THEORY AS INSTRUMENTAL FOR LEARNING The first theory module will introduce you to some large-scale perspectives for thinking about architectural questions specific to our contemporary information age. Beyond following one of the many trends that have emerged within recent years like parametric and algorithmic design, digital tectonics and materialism, we will take a more abstract view on computers and look at information technology from the perspective of infrastructures. Many new tools have been introduced and meanwhile made accessible for architects in a professional, ready-to-use format. Once you can articulate, formulate and communicate what you want to do, as an architect, the technical steps to realize it can (comparatively) easily be organized with the help of CAAD/ CAM, open source and open design communities.What turns out to be most challenging today concerns what kinds of questions or horizons we can frame for our experiments, applications or projects. This inverts the role of theory as being in the service of practice to practice being in the service of theory. We don‘t see the value of theory anymore in providing collective perspectives on given circumstances, but in providing exercises that help developing individually the intellectual capabilities to view and consider the complexities of a situation. WITHIN IN AN ECONOMY OF ENTROPY The sun sends 10‘000 times more energy to the earth as all of mankind is currently using. Daily. Photovoltaics puts us in the historically singular position that we need no longer rely on exploiting the natural storages, we can harvest solar energy by tapping into the solar stream directly. Of course it will still hold that the total amount of energy in the universe can be considered constant, yet the amount of energy encapsulated within agricultural growth and urban cultivation is not. It seems hardly an exaggeration to say that this changes the way we relate between culture and nature: with regard to the natural storages, we can harvest, store and integrate an abundant amount of surplus energy into our cultural milieus. Our hypothesis for architecture is that the so-called information age gives rise to emerging forms of solar societies, for which an abundance of clean energy will be characteristic. Energy can be decoupled from resources. With networked, information technological infrastructures, it turns into a problem of logistics. Thanks to the control of electricity by information technology, energy can be rendered into any form of energy: potential, kinetic, chemical, thermic. We can move things, transform substances, deliver messages, install and operate infrastructures of nearly any kind. But how can we start to think about the forms of living and building in solar societies? GLOBALIZATION AND COMPUTATIONAL SYNTHESIS – ENGENDERING THE EARTH IN ITS KIND There may be, for the time being, no notions of common sense in sight of how to integrate this technological feasibility and genuinely symbolic artificiality into meaningful horizons. All the more is it exciting and important to work conceptually on how to delineate and refer to these novel consistencies that are genuinely symbolic. This first theory module aims at gathering, discussing and refining some crucial vocabulary for talking about our contemporary world. A great emphasis of the course will lie on training the students in a kind of architectonic close reading of demanding texts. Our core reading will be Geology of morals – what does the earth think it is? by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. This text not only provides a wealth of useful concepts to think through matters of general concern, as for example raised by Peter Sloterdijk in What happened in the 20th century, and in Geometry in the Colossal: the Project of Metaphysical Globalization, but it also operates – arguably – in a manner that is not primarily descriptive. The tactical way in which this text is crafted inevitably alienates the reader from trying to consent or dissent with the author‘s views, and just because of that it lends itself so well as an exercise in learning through encoding and decoding. One needs to learn handling the concepts proposed in it not unlike one needs to learn how to swim, or how to find one‘s own way around an immediate problem like wanting to create attention for a project: there is not direct and strictly rule-based way to achieve this. Thus what we will focus on and train in the first theory module is how to acquire literacy in conception, as resulting from appropriating (through training) various acts of abstraction. These acts will feel unnatural and uncomfortable, just like gymnastics in sports does. But like in the case of the latter, training in acts of abstraction will give you a „new“ body to think in. In a final exercise the students will work on presenting one or several of the architectonic concepts by dramatizing them as a stage play in short videoclips to share and distribute. The results will be presented to the CAAD group at ETH. Throughout the course, the students will be expected to present in class every second day a next step of how they want to dramatize the concepts of their choice. The feedbacks and the discussions will consider in plenum how to go about it next. Like this, everyone will be able to learn from the learning of the others in an intense way. Monday October 27th – Friday November 29th Seminar meetings daily: 2-6 pm -> this as a rule, be prepared for spontaneous changes (timewise) Guest lectures: in the form of workshops within our usual time schedule: Emiddio Vasquez – Nov. 6th: on Riemannian Manifolds and their role in Deleuze and Guattari‘s philosophy (University of Lisboa, Portugal). Dr. phil. Christina Vagt – Nov. 28th: Buckminster Fuller‘s Vector Cosmology. Technical University Berlin, 2013 visiting professor at Bauhaus Universität Weimar. Readings Peter Sloterdijk: What happened in the 20th century? Cultural Politics: an International Journal, Volume 3, Number 3, November 2007. Peter Sloterdijk: Geometry in the colossal: the project of metaphysical globalization. from: Sphären II Globen (Suhrkamp, 1999) pp 47-72. Translated by Samuel A Butler, Department of Philosophy, State University of New York at Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA. George Bataille: The meaning of general economy. In: The Accursed Share: An Essay On General Economy. Volume I: Consumption George Bataille: Laws of a general economy. In: The Accursed Share: An Essay On General Economy. Volume I: Consumption. MAIN READING: Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari: The Geology of Morals (What does the Earth think it is?) in: A thousand plateaus. Capitalism and Schizophrenia II. Continuum Press, London and New York 2004.
EXAMPLE OF A FINAL VIDEO BY JOEL LETKEMANN DRAMATIZING DELEUZE & GUATTARI’S “RHIZOME” AND “GEOLOGY OF MORALS” IN MILLE PLATEAUS, ENTITLED “WE”: