rheomode

…………………………the research base of jon goodbun

GEOPOIESIS

This year on the seminar programme of the MA Environmental Architecture, we approached our usual study material in a more speculative mode, through a series of world-building and worlding fictions workshops. We imagined worlds more or less similar to our own (and researched our own planet’s biology, geology, meterology, cultures, environmental disputes, land forms, systems, etc as the basis for our fictions.) Although many of these worlds were superficially very different from our own, all inevitably resonated with it. Some worlds appeared to maintain relatively stable homeostatic ‘plateaux’. Others were undergoing systemic changes. One narrated the final months and weeks of an Earth, as it was slowly ejected from its orbit in the solar system.

We coined ‘Geopoiesis’ as a heuristic research concept, to map and discuss both our own work, and a wider field of related ‘world-building’ and ‘worlding’ practices. We conceived of ‘world-building’ in relation to collective political imaginaries, and ‘worlding’ in relation to the construction and performance of political subjectivities.

A quick survey of the geopoietic field might include, in no particular order: science fiction, fantasy and counter-factual fictions, IPCC reports, Green New Deal proposals, Gregory Bateson/Felix Guattari’s Three Ecologies, Benjamin Bratton/Strelka’s Terraforming programme, Arturo Escobar’s pluriversal politics, Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela’s ‘bringing forth of worlds’, Donna Haraway’s multi-species worldings, and the Zapatista call, recently repeated by the Red Nation, for ‘a world in which many worlds fit’.

Some of our references are poetic and nebulous. Others synthesise the peer -reviewed work of innumerable contributors. For example, the future scenario planning and world-building models developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), contain significant quantitative data analysis, combined with all kinds of qualitative evidence and interpretation, in for example both its SSPs: Shared Socio-Economic Pathways (which build a series of five scenarios based upon an increasingly diverse range of voices and disciplines), and also its RCPs: Representative Concentration Pathways (which describe four scenarios based on estimated increases in radiative forcing by the year 2100 (compared to pre-industrial levels) ranging from 2.6 to 8.5 W/sqm).

The IPCC world-building exercises are significant artefacts. Still problematic? Yes, of course, but nonetheless incredibly impressive pieces of trans- and multi-disciplinary thinking, managing with relative transparency and clarity a manifold of methodological, epistemological and practical difficulties of staggering complexity. Importantly, the work of the IPCC is increasingly resonant with the demands and framing of the Just Transition/Global Green New Deal movement. Indeed, this MA EA Geopoiesis project here springs out of our work on Green New Deal in recent years, which asked : What kinds of world-building imaginaries might we need to develop, if we are to grow a Global GND Dialogue that can mediate the future scenario models that we have from the IPCC, through the needs of situated social movements that are increasingly engaging in local environmental disputes that have systemic planetary implications, and are simultaneously imagining alternative socio-ecological futures around the planet? Moreover, how should we even think about the models of planetarity presented to us by NASA, the IPCC, Google Maps and so on, which themselves platform out of the networks of remote sensing satellites, laboratories, vast data sets navigated through machine learning and algorithmic analysis, and ultimately metabolised through the labour of innumerable workers, technicians, scientists and observers of all kinds around the planet? What other potential configurations are latent in the affordances of these stacks and platforms? We know that the contradictory world-building ideologies of neoliberalism– nationalism and globalisation – are in crisis, while the environmental emergency demands a new kind of multi-scalar, multi-perspectival and multi-species planning wisdom-within-ecological complexity. The Geopoiesis project is thus one of Re-Imagining the Project of Planning.

