Since antiquity and throughout different cultures, the theoretical study of forms is bound up with an ideality that can (somehow) equip us with forms as templates to anticipate happenings, estimate consequences, express desires and plan accordingly – in short, to organize our experience of reality in terms of sequences, series, orders. In this module on architecture and theory within the paradigm of information technology we will take a comparatistic perspective on the issue of form and formality, based on the following hypothetical narrative:

Let us assume that the theoretical study of forms originates with people starting to consider forms abstracted from things, from their immediate corporeal presence, and projecting them – theorematically – into a realm of ideality where, for the sake of the hypotheticity at stake in such abstraction, time does not pass, presence is virtual (not corporeal), and nil corruption prevails. Let us assume furthermore that this narrative of origination does not mark a particular moment in time as the beginning or end of an unfolding story of progress in intellection, but that it incorporates a theme which gains actuality time and time again in different manners. In short, we will assume that there are different symbolic constitutions proper to different conceptions of such ideality and formality. To each of these symbolic constitutions corresponds what we will call – in analogy to the Kantian forms of intuition (space and time) – a form of partitioning (eine Urteilsform) which manifests itself in how we think about counting and measuring, by numbers, magnitudes, units. Let us refer to the respective symbolicness of these constitution in analogy to distinctions well established in number theory as a) natural, b) integral (including amendments regarding zero and negatives), c) real (including amendments regarding infinitesimals and transcendentals), d) complex (including amendments regarding imaginaries), and from here we find ourselves, on the further levels of abstraction with the various algebraic number fields, domains, rings, in what we could call – if it were not, inevitably, an intolerable naturalization of the symbolic – a veritable Cambrium Period in the Geology of Symbolic Ideality.

Looking at the constitution and the role of series in architecture M three While our main interest is, of course, in the algebraic constitutions marked as d) and following, we will focus in this module mainly on the symbolic constitutions a) to c), because those are the ones we can study by learning to read the artifacts they have produced. We will try to develop and train a literacy based on studying how the different forms of partitioning allow to govern a subject matter, by establishing different regimes of operation which we will call, allegorically, the geometry of form, the arithmetics of form, and the algebra of form. Within each of these forms of governance, what can be identified as “simple” and as “complex” varies categorically: within a geometry of forms (which we can allegorically relate to Euclid) a set of figures can be considered elements; within an arithmetics of forms (whose allegorical persona may be seen in Descartes) certain values and their ranges are considered absolute; within an algebra of forms it is the domains over which the values range that gain a fundamental role (this last paradigm is too recent to ascribe it an allegorical persona – certainly Galois would be a candidate, but also Euler, Gauss, Cayley, Dirichlet or Dedekind).

We will try to develop and train such a literacy by looking at forms and their symbolic constitutions within the registers of Grammar and of Logics. We will assume that a Grammar of Forms treats forms in terms of inclination and conjugation according to morphological and syntactical rules, and a Logics of Forms treats forms in terms of their nesting and integration into more complex constructions. Schematically speaking, we will assume that Grammars allow for and aim at the differentiation of forms through conservative modulation, and Logics allow for and aims at the differentiation of forms through integrating novel elements, values or ideas. Our core field of empirical investigations to study grammars will be the architectural artifacts of renaissance and classicism, and for studying different logics of forms we will look mainly at artifacts from baroque and historicist architecture.

The concrete task for each student is to choose one “topos of architectural artifacts” – the villa, the garden, the church, the palace, the market place, the street, etc – and work out a plausible series that can account for the differentiation of their topos throughout different regimes of operation, and the respective grammars and logics applied thereby.

Monday January 7th – Friday January 31st 2013 Seminar meetings daily: 3-5 pm -> this as a rule, be prepared for spontaneous changes (timewise)

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Unplanned Cinema – metropolis, circulation and method -> Guest lectured by Evan Calder Williams, January 28th – 31st 2013

This workshop centers on three intertwined histories – the cinema, capitalism, and the metropolis – to argue how the same problem structures all three: namely, how can the past, the frozen, the negated, and the accumulated be made to produce anew? And what does that generation leave behind? More prosaically, we will confront the issue of circulation as a way to give an account of economic forms, cultural forms, and the possible, though obscure and unassured, bond between the two. Even more simply, we’ll try to figure out, amongst other things, what the history of the action movie chase scene has to do with the history of city planning. In the workshop, we’ll do two main things: consider an argument together and develop methods of unconventional watching. First, we’ll work through a different approach to thinking about that well-established link between the metropolis and cinema, leaving behind more familiar accounts, such as how the cinema provides reflection on the shocks of experience and spatial dislocation during urbanization. Instead, reading both metropolis and cinema as forms of the generative tension between the static and the animated, we’ll see how the city – the advanced form of capital’s structure of circulation – finds expression in the cinema – the advanced form of reflection on and elaboration of that form – but, crucially, not because a film may take place in a city. The second thing we will do, in order to look at this tension and relation is to closely watch films. More specifically, we will watch not films as individual texts to be decoded but as sets of passages and tendencies, moments in a scattered history of social and spatial experience. For this reason, we’ll consider a set of fragments, genres, recurrent moments, and landscape. The stress will be on developing a method of watching adequate to this emphasis on circulation and style, a method that will attempt to denaturalize the temporal and narrative habits we have: fast-forward, wat ch out of order, takes films as collections of stills, slow things down until we can see them not as reflections on a life but elaborations what has been hiding in plain view.

Evan Calder Williams is a writer. His texts, talks, and performances deal with horror, technique, ornament, capital, and negation. He is the author of Combined and Uneven Apocalypse and Roman Letters. He is a Fulbright Fellow in Film Studies in Italy, where he is writing a dissertation on “anti-political” cinema in the 1970s. He writes for Film Quarterly, Mute, The New Inquiry, and Machete, and at his blog Socialism and/or Barbarism.

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on Capitalims

(readings list and video documentation follow soon)