DIALECTIC, a refereed journal of the School of Architecture, CA+P, University of Utah http://dialectic.cap.utah.edu/submission/
Dialectic VI: Craft – The Art of Making Architecture
Deadline: June 1st, 2017
Requirements: Abstract (350 words), Short CV
The crafts, according to standard narration, have been in decline in Western societies since the weakening decline of guilds, the freedom of trade guaranteed by the French and American Revolution, and the rollout of industrialization during the 19th century. The list of casualties caused by free market, mechanical mass production and anonymized distribution is long. Local food production, processing of material by weavers, tailors, and shoemakers, and the making of everyday household tools, goods, furniture and buildings all have all taken a hit. Conversely, its endangered position in industrialized urban capitalism has transformed craft also into a site of resistance. From Luddites to the Arts & Crafts movement to DIY and hacker cultures of today, one can draw a continuous line of critique against mechanized drudgery. These movements instead emphasize creativity, individuality, and personal expression. The joy of the craftsman materialized in the human trace (and imperfection) highlighted by John Ruskin in the West and Sōetsu Yanagi in the Japanese mingei movement does not only insist on a different set of values which elevates the crafted object into the realm of the artwork. It also carries a distinct vernacular connotation. The Red House by William Morris and Philip Webb, for example, was conceived as polemic rural counter model to urbanization spurred by industrialization. It carried high hopes for not only crafting different type of objects, but also alternative communities, communal life styles, and utopian classless societies that would be a long distance from alienating work.
Architects, Alberti’s notion of the building as a mere copy of a preconceived design contributed to the disengagement of concept from material practice. Such detachment still haunts the profession. There are exceptions, such as Gottfried Semper. His insistence on origins of architecture in crafts was developed in reaction to a twofold challenge: a) industrial prefabrication of standardized elements of Crystal Palace, b) the encounter with “primitive” material cultures of colonized peoples in Crystal Palace. Once the working classes took control of means of production, Karl Marx tried to sketch out the future of labor as liberating self-expression. Yet as firm believer in progress, he considered the crafts as something of the past. Despite his claims for a materialist dialectic, Marx did not entirely escape the long tradition of Western philosophers who privileged mind over body, repose over labor, and thought over craft. Martin Heidegger took an alternative trail. He reasoned about craft and the nature of a thing. His pupil Hannah Arendt was critical of this stance and put (political) action above both (philosophical) contemplation, (sustaining) labor and (producing) work. This in turn sparked a reaction in her student Richard Sennett to write The Craftsman. While Arendt remained skeptical against the instrumentality of productive work, Sennett highlights the strength of tradition, skill, and refinement embedded in practice. Yet he muddies the notion of “craft” with his praxological inclusion of every human repetitive activity.
Given this state of discourse in the second decade of the 21st century, the editors of Dialectic ask for a re-assessment of craft in architecture. Contributors are invited to consider the critical potential of a discussion (re-introduction?) of the concept of craft into the maelstrom of contemporary spatial practice and current architectural thinking, beyond pure nostalgia for the lost quality of handmade objects. Should we think of the craft at the level of detail and joinery like Mies van der Rohe? What about the death of detailing incurred at the hands of diagrams, images, glue and clamping, as Rem Koolhaas argues? What is the role of craft – normally related to the human body, tools and responsive material – in the immaterial society and virtual economy? Where is the potential (and danger) of “digital craft”, as proposed by Bernard Cache and others? And even if we stay a moment with more traditional concept of craft: what kind of bodies bring forth these repetitive practices? Does craft have a gender? Where are the mistresspieces of architecture? And is there – hidden in the routine and (bodily) memory of practice – a resistance to innovation, to change? Shall one think about the tradition and convention of practice as the anti-avant-garde of architecture? Does it possess an anti-avant-gardist mannerist turn, as alluded by T.S. Eliot and Robert Venturi? Most of all, what is actually the “craft of architecture”? Shall we search for it in the modes of drawing, of model making, of organizing and directing the building process, or writing? What does design craft mean today with regard to photoshopPhotoshop, parametrics and scripting, BIM, digital fabrication, and construction robots respectively 3D-printing?
Dialectic VI invites articles, reports, documentation, and photo essays on the craft of architecture and the architecture of crafts(wo)manship. Following the thematic issues of Dialectic II on architecture and economy, Dialectic III on design-build, Dialectic IV on architecture at service, Dialectic V on the figure of the vernacular, the sixth issue of our peer-review journal will explore the topic of craft: the art of making architecture, how, for whom, by whom, employing which techniques, to what ends?
The editors value critical statements and alternative practices. We hope to include instructive case studies and exciting models for professional practice. Possible contributions may also include mapping of ongoing debates across the world, and reviews of books, journals, exhibitions and new media. Please send abstracts of 350 words and short CVs to Ole W. Fischer firstname.lastname@example.org and Shundana Yusaf email@example.com by June 1st, 2017.
Accepted authors will be notified by June 15th. Photo essays with 6-8 images and full papers of 2500-3500 words must be submitted by August 15, 2017, (including visual material, endnotes, and permissions for illustrations) to undergo an external peer-review process. This issue of Dialectic is expected to be out in print by Summer 2018.
DIALECTIC a refereed journal of the School of Architecture, CA+P, University of Utah
ISSN: 2333-5440 (print) ISSN: 2333-5459 (electronic)
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