Contemporary architects and spatial practitioners have turned to scientific and literary ideas about detection to engage with social, economic, and political forces that operate at unhuman scales and speeds. Like the protagonists of fictional detective stories, they promise to go places other people can’t. They introduce novel ways of treating material and seeing time to produce forms of evidence that can shore up institutional authority or challenge it. But what quality of time or distance does it take to see criminal intent in routine building practices? Does this focus foreclose alternative ways of thinking about detection? How do we best challenge the algorithmic, the if-then, logic that underwrites the architecture of predictive policing, biometric gatekeeping, and expanding forms of surveillance? Over the course of this issue, scholar Megan Eardley explores these questions with architects, political and aesthetic theorists, artists, and writers who study and make use of architecture in their practices.
The fact that architecture is a social art is a well known truism in the field. But what are the mechanisms of the relationship between architecture and society at large? One answer comes in the way architects engage the question of community. In the twentieth century United States, the role of architecture in building stronger and more democratic communities has often sat in tension with the fields’ close dependency on market forces. Issue 6 explores how architects’ definitions of community have changed during this period, pointing out in particular a shift from approaches to community based on territorial boundaries to those focused instead on the design of processes. A series of episodes document significant moments in the ideation of community as practice, animated by interviews, found audio, oral histories and historical analysis. They demonstrate that when architects engage communities, this practice is complicated by designers’ institutional allegiances and the professional knowledge these institutions reproduce.
Issue 5 addresses the question of theory today in architectural culture through the lens of how we teach architectural theory in schools. It asks eight professors of history and theory from Syracuse, UCLA, Harvard, USC, the University of Michigan, Bard College, Pratt and Sci Arc to discuss what theory and architectural theory is, how it has changed, if its global yet, what its for, how its taught and if its dead. Participants include: Joseph Godlewski, Jake Matatyaou, John May, Ginger Nolan, Bryan Norwood, Ivonne Santoyo-Orozco, Meredith TenHoor, and Marrikka Trotter.
Music is inherently spatial. As it travels from a source to our ears, music is transformed by the air, the surrounding architecture and the shape of our own bodies. The distance between performer and listener is often taken for granted, reduced to a question of “good” or “bad” acoustics. But the musicians featured in this issue of Attention saw the physical gap between performer and listener as a site for musical invention. Through interviews, musical excerpts and acoustical examples, How Musicians Think About Space illuminates the hidden role of space in the imagination of composers, performers and producers from across the spectrum of Western art music.
Architectural discourse today is structured around a number of keywords that crystalize issues, problems and debates within the field and within design culture in schools of architecture. Issue 3 of Attention follows the lead of Raymond Williams in his 1976 book Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society to account for the terms by which discourse operates. This issue taps the opinions of a number of young architects and educators in schools such as Sci Arc, UCLA, UC Berkley, the University of Michigan, the Royal College of Art, and the University of Pennsylvania. Participants in this discussion include: Andrew Atwood, Laurel Broughton, Tomas Klassnik, Andrew Kovacs, Jimenez Lai, Michael Loverich, Anna Neimark, James Tate, & Elly Ward. Their interlocutors were Joseph Bedford, Curt Gambetta, Mark Acciari, Joanna Grant & Kevin Pazik.
Formalism has many varieties, from classical form to minimalist form and from form-finding to the pursuit of the formless. The question of formalism ranges from how form is generated, known, and analyzes to how it is experienced, whether culturally, historically, phenomenologically or affectively. Issue 2 of Attention addresses the many formalisms operative today. It features contributions by Stan Allen, Jesse Reiser, Michael Meredith, Axel Kilian, Sigrid Adriaenssens, Julian Rose, Gerret Richter, James Meyer, Jeff Kipnis, Jorge Otero-Pailos, Michael Graves, Bryony Roberts, Dora Epstein Jones, Cynthia Davidson, Urtzi Grau, Cristina Goberna, and Matt Roman. Their interlocutors throughout were Hans Tursack, Yshai Yudekovitz, and Joseph Bedford.
Attention is fast becoming a rare commodity, more valuable than money. Today’s attention merchants compete to acquire attention which can then be translated into financial capital as well as political capital. New technologies from personal computing devices to eye tracking technologies enabling the measurement, recording, analysis and control of human attention. As a result, we live in an increasing state of distraction as corporations, institutions, friends, and colleague vie for attention. In this state, the control of one’s own attentive capacities becomes one of the most politic issues of contemporary subjectivity. This Inaugural issue of Attention addresses this issue as the founding theme of the journal. In an increasingly visually distracted world, Attention, will create a space based on the power of the spoken word, conversation, dialogue and debate to focus our attention. Rather than the drip feed of fragmented soundbites, Attention takes the traditional print journal as its model and curates in each issue a coherent collection of audio pieces that deepen our understanding of a single theme. Audio as a medium that simultaneously opens up architectural discourse and debate to new modes of debate that emerge from the realm of sound; from in-situ building reviews, listening experiments, soundscapes, explorations of acoustics, to new forms of dialogical montage that weave together virtual symposia of voices across distances of time and space. Issue 1 features contributions by Mike Jennings, Michael Wood, Thomas Y. Levin, Harry Francis Mallgrave, Mark Johnson, Sylvia Lavin, Tim Holmes, Alejandro Zaera-Polo, Stan Allen, Francois Leininger, Jaffer Kolb, Joseph Bedford and Daniel Perlin. Interlocutors were Joseph Bedford, Alek Bierig, Daniela Fabricius, Andrew Ferentinos, Daria Ricci, Yshai Yudekovitz, and Trudy Watt.