Thinking the architecture (II) | Óscar Tenreiro Degwitz

Article continuation of “Thinking the architecture (I)”.

Neo-clasicismo auténtico la “Neue Wache”, Palacio de la Guardia, en Berlín (1818) de Karl Friedrich
Authentic Neoclassicism to “Neue Wache”, Palace of the Guard, in Berlin (1818) by Karl Friedrich

It is necessary to clear what can understand by ideology, a word that is used to  apply only to the politics and produces doubts applied to other human activities.

I take this definition:

“An ideology is the group of ideas that inciden in elder or lower degree in the characteristics of the practice of any human activity, already was in the economic field, social, politician, cultural, morals or religious, or in any another derived of these”.

There is not as in the notion of ideology any pejorative content neither has whenever allude as it has done  from Marx, to economic or social superstructures. I remit me to the “group of ideas that inciden in the practical” which leaves space so that it can speak of an ideology of group (Van Dijk), almost-personal, in place of, as it is usual, ideology in terms partner-political. Which does not prevent to accept that that was informed by this.

As it follows of the definition, any ideology has a philosophical origin, arises from a way of seeing the world, of thinking it. But not for it the one who acts according to an ideology knows the philosophical thought that originated it.

This ignorance does not matter too much, because the ideology inevitably orientates a way of proceeding in the reality. It is established slightly similarly to a code of conduct, a norm for the action.

How this (moral) “way” ends up by expressing in the practice of an activity, if she tries to turn into art or is defined as an art: in what there makes, the writer, the poet the painter, the musician … the architect?

There are many possible answers to this question, all the incomplete ones. Because since I it have remembered with insistence, about any human activity what is done is thought while one makes think, that is to say, an activity expresses inside the limits of this activity.

It is thought doing.

Apart from any academic argument, which there are the very solid ones, it is understood by common sense: there is no thought before the action that her defines or guarantees results. And the mechanisms that do that to think “previous” leads to decisions on the action itself to do, writing with letters or notes, designing, are always vague. It them motivates the intuition, the reflection, the preferences and personal inclinations, the “technical” skills of every whom, the aesthetic or ethical affinities (“one and the same thing” according to Wittgenstein), a personal constellation of motives, virtues and limitations, with regard to what it corresponds to do in every case.

And in this point, in which it decides what is going to be done, from the ideology one gives the “jump” towards procedure that want to symbolize the ideological values. For Le Corbusier was Five Points (the building on piles, the free plant, the ceiling garden, the longitudinal window and the free front), for Adolf Loos to consider the architectural ornament to be a crime, in music, for Schönberg, the use of twelve equivalent notes, for Mondrian to separate of any pictorial representation of the nature, for the surrealistic ones the automatic writing of the poem. And so many other things, all of them “technical” prescriptions that are identified, that work as figures, of an ideology.

It is in these cases the Modern Ideology: to break with the immediate tradition, to do militancy (also politics) from the art, to incorporate the technological vision into the artistic occupation, to move away from an obligatory morality, to make a fuss to the social estate in revolutionary key, to turn the social topic (the housing of the masses for example or the investigation on the minimal housing), in aim of the architecture. Those who were embracing the ideology “of the Modern one” were accepting the technical code that was accompanying her.

Neo-clasicismo “fake” La ampliación de la National Gallery de Londres (1991) de Robert Venturi (1925
Neo-Classicism “fake”: The extension of the National Gallery of London (1991) of Robert Venturi (1925)

Ideology vs ideology.

This technical regulation of origin ideological, rigid and limited in his zeal to be opposed to the academic world Beaux-Arts, was the object of the postmodernist assaults. It is as well as a return appears to the philosophical speech as possible germ of a way of coming closer the architecture less dogmatic. But the postmodern vision, to hands of the opportunism, contaminated with revenge up to operating as reactionary ideology. There was ignored the important philosophical origin of the modern vision to reconnect, in ideological terms, with the codes Beaux-Arts. The notion of style is re-lived like that. They appear (they are the seventies of last century) the neoclassic english men “fake” like Quinlan Terry, the imitative pasticho to Robert Venturi in the National Gallery of London, Leon Krier’s escapisms, horrifying “Picasso’s Sands” of the Catalan Manuel Nuñez in Paris, the Bofill of here and there (fewer airports). On the ethical – ideological foundation having weakened free passage is left the manierismo of the “personal” language, the vision of the architect as instrumental resource of the Power, to the nostalgia, to the architecture spectacle, cheaply or expensivly. The architectural image is commercialized without bad conscience. And there is left aside the concept of social responsibility and his democratic implications, central aim for the modernity. This way, two decades later, China well costs a mass.

It is of this confused ideological broth wherefrom eighty arise in the dialogs with the philosophical French deconstructivismo (Jacques Derrida) led by Peter Eisenman. I pretext to create technical codes: break with the right angle, fragmentation (a simplistic analogy with the deconstrucción of the language), twistings, diagonals. Analytical methods of the language “are translated” into the architecture.

Have architects gone mad? Not, they are inventing a mode. And thither the Museums go, the MOMA lodges the “deconstructivism” in 1988. Success and prompt oblivion.

The article continues in “Thinking the architecture (III)”.

Óscar Tenreiro Degwitz, Architect.
Venezuela, march 2011,
Entre lo Cierto y lo Verdadero

Óscar Tenreiro Degwitz

Es un arquitecto venezolano, nacido en 1939, Premio Nacional de Arquitectura de su país en 2002-2003, profesor de Diseño Arquitectónico por más de treinta años en la Universidad Central de Venezuela, quien paralelamente con su ejercicio ha mantenido ya por años presencia en la prensa de su país en un esfuerzo de comunicación hacia la gente en general de los puntos de vista del arquitecto acerca de los más diversos temas, entre los cuales figuran los agudos problemas políticos de una sociedad como la venezolana. Tenreiro practica así lo que el llama el “pensamiento desde y hacia la arquitectura”, insistiendo en que lo hace como arquitecto en ejercicio, para escapar de los estereotipos y cautelas propios de la “crítica arquitectónica”. Respecto a la cual no oculta su desconfianza, que explica recurriendo al aforismo de Nietzsche sobre el crítico de arte “que ve el arte desde cerca sin llegar a tocarlo nunca”.

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