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20 MARCH 2013

Radical Pedagogies in Architectural Education

"Pedagogical experiments played a crucial role in shaping architectural discourse and practice in the second half of the 20th century. In fact, the key hypothesis of our Radical Pedagogy[1] research project is that these experiments can be understood as radical architectural practices in their own right. Radical in the literal meaning from the Latin radice, as something belonging or relating to the root, to its foundations. Radical pedagogies shake foundations, disturbing assumptions rather than reinforcing and disseminating them. This challenge to normative thinking was a major force in the postwar field of architecture, and has surprisingly been neglected in recent years. ...

Architectural pedagogy has become stale. Schools spin old wheels as if something is happening but so little is going on. Students wait for a sense of activist engagement with a rapidly evolving world but graduate before it happens. The fact that they wait for instruction is already the problem. Teachers likewise worry too much about their place in the institutional hierarchies. Curricular structures have hardly changed in recent decades, despite the major transformations that have taken place with the growth of globalisation, new technologies, and information culture. As schools appear to increasingly favour professionalisation, they seem to drown in self–imposed bureaucratic oversight, suffocating any possibility for the emergence of experimental practices and failures. There are a few attempts to wake things up here and there but it's all so timid in the end. There is no real innovation.

In response to the timidity of schools today, the Radical Pedagogy project returns to the educational experiments of the 1960s and '70s to remind us what can happen when pedagogy takes on risks. It's a provocation and a call to arms."

(Beatriz Colomina with Esther Choi, Ignacio Gonzalez Galan and Anna–Maria Meister, 28 September 2012, The Architectural Review)

1). Radical Pedagogy is an ongoing multi–year collaborative research project by a team of PhD candidates in the School of Architecture at Princeton University, led by Beatriz Colomina and involving seminars, interviews and guest lectures by protagonists and scholars. The project explores a remarkable set of pedagogical experiments of the 1960s and '70s that revolutionised thinking in the discipline. Each student is working on one of these experiments and collectively mapping the interconnections and effects of these experiments towards a major publication and exhibition.

Fig.1 Tournaments in the Course 'Culture of the Body', at the Valparaíso School, 1975. Courtesy of Archivo Histórico Jose Vial, Escuela Arquitectura y Diseño, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso

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1960s1970s20th centuryacademic disciplinesactivism • Alberto Perez-Gomez • Alexander Girard • Alexis Josic • alternative visions • Anna-Maria Meister • architectural discourse • architectural educationarchitectural pedagogyarchitectural practice • architectural radicalism • architecturearchitecture schoolsartificial intelligence • autochthonous tools • Beatriz Colomina • brave new worldBuckminster Fullerbureaucratic reduction • bureaucratic structures • call to armscapitalist structures • Cedric Price • challenging conventionsCharles Eamescold war • collective defiance • conceptual speculation • consumable plastics • conventional logicconventionalityconventions • cultural milieu • cultural transformation • curricular structures • curriculum innovation • cybernetics • Dalibor Vesely • Daniel Libeskind • David Leatherbarrow • decentralised university • Denise Scott Brown • design disciplinedesign educationdesign formalismdesign fundamentalism • disciplinary assumptions • disciplinary limits • disciplinary protocols • disciplinary self-reflexivity • emerging practices • Emilio Ambasz • Esther Choi • experimental pedagogy • experimental practices • experimental teachinggeopolitical landscape • George Candilis • George Nelson • Germano Celant • Giancarlo De Carlo • Gillo Dorfles • globalisationGyorgy KepesHannah Arendthegelian dialecticHenri Lefebvrehermeneutics • Ignacio Gonzalez Galan • information culture • institutional authority • institutional critique • institutional hierarchies • institutionalisation • instrumentality • Jean Baudrillard • Joseph Rykwert • linguisticsman machine • mass produced desire • mass productionmodernist tradition • Mohsen Mostafavi • new social ordernew technologiesNicholas Negroponte • non-architecture • non-school • Octavio Paz • pedagogical experiments • pedagogical institutions • pedagogy • pedagogy experiments • phenomenology • post-technological society • professionalisation • progressive pedagogical initiatives • provocationquestioning traditions • radical architectural pedagogies • radical architectural pedagogy • radical architectural practices • radical pedagogical experiments • radical pedagogies • radical pedagogy • radical practice • radical practices • radical strategies • radical upheaval • radicality • radice • rapidly evolving world • Ray Eamesreconceptualisationredesigningreinterpretationresearch project • retreat into formalism • return to order • Robin Evans • science fictionself-reflexivity • Shadrach Woods • socio-political • socio-political efficacy • spaceships • speculative interventionsspeculative proposalssubversive actions • Suzanne Keller • taking risks • techno-utopia • technological • technological advancestechnological determinism • Texas Rangers • The Architectural Review • transformational engagementUmberto Ecoutopian perspectiveutopian technological prophecyVietnam war

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
27 NOVEMBER 2012

Technological advances expand the artist's expressive vocabulary

Exhibition: "Bruno Munari: My Futurist Past", Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39A Canonbury Square, London, N1 2AN, From 19 September 2012 to 23 December 2012.

