miércoles, 25 de marzo de 2015

150325_Bruno Latour, Yaneva Albena_"Give me a gun and I will make all buildings move": an ant`s view of architecture (2008)

TEXTO encontrado en:
Bruno Latour et Albena Yaneva in in Geiser, Reto (ed.), Explorations in Architecture:
Teaching, Design, Research, Basel: Birkhäuser, 2008 (with Albena Yaneva) pp. 80-89.

Bruno Latour (Beaune, 22 de Junio de 1947)

Albena Yaneva (http://www.manchester.ac.uk/research/albena.yaneva/)

Bruno Latour, Albena Yaneva


Our building problem is just the opposite of Etienne Jules Marey’s famous inquiry into the physiology of movement. Through the invention of his “photographic gun,” he wanted to arrest the flight of a gull so as to be able to see in a fixed format every single successive freeze-frame of a continuous flow of flight, the mechanism of which had eluded all observers until his invention. What we need is the reverse: the problem with buildings is that they look desperately static. It seems almost impossible to grasp them as movement, as flight, as a series of transformations. Everybody knows—and especially architects, of course—that a building is not a static object but a moving project, and that even once it is has been built, it ages, it is transformed by its users, modified by all of what happens inside and outside, and that it will pass or be renovated, adulterated and transformed beyond recognition. We know this, but the problem is that we have no equivalent of Marey’s photographic gun: when we picture a building, it is always as a fixed, stolid structure that is there in four colors in the glossy magazines that customers flip through in architects’ waiting rooms. If Marey was so frustrated not to be able to picture in a successive series of freeze-frames the flight of a gull, how irritating it is for us not to be able to picture, as one continuous movement, the Project flow that makes up a building. Marey had the visual input of his eyes and was able to establish the physiology of flight only after he invented an artificial device (the photographic gun); we too need an artificial device (a theory in this case) in order to be able to transform the static view of a building into one among many successive freeze-frames that could at last document the continuous flow that a building always is.



 It is probably the beauty and powerful attraction of perspective drawing that is responsible for this strange idea that a building is a static structure. No one, of course, lives in Euclidian space; it would be impossible, and adding the “fourth dimension,” as people say—that is, time—does not make this system of coordinates a better cradle for “housing,” so to speak, our own complex movements. But when you draw a building in the perspective space invented in the Renaissance (and made more mobile but not radically different by computer assisted design), you begin to believe that when dealing with static objects, Euclidian space is a realist description. The static view of buildings is a professional hazard of drawing them too well.

 This should not be the case, since the 3D-CAD rendering of a project is so utterly unrealistic. Where do you place the angry clients and their sometimes conflicting demands? Where do you insert the legal and city planning constraints? Where do you locate the budgeting and the different budget options? Where do you put the logistics of the many successive trades? Where do you situate the subtle evaluation of skilled versus unskilled practitioners? Where do you archive the many successive models that you had to modify so as to absorb the continuous demands of so many conflicting stakeholders—users, communities of neighbors, preservationists, clients, representatives of the government and city authorities? Where do you incorporate the changing program specifics? You need only to think for one minute, before confessing that Euclidian space is the space in which buildings are drawn on paper but not the environment in which buildings are built—and even less the world in which they are lived. We are back to Marey’s problem in reverse: everyone agrees that a dead gull cannot say very much about how it flies, and yet, before time lapse photography, the dead gull was the only gull whose flight could be studied; everyone agrees that the drawing (or the photography) of a building as an object does not say anything about the “flight” of a building as a project, and yet we always fall back on Euclidian space as the only way to “capture” what a building is—only to complain that too many dimensions are missing. To consider a building only as a static object would be like gazing endlessly at a gull, high in the sky, without being able ever to capture how it moves.

