Crisis of the Object: The Architecture of Theatricality by Gevork Hartoonian

By Gevork Hartoonian

Looking again over the 20 th century, Hartoonian discusses the paintings of 3 significant architects: Peter Eisenman, Frank Gehry and Bernard Tschumi, in connection with their theoretical positions and historicizes present architecture within the context of the continuing secularization of the myths surrounding the traditions of 19th century structure often, and, specifically, Gottfried Semper's discourse at the tectonic.

Providing a invaluable contribution to the present debates surrounding architectural historical past and theory, this passionately written book makes worthwhile analyzing for any architect.

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13 The implied theatricality in Semper’s statement could be taken for theatricalization if we fail to recall Carl Botticher’s assertion that in a tectonic form the symbolic dressing is simultaneously juxtaposed with the structural function. Both Semper and Botticher stressed the dialogical relation between a structural system and the expected sensations evoked by the dressing. 15 By making clear that the final form of architecture should not correspond to its structural system directly, Botticher charges the tectonic with an excess, the art-form, that is robbed by eclecticists and formalists alike.

Furthermore, the implied duality in the tectonic alludes to the historical fact that by the nineteenth century, techne could not continue its classical poetics. Both the subjective and objective transformations of the time necessitated an architecture whose complexities are worth examining through the idea of wish-images. 1 Mies van der Rohe, Barcelona Pavilion, 1929. WISH-IMAGES: THEN AND NOW Again, since the Renaissance and through various re-interpretations of classical idioms, architecture had to wait until the early nineteenth century to think of itself as architecture.

According to Mallgrave, one reason why “a limited biographical format is called for in the case of Semper, is the importance his theory and built works possess for more broadly based cultural studies. ”17 This last point deserves attention not only because of the association that might be made between the uncertainties surrounding these last decades of our century with those of the end of the last one, but also because of the formativeness of the theme of surface and a perception of theatricality stirred up by telecommunication technologies.

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