Integrated Discipline Theory of Architecture

Integrated Discipline Theory of Architecture (051-1214-21)
Organizer: Professorships Kaijima and Stalder
Lecturers: Prof. Momoyo Kaijima, Prof. Dr. Laurent Stalder
Location: Zoom

This course is offered by the Chair of Architectural Theory as an integrated discipline in the Design Studio "Tourism Behaviorology in Switzerland" and can only be booked as a joint bundle. The general aim of the course is to trace possible genealogies of a building / neighborhood / place in the Bernese Oberland and its larger network, through a picture-essay.

The task of the first part of the course will be a small research project on a specific building / neighborhood / place in Grindelwald or Interlaken. The work will consist of an analysis of its architectural, technological or cultural characteristics, in their historical and current forms, and situated in its larger environment. The research will be carried out using two different approaches: firstly, site visit, and secondly, a collection of visual documents compiled from historical sources, stories, films, paintings, historical texts, images from the advertising industry, etc. The research is composed of the phases "collecting", "constellating" and "representing", the intermediate products of which will be presented during the desk critiques and handed in as a picture essay.
In the foreground of the assignment in architectural theory, the picture essay fulfils two experimental functions at once: On the one hand, the picture essay as an intermediate product of this process is an experimental arrangement and thus testimony to critical thinking with and in images, or with and in the combination of image and text. On the other hand, the collected images and arguments are part of a preliminary study for the design of an actor network drawing. Thus, they are a means in the decision-making process for a product and part of an experimental praxis.

In the literary tradition, the essay refers to an experimental text form, not least due to the fact that 'essay' can be translated into German as 'Versuch'. In addition to the practice of writing, it is primarily a critical experiment in thought that finds its form in the written essay.

If the focus is on thought experimentation, this should also be able to take place via other media. 'Picture essay' can therefore refer to critical thinking with and in images, or with and in the combination of image and text. If the literary practice of the 'essay' is transferred to the visual realm as a 'picture essay', firstly a medial change from text to image takes place and secondly an intermedial structure of text and image emerges, whose units stand in relation to each other. The medialisation of thought in text or image, however, is subject to a different medial logic. This makes it clear that experimenting with thinking in language or in images cannot mean the same thing. While the reception of images allows for the simultaneous recognition of several objects, the reading of a text follows a temporally linear sequence along the syntax.

To create an image essay, the first step is to collect image material – images of sources, artworks, sketches and objects – make a selection and arrange them in a constellation. Constellated, the images show their subject as well as their relation to the image collection. The images thus fulfil a function of showing, whereby a meaningful overall picture can emerge from their constellation.

The constellation is followed in a second step by the text. If we look at picture essays from architectural history and architectural journals, it becomes clear that the text can take on different functions: As a commentary, it can highlight both the content of the picture and the connecting element between the pictures in a descriptive way. If there are references between the image and the text, an argument is usually developed on the basis of image and text modules. Furthermore, the essayistic text can also run parallel to the picture section as a separate narrative thread.


Carla Peca