            It is well known that we live in a very different world than that of Euclidian space: phenomenologists (and psychologists of the Gibsonian school) have never tired of showing that there is an immense distance in the way an embodied mind experiences its surroundings from the “objective” shape that “material” objects are said to possess. They have tried to add to the “Galilean” bodies rolling through Euclidian space, “human” bodies ambling through a “lived” environment.1  All this is very well, except it does nothing more than to reproduce, at the level of architecture, the usual split between subjective and objective dimensions that has always paralyzed architectural theory—not to mention the well known split it has introduced between the architectural and engineering professions (and not to mention the catastrophic consequences it has had on philosophy proper). What is so strange in this argument is that it takes for granted that engineering drawings on a piece of paper and, later, projective geometry offer a good description of the so-called “material” world. This is the hidden presupposition in the whole of phenomenology: we have to add human subjective intentional dimensions to a “material” world that is well described by geometric shapes and mathematical calculations. The paradoxical aspect of this division of labor envisioned by those who want to add the “lived” dimensions of human perspective to the “objective” necessities of material existence is that, in order to avoid reducing humans to things, they first had to reduce things to drawings. It is not only the architects, his or her clients, de Certeau’s pedestrians, Benjamin’s flaneurs that do not live in Euclidian space—it is also the buildings themselves! If there is an injustice in “materializing” human embodied experience, there is an even greater injustice in reducing matter to what can be drawn. Matter is not “in” Euclidian space for the excellent reason that Euclidian space is our own way of accessing objects (of knowing and manipulating them) and making them move without transformation (that is, maintaining a certain number of characteristics); it is definitely not the way material entities (wood, steel, space, time, paint, marble, etc.) have to transform themselves to remain extant. Descartes’s res extensa is not a metaphysical property of the world itself, but a highly specific, historically dated and technically limited way of drawing shapes on blank paper and adding shadows to them in a highly conventionalized way. To press the (admittedly philosophical) point further, it could be said that Euclidian space is a rather subjective, human-centered or at least knowledge-centered way of grasping entities, which does no justice to the ways humans and things get by in the world. If phenomenology may be praised for resisting the temptation to reduce humans to objects, it should be firmly condemned for not resisting the much stronger and much more damning temptation to reduce materiality to objectivity.

 But what is even more extraordinary is that this famous Euclidian space, in which Galilean objects are supposed to roll like balls, is not even a good descriptor of the act of drawing a building. The best proof of this is the necessity for an architect, even at the very early moments of a project, to produce multiple models—sometimes physical models—and a great many different types of drawings in order to begin to grasp what he or she has in mind and how many different stakeholders can simultaneously be taken into account. Drawing and modeling do not constitute an immediate means of translation of the internal energies and fantasies of the architect’s mind’s eye, or a process of transferring ideas from a designer’s mind into a physical form,2 from a powerful “subjective” imagination into various “material” expressions3. Rather, the hundreds of models and drawings produced in design form an artistically created primal matter that stimulates the haptic imagination,4 astonishes its creators instead of subserviently obeying them, and helps architects fix unfamiliar ideas, gain new knowledge about the building-to-come, and formulate new alternatives and “options,” new unforeseen scenarios of realization. To follow the evolution of drawings in an architectural studio is like witnessing the successive exertions of a juggler who keeps adding more and more balls to his skilful acrobatic show. Every new technique of drawing and modeling serves to absorb a new difficulty and add it to the accumulation of elements necessary to entertain the possibility of building anything. It would be simply inappropriate to limit to three dimensions an activity that, by definition, means piling on more and more dimensions every time, so as eventually to “obtain” a plausible building, a building that stands. Every time a new constraint is to be taken into account—a zoning limit, a new fabric, a change in the financing scheme, a citizen’s protest, a limit in the resistance of this or that material, a new popular fashion, a new client’s concern, a new idea flowing into the studio—it is necessary to devise a new way to draw so as to capture this constraint and make it compatible with all the others.

So, during its flight, a building is never at rest and never in the shape of this Euclidian space that was supposed to be its “real material essence,” to which one could then add its “symbolic,” “human,” “subjective,” or “iconic” dimension. Very often models and drawings and the building stand side by side, and are amended and improved simultaneously. Under the pressure of construction, and in front of the eyes of astonished workers and engineers, architects constantly move back and forth between the building-in-construction and its numerous models and drawings, comparing, correcting and updating them. Architectural drawings, transformed into engineering blueprints and from there into the many pieces of paper used by the workers on site (glued to the walls, folded into attaché cases, smeared with coffee and paint) are still undergoing a bewildering number of transformations, none of them respecting the limits of what is described in only “three” dimensions… When a worker signs a drawing to prove that he or she has understood the workflow, is this in length, in height or in depth? When quasi-legal standards are added to the tolerance margins, which Euclidian dimension is this? The flow of transformations does not stop there, since once the building has been built, another problem of description arises: the building is now opaque to the eyes of those who are supposed to serve and maintain it. Here again you need completely new types of diagrams, new flow charts, new series of boards and labels, so as to archive and remember which part is where and how to access it in case of accident or the need for repair. So, at no time in the long succession of transformations through the cascade of many writing devices that accompany it during its flight, has a building ever been in Euclidian space. And yet we keep thinking of it as if its essence was that of a white cube translated without transformation through the res extensa.

 What could possibly be the advantages of abandoning the static view of buildings in order to capture them (through a theoretical equivalent of Marey’s photographic gun) as a flow of transformations? One advantage would, of course, be that the divide between the “subjective” and “objective” dimensions could be abandoned.

