Program(me)

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Architecture exists beyond the building. In a world dominated by imagery and instant consumption, architecture can no longer be about mere programme and function. We experience architecture through medium such as television and movies, they exist in the printed form of newspapers and magazines, and they feature in blogospheres and photologs accessible through any computer or cell phone. The ease and convenience with which anyone can now share things of interest has exponentially expanded the rate at which information is transferred. Architecture is thus transformed into a a spectacle; it is a commodity to be consumed.

Program(me) is an accumulation of the study on the spectacle nature of architecture that has become synonymous with the iconic building around the world. Cities fight to hire a handful of international starchitects to design buildings which are instantly recognizable in the hope of becoming the next Bilbao. As instant consumerism, the branding achievable through one iconic perspective of a building is comparable to that of signing the next Disneyland to the city. The value of the spectacle thus becomes a driving force with the potential to create a momentum which could drive the socioeconomic development of the area.

It was the Situationist who notably wrote about the relationship between capitalism and consumerism and the way the media is being hijacked to create a society of images. Yet with the explosion of camera capable cell phones and the idea of “sharing” on the web, the world of the Situationist appear mild in comparison. Services such as Flickr, Facebook and Twitter have become the new outlet that transcends borders and jurisdictions. For architecture, this means that eye catching buildings can be photographed and shared across the World Wide Web through outlets which are not purely architectural thus exposing them to a much wider audience.

These two forces together in play create the demand for look-at-me buildings seen in cities around the world. However, what exactly is the spectacle value that is so sought after? How is it that contemporary peep culture has contributed to this and what role does architecture really have to play within this wider context? This project is a study on the spectacle beyond the iconic. It looks at architecture within the role of media and is an experimental media study on the notion of the spectacle.

With quirky articles, eye catching photos and advertisements that speak towards the topic at hand, the magazine is a collage of the factors which contribute to the spectacle. It alludes back to Marshall McLuhan’s research on the message of the media and draws links between that and the contemporary peep culture of Hal Niedzviecki. The medium of the study itself thus becomes part of the statement of research.

The studies made in the project offer a look at the role of contemporary architecture within a socioeconomic culture. It splits the view on the iconic in buildings and questions the why and how of creating spectacle within the contemporary cultural context. Much of the research delves into the political agenda of buildings and draws parallel between their role beyond building and the way with which they are experienced, not necessarily first hand but through the mediascape.

TEAM: Kenneth Ip
TYPE: Media
COMPLETION DATE: 2009

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