Thursday, September 05
06:30pm - 08:00pm
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Loeb Library, Gund Hall, 48 Quincy Street, Cambridge
Free and open to the public
Curator Ciro Najle will speak about his exhibition, joined by Iñaki Abalos, Chair of the Architecture Department, and Erika Naginski Professor of Architectural History.
"The Generic Sublime: Utopiods"
Skyscraper collectives, tower agglomerations, mixed-use developments, high-rise housing developments, luxury condominiums, airport hubs, office enclaves, industrial parks, hotel complexes, conference and financial centers, satellite cities, theme parks, thematic cities, branded cities, central districts, gated communities: what is the potential latent in extraordinarily large urban typologies currently developing around the world, and yet still restricted by the typological tradition of urbanism and by the predominant segregation of disciplinary domains? What is the reach of this potential to think aggressively about the contemporary metropolitan condition in order to imagine future developmental models? The Generic Sublime undertakes the project of radical integration of the skyscraper and takes it tot he level of the ultimate post-urban megalomania: a complex building that organizes the territory in a synthetic field of competition and synergy.
The Generic Sublime upgrades the potentials of the skyscraper by means of exploring the self-surmounting form that the anti-urban takes when assembled in a collective. If the skyscraper used to operate as a ready-made laboratory for new modes of life ‘to offer an aggressive alternative reality that discredits all naturalistic urban realities’, the Generic Sublime presents itself as the quasi-utopian laboratory that results when these realities operate in a multiplicity. This upgrade is based on the integration of organizational protocols at work in large-scale developmental types in a manifold singularity: the monstrous commune. Expressions of what can be regarded as a future anterior, these archaic configurations betray their own conditions of existence, the ruthless logics of maximum commercial benefit, through sheer intensification and self-estrange as a result of extreme extensiveness, operating at the highest level of nonlinearity in architecture.
Radically domesticated, the territory here achieves the artificial wilderness of a bold architectural artifact, whose power operates far beyond ideology, in a condition that can be named as utopioid, that is, of a similar form to but not the same as utopian. Restricted, austere, stringent, and simple in their premises, plentiful, expansive, and magnanimous in their expression, unbound of any dependence, or even any care for reason, utopioids employ any form of ratio, commercial effectiveness, cultural activism, artistic creativity, ideological radicality, as a means for the propagation of its canon: brutal indifference. In this move, radically emancipating the real into the realm of the fantastic by means of the instrumentalization of its same values, the straitjacket of the urbanism of good intentions, first untied by the skyscraper, is now taken to a new state of crisis, and is reconfigured with the blunt force of an artistic invention.