The other would be that justice could at last be paid to the many material dimensions of things (without limiting them in advance to the epistemological straight jacket of 3D spatial manipulations.) Matter is much too multidimensional, much too active, complex, surprising, and counter-intuitive to be simply what is represented in the ghost-like rendering of CAD screen shots.5 Architectural design embraces a complex conglomerate of many surprising agencies that are rarely taken into account by architectural theory. As William James said, we material entities live in a “pluriverse,” not in a universe. Such accounts of design would reveal to what extent architects are attached to non-humans such as physical models, foam and cutters,6  renderings and computers 7. They can hardy conceive a building without being assisted and amplified by the motor potential of many thinking, drawing, or foam-cutting, hands. And that is what makes them so materially interesting. Thus, the smallest inquiry into architectural anthropology, the tiniest experiment with materials and shapes shows to what extent an architect has to be equipped with diverse tools—aids of imagination and instruments of thinking tied to the body—in order to carry out the simplest procedure of visualizing a new building. Another advantage would be that at last, humans’ many various demands could be fit into the same optical space as the building they are so interested in. It is paradoxical to say that a building is always a “thing” that is, etymologically, a contested gathering of many conflicting demands and yet, having said that, to be utterly unable to draw those conflicting claims in the same space as what they are conflicting about… Everyone knows that a building is a contested territory and that it cannot be reduced to what is and what it means, as architectural theory has traditionally done.8 Only by enlisting the movements of a building and accounting carefully for its “tribulations” would one be able to state its existence: it would be equal to the building’s extensive list of controversies and performances over time, i.e. it would be equal to what it does, to the way it resists attempts at transformation, allows certain visitors’ actions and impedes others, bugs observers, challenges city authorities, and mobilizes different communities of actors. And yet we either see the uncontested static object standing “out there,” ready to be reinterpreted, or we hear about the conflicting human purposes, but are never able to picture the two together! Almost four centuries after perspective drawings and more than two centuries after the invention of projective geometry (by Gaspard Monge, a compatriot of Marey from the little Burgundian city of Beaune!), there is still no convincing way to draw the controversial space that a building almost always is. It is hard to believe that the powerful visualizing tools we now possess are still unable to do more than Leonardo, Dürer, or Piero.IX We should finally be able to picture a building as a navigation through a controversial datascape: as an animated series of projects, successful and failing, as a changing and criss-crossing trajectory of unstable definitions and expertise, of recalcitrant materials and building technologies, of flip-flopping users’ concerns and communities’ appraisals. That is, we should finally be able to picture a building as a moving modulator regulating different intensities of engagement, redirecting users’ attention, mixing and putting people together, concentrating flows of actors and distributing them so as to compose a productive force in time-space. Rather than peacefully occupying a distinct analogical space, a building-on-the-move leaves behind the spaces labeled and conceptualized as enclosed, to navigate easily in open circuits. That is why as a gull-in-a-flight in a complex and multiverse argumentative space, a building appears to be composed of apertures and closures enabling, impeding and even changing the speed of the free-floating actors, data and resources, links and opinions, which are all in orbit, in a network, and never within static enclosures (see the project MACOSPOL, www.macospol.eu

But one of the other advantages of taking a gull-in-flight view of buildings would be that context could be done away with. “Context stinks,” as Koolhaas so famously said. But it stinks only because it stays in place too long and ends up rotting. Context would not stink so much if we could see that it, too, moves along and flows just as buildings do. What is a context in flight? It is made of the many dimensions that impinge at every stage on the development of a project: “context” is this little word that sums up all the various elements that have been bombarding the project from the beginning—fashions spread by critiques in architectural magazines, clichés that are burned into the minds of some clients, customs entrenched into zoning laws, types that have been taught in art and design schools by professors, visual habits that make neighbors rise against new visual habits in formation, etc. And of course, every new project modifies all the elements that try to contextualize it, and provokes contextual mutations, just like a Takamatsu machine.10  In this sense, a building project resembles much more a complex ecology than it does a static object in Euclidian space. As many architects and architectural theorists have shown, biology offers much better metaphors for speaking about buildings.11  As long as we have not found a way to do for buildings the reverse of what Marey managed to do for the flights of birds and the gaits of horses, architectural theory will be a rather parasitical endeavor that adds historical, philosophical, stylistic, and semiotic “dimensions” to a conception of buildings that has not moved an inch.XII That is, instead of analyzing the impact of Surrealism on the thinking and design philosophy of Rem Koolhaas, we should rather attempt to grasp the erratic behavior of the foam matter in the model-making venture in his office; instead of referring to the symbolism implicit in the architecture of the Richards Medical Research Laboratories in Pennsylvania as a scientific building, we should follow the painstaking ways its users reacted to and misused the building after the fact of its construction, and thus engaged in thorny negotiations with its architect Louis Kahn, with glass and daylight; instead of explaining the assembly building in Chandigarh with economic constraints or with the trivial conceptual repertoire of Le Corbusier’s modernist style and his unique non-European experience in master planning, we should better witness the multifarious manifestations of recalcitrance of this building, resisting breezes, intense, sunlight and the microclimate of the Himalayas, etc. Only by generating earthly accounts of buildings and design processes, tracing pluralities of concrete entities in the specific spaces and times of their co-existence, instead of referring to abstract theoretical frameworks outside architecture, will architectural theory become a relevant field for architects, for end users, for promoters, and for builders. That is, a new task for architectural theory is coming to the fore: to find the equivalent of Marey’s photographic gun and tackle the admittedly daunting task of inventing a visual vocabulary that will finally do justice to the “thingly” nature of buildings, by contrast to their tired, old “objective” nature.


