Right guys, here is the latest draft - still very unfinished but I would like some discussion to gear me up to finishing it - so far it is very philosophically based- i intend to add my previous subjective experiences later on so that i can hopefully make the reader have a personal connection and is able to understand the philosophy much easier. Anyway. Let me know what you think of it. Do bare in mind is a very sketchy draft!
authenticity versus simulacrum________________________________________
Harold Noonan describes identity and sameness to possess identical or equal meanings. He clarifies however that these terms may possess more than one meaning individually. To clarify his point he poses dogs as an example; he denotes that ‘Poodles and Great Danes are qualitatively identical because they share the property of being a dog.’ In this aspect ‘identical’ becomes a property of identity; however, both races of dogs differ in themselves physically, and behaviorally . In another example, we can take the definition of identity as a quality that presents individuality, in which case the element in question is implied to be unique, in other words one must assume it has no equal.
It is at the root of both of these definitions that lays the emergence of the contradiction. In one hand one takes identity to be that which shares a common characteristic with something else - a sameness, hence it is identifiable. Conversely, there is the identity which something can possess that makes it distinctive - its uniqueness lets say.
In architecture we tend to refer to the identity of a building either as something we can compare it by or that which makes it unique - one of a kind. Take the Grande Arc De La Defense in Paris for example, a building in its own right - however it can be immediately associated to its neighbor, the Arc de Triumph. It is an implication of their form and lieu; their being so near each other which makes it almost impossible to restrain past the obvious simulacrum. This relationship makes both identifiable - one for its historic relevance and the other for its immediate connotation to its predecessor - however it is the later reason that questions whether this building is authentic or whether it is paying homage to the other - or whether it can inversely be both?
Authenticity has been said, lies within the genuineness or truth behind something. Since ancient Japanese culture a term exists to denote a certain quality in objects and life that represents something which can only be created through time. Wabi Sabi is an apotheosis to ‘the beauty in all that is modest and humble [to what is] imperfect, impermanent and incomplete, to the beauty of things unconventional,’ It cannot be created by just making a piece of pottery in replica to a very ancient one; it is rather achieved through that piece of pottery having lived, aged, and dwelled through time, it is then its presence that is evoked as Wabi Sabi , an indefinite aesthetic, an identity.
Both aspects of identity, that of posing virtues of uniqueness to which we are awed by, and the other being something to which we come back to, a sort of deja-vu - influenced by what we have already seen before, come to inform the way we evaluate our surroundings and approach many aspects of our lives. We see it in the media, within our daily routine, amongst the many different cultures that surround us, through our architecture and in the way we experience places.
It could be said that perhaps one definition of the term cannot exist without the other. This explanation is logical to the second derivation as it needs something already there in order to be said that it has been influenced by such - however this becomes more difficult to apply to the first rooted idea that identity is unique and something therefore authentic. If we entrench ourselves on the basis of authenticity and that in order to affirm that something is authentic there must be something that tries to imitate it - as Buddhist beliefs of ying and yang express and as Socrates has famously said: “beauty would have no weight in a world without ugliness” thus in order to ultimately know beauty one must have met ugliness - one cannot be without the other. In rather ubiquitous terms it is in this somewhat oxymoron analogy that we find a rationale to our approach to certain lexis. It is perhaps this anecdotal reality that further instigates human behavior to be ultimately comparative.
In order to further understand this comparative superlative human intellect one can look into the overall theory of semiotics. The study of semiotics is rooted in the interlingual ability of signs to have common denotations amongst our lexis, our cultures even; however it can be focused on how it, it being the theory behind it, can be independently applied to a personal situation in order to further inform it.
Umberto Eco, renowned semiotician, dives into the knowledge of previous semioticians such as Saussure and Peirce amongst others in order to simplify the definition of Semiotics. According to Eco, Saussure’s definition of semiotics involves the notion of a “twofold entity - that which is the signifier and that which is signified” and that the relationship between these two is “established on the basis of a system of rules which is ‘la langue’”- idioms for example are a strong basis for symbols; its semiotic properties are indispensable in differentiating and assimilating different cultures. Furthermore, Eco enforces that those who share Saussure’s notion of semiologie as Saussure calls it, are able to “distinguish between intentional, artificial devices or signs and other natural or unintentional manifestation which do not, strictly speaking” as Saussure remarks, “deserve such a name.” It is here that Eco reveals Peirce’s understanding of semiotics as the “fundamental varieties of possible semiosis.” By semiosis, Peirce means “an action, an influence, which is or involves a cooperation of three subjects, such as a sign, its object and its interpretant.” In contrast to Saussure’s proposal that a sign’s definition denotes “qualities of being intentionally emitted and artificially produced,” Peirce’s definition of sign is rather less anthropomorphic and suggests that a sign is “something which stands to somebody for something in some respects or capacity” or as Eco simply puts it, “a sign is everything that can be taken as significantly substituting for something else.” Within this theory of an object possessing the qualitative notion of something else so that the ‘interpretant’ is instinctively obtaining his or her own interpretation of what that object represents for his or her own self is where we start to understand the significance that personal experience partakes on our future endeavors.
During a trip to Barcelona, a group of Architecture students were asked to [example to be inserted and annotated soon]
If we extract this ideology of substitution and replacement through some sort of sign or symbol, we start to understand where the comparative properties of semiotics and those discussed previously start to relate. Eco reminds us that there must be three entities for semiotics to exist – the sign, its object and its interpretant.
- introduce psychoanalysis. [research more on this subject]
the three moments of social space_____________________________________
Jeff Malpas interprets Heidegger‘s views on being and presence as both coinciding as one, he clarifies however that ‘presence is not some simple standing there of the thing independently of all else, but is indeed a matter of coming into relatedness with things in their sameness and difference in their unity and multiplicity.’ Malpas points out that we still need to inquire into what it means to be familiar with and to look after, what it means to reside, to dwell. Heidegger may imply through this philosophy that it is insufficient to merely have four walls and a roof in order to have a dwelling, in his attitude towards the subject it is not the actual thing but rather how we perceive the idea of dwelling, the sentiment it evokes, the experience.
Author Victor Burgin takes Henri Lefebvre’s book The Production of Space and digests its contents to its most fundamental idea - ‘to reject the conception of space as a “container without content,”’ he then follows to say that Lefebvre’s theory on space is ‘a product of human practice’ Burgin makes it a point that Lefebvre only considers this “spatial practice” or as the theorist calls it the perceived space one of three ‘moments of social space.’ Burgin summarizes this perceived space along with the two other moments of space - conceived and lived - as the following:
Perceived space is what is ‘already observed, [it] is the material expression of social relations in space: a market place, a bedroom, a lecture theatre, a guetto - the spatial practice.’
Conceived space is the conceptual abstractions that may inform the actual configuration of such spatial practices’ he gives Le Corbusier’s “modular” as an example to this principle and also refers to it as the representations of space.
Lastly, the lived space ‘is that which is appropriated by the imagination - that which “overlays physical space making symbolic use of its objects” and is predominantly non-verbal in nature.’ It is the representational space.
[insert annotated example - Barcelona maybe]
While researching Phenomenology, Joseph Fell concludes that ‘the entirety of Heidegger’s thinking turned out to be a protracted effort at remembering the place in which all human experience - practical or theoretical, willed or reasoned, poetic or technical - has always come to pass.’ Burgin reinforces this element of experience through his research on place, time and memory, he agrees with Lefebvre and consequently with Heidegger, in that ’mental space and social realities are in reality inseparable.’ In his introduction to his book, In/Different Spaces: place and memory in visual culture, he concludes that ‘an identity implies not only a location but a duration, a history. A lost identity is lost not only in space, but in time.’
analysing the subconscious_________________________________________
Psychoanalysis, ‘a psychological theory developed by Sigmund Freud based on the ideas that mental life functions on both conscious and unconscious levels and that childhood events have a powerful psychological influence throughout life‘ is a core principle in understanding our response to place and identity. The idea that place does not exist without presence, and this in turn does not exist but without time, as explained in the previous chapter, is also essential in understanding the people we have become, and the spaces we inhabit today. A psychoanalytical evaluation of an event can bring us closer to understand this dogma, and it in turn may help us ‘bring the processes of the unconscious into conscious awareness.’
Architect Christopher Day writes about the memories that lie within places. To illustrate this, he uses a common example of forgetting why one goes to another room, only remembering the reason once one goes back to where it all started. He says that ‘visiting - and particularly touching places of our childhood evokes long forgotten memories.’ an ethos already supported by psychoanalysis.
It is true, as you grow up there will be a point or various points in your life where you find yourself looking back at the place it all started, the beginning - the past. At this moment, there is a clearly formed image of what you remember this place to be like. When (and if) you finally bring yourself back to this place, and you drive past the secondary school you once attended, see the exact same patch of grass you used to sit down on and gaze at the world pass by - all of a sudden memories start to re-emerge and a feeling of nostalgia takes over in an instant. Gradually, you divert your view to the surroundings and start to realize how much the area has developed. One cannot expect a place to stay unchanged for such a long period of time; after all it is in our nature as humans to evolve and thus our environment with us. In that moment of transition from past to present, or as Lefebvre puts it - that moment in which perceived space becomes conceived space, is at that moment of realization, of slight change that we as humans naturally find ourselves uneasy with.
Upon arriving to the street you once used to cycle your bike through, familiar feelings start to rush through you once again. You know you’ve been there before, you even remember the place where you almost got run over by a passing car, the moment so vividly pops into your head for a second, but then you notice something different about this place too. The shrubs that you remembered when you were young have now grown into mature trees, once again making you enquire upon the concept of evolution and change. Something as simple as noticing an electric fence on your old neighbour’s house highlights the progressive influence of technology on the way we live and look at the world. This awkwardness related to change and more specifically, a place changing is suddenly obvious to you. You cannot help but question why it is that a place you remember so well, so lucidly, a place that has produced such a comfortable feeling of warmth, mollification and reminiscence can make you feel uneasy with the slightest of change?
In his book Spirit & Place, Day explains that surrounding ourselves by ‘forms of a particular quality works into the soul.’ He emphasizes that ‘all aspects of our environment work on us, through all our senses, and all at personal, cultural, and universal levels.’ Day is unequivocal that our response to milieu is not just out of subjective preference but rather involve physiological and psychological reactions.
So it is all bits and bobs at the moment - any ideas as to how to piece it together - do see where it is all heading to?
Cant wait to hear from you guys! Hope you enjoyed the holidays! xoxo