Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nobody Home

...they come here because it's what they used to do when they were alive. Blog to watch: Evan Calder Williams' Socialism and/or Barbarism, in a very interesting area between Althusserian Marxism, outre cinephilia and Modernist design. Posts include this rather marvellous thing (with supporting clips here) on Dario Argento's Tenebre as an incarnation of Brutalist architecture after being emptied of its original social constituency: without being one of those interminable critiques of Brutalist 'inhumanity' it does hit on a particularly stunning example of the cold, stylised violence of the giallo, and its inadvertent architectural concomitant. Actually, judging by the picture above, with its intersecting rectilinear planes, the building seems conceivably to have nicked an idea or two from Mies' memorial to the slaughtered Liebknecht and Luxemburg, where the roughness of the brick off-cuts used was intended to symbolise the backstreet walls they were shot against. A sample:

...what is particular about Tenebre's world is not that it is an architecure and built world of the future but of the future of the past, the modernist constructions emptied of their utopian impulse that we still live in but that don't belong to us. In other words: what does it mean to occupy a built world designed through and for prior ideological conditions, for a “partial utopia of the plan” (Tafuri's phrase) corresponding to a mode of capitalist accumulation no longer relevant to the bodies that traverse these spaces? The historical conjuncture of Tenebre is a post-Fordist world (one always in its promise of being-future, of money that doesn't have to be cashed out in the present but simply recirculated), yet its space is that of the bastard dreams of Fordist accumulation, the Melnikovian Soviet projects deturned from their social reconstruction fantasies, the integrated design of Bauhaus. And ultimately, as manifested properly in the poured concrete house of Tenebre, Brutalist architecture, that lineage from Le Corbusier through the New Brutalism of the Smithsons.


Blogger Murphy said...

wait, hang on, is that an original image from tenebrae? if so, this has implications for my 'pavilion' project...

2:16 am  
Blogger owen hatherley said...

I'm pretty sure it is - I had that thought too, what with the blood-red flags and all...

2:37 am  
Blogger Murphy said...

you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, eh?

how many films have actively mixed blood and concrete, one wonders?

3:25 am  
Blogger Evan said...

thanks for the kind words, owen.

by the way, i've had a hell of a time tracking down the house used in this sequence. do you have a guess as to who the architect might be?

7:08 am  
Blogger owen hatherley said...

I have no idea, to be honest - it may just be a fibreglass set. It doesn't look anything like either the 60s Italian Team 10 stuff or the more boring pious Aldo Rossi thing that came in by the 80s. Very Suprematist in composition though, they obviously knew what they were doing...

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