1.- Dalibor Vesely, Architecture in the Age of Divided Representation: The Question of Creativity in the Shadow of Production (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004). Steven Holl, Juhani Pallasmaa and Alberto Pérez-Gómez, Questions of Perception: Phenomenology of Architecture (San Francisco: William Stout, 2006).

2.-  Tom Porter, How Architects Visualize (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1979).
3.- Akiko Busch, The Art of the Architectural Model (New York: Design Press, 1991).
4.- Horst Bredekamp, “Frank Gehry and the Art of Drawing,” in Gehry Draws, eds. Mark Rappolt and Robert Violette (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004), 11–29.

5.- Albena Yaneva, “How Buildings ‘Surprise’: The Renovation of the Alte Aula in Vienna,” Science Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Science and Technology Studies, special issue “Understanding Architecture, Accounting Society,” 21(1), 2008 (in press).
6.-  In the practice of Rem Koolhaas; see Albena Yaneva, “Scaling Up and Down: Extraction Trials in Architectural Design,” Social Studies of Science 35 (2005): 867–894.
7.-  In the practices of Kengo Kuma; see Sophie Houdart, “Des multiples manières d’être réel– Les représentations en perspective dans le projet d’architecture,” Terrain 46 (2006): 107–122.
8.-  Juan Bonta, Architecture and Its Interpretation: A Study of Expressive Systems in Architecture (New York: Rizzoli, 1979). Charles Jencks and George Baird, Meaning in Architecture (London: Barrie & Rockliff, The Cresset Press, 1969). Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, Architecture as Signs and Systems (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2004).
9.- Bruno Latour, “The Space of Controversies,” New Geographies 1, no. 1 (2008): 122–136.
10.- Félix Guattari, “Les machines architecturales de Shin Takamatsu” Chimères 21 (winter 1994): 127–141.
11.-  Antoine Picon and Alessandra Ponte, Architecture and the Sciences: Exchanging Metaphors (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2003).

12.- Anthony Douglas King, Buildings and Society: Essays on the Social Development of the Built Environment (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980). Neil Leach, ed. Rethinking Architecture (London and New York: Routledge, 1997). Ian Borden and Jane Rendell, Inter Sections: Architectural Histories and Critical Theories (London and New York: Routledge, 2000).

lunes, 16 de marzo de 2015

151316_Jorge Wagensberg_Complejidad contra incertidumbre (2001)

Complejidad contra incertidumbre
Jorge Wagensberg
Texto encontrado en el periódico “El País” el 12 de enero de 2001

Jorge Wagensberg (Barcelona, 2 de Diciembre de 1948)

Complejidad contra incertidumbre

Jorge Wagensberg

Un individuo vivo es un objeto de este mundo que tiende a conservar la identidad que le es propia, independientemente de las fluctuaciones del resto del mundo (el entorno). Y resulta que el entorno cambia. Adaptación es la capacidad para resistir los cambios típicos de un entorno. Independencia (o adaptabilidad) es la capacidad para resistir cambios nuevos.
La adaptación se refiere a la certidumbre del entorno y la adaptabilidad a su incertidumbre. No son la misma cosa. Incluso ocurre que a más de la primera, menos de la segunda. La incertidumbre del mundo es su más grande certidumbre. Así que, si hay una pregunta que vale la pena, es ésta: ¿cómo seguir vivo en un entorno incierto? A lo mejor resulta que la clave para comprender la evolución biológica no es el concepto adaptación, sino el de independencia. La idea promete, porque la física y la matemática, sus leyes y teoremas, no entienden de adaptaciones, pero sí de independencias. Probemos.

Hay tres grandes familias de alternativas: La independencia pasiva. La manera más simple y banal de ser independiente es aislarse. Es cuando la frontera es impermeable a todo intercambio de materia, energía e información. Es la peor manera de ser independiente, porque en ese caso el severo Segundo Principio de la Termodinámica se aplica inapelable y el sistema resbala a un único estado posible, el de equilibrio termodinámico: es la muerte. Hay muchas maneras de estar vivo, pero sólo una de estar muerto. Con todo, la vida usa muchas y buenas aproximaciones de esta alternativa: la latencia, la hibernación, las formas resistentes como las semillas, el abrigo o el simple crecimiento (más inercia)... La idea es reducir la actividad o mantener la simplicidad y cruzar los dedos a la espera de tiempos mejores.