Bruno Munari was a "founding member of the Movimento Arte Concreta (M.A.C.) in Milan, which was established towards the end of the 1940s. This acted as a catalyst for new developments in Italian abstraction, and aspired to bring about a 'synthesis of arts' in which traditional painting would be complemented by new tools of communication, demonstrating the possibility of a convergence of art and technology, creativity and functionality. Reflecting his belief that technological advances expanded the artist's expressive vocabulary, by 1950 Munari had begun to experiment with creating works by means of projecting light through compositions made from a wide range of materials such as coloured and transparent plastic, organic elements and Polaroid filters, producing beautiful and intriguing images of vast dimensions."

(Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 2012)

Fig.1 Bruno Munari, Aeroplanes and Archers, 1932, mixed media, 34.8 x 24.8cms Courtesy Massimo & Sonia Cirulli Archive

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19071998artart and technologyartistBruno Munaricolour and lightConstructivist-inspiredconvergence • creativity and functionality • exhibitionexpressive vocabularyFuturism (art movement) • Futurist past • hanging mobile • hanging objects • Italian • Italian abstraction • Italian art • Milanmobilesmodernist tradition • Movimento Arte Concreta • new tools of communication • photomontagesculpturespatial environments • synthesis of arts • technological advances • transparent plastic • uncritical attitude towards progress • use of space • useless machinesworking across disciplines • working across media

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
06 SEPTEMBER 2011

Riduan Tomkins' formal use of figuration

"Figuration itself is not inconsistent with the Modernist tradition since, even the most abstract of Modernist work makes references to things outside itself, yet, of all the features in Tomkins' work, the distinctive way in which he uses figuration seems to set it apart from the rest. Giacometti–like (although informed by Picasso and Matisse) troupes of figures edge around the paintings always playing some formal role but never solely in virtue of their form, scale, colour or location. Typically they point, both literally and figuratively, to formal elements in the Works, including, curiously enough, each other – but they also fly on trapezes, hold safety nets, dance and strike poses. None of the figures, however, are merely incidental to formal issues and although interdependent with them they have, as well, a life of their own. This invites interpretation, at least to the extent that we find ourselves reflecting on how and why the figures appear to us as they do – like mute vandevillians whose master, Tomkins, having rendered them onto some flattened proscenium, orchestrates their participation in a frozen theatrical tragicomic tableau. However, we cannot know the purpose of such entertainments beyond their capacity to intrigue and amuse us."

(Ted Bracey, 1987)

2) Ted Bracey (1987). Robert McDougall Art Gallery [now Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu].

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abstraction • Alberto Giacometti • Aotearoa New Zealandauthentic residueChristchurchcolour fielddancedesign formalismfigurationfiguresfigures in spaceflat spaceflat surface • flattened proscenium • formformal elements • formal issues • frozenHenri Matisselegitimacyminimalist artmodernismmodernist traditionPablo Picassopainting • pentimenti • pentimento • proscenium arch • reflexive aesthetic practices • Riduan Tomkins • scale • School of Fine Arts • strike a pose • tableautableau vivant • Ted Bracey • theatricaltragicomictrapezeUniversity of Canterbury • vaudeville • visual language

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
29 MAY 2009

The Photomontages of Hannah Höch

"The 'bob–haired muse', the 'holy shears' and 'Dada's good girl' are a few of the epitaphs that prevail in the comfortable little niche art history has carved out for Hannah Höch. These sound bites are seriously challenged by this travelling retrospective organised by the Walker Art Center. 'The Photomontages of Hannah Höch' momentously reconstructs her marginalised role in early 20th–century art and perhaps even ordains her as the single most influential female artist of the century. The exhibition surveying Höch's 55 years of photomontage not only rescues her from the anti–art antics of the legendary Berlin Dada circle but inclusively chronicles her private and aesthetic journey through the social and cultural constructs that have emerged in the 20th century. While she may have been remembered by her bombastic Dada colleagues for her 'sandwiches, beer and coffee', her lifetime of artistic practice reveals a vital and critical woman who could magically collide disparate reproductions of needlepoint patterns, political figures, film stars, animal life and non–Western artefacts into explorations of androgyny, Aryan activity, gender roles, imperialism, race and lesbianism."

(Michelle Grabner, Issue 33 March–April 1997, Frieze Magazine)

Fig.1 Hannah Höch "Entwurf für das Denkmal eines bedeutenden Spitzenhemdes", 1922, Entwurf, Tafelmalerei, Collage, 27,4 x 17 cm, Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Ikonographie (Iconclass)

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1920s • abstract collage • aesthetic journey • androgyny • anti-art posture • anti-composition • artartistartistic practiceBauhaus School • Berlin Dada • collagecoloured papercultural constructs • cut-and-sew lines • cut-outDadadecorationdecorative arts • decorative beauty • decorative sewingdesign formalismearly 20th centuryembroideryembroidery design • erotic photomontage • female activity • female artist • female features • female leisure • feminist artist • film starformal elementsFrieze (magazine)gender rolesgenetic engineering • good girl • handicraftHannah Hoch • hausfrau • homosexualityillustrative styleimperialism • kitchen knife • manipulative propaganda • marginalisation • mens work • modern womanmodernist tradition • needlepoint patterns • New Weimer Woman • non-Western artefacts • photomontage • pictorially ordered • political satirequeernessretrospective exhibitionRussian constructivismsewing and craftsocial construction • social constructs • traditional crafts • tulle netting • tulle patterns • typography • vital and critical • Walker Art CenterWeimar Republicwomanwomen artistswomen in art and design • womens activities

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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