Digital Monuments radically explodes "iconic architecture" of the new millennium and its hijacking of the public imagination via the digital image. Hallucinatory constructions such as Rem Koolhaas’s CCTV headquarters in Beijing, Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and Zaha Hadid’s Performing Arts Centre in Abu Dhabi are all introduced to the world by immortal digital imagery that floods the internet—yet comes to haunt the actualised buildings.
Like holograms, these "digital monuments," which violently push physics and engineering to their limits, flicker eerily between the real and the unreal—invoking fantasies of omnipotence, immortality and utopian cities. But this experience of iconic architecture as a digital dream on the ground conceals from the urban spectator the social reality of the buildings and the rigidity of their ideology.
In 18 micro-essays, Digital Monuments exposes the stereotypes of iconic architecture while depicting the savagery of the industry, from the Greek and Spanish crises triggered by financialised iconic development to mass labour-deaths on construction sites in the UAE.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Architecture’s Fake Left 1. Digital Ghost 2. Modernity’s Opiate 3. Anti-Iconic 4. Reflections from Damaged Modernity 5. Elysium 6. Loop 7. Sacrifice 8. How Iconic Architecture Triggered the Greek Crisis 9. The Look of Money 10. Futurist Iconic 11. The Architect-Financier 12. The Abuses of Iconic Architecture 13. The Zaha Hadid Scandal 14. Iconic Dystopias and Moral Law 15. The Moral Contents of the Digital Image 16. Vagina Stadium 17. Autonomy and Vanity 18. After Iconic Architecture Select Bibliography Index
Simone Brott is an architect and theorist, and Senior Lecturer in Architecture at Queensland University of Technology. Educated at Yale University and The University of Melbourne, she writes on the politics of the digital image in architectural production and the contemporary city. Her books include Architecture for a Free Subjectivity: Deleuze and Guattari at the Horizon of the Real (Routledge, 2011) and Architecture Post Mortem: The Diastolic Architecture of Decline, Dystopia, and Death (New editions, Routledge, 2016). A regular contributor to Log (Anycorp, New York), Brott has also written for AD Architectural Design (Wiley, London); Thresholds: Journal of the MIT Department of Architecture; Architectural Theory Review: Journal of the Department of Architecture, The University of Sydney; Journal of Public Space (City Space, Italy); and The Journal of Architecture and Urbanism. She has lectured at Yale University, Harvard University, Boston University, the University of Michigan, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Strathclyde University, Glasgow, and the University of Melbourne. Brott is currently working on a new project about the financialisation of cities.
Simone Brott takes readers on a dark journey through the digital imaginaries of contemporary architecture. This timely book de-mythologizes the multi-layered paradoxes of "iconic architecture" and its genre of image that have become fundamentally intertwined with contemporary architectural culture. It compels us to rethink the future of the discipline. – Mark Jarzombek, Professor MIT Department of Architecture
If you’ve been wondering what has happened to hard-hitting, Marxist analyses of architecture, Simone Brott is here with a lively critique of the iconic architecture of the last 25 years. Brott demonstrates that these structures are not just curious exuberances at the top of the architectural pyramid but an important building type with its own trajectory bound up with the pathologies of global capitalism. – Tom Spector, Professor of Architecture and Managing Editor, Architecture Philosophy
Typically insightful, razor-sharp and urgent in its message, Simone Brott’s new book presents a masterclass in reclaiming the political for architecture and showing it for what it truly is: the essence of how our discipline is thought and taught, discussed and built. – Marko Jobst, Architecture Theory Coordinator, Department of Architecture, Greenwich University