Miscellaneous Gripes and Plugs
Proper posts this week will/may be about Black Box Recorder and the strange public school Stalinism of the 'Pylon poets' - although given the stony silence in my comments boxes of late I might need a bit of encouragement (one needs an audience, darling). So in the meantime, read these:
Entschwindet, excellent on the Architectural Association's attempts to justify its collective decamping to Dubai (Learning from Dubai, no less) with guff about 'critical' engagement. It would of course be preferable that some honesty and good faith were maintained and they produced straight-up oligarchitecture without claiming that they were undermining any (boo-hiss) Ideologies, reinscribing any narrativities or what have you, but the 'critical' gesture is a perfect example of what happens when Theory is marshalled by a group of practitioners who tend to need to earn a crust from the very dubious. Pioneered by Peter Eisenman and Oppositions in the 70s and 80s (when it had become obvious that the jobs were coming from stockbrokers and museums rather than local authorities and universities), the sleight of hand is to first denounce any 'moral' or 'ethical' position as 'humanist' or in cod-Althusserian, 'ideological'; and then define The Critical Practice of Architecture Itself as the only viable critical gesture. A pox on 'em.
Much of the above - and more! - will be found in my paper on the use and misuse of the term 'Functionalism' at the Historical Materialism conference at SOAS (that's in London, any non-Anglo readers) this weekend - where myself and I.T will also be showing Dziga Vertov's Soviet Toys and Enthusiasm, with Jonathan Beller as 'discussant', for the re-encouragement of any delegates made weary by a weekend of strenuous but invigorating Marxist discourse.
And a big 'OH YES.' is elicited by Simon on Bassline House, with which my acquaintance is brief, being a lickspittle Southerner - although what I've heard via Bat has been a damn sight more exciting than Dubstep's po-faced stoner torpor, albeit equally in hock to an 'ardcore-archivist tendency: What’s striking to me isn’t so much the North Will Rise Again/Nuum migrating beyond London thing, but the fact that what some people call “chav” is proven yet again to be the most fertile and vibe-generative sector of UK pop culture. Indie may be a white-out, but this is the forward sector, the class, that maintains the great British tradition of being plugged into black music and bringing something to it.