Reflections from damaged modernity

Brott, Simone (2015) Reflections from damaged modernity. In Lahiji, Nadir & Stein, Patrick (Eds.) Architecture, the Critical Project, and the Practice of Negativity: The Critique of Architecture in the Cultural Logic of Contemporary Society, 30 March 2015, University of Canberra, ACT.

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The cliché about modern architecture being the fairy-tale fulfillment of every fantasy ceases to be a cliché only when it is accompanied by the fairy tale’s moral: that the fulfillment of the wishes rarely engenders goodness in the one doing the wishing (Adorno). Wishing for the right things in architecture and the city is the most difficult art of all: since the grim childhood-tales of the twentieth century we have been weaned from dreams and utopias, the stuff of modernism’s bad conscience. For Adorno writing in 1953, Hollywood cinema was a medium of “regression” based on infantile wish fulfillment manufactured by the industrial repetition (mimesis) of the filmic image that he called a modern “hieroglyphics,” like the archaic language of pictures in Ancient Egypt which guaranteed immortality after death in Egyptian burial rites. Arguably, today the iconic architecture industry is the executor of archaic images of modernity linked to rituals of death, promises of omnipotence and immortality. As I will argue in this symposium, such buildings are not a reflection of external ‘reality,’ but regression to an internal architectural polemic that secretly carries out the rituals of modernism’s death and seeks to make good on the liabilities of architectural history.

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ID Code: 83620
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Modernity, Modern Architecture, Adorno, Iconic Architecture, Critical
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Design
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 [please consult the author]
Deposited On: 16 Apr 2015 06:11
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2015 04:17

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