BLDGBLOG: architectural criticism as a kind of literary form
Los Angeles as it appears in Blade Runner
While it seems next to impossible to believe that we'll be able to maintain flights back and forth between Earth and the ISS in a post-oil economy, it is nonetheless quite fascinating to think that, someday, depressed teenagers in suburban Arizona might pop space-made anti-depressants, affecting hormonal moods through the use of literally extra-terrestrial substances; or musicians in small apartments in Prague might swallow attention deficit drugs crystallized in microgravity, writing the world's most intricate symphonies in response; or perhaps even illegal new hallucinogens will be developed in windowless, symmetrical rooms hovering 250 miles above the Earth's surface, and they'll be taken by Rem Koolhaas-reading students at SCI-Arc who then draw up plans for self-healing tentacular cities, under the influence of space...
Geoff Manaugh. BLDGBLOG
He conducts interviews, reviews books, and unearths astonishing facts and lists a blogiography that's a treasure trove of unusual criticism and speculative futures for the built world.
SIMON: What motivated you to start a blog devoted to “architectural conjecture, urban speculation, and landscape futures”?
GEOFF: I was reading Super-Cannes, writing my own first novel, recovering from abdominal surgery, and auditing a university course about Archigram, the 1960s British pop-utopian architecture group; those things just came together somehow – and, one morning, on a whim, I started BLDGBLOG. Now I work on it almost constantly. It’s been two years.
BLDGBLOG became pretty well-defined, with a small but growing readership, and it had a voice, a tempo, an energy, a feel. It was no longer just an ‘architecture’ blog; it had its own direction and orientation, and it was even verging on science fiction in some ways. Short stories in the disguise of architectural theory. Ideas for screenplays. In that regard, BLDGBLOG became more literary – by which I don’t mean to compliment my writing abilities, but to say that the site became its own kind of genre: architectural criticism as a kind of literary form. Somewhere between science fiction, a short story collection, a Don Delillo novel, and a kind of technical catalogue for a world that didn’t exist. Which, incidentally, is how I view a lot of Ballard’s work. So if BLDGBLOG could ever equal Ballard in that regard, I’d be a very happy man!
It’s worth adding that a lot of the architects I admire also use architecture as a form of social critique, or political allegory: Archigram, Rem Koolhass, even Piranesi or Will Alsop. The Agents of Change. Speculative architectural treatises are an extremely exciting, if totally unacknowledged, branch of the literary arts. Look at Thomas More’s Utopia. Or China Miéville. Or, for that matter, J.G. Ballard.
Interview from Ballardian: The World of J. G. Ballard