought and practice, as a response to sexism; architecture as a practice of creating spaces that contributes to the construction of repressive identities of sex, gender and sexuality; the meaning and possibility of a liberatory queered and queering architecture.  The concept that will serve to unify these three concerns will be that of matrice, the matrices of gender and space.  Our question then is can we imagine architectural space in such a manner that the queering of our lives becomes possible?

Carlos Jacques:https://autonomies.org/2016/10/struggles-for-space-queering-straight-space-thinking-towards-a-queer-architecture-4/

SEEING LIKE A STATE

“European architects provide some of the most extreme cases of this state-sponsored obsession with rebuilding society from scratch. In the late 1920s, the famous French architect Le Corbusier (1887–1965) was commissioned to design one structure in the new capital of the USSR. Not to be contained, “He proposed, in plans prepared in only six weeks, a vast rebuilding of Moscow.” His idea was a model of geometric perfection, with straight streets meeting at right angles, along which residents could be shuttled every day from their colossal, rectangular apartment buildings to their colossal, rectangular workplaces.

But this plan went too far. One Soviet critic “attacked Le Corbusier’s Moscow as a ‘city of nowhere, … a city on paper, extraneous to living nature, located in a desert through which not even a river must be allowed to pass (since a curve would contradict the style).'”

Le Corbusier never saw his own grand plans for Moscow (or Paris) realized. But his principles of design did inspire Lucio Costa, the architect who planned Brazil’s new capital city, Brasília. Construction on Brasília began in 1957 “on an empty site … nearly 1000 kilometers from Rio de Janeiro.” This was “a clean tablecloth,” a place to start again without any need to compromise with existing human life.

“The city was then designed from the ground up, according to an elaborate and unified plan. Housing, work, recreation, traffic, and public administration were each spatially segregated.” Costa planned out enormous, empty, square plazas for recreation, and gigantic, geometric monuments for the glorification of the state. The planners even decided how many citizens would reside in Brasília: 557,000.

But when people first came to live in the newly constructed city, they found this perfectly legible landscape deeply disorienting. “Compared to life in Rio and Sao Paulo, with their color and variety, the daily round in bland, repetitive, austere Brasília … resembled life in a sensory deprivation tank.” And the new residents even coined the term brasilite — meaning “Brasília-itis” — to describe the effect of living there.”

From: https://mises.org/library/seeing-state

SILVA GUERRA, JOSÉ

SITUATIONIST THESES ON TRAFFIC

“A mistake made by all the city planners is to consider the private automobile (and its by-products, such as the motorcycle) as essentially a means of transportation. In reality, it is the most notable material symbol of the notion of happiness that developed capitalism tends to spread throughout the society. The automobile is at the center of this general propaganda, both as supreme good of an alienated life and as essential product of the capitalist market.

To want to redesign architecture to accord with the needs of the present massive and parasitical existence of private automobiles reflects the most unrealistic misapprehension of where the real problems lie. Instead, architecture must be transformed to accord with the whole development of the society, criticizing all the transitory values linked to obsolete forms of social relationships (in the first rank of which is the family).

The breaking up of the dialectic of the human milieu in favor of automobiles (the projected freeways in Paris will entail the demolition of thousands of houses and apartments although the housing crisis is continually worsening) masks its irrationality under pseudopractical justifications. But it is practically necessary only in the context of a specific social set-up. Those who believe that the particulars of the problem are permanent want in fact to believe in the permanence of the present society.”

– Guy Debord

SKIN

Does Oscar Niemeyer’s architecture consistently explore a particular range of variation on the closing/opening and opacity/transparency scales? Are perceptible variations related to a particular phase of his work, to architectural themes, to the built up or natural surroundings or to any other aspects? How do the architect’s choices affect people vis-à-vis the various performance aspects of his architecture? – Frederico de Holanda

SPACE SYNTAX

Space syntax is a science-based, human-focused approach that investigates relationships between spatial layout and a range of social, economic and environmental phenomena.
These phenomena include patterns of movement, awareness and interaction; density, land use and land value; urban growth and societal differentiation; safety and crime distribution.
Space syntax was pioneered in the 1970s by Prof Bill Hillier, Prof Julienne Hanson and colleagues at The Bartlett, University College London. Today, space syntax is used and developed in hundreds of universities and educational institutions as well as professional practices worldwide. Built on quantitative analysis and geospatial computer technology, space syntax provides a set of theories and methods for the analysis of spatial configurations of all kinds and at all scales.

