Conceptual Architecture Symposium – Part 6 – Colin Rowe, Dalibor Veseley

Lecture date: 1975-01-18

At ARTNET

Day 2 PM – Speakers Colin Rowe and Dalibor Veseley

Colin Rowe “The dematerialization of the object seems to have been running for so long, that I wonder if the object might have already disappeared by now.” It seems to be, though, extraordinarily persistent. My first quote is somewhat churchy: “In the beginning was the word. And the word was with god and the word was god.” “The word was made flesh and lived amongst us.” I take it in a way it can be translated as “in the beginning there was the idea and the concept.” Can the word be made flesh? I present this as a theme for discussion, should the word be made flesh? Does it make it more intelligible? Does it adulterate it? For Rowe, all these questions have affirmative answers. The next quote, he recognizes, is equally churchy: “The law came in, that the offense might abound” that is a much more difficult statement to handle. Does it mean that the typical has a value as validating the exception? The ground stimulates the intimate appreciation of figure. The former quote is what Lewis Strauss might call the precarious balance between the structure and the event. Tradition can be understood as betrayal of principle. In the University of Texas, a long time ago, there was what was called the ‘religious emphasis week’ it didn’t matter which religion did you emphasized, we only wanted people to emerge and feel religious. One would like to bring someone like Duchamp into a parallel with Fernand Leger; Duchamp seems to me to be lucid and illuminating and entertaining and all that; fragile, poetic, lyrical. Whereas surely, by comparison, we would find Leger turgid, opaque, heavy. The maison domino is kind of a conceptual necessity, but in reality this thing has to be modified because of the exigencies of perception. I am a little baffled (I am waiting to be instructed) by accepting these kind of zen moments, in which one something has to react to something that it is not quite there. Again is the presence of absence: in order to the absence to be felt as a presence in a lot of other places there has to be a lot of presence. No hole is visible unless there is a solid that you can make the hole in. Questions follow.

Dalibor Veseley argues: there is something inherent, crucial about the definition of concept which somehow ultimately leads to the point where it started; nothingness. Vesely starts with a hope for optimistic view. Architecture is conceptual, and further, the whole world we live in is conceptual. Day dreaming is already something that some would like to call conceptualization.

Symposium over two days speakers include; Will Alsop, Peter Eisenman, Charles Jencks, Peter Cook, Cedric Price, Bernard Tschumi, David Stezaker, Colin Rowe, Dalibor Vesely, Jo Rykwert, Rosalee Goldberg. Chairman Bob Maxwell.

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