Yu Jung Wang


  1. When I saw the term “spatial agency” –though as a special name- at the first page and the collective’s engagement with Henri Lefebvre, to be honest, I started to analyze this presentation with an inner sympathy and a more privileged perspective into “An Architektur”. Although I know that such an approach challenges the expected “objectiveness” of a researcher or the “positivist” understanding, I believe that “critique” requires such a subjective or –to me- an “ideological” (someone may accuse it of being biased, but I don’t think so) perspective into whatever it is directed. What I understood from Foucauldian critique is close to such a perspective that should be devoted to deciphering “the bundle of relationships that are tied to one another, or one to the two to others, power, truth and the subject” (Foucault, 1997) I am not bored even if I read or repeat a hundred times these words revolving around the “politics of truth,” because this statement tells/asks a lot! What are the politics of truth or the truth of politics? As stated by Professor Herscher many times during the classes, “everything is political,” and also your initial quotation from “An Architektur” repeats this idea. Then to us, the question should be “what is truth” or may be, related to Foucault’s concern in terms of “virtue”, “what is virtuous?” With those questions in my mind, I appreciated the sensitivity and respect of “An Architektur” to the already questioned “truths” of space by Lefebvre. Therefore, I have legitimized my comment! (I hope:)

    Secondly, I appreciate how you represent your ideas via diagrams, which are really informative. I would like to share some questions in my mind, which are initiated by the productions of “An Architektur” and your re-interpretation of them:

    1-Different than the other cases that we have analyzed for the second assignment, “textual” production is very important for “An Architektur,” I always ask myself about the power of textual production in a field like architecture –actually believe in that power on the way of revolutionizing the ethics of practice- My question is again and again: can “writing” be appreciated as a field of “praxis” in terms of Marxian understanding? (A field through which “theory” and “practice” merges—writing as a way of practice—

    2-I have found an article of Jesko Fezer, one of the members of “An Architektur”, here is the link. http://www.e-flux.com/journal/design-for-a-post-neoliberal-city/ I am sure you already read this article—but may be some ideas in this article can be reflected to your analyses of “An Architektur,” because he tells similar stories to what we have been discussing up to know, for instance:
    “(…)But the radical market orientation of local neoliberal arrangements, which mark the local as a place of politics, generally develops alongside the Foucauldian concept of governmentality as a technique of governance. This regulatory practice replaces social conflict and protest with technocratic techniques that promote unanimity and consensus. Oriented to principles of economic efficiency, power legitimizes itself through the self-responsibility of those acting within the parameters of this post-Fordist form of urban government(…)”

    He questions the ethics of “design” and its power to change the world—He again refers to Lefevre and Harvey’s conceptualizations of the “Right to the City,” which again makes me really happy. But my other question is in terms of the emphasis on the concept of “design,” not “architecture” nor “planning,” but “design,” which should be questioned I guess.

    3- Matta-Clark’s “Fake Estates Project” critiquing the “American dream of land and ownership” reminded me of an irony in terms of Detroit. How have been the “fake estates” become reality and part of capitalist modes of urbanization for a city? –pros and cons, I can’t decide-

    4-With reference to my first questioning in terms of “writing” as “praxis”, I realized that there are considerable information about “An Architektur,” revealed by other entities in addition to their own production, which we couldn’t find enough for instance for the “Architecture for Humanity”. So, beyond reproducing power relations, by feeding their own body through their construction of knowledge, as we understood they did something else and let people reproduce their own body. I was thinking… -may be a stupid way of thinking- Can textual production open up the ways of societal change more than architectural production as “practice,” as “building” (as in the case of Architecture for Humanity) can do? But, another question emerges suddenly; who is the audience of that textual production? Architectural communities? Students? Scholars? Citizens? To whom all those exhibitions, magazines, or workshops?

  2. I am interested in your equating of perceived space as materialism and conceived space as idealism – and what I interpret from your slides to be the two components to what you term ‘spatial agency’. I also find it interesting how a group whose main outlet seems to be a publication might claim spatial agency when working in a ‘conceived space’, a construction of their ideals. Potentially this is their form of Lefebvre’s call for the “critique of everyday life”, and in effect of reading their critique, could through conceived space, alter actions in perceived space and through this create spatial agency.

    Secil, thanks for the link to the Jesko Fezer article, very interesting!

    The assertion that the law of supply and demand is ‘blocking’ public policies (urban policies) and that this creates a post-political situation is an incredibly provocative argument. Essentially, capitalism is the end of politics (although it seems to me he meant the end of democracy…). This begs a proposal for a jumpstart of the public policy process through action, although I’m not sure how the Argument for Architecture fits in to this!

    I think that An Architektur’s ambitions to affect community through instigating a Lefebvreian critique , at least through the flow diagram in your presentation, is much to round-about, and ultimately ineffective. I believe there is a gap in an ambition for instigating critique in a broader sense, versus (how you term their work) critical analysis of spatial relations to form political agency. Analysis in this sense to me seems introspective, attenuating to one’s own inner critique, rather than doing the work of critique. (Sorry if this is confusing, still trying to formulate these ideas!)

    The Camp for Oppositional Architecture seems the most intriguing as a workshop to actively engage in ideas existing in a journal, yet I wonder how radical this is when it appears to be a conference, featuring lectures from prominent academics? If they are looking at and theorizing ‘already existing alternative practices’ how will this lead the creation post-capitalist spaces?

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