En la independencia activa el individuo se abre al mundo para mantener un estado estacionario lejos del equilibrio. Las ecuaciones de la física de sistemas abiertos y de la matemática de la comunicación explican cómo se consigue tal cosa. Si la incertidumbre del entorno aumenta, se puede mantener la independencia del mismo estado aumentando la capacidad de anticipación del sistema (mejor percepción, mejor conocimiento...), o aumentando la capacidad de influir sobre el entorno inmediato, esto es, con más movilidad (capacidad para cambiar de entorno) o con más tecnología (capacidad para cambiar el entorno) como ocurre con la construcción de nidos o guaridas.

Si la independencia activa fracasa y las fluctuaciones del entorno son tan caprichosas que no hay manera de mantener el estado estacionario, todavía queda la posibilidad de la independencia nueva. Es la evolución. Se logra por combinación de individuos preexistentes. Estrategias de prestigio son la reproducción (especialmente la sexual, claro), la simbiosis u otro tipo de asociaciones... En este caso, las ecuaciones son claras: un aumento de la incertidumbre del entorno requiere un aumento de la complejidad del sistema.

Progresar en un entorno es sencillamente ganar independencia respecto de él. Las líneas progresivas y las regresivas no son ejemplo y contraejemplo de un mismo evento contradictorio, sino dos casos particulares diferentes de otro más general. El regreso se da en condiciones de hiperestabilidad y el progreso bajo la presión de la incertidumbre ambiental. Podemos respirar aliviados y reconciliarnos con la fuerte intuición de que, después de todo, algo ha ocurrido entre la aparición de la primera bacteria procariota y, digamos, el nacimiento de Shakespeare.

sábado, 14 de marzo de 2015

150314_John Berger_El sentido de la vista (1985) (fragmento)

Texto encontrado en:
El sentido de la vista / 1985
Alianza Editorial, Madrid, 1990

El sentido de la vista 
Jhon Berger

Creía (Van Gogh) que la mejor manera de aproximarse a la realidad era a través del trabajo, precisamente porque la realidad misma era una forma de producción.
Sus pinturas expresan esto mejor que las palabras. Su supuesta torpeza, los gestos con los que extendía los pigmentos sobre la tela, los gestos (invisibles hoy, pero imaginables) con los que escogía y mezclaba los colores en la paleta, todos los gestos con los que manejaba y manufacturaba el material de la imagen pintada son análogos a la actividad de la existencia de lo que pinta. Sus cuadros imitan la existencia activa –el esfuerzo de ser- de lo que representan.

Tomemos una silla, una cama, un par de botas. El acto de pintarlos estaba en él más próximo que en cualquier otro pintor  al acto de fabricarlos del carpintero o el zapatero. Junta los elementos del producto –patas, traversas, respaldo, asiento; suela, lengüetas, tacón – como si él también los estuviera ensamblando, uniendo, y como si el hecho de ser unidos constituyera su realidad.

miércoles, 4 de marzo de 2015

150304_Paul Virilio_The Law of Proximity (1995)

Paul Virilio
The Law of Proximity 
texto encontrado en en Documents, CDA, Vol. 2., Nueva York, 1995

Paul Virilio (París. 1932)

The Law of Proximity 
Paul Virilio

"You see this mosquito? It is a remarkable mechanism, with its minuscule receptor for detecting the blood vessels. It makes an incision in the skin with a microscope saw and sucks out the blood with remarkable precision. If one constructed such a machine, one could take blood samples for analyzes, and one would not even feel the prick. We will soon be building micro-robots, and sending them off to explore the human organism," declared the Vice-President of the Toyota-Motor research laboratory. Tomorrow, we are promised, the human body will become the exercise ground for micro-machines which will travel through it in every direction apparently without causing any pain ... Here, then, are the latest prostheses, the new automata: these ANIMATA which will populate our organism, just as we ourselves have populated and developed the expanse of the earth"s body.

Now that 99% of the micro electronic productions are receptors or sensors and the automotive vehicles of the future will have at their disposal some 50 detectors of all kinds for monitoring pressure, vibration and shocks now also smart pills are being prepared for the human organism, pills capable of remote transmission of information about nervous functions and blood flow; while soon to come are micro-robots capable of moving through our arteries in order to treat sick tissue "Industry has already produced the necessary microprocessors and receptors - all we have to do is add arms and legs," explains Professor Fujita of the University of Tokyo.

