Spyros Papapetros on Magic Architecture.
In this lecture, Spyros Papapetros (Princeton) will discuss how a ritual practice such as magic can inform the history as well as present-day techniques of art and architecture.
How can a ritual practice such as magic inform the history as well as present-day techniques of art and architecture? This talk will analyze the unpublished book project Magic Architecture by the U.S.-Austrian “surrealist” architect Frederick Kiesler written around the end of World-War-II. The incomplete manuscript records Kiesler’s interdisciplinary research in the fields of paleo-archaeology, cultural anthropology, human and animal psychology, biology, natural history, and the history of aesthetic practices. Surveying caves, tree nests, termite mounds, and the first human ornaments and tools, Magic Architecture aims to sketch a world history of design from the dawn of humankind and the habitations of animals to the "slums" of twentieth-century urban subjects. Haunted by the ghost of recent nuclear catastrophe and the imminent threat of a new one, Kiesler portrays human housing as a “defense mechanism” countering “the fear of the unseen” triggered by aerial assault. Ultimately magic is not simply another name for prehistoric or modern technology, but also a repertory of techniques for reconfiguring the psychological, epistemological, and aesthetic parameters of modern design.
Spyros Papapetros is Associate Professor of History and Theory of Architecture at Princeton University, where he co-directs the Program in Media and Modernity. His work focuses on the historiography of art and architecture, the intersections between architecture and the visual arts, as well as, the relationship between evolutionary biology, morphology and aesthetics. He is the author of On the Animation of the Inorganic: Art, Architecture, and the Extension of Life (The University of Chicago Press, 2012) and the editor of Space as Membrane by Siegfried Ebeling (London: AA Publications, 2010).