The Politics of Flatness
Jimenez Lai, 2015
I have a fascination with densely drawn compositions that tell twenty different stories at the same time. The allure of The Garden of Earthly Delights (Hieronymous Bosch, 1502-03), for example, is that there is no single center of gravity to dominate the discourse. Between the three primary frames of this triptych, there are possibly fifty stories told simultaneously. The value of a painting like this is precisely why Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994) serves as an important model of representation for me. This type of work emphasizes an investment in anecdotes: the parts will be more than the sum, much as the fragments of what you read will hopefully be more productive than a jock's attempt at strong-arming a single "discipline." Such a thought process was the driving force behind the design of this book, where a self-imposed collection of fifty or so related (or unrelated) thoughts on architecture is bound inside a self-proclaimed treatise. Expressed in episodic articulations, these ideas all offer "no learning, no hugs," yielding zero consequences-as with Seinfeld or South Park, the next week we will return to normal like nothing ever happened and our consciousness will start from ground zero again. To this effect, I believe the symptoms of amnesia are productive. In order to attain the escape velocity necessary to muster a multiverse of realities, everything and nothing must matter. Yet, I cannot help but invest my efforts in a tangle of issues that appeared just prior to my exposure to architecture, which hopefully comes through in this book. The richness of my engagement toward writing and drawing is such that their structure allows for the borrowing of every reference desired. When I meet a cool person, I want to know why something else is cool-beyond what I already knew to be cool.

The position is not in the depth, but the breadth. In addition, I wrote this book as a reaction to Citizens of No Place (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). I wanted to work with a lack of sequence. I want to destroy linear order and contaminate the innocence of dreaminess all in one go. I also wanted to ask back questions into the abyss: Steven Holl, what were you thinking? How did you get Mark Mack, Zaha Hadid, Lars Lerup, Lebbeus Woods, and everyone else to sign on to such madness? What was Pamphlet Architecture supposed to be? Better yet, what was it like to win so many awards as a young architect, without building anything at all? Worse yet, what was it like to be an architect working toward such a steep sense of experimentation, without the desire for a "practice"? Now, just what exactly is "paper architecture" supposed to mean, and why would my generation perpetuate it? But, perhaps there is something to be held in common between Steven Holl, Leon Battista Alberti, Andrea Palladio, Giorgio Vasari, Bernard Tschumi, Lebbeus Woods, and Daniel Libeskind-in order to work on why you build, invest your time in understanding before what you build clouds your clear mind. Maybe this is why one writes; maybe there is something about the deep dive into the reality of practice that stops the cooking process of curiosity before its material gets tender. Maybe the sleep of reason does produce monsters...but in exactly a manner that would be healthy to society at large.

Made on