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Museums and Libraries as Heterotopias

From a general standpoint, in a society like ours heterotopia and heterochronies are structured and distributed in a relatively complex fashion. First of all, there are heterotopia of indefinitely accumulating time, for example museums and libraries, Museums and libraries have become heterotopias in which time never stops building up and topping its own summit, whereas in the seventeenth century, even at the end of the century, museums and libraries were the expression of an individual choice. by contrast, the idea of accumulating everything, of establishing a sort of general archive, the will to enclose in one place all times, all epochs, all forms, all tastes, the idea of constituting a place of all times that is itself outside of time and inaccessible to its ravages, the project of organizing in this way a sort of perpetual and indefinite accumulation of time in an immobile place, this whole idea belongs to our modernity. the museum and the library are heterotopias that are proper to western culture of the nineteenth century.

Foucault, Of Other Spaces: Utopia and Heterotopia

Utopia and Heterotopia

"The mirror is, after all, a utopia, since it is a placeless place. In the mirror, I see myself there where I am not, in an unreal, virtual space that opens up behind the surface; I am over there, there where I am not, a sort of shadow that gives my own visibilities to myself, that enables me to see myself there where I am absent: such is the utopia of the mirror. But it is also a heterotopia in so far as the mirror does exist in reality, where it exerts a sort of counteraction on the position that I occupy. From the standpoint of the mirror I discover my absence from the place where I am since I see myself over there. Starting from this gaze that is, as it were, directed toward me, from the ground of this virtual space that is on the other side of the glass, I come back toward myself; I begin again to direct my eyes toward myself and to reconstitute myself there where I am. The mirror functions as a heterotopia in this respect: it makes this place that I occupy at the moment when I look at myself in the glass at once absolutely real, connected with all the space that surrounds it, and absolutely unreal, since in order to be perceived as it has to pass through this virtual point which is over there."

Foucault, Of Other Spaces: Utopia and Heterotopia 

Individual Preference and Choices in emergent digital culture

Since the first publication of his book, personal webpages and blogs has multiplied, while major Internet commercial sites like Amazon have built a large part of their success on their capacity to figure out their customers’ individual profiles. Although less immediately sensitive to this kind of evolution than electronic commerce, architecture is becoming increasingly concerned by it. The conception of building is indeed inseparable from the knowledge of who is going to inhabit them. Renaissance architecture was intimately linked to the new vision of the subject developed by humanism. In a similar way, digital architecture is becoming more and more dependent upon key characteristics of the contemporary individual like his renewed interest for the sensory dimension and above all the importance of the various mediations established between him and his environment. In many ways, as we will see, the contemporary individual must be interpreted in continuity with this environment instead of being conceived as distinct from it. Digital architecture is trying to express this new condition that differs radically from the traditional humanistic concept of man. 


Evocation of the development and present state of digital architecture

Three Themes:

First: intimate lin kthat the development of digital technologies has with the reshaping of our experience of the physical world. The pervasive presence of digital equipment entails a significant redefinition not only of our codes of vision, through properties like digital zooming, but also of our approach to hearing and even touching. Through computer-aided synthesis of odors and meals, smell and taste will be also concerned eventually by this process of redefinition. 

Two: Categories like weight and inertia are also evolving rapidly at the interface of the physical and the digital worlds. A synthetic way to characterize these evolutions is to refer to the notion of materiality. Beyond its narrow technical meaning related to the use of materials in architecture, materiality is about the way we experience and understand the world both as distinct and connected to us. 

Third: Materiality is intimately linked to our sensations and perceptions. The developments of digital culture is inseparable from a major transformation of our definition of materiality, at the intersection of technological possibilities and sensory evidence. Through its renewed interest in dimensions like ornament, digital architecture fully participates in this evolution.

Indeed, contemporary architectural ornament possesses a strong sensory dimension, visual but also tactile, while being related to digital processes like zooming and pixillation, a blend especially present in Herzog & de Meuron’s production. 

Future of Digital Architecture

"The digitally-mediated city represents another context. Digital architecture cannot be separated from the changes that affect the way we plan, design and above all experience our cities using all kinds of electronic equipment: computers, cellphones, personal digital assistants and GPS. It is at the urban level that issues such as the relation between physical and virtual reality take their full scope. In an age of digital social networks like Facebook, the future of public spaces will depend to a large extent on the successful interaction between the physical and the virtual" 

Valerie Chatelet “Interactive Cities” anomalie_digital art (Orleans: Editions HYX 2007)

Digital Culture in Architecture

…”In parallel, ornament, which had been ostracized by modernity, is making a spectacular comeback. Defined in a very different way than in the nineteenth century, as a surface condition rather than a localized element, digital ornament tends to many cases to replace tectonic as an organizing architectural principle. As we will see, this shift is related to a much broader change that affects technology as a while. In more and more cases, what used to be supported, peripheral or superstructural in technological artifacts and systems is replacing the former supporting, core or infrastructural level. The ever-increasing importance of software is probably the best example of this phenomenon. In the early phases of computer development, software was far less strategic than hardware. This is no longer the case in our information-driven world in which software applications often represent the real infrastructure.” p.10-11

Antoine Picon



can love be too much? can love be smothering?

when I see love, I turn around, hoping that it didn’t catch my glimpse at it’s arrows, hoping that it would just ignore me and keep walking. 


love is like that shiny red ferrari coming down the hill miles away. your eyes knew that it should have been staring at the wheel, 10, 2 hands in the right position, feet tapping to the beat, right foot on the pedal and focused. 

your mind knew that it should have been focused on the destination, making sure that you look at the map and listen to the guide, but instead, your eyes and your mind drifted away, 

drifted away to the color and the shine of the beauty coming your way. the beauty showed up without an announcement, without you knowing. the beauty had its high beam on, shining in the eyes of every driver on the road. 

'that one', you said, 'that is going to be my car'. before any of the drivers on the road could be aware of your decision, you made a quick left signal and cut across the road and stopped the beauty in the middle of the road. 

there, you angered her, there, you drove her out of her car, slammed the door and snap her fingers. there, you took her punches and kicks and held her tight before she even knew your name. there,

you held her down in the middle of the road causing traffic, causing attention, causing her embarrassment, so she stopped fighting. she smiled, you decided that this beauty was yours tonight. there,

you charmed her into a conversation, you charisma was on point, your smiles and laughs were in sync with hers so she would feel comfortable. there, you stole her heart.

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