Artifice: (An Archeology of Postmodernism)

The styles of Philip Johnson, Charles Moore\’s historicism, the linguistics of Peter Eisenman, and the theatrics of Hans Hollein; the technophilia of Cedric Price and Richard Rogers; Cindy Sherman\’s Untitled photographs, the sketch comedy of Monty Python, Philip K. Dick\’s dystopian science fiction, the punk fashion of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren; the regulatory practices of the Environmental Protection Agency and the inhabitable environment of Skylab. These are only a few of the artifacts of postmodernism, the cultural turn initiated in the mid-60s and carried forward toward the close of the 20th century, but each is an important exemplar of the willful embrace of artifice.Artifice can reference a technique, an object, or a subject. It describes a deliberate, refined practice of making; it also denotes the resulting thing or idea as the product of a calculated scheme; and it can connote as well a cognitive state or conscious behavior that intends towards dissimulation. Artifice consequently provides as a crossing point of several epistemological modes, including aesthetics, ethics, ideology, and praxis. Although artifice is a root condition of architecture, its centrality to architecture has not always been readily admitted, because along with its invocations of skill and ingenuity, artifice also carries with it implications of cunning and contrivance.Taking the 60s, 70s, and 80s as its historical period, this reading seminar will consider the concept of artifice through various categories that encircle it — Design, Sincerity, Originality, Ugliness, Fiction, Virtuality, and others. Rather than rehearse disciplinary trajectories of architecture in this period, the course will employ the concept of artifice in order to situate those developments in a broader milieu . Readings drawn from architectural, literary, legal, and cultural theory will provide the framework for an archeology of the recent past.