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<nettime> Principia Dischordia: Sound and Architecture - A project
Paul D. Miller on Tue, 23 Sep 2003 02:06:36 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Principia Dischordia: Sound and Architecture - A project

this is a project I'm doing with New Architecture magazine, and here's the
essay. Greg Lynn does crazy biomorphic kind of "blob"  architecture,
Bernard tschumi is designing the Acropolis Museum in Greece, and the New
Museum of African Art in NYC, and Marcos Novak writes wild manifestos
about nanotech and architecture. Each one is doing a mini version of these
kinds of architecture for the mag...

my essay is below.... as always, there's a bit of irony. I'm not
necessarily a chairman Mao fan.. but the propaganda angle and the living
conditions in China based on Utopian architecture were too juicy to pass


Principia Dischordia: A new project on Sound and Architecture for New 
Architecture Magazine


"Principia Dischordia" is an architectural environment with contributions from:

Bernard Tschumi: http://www.tschumi.com
Greg Lynn: http://www.glform.com/
Marcos Novak: http://www.centrifuge.org/marcos/
Paul D. Miller a.k.a. Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid: http://www.djspooky.com

each architect will have a statement (provocation) concerning their 
work and the project. There will be a limited edition multi-media and 
audio CD to accompany the issue with music by Dj Spooky that 
Subliminal Kid as a commentary on the architectural projects.


Principia Dischordia
by Paul D. Miller a.k.a. Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid

"We should go to the masses and learn from them, synthesize their
experience into better, articulated principles and methods, then do
propaganda among the masses, and call upon them to put these principles
and methods into practice so as to solve their problems and help them
achieve liberation and happiness..."

Chairman Mao Tse-tung

"Get Organized!" (November 29, 1943), Selected Works, Vol. III, p. 158.

"Nothing is less capable of deluding us than the illusion of fake
properties, of cardboard and painted canvas which the modern scene gives
us... There is in the simple exposition of real objects, in their
combinations, in their order, in the relationships of the human voice with
light, a reality which is self sufficient and has no need of any other to
live. It is this false reality which is theater and it's that which is
necessary to cultivate... The False in the context of the true, that is
the ideal definition of the mise en scene."

Antonin Artaud, "The Theater and Its Double"

A Provocation: If/When

At a certain point in time, and at a certain place - a phrase:  
architecture is nothing but frozen music. What happens when we reverse
engineer the process? Form becomes flux, solids melt into ideas, concepts,
blueprints, codes and contexts. Buildings are nothing but condensations of
rules, of points, of lines - and their agreement to form structure in time
and space. That's about it. What "Principia Dischordia" posits is an
emotive snapshot of the architectural process.


Vectors: Cultural Capital> goto: neo-flux: all that is solid melts into
air, and back again.


Fact multiplied by Fiction becomes Faction



Emerson versus Goethe versus Schiller: "genius borrows nobly" Emerson said
in his "Of Quotation and Originality." The quote becomes a
roman-mallaparte where almost any turn of phrase is linked to historical
anecdote: "Many of the historical proverbs have a doubtful paternity.
Columbus's egg is claimed for Brunelleschi.  Rabelais's dying words, "I am
going to see the great Perhaps" (le grand Peut-être), only repeats the
"IF" inscribed on the portal of the temple at Delphi. Goethe's favorite
phrase, "the open secret,"  translates Aristotle's answer to Alexander,
"These books are published and not published." Madame de Staël's
"Architecture is frozen music" is borrowed from Goethe's "dumb music,"
which is Vitruvius's rule, that "the architect must not only understand
drawing, but music." Wordsworth's hero acting "on the plan which pleased
his childish thought," is Schiller's "Tell him to reverence the dreams of
his youth," and earlier, Bacon's "Consilia juventutis plus divinitatis
habent." (ref:  http://www.emersoncentral.com/quotations.htm)