From: https://www.spacesyntax.net/

 

TEMPO DE BRASILIA

‘Tempo de Brasilia’ does not just refer to the years lived in the capital, but the capacity to have supported, year after year, hardships of every kind and, furthermore, the ability to prove these adversities by means of documents whose emblem and guarantee is, in turn, a paper with the registration number that everyone carries with them. […]

As well as being a concept relating to a chronological phenomenon, that is, the ‘creation of intervals in social life’, ‘Tempo de Brasilia’ refers to the configuration of what I have called, inspired by Charles Peirce, a community of belief. For five years or longer, in various parts of the Federal District, thousands of people wait for this social metamorphosis, which will anoint them with the ‘Tempo de Brasilia’ necessary to receive a lot. During this wait, the very belief in the wait takes shape and with it the collective acceptance of a habit. While they wait for the day when they will have ‘Tempo de Brasilia,’ the roots of this belief penetrate slowly and deeply into individuals.

[…] ‘Tempo de Brasilia’ primarily concerns the depth and scope of this mutual involvement between the government and people. Individually, many doubt whether the lots will be ceded and whether the wait is worthwhile. However, these doubts fail to shake the community of belief produced by the innumerable daily actions that place common people in contact with government officials, the former with their ever-changing lives and the latter with the most recent demands, the government’s latest classificatory criteria. More than an item in an equation established by social engineers, ‘Tempo de Brasilia’ is itself a synthetic formula derived from life in this place, characterized by the government’s presence in the day-to-day life of everyone.

On people and variables: the ethnography of a political belief by Antonádia Borges

http://socialsciences.scielo.org/scielo.php?pid=S0104-93132006000200004&script=sci_arttext

 

TERMITES


Termite mounds leverage updrafts to cool the interior of the mound. And even more remarkably, over the course of the day termite workers will selectively open and close specific tunnels to control airflow and regulate internal temperature. This is important not just to manage the temperature of the nurseries, but also- in many cases- of the fungal gardens. Many termite species raise fungi of the genus Termitomyces, which obtain nutrients from the excrement of the termites. The mounds of such fungal-farming species contains carefully temperature-controlled farm/latrine chambers where the fungus grows.

Some years ago the Brazilian government funded a study to determine and possibly replicate the chemical structure of the mounds, with an eye to using the substance as a base for roadbeds.

THE ARCHITECT AS TOTALITARIAN

“Le Corbusier’s language reveals his disturbingly totalitarian mind-set. For example, in what is probably his most influential book, the 1924 Towards a New Architecture (the very title suggests that the world had been waiting for him), he writes poetically:

We must create a mass-production state of mind:
A state of mind for building mass-production housing.
A state of mind for living in mass-production housing.
A state of mind for conceiving mass-production housing.
Who are these “we” of whom he speaks so airily, responsible for creating, among other things, universal states of mind? Only one answer is possible: Le Corbusier and his disciples. Everyone else has “eyes that do not see…”

Here are a few more musts:
We must see to the establishment of standards so that we can face up to the problem of perfection.
Man must be built upon this axis [of harmony], in perfect agreement with nature, and, probably, the universe.
We must find and apply new methods, clear methods allowing us to work out useful plans for the home, lending themselves naturally to standardization, industrialization, Taylorization.
The plan must rule. . . . The street must disappear.

And then there is this similar assertion: “The masonry wall no longer has a right to exist.”

http://www.city-journal.org/html/architect-totalitarian-13246.html

THE METAPHYSICS OF CONCRETE

In Wells, Hitler and the World State (1941), George Orwell uses the following contrast, “On the one side, science, order, progress, internationalism, aeroplanes, steel, concrete, hygiene: on the other side, war, nationalism, religion, monarchy, peasants, Greek professors, poets, horses.”

George Orwell is not alone in considering concrete a modern material. It is often a major component in modern architecture, as it allows constructions, which would be near enough impossible with other materials.

THE THREE STAGES OF TRANCE

Flugblatt of Basel 1566, part of Wickiana collection

“The 16th century pictures in C.G. Jung’s book “Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in The Sky” show black dots and (squiggly) lines, the kind of shapes that closely resemble what are known as entoptic phenomena: visual effects whose source is within the eye itself, such as phosphenes.

David Lewis-Williams, a professor in cognitive archaeology, and Thomas Dowson, in their attempt to classify abstract patterns on ancient rock art, came to the conclusion that abstract, geometric shapes in such art is the artistic recording of entoptic phenomena, as seen in altered states of consciousness such as trance, with or without the aid of psychedelic substances. They called these shapes (such as wavy lines, spheres, spirals and lattices) “form constants”, in that they are independent of culture.

