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Architectural Body

Written by Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins

Publication Year: 2002

This manifesto is a verbal articulation of the authors' visionary theory of how the human body, architecture, and creativity define and sustain one another.

This revolutionary work by artist-architects Arakawa and Madeline Gins demonstrates the inter-connectedness of innovative architectural design, the poetic process, and philosophical inquiry. Together, they have created an experimental and widely admired body of work--museum installations, landscape and park commissions, home and office designs, avant-garde films, poetry collections--that challenges traditional notions about the built environment. This book promotes a deliberate use of architecture and design in dealing with the blight of the human condition; it recommends that people seek architectural and aesthetic solutions to the dilemma of mortality.

In 1997 the Guggenheim Museum presented an Arakawa/Gins retrospective and published a comprehensive volume of their work titled Reversible Destiny: We Have Decided Not to Die. Architectural Body continues the philosophical definition of that project and demands a fundamental rethinking of the terms "human" and "being." When organisms assume full responsibility for inventing themselves, where they live and how they live will merge. The artists believe that a thorough re-visioning of architecture will redefine life and its limitations and render death passe. The authors explain that "Another way to read reversible destiny . . . Is as an open challenge to our species to reinvent itself and to desist from foreclosing on any possibility."

Audacious and liberating, this volume will be of interest to students and scholars of 20th-century poetry, postmodern critical theory, conceptual art and architecture, contemporary avant-garde poetics, and to serious readers interested in architecture's influence on imaginative expression.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

“After all this back-and-forth about the title for this book, have we ended up with the right one?" ...

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pp. xi-xxiv

Having observed near and far how the body moves through its surroundings, having thought lengthily of still other ways to surround it, and having built a few tactically posed surroundings, we now notice ourselves to have been tracing an architectural body, or at least a landscape for one. ...

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1. Organism That Persons

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pp. 1-4

Born into a new territory, and that territory is myself as organism. There is no place to go but here. Each organism that persons finds the new territory that is itself, and, having found it, adjusts it. This is so only if systematically organized events, fields in which relations among events have some degree of order, can count as territories. ...

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2. Landing Sites

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pp. 5-22

Were nothing being apportioned out, no world could form. What is being apportioned out, no one is able to say. That which is being apportioned out is in the process of landing. To be apportioned out involves being cognizant of sites. To be cognizant of a site amounts to having greeted it in some manner or to having in some way landed on it. ...

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3. Architecture as Hypothesis

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pp. 23-38

Here is what architecture means to us: a tentative constructing toward a holding in place. Walk into this building and you walk into a purposeful guess. The built world floats a hypothesis or two as to how and by what the apportioned out comes to be everywhere, the everywhere. ...

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4. Architectural Surround

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pp. 39-47

Let our species cease being stunned into silence and passivity, into defeatism, by a formal architecture that seems so accomplished but that leads nowhere. Members of our species have been stunned into passivity by what should be their greatest ally. To counter the deer-in-the-headlights effect, we have turned from speaking of architecture ...

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5. Procedural Architecture

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pp. 48-62

Start by thinking of architecture as a tentative constructing toward a holding in place. Architecture’s holding in place occurs within and as part of a prevailing atmospheric condition that others routinely call biosphere but which we, feeling the need to stress its dynamic nature, have renamed bioscleave. ...

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6. Notes for an Architectural Body

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pp. 63-72

Architectural bodies have everything to do with what a person makes of the fact, the soft but sure-enough fact, that she perceptually subtends, and as-if palpates, architectural surrounds as wholes. ...

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7. Two Architectural Procedures

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pp. 73-80

A person moving through a tactically posed surround will be led to perform procedures that may or may not be recognizable to her as procedures. All of a sudden, what seemed a group of disparate actions, the doing of this and that, may strike her as the steps of a procedure. ...

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8. Critical Holder

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pp. 81-94

An implement for examining and assessing what holds as what, a critical holder forwards the poetics and the architectonics of cognition and action. It enables a person to discover how she holds the world, that is, it helps her to determine the landing sites with which she holds it, each holding of the world equaling a landing-site configuration. ...

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9. Daily Research

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pp. 95-100

Revisiting the three hypotheses of procedural architecture, we get the following: A person and her surroundings need to be weighed in together as an architectural body, or, put more directly, the inextricability of person and bioscleave must at all costs be respected. ...

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About the Authors

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pp. 101-102

For the last forty years, artists-architects-poets Madeline Gins and Arakawa have created a visionary and widely admired body of work—museum installations, landscape and park commissions, experimental texts and films, residential and office designs, philosophical treatises and artistic manifestos ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780817381905
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817311698

Publication Year: 2002