Filed under: ecology, Green New Deal, research, teaching, , , , , , , , , ,

Radical Theatre: Staging the Dialectic of Emergence and Planning

makingarchitecturepolitically

In the last few weeks I have had some great discussions around questions of planning, architecture and, for want of a better term, ecological urbanism. I have attempted to give two long lectures on the subject – at Umea in Sweden 2 weeks ago, in Vienna last week. In both cases the following seminars and discussions were good, even if my lecture keeps overrunning. I have just given a couple of short papers which inevitably touched on similar issues at the

We live in paradoxical times. We are told that we are dominated by free markets, yet multinational corporations such as Tesco and Wallmart are organising planned economies at level of scale and sophistication that the old Soviet Union could barely have dreamed of. The problem of course, is that these privately planned economies are obscure, undemocratic and unsustainable. Yet at the same time many on the left appear to have abandoned any talk of planning at all, and have become spell-bound by systems-theory-based conceptions of ‘self-organisation’, ’emergence’ and ‘flat ontologies’. Yet these concepts, whilst powerful, in many respects embody neoliberal ideology, and need to be treated with some caution. The very concept of planning at an urban and democratic-economic level, has it seems, never been weaker, even whilst what is at stake in planning – especially regarding ecological justice etc – has never been greater. In this session I will reflect upon these questions, and the role that architecture can play in self-consciously staging a dialectic of emergence and planning.

This is the very clear text from Roemer van Toorn for the Umea lecture series:

With the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the collapse of Eastern European communism, the emergence of Third Way politics, and the subsequent rise of neo-liberalism, society became post-political. Discourses and practices of architecture not only suffered, but also enhanced this culture of de-politicization. The problem today is clearly not to make political architecture – neoliberal architecture is everywhere –, but to make architecture politically.

Now that the current economic crisis acts as late capitalism’s moment of truth architects should develop new visions, and help create projects that activate emancipation, surpassing the failure of neoliberalism. What we look for is a new beginning, an optimism – not another pessimism – of the architect as public intellectual that engages the optimism of the will and opens doors towards new social practices.

Architecture cannot, of course, conduct parliamentary politics. Spatial constellations can deliver no advice on how to vote or convey messages about social and political problems, but architecture is political precisely because of the distance it takes from these functions. Architecture is political in the way in which, as a space-time sensorium, it organizes being together or apart, and the way it defines outside or inside. Architecture is political also in the manner in which it makes the many controversies of reality visible by means of its own spatial and aesthetic syntax, and can enacts new spatial and aesthetic formations of sociability from within.

What we need in order to make room for the civil in our society is, according to Ariella Azoulay, ”the capacity known as political imagination, that is to say, the ability to imagine a political state of being that deviates significantly from the prevailing state of affairs“ What kind of political imagination – rethinking the political – can the practice and theory of architecture mobilize when it makes architecture politically is the focus of the UMA Spring lecture series of 2013.

Filed under: ecology, research, teaching, , ,

ADS5 at RCA Show 2012 and ‘Between the A12 and River Lea’ exhibition.

It has been a great first year teaching MA/diploma studio at the Royal College of Art with Justin Lau and Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui. The (rather out of date) studio blog is at http://ads5.wordpress.com/

Particular congratulations to final year students Jack Wates, Joseph Deane (who will represent the RCA in the RIBA Silver medal awards) and Emma Emerson (who was awarded the NLA prize by Peter Murray).

The work is on show at the RCA Show 2012 until July 2nd, and at the exhibition ‘Between the A12 and River Lea‘ at Assemble’s studios, which is open until July 8th as a part of the London Festival of Architecture.

Filed under: ecology, research, teaching, , , , , ,

Architecture Today: Review of Project Japan by Rem Koolhaas and Hans Ulrich Obrist

The review (by David Cunningham and me) of the Rem Koolhaas and Hans Ulrich Obrist’s book ‘Project Japan’ on the metabolist movement in post-war Japanese architecture is available free online at http://www.architecturetoday.co.uk/?p=23259

Filed under: ecology, research, , , , ,

About

rheomode is the research base of Dr Jon Goodbun
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I have a background in architectural theory, design research and practice, which over the last two decades has focused ever more on environmental and ecological research and practice, and what this means for how we think about space. or spacetime, as a semiotic mediating field of material, biological and mental worlds. This has led me to work with ideas and thinkers who present challenges to some of the very premises of modern science, and the divisions between both the natural, social and political sciences, and between the sciences and humanities… divisions which are the legacy of western enlightenment thinking. I have pursued this work both in mainstream academic institutions such as the RCA, but also non-orthodox institutions such as Schumacher College, the Pari Institute and Burning Man, as well as in activist political arenas, and a series of independent educational and research initiatives.

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jcgoodbun (a) mac.com

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