At this stage in the development of the post-industrial machine, the question of the miniaturization of components becomes essential to the analysis of the topography of technologies. Indeed, while technological history had accustomed us to valuing the growing importance, both volumetric and geographic, of industrial machinery - whether railways, cables, high tension lines or motorway networks - now we are suddenly witnessing the opposite process: technological reductionism is gradually affecting all the disciplines of communication and telecommunication.  The law of mechanical proximity which had served to arrange human space - the"exogenous" environment of the race - is being overtaken by a law of electro-magnetic proximity, which still remains to be discovered and apprehended before we more or less passively witness the forthcoming invasion of our bodies and the monitoring of an "endogenous" environment - that of our guts, our viscera, through theinteractive capabilities of a bio-technological miniaturization, which will bring to completion the rise of the great means of mass communication already governing our society.

Thus the genealogy of techniques has progressively led us from the monitoring of the geophysical environment - thanks to the development of hydraulic networks and of works connected with the cadastral organization of the world - to the monitoring of the physical environment, with the mechanics and the physico-chemistry of those energies necessary to the vectors of transport and communication, before finally arriving at the monitoring of themicrophysical environment - that is, not merely of the climate, but of human physiology, no longer by means of the traditional pharmacopoeia, but through the interactive capacities of those means of transmission which man might soon be able to ingest, even digest ...
In fact, we are witnessing the beginnings of a third revolution: after the transport revolution of the 19th Century, which saw the rise of the railway system, of the car and aviation, the 20th Century has witnessed the second revolution, a revolution of transmissions, through the implementation of the instantaneous diffusion of electromagnetic waves in radio and video.

Now, in the secrecy of laboratories, the revolution of transplants is being prepared - not just the grafting of liver, kidneys, heart and lungs, but the transplanting of new stimulators, much more effective than the pacemaker. Micro-motor grafts will soon be able to replace defectively functioning natural organs, or even to improve the vital capacities of a physiological system in a perfectly healthy person, by means of detectors with instantaneous remote interpretation.

Here a question arises which precisely concerns the topography of technologies: that is, the mutation of the well-known "law of proximity", or if one prefers, the law of least effort, or least action. Reducing or suppressing the distance of action, to the point of introducing the machine, the means of instantaneous communication, into the very interior of the human body - this poses considerable questions about the new technical milieu, the post-industrial "technosphere". Indeed, this action-at-a-distance once again raises the crucial question of the nature of the interval which makes up that distance: an interval of SPACE (sign negative) for the geometric organization and the monitoring of the "geophysical" environment; an interval of TIME (sign positive) for the organization of the monitoring of the "physical" environment, and the invention of means of communication; and finally, an interval of LIGHT (sign zero), the third and final interval (interface), for the instantaneous monitoring of the "microphysical"environment, through new methods of telecommunication.

Before returning to the necessity of redefining the law of proximity, due to the very instantaneity of interactiveteletechnologies, we should note that if the monitoring of the preceding environments, geophysical and physical, was rigorously contemporary with the absolute nature of space and time in the Newtonian era, then that of the microphysical environment is contemporary with the absolute nature of the speed of light in the Einsteinian era. Today, if the action-at-a-distance of teletechnologies is resulting in the transplantation of information sources in the living body itself, it is because the law of "electromagnetic" proximity is definitively supplanting the law of"mechanical" proximity, with teleaction becoming dominant over immediate action.

Let us finally return to the last law of proximity in relation to the principle of least action. If one believes the recent evolution of post-industrial machinery, LESS IS MORE, not only on the level of volume, of the physical bulk of the object, but also on the level of material and the internal constitution of the microscopic device. The question which then remains to be asked is: if less is more, to what extent? To the extent of the virtual? To the extent of that image, that virtual reality, which is finally more determining that the thing of which it is, after all, only the image? As the miniaturization now in progress entails a concomitant dematerialization of the machine, it is as well to ask whether there is a limit, quantum or otherwise, to the processes of reduction and virtualization of the technical object today.

In fact, present - or more accurately, TELEPRESENT - man no longer inhabits the energy of some machinery or other.

Rather, energy instantaneously inhabits and governs him, whether he likes it or not. A radical inversion of the principle of least action which up until that point had moulded the history of societies. Moreover, the aim of this revolution in transplantation is quite clear: it is a question of MINIATURIZING THE WORLD, after reducing and miniaturizing the components and the technical objects which it had contained since the rise of industry.

sábado, 28 de febrero de 2015

150301_Lewis Carroll_La caza del Snark (1895) (fragmento)

Carroll, Lewis, La caza del Snark (1895),
Ediciones Mascarón, Barcelona, 1972.

mapa de La Caza del Snark

“Había comprado un gran mapa que representaba el mar
y en el que no había vestigio de tierra;
y la tripulación se puso contentísima al ver
que era un mapa que todos podían entender.
¡Otros mapas tienen formas, con sus islas y sus cabos!
¡Pero hemos de agradecer a nuestro valiente capitán
el habernos traído el mejor –añadían-,

uno perfecta y absolutamente blanco!”

