Of the complex thing. Ambiguity, Difference, Time | Miquel Lacasta

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Complexity of a system (S), his diversity of elements (e1, e2, e3, en,) the different intensities of the interactions (i1, i 2, i 3, i n) between them, with the system and with elements and external systems (S1, S2, S3, Sn) | redcientifica.com

Of the complex thing. Ambiguity, Difference, Time.

Speaking about the complex thing is inabarcable. It would come to be like to trace the mythical cartographic map to scale 1:1 to that Borges was referring in the story Of The Rigor of the Science.1 The task, would need such a precise description, that the described object and the description itself would coincide. Nevertheless yes that can be tried at least, to speak about guidelines of behavior of the complexity, to decipher common aspects to a way of producing that we can rake today in almost all the vicissitudes of the life. And certainly also in the architecture.

This it is the spirit of the text that continues, to determine the aspects that arise or mutate of nature in the company and drive to the architectural practice towards new logics.

The Ambiguity.

While the first modernity was going in search of a uniform, monolithic and linear reality, the complex modernityis opened for a fragmented, opened and not linear reading of the reality.

It is assumed like own of the reality the fact that it could have different interpretations and that these coexist simultaneously, even coming from the same subject that issues them.

It is not that everything is a lie, but rather that everything is multi-real and therefore nearest to the ambiguous thing that to the concrete thing. Also it is indicative that today, the construction of a narrative space in the architecture, is so important as the construction of the physical properly architectural space. And it is not less showy than the appearance of the narrator, theoretically the own architect associated with the own construction of the narrative space, re-places a voice individualized in the center of the debate.

This transformation of the interpretations on the royal thing seems to be logical if we understand that while in the first modernity any idea was to the service of the company in abstract and every concept was molded in order that it was entering a great unidirectional statement, the complex modernity, every idea has right to his existence of genuine form since it constitutes a link in the construction of the individuality of the subject, of his identity, of his uniqueness.

The reality already is not constructed as a great common statement, but as the addition of thousands of statements, which of way, sometimes contradictory, explain or try to explain each of them, everything.

The truth tied to the moral judgment of the modernity, transforms in something instrumental at the disposal of the subject. The truth already is not an end, is a way. The truth is used, models itself, is deformed, as long as serve for the construction of the individual statement in direct relation with everything. This is what legitimizes the ideas, his contribution in the construction of the individual statement on everything.

This instrumentalización of the truth carries the loss of autonomy of the institution artin Peter Bürger’s terms. This one is, in any case, the most important transformation that happens in the bosom of the first modernity in his traffic towards the complex modernity.

The art, and to the rear, the architecture, it puts on the service of the individuals or group of individuals, turns into a way that serves to the collective construction of the individual identity or mike and for fault it serves also to the construction of a common multi-identity, based on the globalization of behaviors (that not of statements or identities).

The art becomes utilitarian,4 puts to the service of, and therefore his critique and his area of reflection becomes social. The art, on having mutated in what might be called a sociology proyectiva, transforms in political reflection, leaving the aesthetics.In a very summarized way, it can be said that the aesthetics die to hands of the media, the excellent support of the social reflection.

The difference.

Contrary to the modernity, the project that arises from the 60s emphasizes the difference notion, once untied the individual of the ideological monolithic corset. The valuation of the speech of other onere-places the ideological commitment in the fragment, arising a current of thought that legitimizes the political minorities, the racial minorities, the sexual minorities, the linguistic minorities and the social minorities. There is assumed that the part cannot surrender to everything, and what before was an object of marginalization, while speech turned aside on the official ideology, now is a raw material for the construction of the identity.

The difference is not in any case a force that centrifugal the company, it does not even spread, everything opposite, the difference needs of a reintepretation of the hierarchy because the difference in if same it continues constituting a fundamental part of system, or as says Frederic Jameson, a system that constitutivamente produces differences, continues being a system.7

It might be said that the appearance of the difference as value, as distinction, does the most just company. Every “different entity” inside the company has the right to hoard the cultural own capital and to cultivate the aesthetic expressions that he believes suitably. Every speech adapts to the minority to the one that serves and constructs the signs of identity that differentiate and distinguish a minority from other one. In architecture the recovery that does Venturi of the North American kitsch of middle class is not innocent. Venturi constructs a speech to the measure of a sector of the population who had never identified with a cultural expression so elitist as the architecture, of not having been that at any one time, anybody could put in value the shopping center, the hamburger shop and the redundancy between the sign and his meaning.

This conviviality between legitimized differences and cultural own expressions atomizes “the taste”. Already there is no a place shared by all where easily one accedes to the value of certain cultural expression. This place as imaginary group, it bursts in thousand pieces, so many people as minority groups with own voice, and starts spreading an enormous quantity of symbols and cultural images increasingly expressive and spectacular, though, destined to a consumption increasingly rapid and therefore provided with a content increasingly weak and digestible in a little time.