Lewis-Williams and Dowson developed a model they called the Three Stages of Trance. The 1st stage consisted of seeing the aforementioned simple geometric forms of entoptics. In the 2nd stage “subjects try to make sense of entoptics by elaborating them into iconic form”, the result being more complex visions involving living entities such as (mythic) animals, sprites, elves, etc. Such animals are also seen in ancient rock art, often in combination with the simple shapes of the first stage. The 2nd stage visuals are always culturally determined.

In the 3rd stage the phenomena become three dimensional and so vivid and that the person experiencing them stops using similes to describe their experiences and asserts that the images are indeed what they appear to be and interacts with them.”

TIÃOZINHO

VACANCY – CITIES IN FILM

We are in another city, a real city. This city, too, is built of white concrete and glass, with bridges cast in gleaming steel and multi-lane highways clad in smooth grey tarmac. It, too, is a city of dreams, of light and air and clear blue water. The city is Brasília in the early 1960s. However, the city that appears in these bright clean scenes is as unreal as Toyota’s dream-city and soon it is replaced by bleaker scenes from the late 1990s. Both visions of the city form part of Matthias Müller’s film ‘Vacancy’ (1998), which merges amateur footage and feature films shot in Brasília in the early sixties with the artist’s personal exploration of the legacy of Modernism in the city’s largely abandoned centre in the late 1990s. ‘Vacancy’ examines the discrepancies between ideology and reality by juxtaposing the perfect images of the new city with scenes shot forty years later. Rather than a documentary the film is a sentimental journey where the blithe optimism of the space-age has turned into nostalgia and a strangely lyrical sense of desolation. Seen through Müller’s camera, the Brasília of 1998 appears no more real than the Brasília of 1960. Like the city of the car commercial, it is wholly imaginary – a utopia, a non-place.

VILLE RADIEUSE – THE RADIANT CITY

European and North American historiography very willingly insists on the foreign debt that Oscar Niemeyer’s architecture had to incur with respect to the Movement, beginning with Le Corbusier. Brasilia would be a tropical adaptation of the Ville Radieuse. And a tropicalista deviation from the puritan grammar of the International style. This historiographical look omits a difference not only formal, but at the same time historical, cultural and political. […]

Eduardo Subirats:

https://www.vitruvius.com.br/revistas/read/arquitextos/12.142/4267

VLADIMIR CARVALHO

Vladimir by Walter Carvalho.

Vladimir is a national treasure. He is a Brazilian filmmaker and documentary filmmaker from Paraíba, 1935.

Carvalho was in charge of the Associação Brasileira de Documentaristas do Distrito Federal [Brazilian Association of Federal District’s Documentarists] (ABD-DF) in Brasília at the time when the Brasília Festival was suspended and the Cinema Course at UnB had been discontinued. At that time ABD-DF’s job was hampered by the military and few people dared to make Cinema in the city, which greatly weakened the Association.

Due to the lack of institutions concerned with preservation of the nation’s capital memory, Carvalho, who had been living in Brasília for at least 40 years, transformed his home in the center of Brasília into a small cinematheque. Named as Cinememória, it was founded by the filmmaker in 1994 with the aim of keeping and preserving his documentary work over more than 50 years of activity and also of the films made in Brasília and about Brasília. The small institution was born to be “a positive teasing” to the public authorities, so that they better reflect on the importance of creating a cinematheque in Brasilia.

The Cinememory Foundation has 6,000 items and a library with 4,000 volumes. During his life, Vladimir Carvalho made 23 films whose negatives were deposited in the MAM’s Cinematheque, in the National Archive and most of them in the Brazilian Cinematheque in São Paulo so that they could be safeguarded and eventually copied to other media and shown.

Because here in Brasilia I can at most keep a copy of a movie temporarily; I’ve been risking having the material in the DF Public Archive for over fifteen years. At this moment when I’m talking to you I’m losing my copies because film degenerates like people, the film dies. If a negative is left without climatic conditions, the image will disappear and become a folder. And I can tell you (sic) that in Brasilia there is no place where films are protected from these threats. That’s why I created this here, to signal. I can say it so many times, in the press, in the lectures I present, I draw attention to that. Brasilia’s cinematography has existed since the cornerstone was laid in this city. Brasília was partitioned being filmed but it does not have its cinematheque. Cinematheque, roughly speaking, is the museum of cinema. Brasilia doesn’t have one. Brasilia doesn’t have a museum, actually, worthy of that name. It has a place called The Museum of the Republic where there is an effort of selfless people who try to keep it as if it were a place of exhibition but it does not have a museum project. Who’s to say the cinema is a little off the top of it all!

