Escaping the cave: the communicative origins of architecture

Matthews, Geoff (2011) Escaping the cave: the communicative origins of architecture. In: Peripheries, 27-29 October 2011, Queen's University, Belfast.

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Escaping the Cave: the communicative origins of architecture
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Through a study of language this paper explores the ironic possibility that a turning point in human communication as an environment shaping practice may help explain architecture’s prehistoric origins and its persistence.
The paper begins with an Apology – a validation of the project. The practical effects of postmodernity can be identified with the hybridization of spatial phenomena and the implosion of media. Architecture, it seems, has become more complicated than the etymology of the word suggests; the architect – archi tektōn: master builder – is now also a master of ceremonies charged with orchestrating the space of communication. In a peculiar sense building and writing have become one. But is this a new phenomenon or could it be the present-day manifestation of a much older, perhaps ancient, idea: that architecture has an inherent communicative logic?
The body of the paper focusses on Deleuze and Guattari’s writings on deterritorialization and inscription. It moves from the atmosphere of the present – the hybridity of architectural space after the postmodern turn – back down to earth – the territory of the nomad – to see what may be uncovered or recovered in the process. The method is informed by Rorty’s writing on hermeneutics and philosophy as edification, and by Vattimo’s on the return of myth in postmodern experience. It proceeds from Aphorism to Essay to Dialogue. Each layer of the text broadens and transforms the preceding one through purposeful shifts in literary style.
The purpose of the Aphorism is to capture a truth, namely: that architecture is not a consequence of geography – a marking, marking out, and writing of the earth – but is born out of the collision of geography and scenography – a masking, marking, writing of the skin.
The Essay exploits and adds to material brought from the margins by Deleuze and Guattari in Anti-Oedipus and in A Thousand Plateaus. It tests ideas and lines of argument to flush out the referential matter and flesh out its intricacies.
The Dialogue attempts to make sense of the material through a dialectic procedure that ends in some sense of agreement or clarity over positions, peripheral or otherwise.
An Epilogue is appended not so much to tie-up loose ends – the choice being between entanglement and confusion – as to fray and flay them – to expose the lineaments to censure. It does not arrive at foundations, essential terms, but at three images: the granularity of shifting sands, the nomadic spirit living on within cities, and the permanent refuge as a place of interiorization, projection and nostalgic reproduction. Is there anything beyond the cave – quiquid ultra speluncum ?

Keywords:Deleuze and Guattari, architecture, scenography, cave
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V590 Philosophy not elsewhere classified
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K110 Architectural Design Theory
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Architecture & Design > School of Architecture & Design (Architecture)
ID Code:5563
Deposited On:16 May 2012 21:16

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