The first television way and the networks of instantaneous communication later, the personal computer and the mobile like support and Internet as instantaneous vehicle of distribution, are going to favor the conviviality between infinite cultural expressions of the difference in all the fields of the knowledge, but especially in those that allow an easy and rapid consumption. The first distinctions between the culture of the elite and the popular culture are going to remain literally swept of the map to turn into a paste where each one can find his cultural niche.

Sailing along such a quantity of claims is easy. Here the complexity will come defined by the aptitude to structure a criterion of variable geometry between infinite options to choosing, and to develop a coherent statement that so much can go of a very simple speech and plane destined for a more massive consumption, up to the most perverse sophistication of a cultural expression destined for the scantiest individuals it sufficiently cultivated and trained to be capable of tasting an exquisiteness.

Before, the way for the excellence was perfectly delimited and preprogrammed, was simple and though it was not exempt from effort, there was had always the safety that was the correct one.

The complex modernity by contrast is a constant exercise of orientation between infinite cultural ways, is more, the possible contradiction is totally assumed so that it is possible to construct a statement from different minority adscriptions in such a way that the recombination of cultural expressions of diverse origins, it can end up by creating a genuinely new expression.

A more own image of a cultural “trencadis”, which of a tradition academicista, a nearest reality to the miscegenation, the mixture and the copy and paste, that of the purity, the integrity and the predetermined thing.

The time.

The vector time is the revitalizing one of a paralyzed and culturally hermetic reality inherited from the modernity. What has come to be been called the postmodernity, in his first years of stupefaction, does a qualitative jump on having made compatible the past and all the cultural own expressions of the tradition, with the present. This recombination, this conviviality past and present entity, does not stop being a coarse attempt of “feeding” to the popular classes. On the one hand the legitimacy of the middle classes is assumed for the construction of an own statement, since we have seen before. On the other hand there is assumed also that the cultural standard of these middle classes is not the sufficiently sophisticated thing as to digest a too complex, dense and conceptual advanced statement, for what the future remains rejected as temporary space from which to shape the speech.

The past led on the present will have to be the time on which to add some value to the statement. In fact the elites always send to the past for which actually the past they belongs. They have constructed the world as we know it. The first postmodern strategy is so to revalue the past simply appropriating it. Under the excuse of which it puts in value on a collective memory, suddenly spent and present they constitute the limits of the temporary space on which to construct the cultural images of the middle classes. Hereby one manages to materialize the narrative of the recollections. The collective memory gives stability to the individuals, establishes them.

This conception of the past, even seeming to be nostalgic or melancholy, it it is not completely. The activists of the past, claim that the eclecticism of the postmodern movement is of a rationality that distinguishes it and removes it from the traditionalism, the past, which presence we protest, is not a golden age to being recovered. It is not the Greece as infancy of the world, about which he was speaking Marx, attributing universality, permanency and exemplary nature to him in certain aspects of the European tradition. The presence of the past that can help to make us children of our time is, in our field, the past of the world. It is the global system of connected and connectable experiences for the society.8

In any case the past remains like that legitimized to be free and eclécticamente arranged for his consumption in the present. The so called postmodern architecture, actually it legitimizes the past only as product of consumption in the present, so that paradoxically, more past, more present.

Of the hand of the technological development, specially of the socialization of the computer of tablecloth first and of the technologies of the information and of the knowledge later, the company is going to suffer a few convulsions that are going to put the individuals in the trigger of a future time.

Far from all emancipation, the technology little by little will be “enslaving” the individuals in a conception of future destined to be emaciated. An interesting transition takes place between the first moment of the complex modernity where one seeks to legitimize the past by means of the postmodern movement, and a technological socialization at the beginning of the 90s that will legitimize the future under the slogan

“the future already is here”

of so many advertising announcements that sell technology.

An authentic imaginary group is going to construct him to great speed, in fact the speed idea in if same she will come to be one of the protagonists of the common social space. Technologically submitted, all our life turns about the last “update”, of the speed of connection, of having coverage, of acquiring the last innovation in hardware and being the first ones in doing what before was impossible, as calling for telephone without cables, sailing along Internet from the mobile, doing an on-line item, etc.

The literature on the changes that the company has experienced in the latter 30 years due to the technological jump, is infinite.Nevertheless summarizing very much the consequences through that it has had in the company this

“living anchored in the future”,

it is necessary to say that precisely this future time is totally legitimized between the individuals, that is to say, the idea of future is an object of interest, when not of adoration.

Therefore the collapse of the future on a hypertrophied present will not come from the hand of an expectation intelectualizada, not from an aesthetic prefigured offer, will come from the technological accessibility constituted by authentic social revulsives in the shape of device capable of satisfying all the options of social relation, already be these of professional, affective or familiar base. This socialization of the technology is going to transform not only the projection models towards what before we were in the habit of calling future, but simply it transforms the future into an immediacy. And in the same strategy, the future rushed at a present literally anabolizado, will have Smartphone’s form of social networks and of technological continued innovation.

In the complex modernity the vector time is defined by a swollen” present swelled of past and swelled of future. The complexity of our epoch resides among other things in that the present must incorporate the past as we saw in the postmodern movement and it must be capable of incorporating the future, of the hand of the hypermodernity.10

Paradoxically both considerations on the past and the future do of the present a species of reinforced time. The avalanche of events to which we are submitted every day, some from the past and others from the future, they end up by turning our life into a species of constant enormously dense present. It is not time to think in the tomorrow because already we are installed in him, is not time that to lose with the past because this one, already it lives with us.