lunes, 23 de febrero de 2015

150223_Charles Bukowski_Mis amigos

Charles Bukowski (Andernach; 16 de Agosto de 1920 / Los Ángeles; 9 de marzo de 1994)

Mis amigos

Éste da clases
ése vive con su mamá.
a aquel lo mantiene su padre alcohólico
con cara enrojecida y cerebro de mosquito.
éste se mete anfetaminas y fue mantenido por
la misma mujer durante 14 años.
ése escribe una novela cada diez días
y al menos paga el alquiler.
éste va de un lugar a otro
durmiendo en sofás, bebiendo y
éste imprime sus libros en una
ése vive en el baño
de un hotel abandonado en Hollywood.
éste aprendió a conseguir una beca tras otra,
su vida es un constante llenar formas
éste es simplemente rico y vive en los mejores
lugares y toca en las mejores puertas.
ése desayunó con William Carlos
y éste enseña
y ése enseña
y éste sabe como hacer sus textos
y habla con una cruel y dominante voz.

los hay en todos lados,
todos son escritores.
y casi cada escritor es un poeta.
poetas, poetas, poetas, poetas, poetas, poetas
poetas poetas poetas poetas poetas poetas
la próxima vez que suene el teléfono
será un poeta.
la próxima persona en la puerta
será un poeta.
éste enseña
y ése vive con la mamá
y ése escribe la vida de
Ezra Pound.
oh, hermanos, somos lo más asqueroso y lo
más bajo de la creación.

miércoles, 18 de febrero de 2015

151218_Toyo Ito_Vórtice y corriente (1992)

Texto encontrado en:
A.D. vol. 62, 9/10, septiembre y octubre de 1992

Toyo Ito (Séul, 1 de junio de 1941)

