98_10_14

ARCHITECTURE AND ART


From ???@??? Wed Oct 14 19:26:43 1998
To: "Basic and applied design (Art and Architecture)"              <DESIGN-L@lists.psu.edu>
From: negenter@worldcom.ch (Nold Egenter)
Subject: Re: Architecture is Not Art?
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Message-Id: <v01530500b249af576538@[194.235.51.48]>

thank you for our long letter, which I found interesting. I kept the last part. You wrote:
 
>This again is not really an answer to my question.  What you have
>described as the modernist aesthetic (somewhat correctly) is an
>intrinsicist use of rationalization (isolated deduction) without
>connection to inductive fact.  This is consistent with my identification
>of subjectivist/intrinsicist trends in architectural design philosophy
>(per my earlier post on such).
>
>Similarly, it sounds very much to me as if you have set up a dichotomy
>of induction vs. deduction when neither can operate without the other.
>Is this some version of Kant's Analytic vs. Synthetic episteme?
>
>If you are saying that architectural schools still teach in the
>intrinsicist/subjectivist mode, I of course agree.  If you are saying
>that abstract cognition is an invalid means of designing architecture, I
>must totally disagree.

I do not think it is valid when you say that that I did not answer your questions. The problem is somewhere else. We probably have very different world-views.

This is not meant personally, rather in the sense of 'theory'. If we take theory in the  scientific sense (see my paper on 'Theory of Architecture' and, in particular 'Theory what is that?'), it is always based on an empirically described  domain.  Similarly our constitutive domains are different.
 

We do not need to complicate things with Kant's transcendental extension of the term deduction, I think.  What both terms, deduction and induction, mean in terms of scientific cognition is clearly defined in any lexicon of philosophy. (deduction: concluding from general to particular, induction: theorizing from particular to general). I am also very  surprised that you imply that I MYSELF constructed a dichotomy. It IS the basic 'dichotomy' that constitutes our modern world. Aesthetics, religion: essentially deductive, that means, deriving evidence from ancient texts, deduction from the most general or divine. Natural sciences: essentially empirically inductive. One must empirically know all swans of the world to be able to say: swans are white. With one single black swan living somewhere in a remote place, the 'theory' turns into nothing.

There is a striking common factor between the most primordially  built construction and any modern building. They are all  objects. We can describe them empirically in details, can compare objectively without apriori evaluations ('primitive', 'simple', 'high, 'ingenious'). Doing this we hit on entirely new insights. For instance that all premodern architecture had a common pattern (access-place-scheme) with a surprising continuity. These access place schemes were dissolved by modernism and its subconscious introduction of the space of astronomy and astro-physics into our sleeping rooms and kitchens!
 
Having seen cities in Asia, Mario Botta recently said in an interview that modern and postmodern architecture is  charging  the future with another pollution problem. I am not going so far, but have seen the negative impacts of western modern architecture on cities like Singapore, Jakarta, Tokyo and so on. In view of such problematic impacts on the global level it is  important to ask: what is wrong?

Architecture as it is practiced today is essentially a deductive school system. I works mainly with aesthetics, with terms like style, has very little knowledge about culture and man in a crosscultural and diachronic sense. Stars are cultivated, their theories are handed down.

For someone who lives in this system its methods seem natural. But, there are  other ways to see it: from outside. How is it structured? What does this system produce? In our urban areas? Why  did it develop in marginal areas around historical centres in Europe?  Why was it not able to create cultural city centres? Why does it produce slums which have to be dynamited shortly after construction (Pruitt-Igoe). What do its clashes with other cultures and their architectural traditions mean?

Particularly with the latter type of questions we  soon start to ask ourselves about this 'other' architectural traditon of other cultures. What are the theories behind the Chinese city, Chinese rural traditions, Buddhist temple architecture etc.? Why are their forms so different? Finally, we will have to ask, what IS architecture? This leads us into the anthropology of architecture, and, since anthropology is a scientific domain, this teaches us to use inductive methods of science. We start to look at architecture 'empirically' and this means: we have to define it anew.

In short, I tried to answer your questions, but, necessarily from MY standpoint.

Why I do all this? Because I think we have become so frighteningly productive, that it is absoulutely necessary to start to basically think about what we do.



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