Contemporary Perspectives on Architectural Organicism
The Limits of Self-Generation
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This project is born out of similar questions and discussions on the topic of organicism emergent from two critical strands regarding the discourse of organic self-generation: one dealing with the problem of stopping in the design processes in history, and the other with the organic legacy of style in the nineteenth-century as a preeminent form of aesthetic ideology.
The epistemologies of self-generation outlined by enlightenment and critical philosophy provided the model for the discursive formations of modern urban planning and architecture. The form of the organism was thought to calibrate modernism’s infinite extension. The architectural organicism of today does not take on the language of the biological sciences, as they did in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but rather the image of complex systems, be they computational/informational, geo/ecological, even ontological/aesthetic ‘networks’. What is retained from the modernity of yesterday is the ideology of endless self-generation. Revisiting such a topic feels relevant now, in a time when the idea of endless generation is rendered more suspect than ever, amid an ever increasing speed and complexity of AI networks.
The essays collected in this book offer a variety of critiques of the modernist idea of endless growth in the fields of architecture, literature, philosophy, and the history of science. They range in scope from theoretical and speculative to analytic and critical; from studies of the history of modernity to reflections of our contemporary world. Far from advocating a return to the romantic forms of nineteenth century naturphilosophie, this project focuses in probing organicism for new forms of critique and emergent subjectivities in a contemporary, 'post' pandemic constellation of neo-naturalism in design, climate change, complex systems and information networks.
This book will be of interest to a broad range of researchers and professionals in architecture and art history, historians of science, visual artists, and scholars in the humanities more generally.
Table of Contents
List of Contributors
Foreword by Mark Jarzombek
Skender Luarasi & Gary Huafan He, Introduction
Section 1 – Organic and Modern
- Mark Antliff, "Cubism, the Decorative and the Contradictions of Modernism"
- Tim Benton, "The Organic Paradox: Nature and the Machine"
- Anna Bokov, "Organization of Forms and Forms of Organization: Objective and Functional Methods at Vkhutemas and Beyond"
- Skender Luarasi, "In What Style Should we build?" Today
- Michael Schlabs, "Songs of Art as Experience: John Dewey’s ‘Vegetable Eye’"
- Eran Neuman, "Bruno Zevi and the Ethics of Organic Architecture"
- Kaz Yoneda, "Japan Re-Natured: Unending Manifesto"
- Ginger Nolan, "Techno-Organicism in the Global South: Smart Villages and the Naturalization of Risk"
- Rachel Armstrong, "Electron flow as "life’s" matrix: An implementable materiality for Organicism via ‘living’ architecture"
- Jacob Wamberg, "Posthuman Reboot: Entropy into Art"
- Wahida Khandker and Tim Flanagan, "On Ephemeral Structures"
- Gary Huafan He, "Modern Architecture and the Organic Pessimism of the Young Lukács"
- Bohang Chen, "On the doctrines of organicism in philosophy of biology"
Section 2 – The De-Ontology of Systems
Skender Luarasi is an architect, educator and writer. His PhD, received at the Yale School of Architecture in 2018, focuses on how design processes end, and how such question intersects with style, geometry and parametricism in history. Luarasi has presented his research in numerous international conferences, and has published in Log, Haecceity, A+P Forum, and other Journals. He has co-edited and co-authored Finding San Carlino: Collected Perspectives on Geometry and the Baroque, published in 2019. Skender Luarasi holds an March from MIT, and a BArch from Wentworth Institute of Technology. He is currently the Dean of the Faculty of Research and Development at Polis University in Tirana, Albania. He has previously taught at the Yale, RISD, UMass Amherst, WSU, and MIT. His design practice is based in Boston and Tirana. Gary Huafan He received his Ph.D. from the Yale University School of Architecture and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, where his dissertation focused on the intersection between ornament theory and modernist ideology in nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Europe and America. He is a co-editor of the forthcoming book, Nature as Ornament (2020). He will join the faculty at Zhejiang University School of Art and Archaeology in winter, 2020. He is a licensed architect with a professional B.Arch degree from Cornell University. He has taught at Cornell, Yale, and the China Academy of Art.