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.

References

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.