A Brave-New-Digital-World: Part Two

If you have a closeted obsession with Arnold Schwarzenegger probably stemming from repeat childhood exposure to Kindergarten Cop don’t be embarrassed you’re not alone. The way he spoke always killed me, and I was equally as amused when my usually austere non-English speaking parents roaringly laughed at the movies portrayal of the nuances of immigrant life. After treating myself to his auto biography “Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story” I was shocked that Schwarzenegger’s clumsy self-comedy was not unintentional and what struck me the most was his acutely self-aware ability to identify why achievements in his life had manifested- this guy knew exactly what he was doing!

Stretching his career from muscle man in Pumping Iron, to Terminator and eventually to California state governor took conscious effort in changing public perception as well as his creative identity.

 

 

I like to think Schwarzenegger’s creative reinvention has merit in the architecture landscape where in a globalized world technology can be a catalyst for change. Like the cinematic world we have our classics – Zaha, OMA, Foster, Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, their contemporaries, and a budding collection of soon to be architects fermenting in school, but without an engaged audience there is undoubtedly no show.

In the case of sharing Architecture with a wider audience, the general public, let’s see how Architectural Digest allows architecture to enter popular discourse. I like the way author D. Medina Lasansky puts it,

“Ironically, despite its title, the publication has little to do with architecture…its’s more of a lifestyle magazine.” [1]

With a comparison to our ultimate Archi-Bible Domus, Lasansky points out that because of its mass appeal AD is more important in mediating Architecture discourse, but I like to think that it’s actually all in the title! The images, personalities and content circulated online and in print are exactly what the name points out to be – DIGESTIBLE, easily understood, unalienating, insightful and this is what’s won its favour among the people.

Archi-purists out there hold on. There’s still a way to preserve your honour, but you’ll have to come down from your ivory tower to take a look at the work of Oana Stanescu and Dong-Ping Wong of FAMILYNYC.  

 

Boasting an impressive professional track record including SANAA, Architecture for Humanity and Herzog & de Meuron and eventually their own explosive partnership in 2009, they are best known for their critically acclaimed “ambitious” +POOL project and the 15-meter volcano set for Yeezus.[2]  

What’s so interesting about these two is that like Arnold they recognize the advantages in the reinvention of creative identity, in their case blending the world of academia and pop culture to take a refreshing approach on Architecture. Stanescu who believes the profession doesn’t “require a vanilla formula that’s been replicated endlessly” splits her time between teaching at Columbia University and collaborating with Donda and Virgil Abloah at OFFWHITE.[3] Founding their firm on the belief that:

“the underlying goal of architecture is to make people feel or understand design, not on a rational, cerebral level, but just to feel it”

means that they are able to include the audience in their vision.[4]  Just like Architectural Digest to be appreciated and more importantly understood by more than just peers allows for an ease of communication in sharing ideas on what “architecture” is and what “architecture” can be. “At some point, the design has to feel right,” Says Wong, it has to be beyond any kind of explanation and just be an awesome place to be.” [5]

 

We all know a good movie is good because it doesn’t have to be explained, for some reason a character, the plot, or the score speak to us- so why can’t the work of an architect be considered in the same way? The rise of technology has given us unprecedented access to an intimate audience and like Stanescu and Wong we shouldn’t ignore this.

 

 

 

 

[1]  D.Medina Lansky, Archi.Pop: Mediating Architecture in Popular Culture (London, England: Bloomsbury, 2015), 10

[2]-[5] Gavin Yeung, “Meet the cretaives behind Kanye and off-white’s go-to archietcure firm,” hypebeast, april  12, 2017, accessed march, 20 2018,  https://hypebeast.com/2017/4/family-new-york-hypebeast-magazine-issue-17

Images

[1] orion pictures, The Terminator, 2014, digital image, accessed march 21, 2018, http://www.indiewire.com/2017/05/starring-new-terminator-film-produced-by-james-cameronarnold-schwarzenegger-1201829971/

[2] Brigitte Lacombe, Next Progressives Family, 2015, digital image, accessed march 21, 2018, http://www.architectmagazine.com/design/firm-profile/family_o

[3] WA contents, Oana Stanescu’s Works In Collaboration With Kanye West Focus On Pop Culture, 2015, digital image, accessed march 21, 2018, https://worldarchitecture.org/architecture-news/ccfcv/oana-stanescus-works-in-collaboration-with-kanye-west-focus-on-pop-culture.html

 

 

Tsyon Feleke

Find more of the author at: www.tsyonfeleke.com

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