In addition, not all of Vladimir Carvalho’s films were transferred to digital media, which would be a very expensive undertaking.

https://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S1809-58442020000100089&script=sci_arttext&tlng=en#B12

Filmography:
Romeiros da Guia – 1962; A Bolandeira – 1967; Vestibular 70 – 1970; O País de São Saruê – 1971; Incelência para um Trem de Ferro – 1972; O Espírito Criador do Povo Brasileiro – 1973; O Itinerário de Niemeyer – 1973; Vila Boa de Goyaz – 1974; Quilombo – 1975; Mutirão – 1975; José Lins do Rego – 1975; A Pedra da Riqueza – 1976; Pankararu do Brejo dos Padres – 1977; Brasília Segundo Feldman – 1979; O Homem de Areia – 1982; O Evangelho Segundo Teotônio – 1984; Perseghini – 1984; No Galope da Viola – 1990; A Paisagem Natural – 1991; Conterrâneos Velhos de Guerra – 1991; Negros de Cedro – 1998; Barra 68 – 2000; O Engenho de Zé Lins – 2006; Rock Brasília – Era de Ouro – 2011

WALKING IN SPACE

Eles vêm em naves espaciais, laboratórios de outra dimensão, invisíveis aos nossos olhos,
movendo-se com precisão, mas agindo como portais de desintegração do espaço,
transportando energias poderosas destinadas a vários pontos do universo.
Na Terra, eles estão situados à beira do abismo.

WHITE HEAT, GREY STONE

Godley And Creme – Brazilia (wish You Were Here)

White heat, grey stone
White heat, grey stone
White heat, grey stone
Wish you were here
White heat, sizzling
Thinking of Brazilia
White heat, sizzling
Thinking of Brazilia
White heat, grey stone
Thinking of Brazilia
White heat, hollow
Thinking of Brazilia
White heat, always
Wish you were here
Thinking of Brazilia
White heat, grey stone
White heat, grey stone
Lonely is Brazilia
White heat, hot, vast, crisp, empty
No more “Yariva, yariva”
Wish you were here
White heat, grey stone
Show me Brazilia
And I’ll show you no Mardi Gras
In the glass Cantina
White heat, grey stone
White heat, grey stone
White heat, grey stone
Is anybody there
White heat, sizzling, sizzling, sizzling, sizzling
Is anybody there
Is anybody there
Hello
Is anybody there
Brazilia
Wish you were here
Is anybody there?
Big mistake, Brazilia
Brazilia. Open air museum. Wish you were here.

X

Cruzamento dos Eixos Monumental e Rodoviário no início das obras em Brasília. Foto: Mário Fontenelle/Arquivo Público do Distrito Federal – 1956/1957

X-RAY ARCHITECTURE

The idea of architect as healer goes back to Vitruvius. Health has always been a key responsibility for architects. What has changed is the concept of health. I am arguing that modern architecture is organized around a new theory of health, and this theory can be seen in every polemic promoting modern architecture. I prefer using the term ‘publicity’ to ‘marketing’. Modern publicity relates to the way modern architecture was presented, and the rhetoric it deployed, which had a lot to do with fear of disease. For example, in his book The Radiant City (1933) Le Corbusier dismisses the ‘natural ground’ as a ‘dispenser of rheumatism and tuberculosis’ and declares it to be ‘the enemy of man’. He insists on using pilotis to detach the house from the ‘wet, humid, ground, where disease breeds’, and on using the roof as a garden for sunbathing and exercise. Avant-garde architects of the early decades of the 20th century, from Le Corbusier to Jan Duiker or Richard Neutra, presented their new architecture as a kind of medical equipment for protecting and enhancing the body. Buildings even started to look like X-rays, revealing the secrets within. Think about Mies van der Rohe’s project for the Glass Skyscraper in Berlin of 1922, with its exposed skeleton. It’s not by chance that Mies even collected and published X-rays. Presenting modern architecture as a machine for health was a response to real fears of the time. The fear of illness was more important for people than the alleged beauty of a modern white wall. Doctors and nurses before architects would recommend people with TB to get rid of curtains, carpets, ornaments, and use instead a simple bed and table – easy to clean and harder for dust to accumulate.

