Thresholds, Issue 46: Scatter!
Editors: Anne Graziano and Eliyahu Keller
From treatises to TED talks; postcards to propaganda; etchings to drawings, films, and blogs, architecture moves in diverse and curious ways. It is these currencies, which give architecture its agency, its authority and life. And yet, despite the varied modes of its circulation, the majority of architecture’s discursive knowledge reaches only a familiar audience. While contemporary means of information production and dispersal continue to exponentially grow and quicken, the circle of professional and discursive associations remains confined. Circulation, distribution, and access to knowledge are not exclusive matters of the discipline. Rather they extend past architectural limits to catalyze inquiries into hidden geographies and infrastructure, restricted access, and equity.
The history of architecture has consistently seen innovation and subversion expand not only architectural theory and practice, but also the ways in which ideas are dispersed beyond established systems of circulation. With the understanding that architecture indeed moves within ever-changing boundaries, Thresholds 46 looks to investigate, expand and imagine the histories, futures, means and methods by which architecture gets around.
If half a century ago the medium was the message, now, after dozens of new mediums have expanded the manner of conversation, we wish to ask: is the equation still so simple? Was and is the message exclusively a product of its medium? What are the architectural histories that can inform future inventions of dispersal and distribution? And how have architects, designers, artists, and scholars employed medium with message to interrogate fields of conversation and suggest new and provocative platforms for the discussion of ideas?
We wish to look at the history of architectural dissemination, while holding our gaze to a swift, saturated and scattered connectivity. Asking, what modes of circulation were employed in various periods of history to elevate and publicize an architecture? How was architecture distributed by actors and vehicles that are both foreign to its discourse or an essential part of it? What is the power of non-architectural documents such as cartographies, letters, stamps or money in the distribution of architectural knowledge? And what can we learn from accidents in which architectural knowledge broke loose from its constraints, reaching unimagined publics and scattering to unintended realms?