Critical Spatial Practice-7

Felicity D. Scott | Disorientation: Bernard Rudofsky in the Empire of SignsCritical Spatial Practice 7

Edited by Nikolaus Hirsch and Markus Miessen | Featuring artwork by Martin Beck

Sternberg Press, January 2016, ISBN 978-3-95679-187-1

Viennese émigré architect Bernard Rudofsky (1905–1988) is most frequently recalled for curating “Architecture without Architects,” the famous 1964 photography exhibition of vernacular, preindustrial structures at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Far from simply a romantic or nostalgic invocation of cultures lost to industrial modernity, Rudofsky’s exhibition drew on decades of speculations about modern architecture and urbanism, particularly their semantic, technological, institutional, commercial, and geopolitical influences.

Focusing on Rudofsky’s encounters with Japan in the 1950s—he described postwar Japan as a “rear-view mirror” of the American way of life—architectural historian Felicity D. Scott revisits the architect’s readings of the vernacular both in the United States and Japan, which resonate with his attempts to imagine architecture and cities that refused to communicate in a normative sense. In a contemporary world saturated with visual information, Rudofsky’s unconventional musings take on a heightened resonance.

Felicity D. Scott is associate professor of architecture, director of the PhD program in architecture, and co-director of the program in Critical, Curatorial and Conceptual Practices in Architecture (CCCP) at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University. She is also a founding coeditor of Grey Room, a quarterly journal of architecture, art, media, and politics published quarterly by MIT Press since Fall 2000.  Her other books include Architecture or Techno-Utopia: Politics After Modernism (MIT Press, 2007) and Outlaw Territories: Environments of Insecurity/Architectures of Counter-Insurgency (Zone Books, 2016).

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