We live in a hall of mirrors where nature and nurture have become partners
in a pas de duex, a ballet in which a duo seem to float in and out of one
anothers gestural patterns as they move across the stage. The proscenium
space becomes the interaction of the characters that represent the
narratives unfolding. So to with the buildings that surround us. The rules
of engagement as a processional sonic scenario where any sound can be you.
Wavelength, amplitude, modulation, and striation - all of these point to
an anology between sound and physical structure when we reverse engineer
the architectural process.  The "generative syntax" of the wave/point
structure of sound, the physical process of architecture - they both point
to a convergence of environment and expression. The rules of engagement
for both focus on a humanity placed in contexts where we live in a rapidly
changing socially constructed process. "Principia Dischordia" explores the
linkages between several radically different approaches to this condition
- it asks, again, with hungry repetition, with an all consuming gaze, how
are we to live in the post-human environments of the information age. To
paraphrase Nietzsche, when you look at the networks, they, somewhat
quizzically, look back, deep into you. "Principia.." then, as an engineers
report on the terrain hazards and mandatory processes which exist in our
all pervasive electronic environment.  Press "play..."


J. Paxton's 1850 "Crystal Palace" versus Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand's 1802
"Precis of the Lectures on Architecture"/"Graphic Portion" (1821)

Modular repetition, structure, genetic expression - all of these phrases
point to a place where sound and architecture act as conduits for a
process of exploration. Move in space. Hear sound. Unfold time.

Durand's "Precis" was a manifesto of procedure: it was essentially the
first text to describe generative rules of architecture - it almost acted
as a kind of "program" for building. In it, one could find all of the
parameters for creating a building based on set rules - it was to be a
template for a specific kind of building, one that could be repeated in
exact form whenever one repeated the set rules of construction.  Think of
it as a "genetic code" that contains all relevant information about a
building - with enough room for interpretation that one can use the
template to create a wide variety of structures. This "set" of data can be
configured, displayed, or produced by any out-put device, - it is
"programmed design" that generates architecture, and as such it's a
description of a building, form described by formless-ness.  Durand
regarded the Precis of the Lectures on Architecture (1802-5) and its
companion volume, the Graphic Portion (1821), as a kind of basic course
for what would be come "civil engineers"  - it was also treatise that was
meant to bean act of algorithmically generated architecture. Form fosters
function, fact supersedes fiction. Call it prosthetic realism and look at
the ruins of the Crystal Palace. The end result of the equation equals
post-rational art for the 21st century - many ratios at once, many rhythms
simultaneously. Or to paraphrase William Gibson "the future is already
here... it's just unevenly distributed" - Principia Dischordia




Durand focused on the practice of architecture as the embodiment of
utilitarian and economic values - he never accepted the rationale that
drove classical architectural training: beauty, proportionality, and
symbolism - all of these were, for him, swept away by the relentless logic
of form.  His formalization of systems, of plans, of elevations - all were
part of a buildings' "program."  Sections of shapes, themes, rhythms, and
spatial textures are defined and influenced by the geometric configuration
of the chosen space, the rest is filled in by the master plan. Durand's
process was all about layering different choices and seeing what unfolds
in the expression. The rest was implicit on the rule structures of the
scenario. He transformed architectural design into a selective modular
typology in which symmetry and geometrical form prevailed. He focused on
pragmatic values - add this to his exclusion of metaphysical concerns and
options and you get a formalist who represented architecture as a closed
system that subjected its own syntax to logical processes.  In Durand's
"Precis..." the Cartesian grid system of coordinate points floated into
the aether to become a template, like free-ware, available for all. In
creating this kind of "open system" architecture, he is the starting point
for this project. The rest is simply, filling in the blanks. As Marshall
Mcluhan said in his 1964 essay "Notes on Burroughs:" "since new media are
new environments that reprocess psyche and society in successive ways, why
not bypass instructions in fragmented sections of the society and
reprogram the environment itself?"  This question haunts the sequential,
sculptural "remix" that we call "Principia Dischordia."


1) "Précis of the Lectures on Architecture
With Graphic Portion of the Lectures on Architecture
by Jean Nicholas Louis Durand

Introduction: Antoine Picon
Translation: David Britt

2) Mcluhan, Marshall, "Notes on Burroughs" from "On  Contemporary 
Literature" edited by Richard Kostelanetz, 1969, Discus Books, 

3) Paul D. Miller "Death in Light of the Phonograph ("Plagiarist's 
Delight" remix)" Annina Nosei Gallery, 1996

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