D. Sylvia Lavin – Architectural Attention

This piece is an interview with Sylvia Lavin, author of Form Follows Libido Architecture and Richard Neutra in a Psychoanalytic Culture (MIT, 2004). It addresses Lavin’s observations and criticisms surrounding the issue of architectural attention today.

  • “How do you think email, google, or the web changed […] your personal habits of attention?”

  • “Thirty years ago if you were to take a comprehensive exam there was a certain type of thing you needed to know. The only way to acquire that knowledge was to read a lot of things in their entirety. […] Nobody is educated in that way. It’s not a whole view of the field. Therefore wholeness is a category that simply doesn’t really obtain in the field.”

  • “Which is to say that there is a deep structure that is invisible and that requires labor to get at it.”

  • “Art, therefore, has produced, much more than architecture, more radical means of uncontrolling itself.”

  • “With specialization, that natural regard, maybe as opposed to attention, was no longer guaranteed, and therefore the interest in the other required a trigger and the trigger is generally mechanisms both of identity and difference.”

  • “I think every time there has been a positivist neurobiological definition of art it has always revealed itself to be both false and ideologically motivated.”

  • “Art is sort of intrinsically embedded in the reader. So in other words, you can’t decouple the two, […] you can’t make a closed or a formal system around something that’s coupled to the human mind.”

  • “What do you think is the connection between attention and perception?”

  • “Does one make things in a total state of distraction? What kinds of attention all along the chain of production?”

  • “Affect is one of those terms that comes and goes […] It has to do with the field’s effort to introduce some system of engagement that is not reducible to a strategy of negation.”

  • “One of the things that’s going on today is the effort to extract ‘affect’ from feeling states.”

  • “The museum is now all over. How do you get out of that? I mean, there is no outside.”



Griffin Ofiesh

Issue Editor

Joseph Bedford

Founding Editor

Joseph Bedford


Alastair Stokes


Sylvia Lavin (UCLA)


Daria Ricci