November 26, 2008

Image as Force: Learning From Learning From Las Vegas

"Skeptical: erasure of context and denial of shared meaning"
"Ordinary: argues for the recovery of context and shared meaning through our 'ordinary' language"
In a new book, "I am a Monument," (2008, MIT Press), Aron Vinegar dispells the skeptical nature of Learning From Las Vegas. According to Vinegar, LFLV has been mischaracterized as only a "playfully ironic postmodern approach to architecture." While Venturi calls for the ordinary, there is hidden meaning within the text. The opposite of ordinary is skeptical. The extreme of skeptical is nihilism, where nothing matters. The extreme of ordinary is that everything matters, and we must do everything in our power to affect our community. While Venturi advocates the ordinary (via his preference for "Ugly-Ordinary" over "Heroic-Original"), Vinegar explores the hidden questions Venturi proposes about "the skeptical".

Vinegar describes this more serious side of LFLV:
It is a "subtle but trenchant analysis of the impact of commodity culture and media on language and architecture, and its critical role in determining how, or even if, it is possible to have a voice in talking about these effects at all."
What voice, if any, does architecture have?
"meeting the architectural implications and critical social issues of our era will require that we drop our involuted, architectural expressionism and our mistaken claim to building outside a formal language and find a formal language suited to our times."
Mockitecture deals with our times. It is not a physical representation of someone's political view, as is the case with much classical architecture. It is not a monument to wealth. It is a proactive expression, with in a context. It aknowledges its surroundings and responds to them, with a voice. The question is what does that voice sound like? How to columns become verbs, entrances become adjectives?

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