In the condensed time of the contemporaneousness another option does not exist that of trying to manage the complexity, or said differently the complexity arises when “everything”, any thing, potentially can happen at the same time.

Miquel Lacasta. PhD architect
Barcelona, july 2012


1 BORGES, Jorge Luís, El Hacedor, Debolsillo, Barcelona 2012The text of Borges is so delicious that I cannot stop writing it here:

“In that Empire, the Art of the Cartography achieved such a Perfection that the Map of an alone Province was occupying the whole City, and the Map of the Empire, the whole Province. With the time, these Enormous Maps did not satisfy and the Cartographers’ Colleges raised a Map of the Empire, which had the Size of the Empire and was coinciding punctually with him. Less addicted to the Study of the Cartography, the Following Generations understood that this extensive Map was Useless and not without Ungodliness they delivered it to the Inclemencies of the Sol and the Winters. In the Deserts of the West there last torn into pieces Ruins of the Map, lived by Animals and by Beggars; in the whole Country there is no another relic of the Geographical Disciplines”.

3 It is specially interesting BÜRGER, Peter, Theory of the Forefront, Peninsula, Madrid, 1987. In him, Peter Bürger establishes a distinction between modernity and forefront. While the forefront is characterized when the critique does not spread to other aesthetic currents but the institution excels itself art, that is to say the forefront does not contest an artistic previous expression but it attacks the status of the art in the bourgeois company, the modernity provokes an aesthetic critique and the autonomy of the institution consolidates art. While the forefront tries to change the position of the art inside the relations of production, the modernity tries to change only his forms. In this respect probably it would be more suitable to speak about “complex forefront”, that of complex modernity.

In this respect to the complex modernity it is possible to attribute to him since we were aiming at a behavior of forefront, according to Peter Bürger:

“the European movements of forefront can be defined as an assault to the status of the art in the bourgeois company. They do not contest an artistic previous expression – a style-, but the institution art in his separation of the vital practice of the men. When the avant-gardists raise the exigency of which the art returns to be practical, they do not want to say that the content of the works should be socially significant. The exigency does not refer to the content of the works; it is directed against the functioning of the art in the company, which decides both on the effect of the work and on his contained individual”.

Op. Cit. BÜRGER p. 103.

5 If the art loses his autonomy, that is to say the fact that “the art does not serve for anything”, and therefore there could not be done the art for art’s sake, his area of reflection, of conceptualization, it eliminates under the yoke of that area the one that serves. The aesthetics are undissociable to the autonomy of the art and of the institution art.

This way it is since synthetically Craig Owens values the ascent of the statements of the minorities, specially the recoveries feminists in his contribution. OWENS, Craig, “The discourse of the others: feminists and postmodernism”, The Anti-Aesthetic: essays on postmodern culture, Bay Press, Seattle, 1983, p. 62.

7 JAMESON, Frederic, “Marxism and Postmodernism”, New Left Review, núm. 176, julio-agosto 1989, p. 34.

8 PORTOGHESI, Paolo, After modern architecture, Rizzoli, Nueva York, 1982, p. 26.

9 I do not want to stop mentioning here three books of reference on the topic, the first one curiously it is a novel that turned into work of worship to understand the technological culture that one was approaching, DERY Mark, Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century, Grove Press, Nueva York, 1997, the second one belongs to the sociologist Manuel Castells, indisputable voice on the changes that the age of the information they are provoking in the economy, the company and the culture in CASTELLS, Manuel, La Era de la Información Vol.3, Fin de Milenio, Alianza Editorial, Barcelona, 1997 and the third party is the compendium of publishing houses of the magazine en.red.ando published between 1996 and 1997 for the scientific journalist Luís Ángel Fernández Hermana, en FERNÁNDEZ HERMANA, Luís Ángel, En.red.ando, Ediciones B, Barcelona, 1998.

10 The term belongs to the French sociologist Gilles Lypovetsky. His thought, specially sharp to treat the step of the modernity to the postmodernity, and from the postmodernity to the hypermodernity they can be in LIPOVETSKY, Gilles, La Era del Vacío, Anagrama, Barcelona, 2003 y LIPOVETSKY, Gilles, Los Tiempos Hipermodernos, Anagrama, Barcelona, 2006.

Es cofundador en ARCHIKUBIK y también en @kubik – espacio multidisciplinario. Obtuvo un Ph.D. con honores (cum laude) en ESARQ Universitat Internacional de Catalunya UIC y también fue galardonado con el premio especial Ph.D (UIC 2012), M.arch en ESARQ Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, y se graduó como arquitecto en ETSAB Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya . Miquel es profesor asociado en ESARQ desde 1996. Anteriormente, fue profesor en Elisava y Escola LAI, y también en programas de postgrado en ETSAB y La Salle. Fue arquitecto en la oficina de Manuel Brullet desde 1989 desde 1995.


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