Crisis of the Object: The Architecture of Theatricality by Gevork Hartoonian

By Gevork Hartoonian

Looking again over the 20th century, Hartoonian discusses the paintings of 3 significant architects: Peter Eisenman, Frank Gehry and Bernard Tschumi, in connection with their theoretical positions and historicizes present architecture within the context of the continuing secularization of the myths surrounding the traditions of 19th century structure commonly, and, specifically, Gottfried Semper's discourse at the tectonic.

Providing a priceless contribution to the present debates surrounding architectural heritage and theory, this passionately written book makes priceless interpreting for any architect.

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Sample text

Even more than drama, Benjamin links more closely with the social mission and effect of collective art than all other arts. Even the collective, social possibilities which find expression in a technical culture are the crisis of the object 23 of that very experience. ”59 The complex picture presented here of architecture’s relation to ideology is the crux of current theoretical debates and is expressed through discussions concerning the relevance of themes such as ornament, construction, and cladding.

The point is not to prove the presence of “excess” in Semper’s discussion of the tectonic, but to probe the idea of theatricality in a situation when spectacle is the only common visual and spatial experience available to the citizens of most metropolitan cities. The total commodification of everyday life did not emerge suddenly. 3 The development is of interest since a sense of delirium overshadows modernism’s abstraction and the rhetorical mood of postmodern eclecticism. Central to the discussion advanced here is the issue of the appropriation of art and architecture and the object’s potential for absorption.

For him the original motives of architecture reside in the production process of the four industries of textiles, carpentry, ceramics and masonry. Exercising such radicalism in political life cost him several years of exile and poverty during the period when he wrote most of his theoretical work. While in London, Semper had the chance to follow closely the debates stirred up by John Paxton’s design for the Crystal Palace. Against his British colleagues, who argued for the duality of construction and ornament – as implied in the historicist tendency for ornamenting construction, as well as in the modernist zeal for the construction of ornament – Semper mapped the subject from the perspective of the cultural anomalies of capitalism.

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