What Is an Academy?

The presentation shows an artistic research project made by the author at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, in Copenhagen. The project explores the academy institution through written reflection and the making of architectural models and drawings. The drawings and models will be shown visually, accompanied by a verbal and textual presentation.

Initially, the presentation will discuss aspects of the intuitive method as it is developed in Bergsonism (Deleuze 2006a, 13–35). The intention is to frame the relationship in an artistic research process between written reflection and the making of architectural models and drawings. If architectural designs are often developed with the intent of solving a problem or improving a given set of conditions in accordance with some desired state, it is through the wrestling between different components of a drawing or a model that a problem is invented. In this respect the role of writing is not to explain the dynamics of drawing, for instance. Rather the invention of a concept challenges a bad concept already integrated in architectural practice. Language and architectural media are conceived as different material domains. Second, the presentation will discuss how an academy institution might frame a problem-inventing process, elaborating the relationship between the articulable and the visible suggested earlier. The discussion makes specific reference to the distinction developed in Foucault (Deleuze 2006b: 41–43). It presents a series of architectural models and drawings of an imaginary academy developed alongside the aforementioned reflection. The intention is to exemplify a number of concrete ways in which the different elements of the project influence one another across the difference between writing and making. It will attempt to draw different diagrams of the relationship between the “programme” of the academy and its spatial disposition. Finally, the presentation points to a general problematic posed by the research project. The principle architectural question explored by the project is the nature of the relationship between spatial arrangement and life. Architecture is often conceived solely within a moral dimension and the necessity to control the outcome and its implications for a given social context. The intention is to suggest an artistic dimension of architectural practice transgressing a narrow understanding of the exploratory drawing or model as a speculative artefact removed from the world. If a moral and problem solving approach strives to render the channels of translation as direct and clear as possible, the project explores the notion of immanent life and the implications for architectural practice (Deleuze 2001, 24–33). In this respect architectural media are productive precisely because they are different from buildings and because “aesthetic” manipulation cannot be divorced from ethical inquiry.


Deleuze, Gilles. 2001. Pure Immanence: Essays on Life. Translated by Anne Boyman. New York: Zone Books.

Deleuze, Gilles. 2006a. Bergsonism. Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. New York: Zone Books.

Deleuze, Gilles. 2006b. Foucault. Translated by Seán Hand. London: Continuum.

Architecture and Indifference

This paper will propose an understanding of architectural sense making, or simply architecture, as a process of indifferentiation and elaborate on the role of my artistic research vis-à-vis architecture as being itself an architectural process of indifferentiation. If we can say with Deleuze that restless immanence bleeds off in itself as “a life,” then the immanence of the “architectural,” or the “architectural” in immanence, is “a” architecture contained within “a life.” In this sense of what we could also call architecturability the paper will draw on philosophical notions not so much as explanations but rather as possibly indifferent, and therefore architectural, paradigms.

Trained in architecture and involved in both research and curatorial projects, my art practices produce and explore instances of the architectural. Even though some form of building or construction is involved, such architectonic instances are better described as gestures of encounter. Encounter constitutes “the architectural,” be it as physical joining of building material or as human relationship.

With “the architectural” understood as “gestures of encounter,” any instance of life is always already subsumed under “the architectural.” Therefore it is inherently impossible to separate any research practice from its subject: research on “the architectural” finds its first field of exploration in the architectural setup of the research itself (video1/3).

The method of “inverse model building” will be used to evidence, both scholarly and artistically, such indifference between making architecture and architecture itself. In the artistic presentation, thin foil and vacuum will be used to build an inverse model in scale 1:1 of (and within) the space where the scholarly presentation will take place (video2). What we call architecture is nothing but a contingent effect of a modelling process: the model itself is not what it stands for; nevertheless, the model itself always is a model as such. This being of the model as model is contingent because the nature of such being simply does not matter for its representational function of standing for something else.

For architecture, however, its contingency certainly does matter because architecture primarily is what it is. More than a model, architecture is always an exemplar. By indifferentiating between Gilles Deleuze’s concept of difference and Giorgio Agamben’s philosophy of indifference, thus taking Agamben’s philosophy as an example, this research paper will therefore suggest to replace the notion of “model” with that of “example” in order to explore a possible paradigmatic ontology and analogical epistemology of architecture.

What is the role of indifference in such a theory of paradigmatic architecture? To grasp indifference it seems necessary to recognise that, in terms of encounter, a differentiation between two instances of architecture does not make sense, on the contrary, it is by indifferentiation, by attributing equal exemplary value to all instances of architecture, that encounter becomes an architectural mode of sense making. It is through indifferentiation of contingent encounters, be they material or human, that architecture manifests as exemplary and, finally, “makes” sense.


Agamben, Giorgio. 1993. The Coming Community. Translated by Michael Hardt. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

—. 1999. Potentialities: Collected Essays in Philosophy. Edited and translated by Daniel Heller-Roazen. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Deleuze, Gilles. 1994. Difference and Repetition. Translated by Paul Patton. London: Athlone Press.

—. 2001. Pure Immanence: Essays on a Life. Translated by Anne Boyman. New York: Zone Books.

Hollier, Dennis. 1992. Against Architecture: The Writings of Georges Bataille. Translated by Betsy Wing. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Watkin, William. 2014. Agamben and Indifference: A Critical Overview. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.