INTERFACES 21/22 ░░ ARCHITECTURE AGAINST DEATH

A new breed of something, an architectural procedure belongs to more than one category, and not all its disparate types of existence occur simultaneously.

—Arakawa and Madeline Gins; Introduction to Interfaces

In 2003, the Interfaces journal published ‘Architecture Against Death’, a double issue of essays dedicated to Arakawa and Gins’s work. Editor and University of Pennsylvania Professor of English and Comparative literature, Jean Michel Rabaté, writes in his introduction that the diverse approaches taken by the essays’ authors reflect the far-reaching influences of Arakawa and Gins’s philosophy: Arakawa and Gins force us first to go deeper and deeper into ourselves to test the limit of our perceptions, and analyze how we construct our world, and then apply some of their hypotheses to the building of large-scale structures. Given the increasing importance of these experiments and their mounting stakes, Interfaces felt the need to present a vast panorama of responses to Arakawa and Gins’s work. Jean-Jacques Lecercle’s important essay was circulated relatively early in the game, and a few contributors engaged in a fruitful dialogue with it.

Inter-connectedness may be the key-word here, and it was inevitable that classical divisions and conceptual distinctions should overlap; nevertheless it was crucial to give a sense of progression to these essays, which is why the categories used to classify them, although they blend approaches and discourses, map out roughly three broad domains: first, the philosophy of architecture that has been deployed in many works and texts by Arakawa and Gins; then, the poetic impact of paintings, poems and books, avant-garde art leading to a reflexive and productive process combining the theory of its own genesis in what may be called an ‘auto-poesis’ and the generalizations of universal procedures for building; finally, a view of a possible future, from an utopian drift to a radical re-definition of life in the new possibilities that have opened. This is also why the double issue will begin with a new and unpublished text by Arakawa and Gins, in which they convey their sense that architectural ‘procedures’ have to be generalized and also made public as widely as possible” (Rabaté, Interfaces p.6-7).

College of the Holy Cross (Worcester, Mass.,USA) and Universite Paris 7 – Denis Diderot. Published 2003.

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