Vórtice y corriente
Sobre la Arquitectura como fenómeno

Toyo Ito

La escena es una panorámica de la fiesta del cerezo en flor, donde la gente bebe sake con los amigos sobre una alfombra roja, bajo los árboles y los farolillos de papel o dentro de carpas abiertas. Representa el carácter fundamental de la arquitectura japonesa. Lo primero es que la gente se reúne para ver los cerezos en plena floración y, entonces, se construye para ese acontecimiento la arquitectura primigenia (p. e. la alfombra y la carpa). La arquitectura no está allí desde el comienzo; por el contrario, es el acto humano de reunirse lo que existe primero. Sólo después surge la arquitectura como envoltorio de esta acción. Una arquitectura como ésta no se enfrenta con la naturaleza, sino que la asimila por completo. Esto sucede porque la presencia de los cerezos es capaz por sí misma de crear un espacio único; con los pétalos bailando al viento, la belleza de la escena resulta realzada visualmente. Al extenderse las alfombras sobre un suelo adecuado y tensarse las carpas teniendo en cuenta el viento favorable y las condiciones de soleamiento, la arquitectura se instala como un filtro mínimo para visualizar los fenómenos naturales más que para ignorarlos o suprimirlos. Los cerezos extienden sus ramas sobre las carpas y los pétalos caen sin cesar sobre la gente, que disfruta plenamente de la placentera escena en la naturaleza. La fiesta llega a su apogeo cuando al ponerse el sol la oscuridad se acentúa y la escena se va velando en esa oscuridad creciente. Algunos comienzan a cantar y otros bailan al son de la música. Según transcurre la noche, la gente, sintiéndose cansada de placer, desmonta las carpas y se vuelve a casa, dejando a los cerezos en flor flotando en la oscuridad como nubes blancas. El final del evento supone asimismo el simultáneo fin de la arquitectura. Puede decirse que aquí la arquitectura se evoca por algo extremadamente transitorio; como una película transparente que envuelve el cuerpo humano. No tiene mucha sustancia ni implica un peso significativo. Crear arquitectura es un acto de generar vórtices en las corrientes de aire, viento, luz y sonido; no es construir un dique contra la corriente ni dejarse arrastrar por ella. Por ejemplo, si se hinca una estaca en el río, se originan cambios en la corriente alrededor de la estaca. Si dos estacas se colocan a corta distancia unas de otra, el movimiento del agua cambia de forma complicada debido a su efecto sinergético. En la naturaleza, el lugar que la gente escoge para reunirse está determinado por el terreno, la situación de los árboles o la dirección del viento. Si el lugar de reunión es un emplazamiento urbano, su elección responde también a otras consideraciones: la relación entre edificios, el flujo del transporte y la comunicación, y el intercambio de información entre todos los componentes. Sin embargo, tanto en los emplazamientos naturales como en los urbanos, cuando los elementos arquitectónicos como postes y pantallas se sitúan dentro del espacio, las corrientes naturales –el flujo del viento, del sonido, de la información, del transporte- cambian, causando instantáneamente pequeños remolinos alrededor de las instalaciones. Un vórtice como éste podría ser considerado un dispositivo mínimo para crear un lugar de reunión para la gente. Para convertir tal gesto en un acto de arquitectura, es necesario organizar estos elementos arquitectónicos en una entidad. La organización puede ser un tipo de estructura en sentido abstracto. Al darle una cierta forma, el lugar para un acontecimiento se convierte en arquitectura. Esto se hace para que el flujo de los fenómenos no acabe siendo algo simplemente pasajero, sino que se perpetúe al ser incorporado a un sistema más estable y ordenado. Cuando la arquitectura se define de acuerdo al concepto señalado, la gente puede permanecer dentro de las corrientes de la naturaleza y/o de la ciudad que la rodean y a la vez estar situada en un marco de forma arquitectónica; están envueltos simultáneamente en dos espacios contradictorios: en un fenómeno efímero e inestable y en un sistema que constantemente persigue estabilidad y continuidad. La arquitectura está hoy obligada a tener una existencia precaria; tiene que mantener un delicado equilibrio en un espacio ambiguo e inestable, en tanto que ya no hay fundamentos sólidos sobre los que la arquitectura pueda mantenerse firmemente en pie. La arquitectura que busque sólo un fenómeno pasajero y que ceda al presente sin resistencia será consumida inmediata y completamente. Por el contrario, una pieza de arquitectura que es anacrónicamente monumental, confiando en un estilo que no es más que un cliché, no logrará empatía en nuestro dinámico mundo contemporáneo. Un acto de arquitectura más apropiado puede ser análogo al arte lingüístico que extrae palabras y símbolos del sentimiento fugaz de un individuo, les da un estilo y las organiza. Expresiones verbales vívidas pueden ser creadas sólo a partir de la confrontación de un estilo con una dirección a la vez que se desvía de ella para dar voz a la emoción individual. Lo mismo es aplicable a la arquitectura. Para dar vida hoy a la arquitectura y dejarla respirar es vital generar constantemente vórtices de acontecimientos y corrientes que conectan estos vórtices en contra del movimiento de formalización que siempre busca un orden estable y rígidamente fijado. Es vital aspirar a espacios de estados inestables que puedan ser propicios al movimiento o al fluir. Tales espacios son análogos al movimiento físico de los humanos. En el Noh, una de las artes escénicas tradicionales de Japón, comparable al Kabuki, la postura del actor revela una cierta ansiedad ya que su visión está extremadamente limitada por su máscara. Su torso está inclinado hacia delante y luego elevado hacia arriba sacando pecho. Sólo cuando el actor asume esta postura puede lograr una contra-fuerza que contrarreste la ansiedad. La danza Noh no es un mero paseo por el escenario, sino un movimiento inducido por la fuerza trazada desde el interior de su cuerpo. Como Keiichiro Tsuchiya la describió, la danza Noh se convierte en un flujo dinámico y, como el actor está sometido a una experiencia pasiva por llevar su máscara, reestructura la totalidad del espacio del escenario. De acuerdo con un maestro de kendo, la técnica básica de este arte marcial reside en el uso de la inestabilidad. Más precisamente, en el kendo una postura inestable erguida sobre dos pies es vista como una ventaja más que como una deficiencia. Por tanto, los alumnos son entrenados a mover ambos pies simultáneamente para apartar el fulcro del cuerpo. Así como el cuerpo humano, soportado por una estructura estable, puede generar fuerza o movimiento solamente cuando se encuentra en un estado inestable, la arquitectura necesita también crear un flujo de espacio contra la estabilidad a la vez que busca constantemente formas estables. El acto de crear, o más bien, de coreografiar una pieza de arquitectura en una ciudad como Tokio es semejante al juego del ajedrez. Es un juego completamente impredecible. Los edificios que rodean un solar concreto difieren en volumen, forma, altura, material y estructura. Más aún, no hay manera de saber cuándo esos edificios serán demolidos y reemplazados por otra cosa. Y esto es también un juego sin fin. ¿Cuál es entonces el contexto que podemos considerar o esperar frente a una escena urbana tan efímera como fondo? En un espacio urbano como el nuestro, tipo tablero de ajedrez, lo que podemos conseguir con nuestros próximos movimientos es simplemente crear un nuevo vórtice para agitar o estimular el espacio e inducir un nuevo flujo. Un nuevo vórtice es como una carpa para un teatro improvisado en un solar vacío. No necesitamos otras formas de arquitectura aparte de aquellas que, como imágenes de vídeo, aparecen para un acontecimiento y desaparecen cuando el acontecimiento termina. Tokio no necesita por más tiempo la estabilidad duradera de las expresiones formalistas, excepto la permanencia de los monumentos.