Sixty years ago, sci-fi promised to replace the hand-made with the computer, the natural with the artificial, stone with software, craftsmanship with algorithms, community with the blog, and the struggle for earth with the conquest of space.
Instead, we got what feels like a grand compromise. We are living with the past rather than finding ways of annihilating it. The promised utopia of technological advancements has become a moot point. We find ourselves producing hand-made computer objects. We build architecture with robot arms, yet we buy single gear bikes. We romanticize the past though technology offers greater efficiency.
The 150-year-old promise of mile high skyscrapers and a brave new world has not materialized. We now experience the condition of an architecture that is in-between; occupying the awkward gulf between a Promised Utopia and the Romanticized Past.
It is an architecture submerged in the anxiety of indecision, yet one that gradually dreams its way forward: an architecture that Bruce Sterling would dub “atemporal”. An architecture which emerges out of our uneasy relationship with history. This condition of contemporary architecture is cultivated by designers and artists, who interact with existential and speculative philosophies. Their interplay is acted out on the grand stage in vicissitudes that Zizek has called post-reality politics. And perhaps this notion of ‘post-reality’ captures the spirit of our times most succinctly, as it creates a space where gravity itself could potentially be disproved, displaced, and reimagined.
In this time of exponentially growing technological efficiencies, we find ourselves in search of a narrative that can explain our complex world. A world torn apart by explosive forces beyond the control of its individual members. And so, architecture is faced with the dilemma of redefining itself. How does architecture look and feel when it is lost in history and space?
Will architecture, once again, simply drift apart into a gravitationless cloud of complacency and apathy? Or will it recoalesce into something entirely new?
Perhaps we can find comfort in this endless maze replete with Timothy Morton’s hyperobjects–conceptual entities that are massively distributed in both time and space relative to our limited imagination. And if so, our journey may best be described as that of continuous discovery which holds no promise of refuge, familiarity, or knowing, but which nevertheless points towards a horizon that is always in the process of becoming.
WASH presents works that are fwd slash in that they are simultaneously at the center and the decentralized periphery of this atemporal moment.