Thursday, March 26, 2009

Contextual Tschumi

Bernard Tschumi had a lecture at Columbia tonight. I have to say the Acropolis project looks terrible... So I'll just record the things that intrigued me.

He brought this up on the screen:When Enrique Walker asked him if this new trilogy replaces the old formula of Architecture = Space x Event x Movement, he said no - it just adds more complexity to the original. He said that his generation was trying to "anti-contextualize" themselves ("contexturalism" with the Stern connotation, I guess) and find their roots in the early avant-gardes of the 1920s. Looking back, you can see concepts there, contents (or program) there, but context was missing. When you solved some part of the equation, you can introduce more variables to it. Context is this new variable now.

The examples he gave were the ZĂ©nith Concert Halls in Rouen and Limoges, France. The two buildings have identical contents but are on very different sites. In the materialization of the concept, the contexts gave the almost identical forms distinctive materialities. I am not sure this is precisely what "context" means, but it's pretty funny.

He made an interesting remark on tabula rasa: "there's no tabula rasa; it's just some imagination in your mind." You may see nothing there and say, let's start from scratch. But there is always something. Starting from nothing is actually starting with an act - the act of erasure. You may cut all the existing trees. "And that will haunt you for a while."

Inevitably, Eisenstein was mentioned many times in the lecture. Now "technology allows," he even played a clip from Alexander Nevsky, including the piece he analyzed in the Manhattan Transcript. He also showed Choisy's analysis of Acropolis he found in Eisenstein's article "Montage and Architecture." Fantastic stuff. I wish he had got more inspirations from those than he claims he did.

No comments: