I have always shied away from judgement, but I’ve pretty much concluded that western capitalism has remade everything into a single homogenous mass. While my day job is to articulate this mass (architect) my actual purpose I think really is to unmask it. I feel sort of like a Robin Hood of ideas, stealing from globalism and giving to those of us starved for localism and specificity of ideas.
By this I mean: I recently completed a concrete structure, and was far more excited about the structure as an expression BEFORE it got smeared with stucco and sealed up with tacky windows.
My work in concrete is inspired by many visits to urban parts of Mexico, and how they use it as an architectural finish. So I think for the next period my body of work will be to unmask this soulless homogenous monolith that we like to think of as “globalism” in its built form.
Most people react the same way, and the easiest summary that one heasrs is “there’s a Panera’s everywhere” (which replaced the ubiquitous Starbucks a couple years ago). Anyone who is aware has definitely noticed the homogenization of our built environment, and has reacted to it with native disdain. This is a mark of a healthy person, one who is wary of this trend.
But just as globalization protests in 2000’s Seattle Global Trade Convference were ultimately ignored and forgotten, so too will these individualistic protests. The Borg might just be right: “resistance is futile.”
Most people react by disconnecting from the monolith. I would liken tot the Kitty Genovese syndrome. No one is intervening, no one is calling the police, and when you confront witnesses, no one has seen it.
People do not want to get involved. Just as urban fatigue overcame the pthe witnesses to her awful 1964 murder, so too has it overcome those of us sitting forever at traffic lights, waiting in line at the store, parking in garages and walking to our cubicles.
The French writer Henri Lefebvre, who called it the “space of production,” could hardly have imagined the extent to which our society has remade itself into a machine. The machine extends to all corners of our lives, from the bathrooms in our houses to the skyline of a city. All are the same, differing only in small details.
Many see in this a new nihilism, a sense of meaninglessness to the life that we have created. What good is saving energy when we still consume it with wild abandon for escapism? Why have a biodegradable wrapping around a consumer product when that product itself has no purpose in the beginning? The profound purposelessness of most people’s individual actions and behavior has degraded our society to the point where we may lose the ability to conceive of a future at all.
So back to the monolith: I want to attack it, to see inside it, and to make it an object of examination. It is NOT too large or too inevitable to be broken down into scalable bits. It is not too homogenous to be localized, made specific to its time and place, and become a reflection of local cultrue.
Part of this will be to integrate a material into cement that holds thi skey to the future, introducing a dialectic into the monolith.