Beatriz Colomina: https://www.frieze.com/article/x-ray-architecture

YARA, MOTHER

Mother Yara, from Chamish’s text: “Forty years ago, Mother Yara — a seven-foot-tall psychic priestess who lived to the age of 103 — inspired the building of Brasilia with her visions of space gods.”

YOKAANAM, MESTRE

ZAMENHOF, LUDWIK LEJZER

ZIZEK, SLAVOJ: THE END OF UTOPIA

In “Architecture and Social Antagonism” Žižek asks, “how does an ideological edifice (real architectural edifices included) deal with social antagonism?” In an aside, he cites the case of Oscar Niemeyer plan for Brasilia: “… this imaginary dream of the resolution of social antagonisms which supplements not the reality of social antagonisms but the lack of ideological-egalitarian mechanism which would cover them up with a properly-functioning appearance…”

“We should dare to enact the impossible. We should rediscover how to not imagine but enact, utopia. The point is not about planning utopias, the point is about practicing them. And I think this is not a question of ‘should we do it, or should we simply persist with the existing order?’. It’s much more radical. It’s a matter for survival. The future will be utopian or there will be none.”

 

 

***This Abecedarium was inspired by Nicolas Behr’s Brasilia A-Z

  • A MACHINE FOR LIVING IN
  • ALTERNATIVE MODERNITIES BY JAMES HOLSTON
  • ARCHITECTURE OR TECHNO-UTOPIA?
  • ATMOSPHERIC AND MATERIAL ENVIRONMENTS IN MICHELANGELO ANTONIONI’S CINEMA
  • BADIOU, ALAIN – LOGICS OF WORLDS
  • BEHRXILIA
  • BODIES IN ALLIANCE AND THE POLITICS OF THE STREET
  • BRASIL
  • BRASILIA, CONTRADICTIONS OF A NEW CITY
  • BRASILIA, OR THE VIEW FROM A MOVING AUTOMOBILE
  • BRAZILIANIZATION OF BRASILIA
  • CARTICHECTURE
  • CHARACTERS
  • CINEMA
  • CONFLICT OF VARYING SPEEDS
  • CONTRASTING CONCEPTS OF HARMONY IN ARCHITECTURE
  • CORPOS INFORMATICOS
  • CULTS
  • DEEPFAKE
  • DISURBANSIM
  • DUPLITECTURE
  • ECLECTIC CITY
  • FABLE OF AN ARCHITECT
  • FICTION OF THE MODERN BY LOUIDGI BELTRAME
  • FICTIONS OF EVERY KIND
  • FIRST HYMN TO BRASILIA
  • FORBIDDEN PLANET
  • G
  • GAGARIN, YURI
  • H
  • IMAGES OF BODIES
  • ISOMORPHISM
  • JULIETA GUIMARÃES COSTA
  • KUBITSCHEK, JUSCELINO
  • LIQUID MODERNITY
  • LISPECTOR, CLARICE
  • MODULO
  • NATIONALIST MODERNISM
  • NEIVA, TIA
  • NEUROLOGICAL AND ARCHITECTURAL SINUOSITIES: THE NIEMEYER BROTHERS
  • NIEMEYER IN ISRAEL & PALESTINE
  • NIEMEYER MASKS
  • NIEMEYER: THE FUTURE IS LUMPY
  • OF OTHER SPACES: UTOPIAS AND HETEROTOPIAS
  • PILOT PLAN
  • POST EXOTICISM
  • QUEERING ARCHITECTURE
  • SEEING LIKE A STATE
  • SILVA GUERRA, JOSÉ
  • SITUATIONIST THESES ON TRAFFIC
  • SKIN
  • SPACE SYNTAX
  • TEMPO DE BRASILIA
  • TERMITES
  • THE ARCHITECT AS TOTALITARIAN
  • THE METAPHYSICS OF CONCRETE
  • THE THREE STAGES OF TRANCE
  • TIÃOZINHO
  • VACANCY – CITIES IN FILM
  • VILLE RADIEUSE – THE RADIANT CITY
  • VLADIMIR CARVALHO
  • WALKING IN SPACE
  • WHITE HEAT, GREY STONE
  • X
  • X-RAY ARCHITECTURE
  • YARA, MOTHER
  • YOKAANAM, MESTRE
  • ZAMENHOF, LUDWIK LEJZER
  • ZIZEK, SLAVOJ: THE END OF UTOPIA