Manifesto, or: "the nihilistic ravings of insomniac bohemians"

For its landmark 50th issue, British architecture and design magazine Icon put out a call for manifestos "from 50 of the most influential people in architecture and design" today.

[Image: The cover of Icon #50].

The manifestants – manifestators? manifestees? manifestors? – "include Rem Koolhaas, John Maeda, Zaha Hadid, Hussein Chalayan, Jasper Morrison, Peter Eisenman, Peter Saville, Foreign Office Architects, Joep van Lieshout, the Bouroullecs and Ken Livingstone," the "rebel mayor" of London.
In Livingstone's case, he, Richard Rogers, and Peter Bishop have basically submitted a new press release for Design for London ("Design for London wants London to be a city that works for all its people, for its economy and for the environment"); in Zaha Hadid's case, she sent in what appears to be a three-part digital rendering of... London? From the air? Gone topographically sinuous and structurally cubic?
Or perhaps she's redesigned Peter Eisenman's recent Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe by moving it to the banks of a river and constructing it from glass.
In any case, the issue also contains manifestos by design titans like Bruce Mau, John Thackara, and Stefan Sagmeister; architects such as Joshua Prince-Ramus, Thom Mayne, Bernard Khoury, Sam Jacob, Stephen Holl, Vito Acconci, Greg Lynn, Teddy Cruz, and UN Studio; curators Hans Ulrich Obrist and Paola Antonelli; and -ahem- an L.A.-based architecture blogger called BLDGBLOG.
As the only blogger included in the fifty manifestos, I'm a little stunned – even half-seriously convinced that some sort of mistake has been made – but hey: it's always fun to be asked for your own architecture manifesto.

[Image: Some page-spreads from Icon #50].

On the other hand, is BLDGBLOG really written by one of "the most influential people in architecture and design"...? Next to Rem Koolhaas, Bruce Mau, Ken Livingstone, and Zaha Hadid? I would suspect not, frankly. I would imagine that there's a little bubble of influence somewhere; but globally? Historically? I wouldn't exactly complain if that were the case – if people really wanted a bit more J.G. Ballard, John McPhee, Jeff VanderMeer, terrestrial prostheses, heliocentric Pantheons, and undiscovered bedrooms in their architectural discourse – but I'm not actually convinced that's true.
I think people would rather learn where to buy designer couches.
Anyway, long-term readers of BLDGBLOG won't find any surprises in what I have to say:
    There is architecture lining the streets of New York and Paris, sure – but there is architecture in the novels of Franz Kafka and W.G. Sebald and in The Odyssey. There is architecture on stage at the Old Vic each night, and in the paintings of de Chirico, and in the secret prisons of military superpowers. There is architecture in our dreams, poems, TV shows, ads and videogames – as well as in the toy sets of children. The suburbs are architecture; bonded warehouses are architecture; slums are architecture; NASA’s lunar base plans are architecture – as are the space stations in orbit [above] us."
But, still, if you run into a copy of Icon #50, be sure to check it out.
And I should also mention that the issue includes a positive review of Postopolis!, written by Bill Millard, who sat through all five sweaty days of the event with us, taking notes and asking questions. More on Postopolis! can be found here and here.

(Note: The phrase "nihilistic ravings of insomniac bohemians," used in the title of this post, is an excerpt from Icon editor Justin McGuirk's introduction to the 50 manifestos).

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats Geoff. Don't be so self-depricating about your inclusion. BLDGBLOG may well be the shape of theory to come. ;)

I like the idea of major publications opening up to non-starchitect theorists and pundits, perhaps the age of archicelebrity is waning.

Regardless, the excerpt you posted from your text sounds promising, I look forward to tracking the issue down.

July 29, 2007 7:54 PM  
Blogger m said...

The blogging world is important to design and progress. BLDGBLOG definitely plays an important role in that field, and I'm not surprised that it's being recognized as just as influential as these people.

I'm really glad that the spread of obscure architectural information is considered just as important as these big-shot architects. Sometimes it's the tiniest project that becomes the inspiration for something big. Don't sell yourself short, there. Congrats.

July 30, 2007 11:37 AM  

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