How Architecture Learned to Speculate

Research into the character of modern (architectural) culture. For the first time, the speculative in culture becomes a topic of critical investigation. Speculation is observed not as idealistic but as strategic acting within endless modernity. This modernity implies that speculation, as strategic acting, is not only applied to economic, but also to political, and aesthetic values. The consequences? Values become mobile, valuations become a play with high and low, authors (artists, architects, curators, writers) become winners or losers, and culture becomes fashion.

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including projects by Michael Najjar, Matthieu Laurette, NL Architects, PARA-Project, visiondivision, MVRDV, Aristide Antonas, David Schalliol, Kevin Bauman, FAT, David Trautrimas, JODI, Bernard Gigounon, Ralf Schreiber, Gitta Gschwendtner, Pascual Sisto, Darlene Charneco, Seyed Alavi, Helmut Smits, Ant Farm, 100101110101101.ORG, Caspar Stracke, and OMA.

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Release date: December 2009
Print run: 999
Number of pages: 246
Measurements: 19 x 12 x 1,1 cm
Weight: 290 g
ISBN: 978-3-00-029876-9

from inside:
“Architecture calls for a fashion theory, which might show that modernity actually implies speculative strategies: speculation, not as a form of contemplative and philosophical reflection, but of Proudhonian strategic and risky acting that produces differences, parallel to price differences of the stock market. Architecture calls for a theory that treats architecture not with regards to content – content is mobile –, but with regards to strategy.
Only the figure of fashion can explain speculation as a subjective strategy that produces difference. Fashion is a meta-disciplinary concept describing the cultural economy of changing values. Georg Simmel is the first to recognize this general phenomenon. Fashion is the up and down, the in and out of values, which is mainly known from the stock market. Feverish states can, however, be observed in all fields of modern society. Simmel describes the volatile processes of fashion as a symptom of the immediate, fast, modern life. These processes run outside of natural causality, and they produce an artificial system of valorization, which has nothing to do with functional considerations, questions of content, or cause and effect. Fashion is rather about moods, irrationality, and the bias for the break, which establishes new and demotes old values.”