Brendan Cormier is Managing Editor at Volume.
Brendan Cormier, Lead Curator of 20th and 21st Century Design for the Shekou Partnership at Victoria and Albert Museum and former managing editor at Volume, has picked a head-to-head between Rem Koolhaas and Larry Beasley that was published in Volume #23 Al Manakh Gulf Continued.
Everything comes from somewhere. It’s a fact so self-evident it hardly feels worth saying. But beyond this obvious truth, provenance is a powerful industry. As a capitalist tactic, it addresses the problem of anonymous mass-production through the added-value of meaning. And it is everywhere. As such, our daily routines have fundamentally changed. No longer a simple succession of actions, they are now a complex sequence of meaningful objects, objects that reveal stories reflecting our moral and personal character. In the shower we lather with locally produced handcrafted soap. Our coffee packaging reassures us that the Ethiopian crop worker – his name is Abraham – earns a living wage. The mug we drink from, as told by the sales clerk, is a Scandinavian classic. We slice into a tomato, knowing that at the farmer’s market we shook the farmer’s hand. These things make us feel good; they reaffirm our egos, assuage our guilt, and remind us that we are interested and interesting individuals. It is 8:30 in the morning.
With Rem Koolhaas ‘couch surfing’ has acquired a new meaning. Anyone lucky enough to actually get an interview with Koolhaas will most likely end up on his couch. The back seat of his BMW that is. Some private conversation time, wherever the journey takes you, accompanied by the deep hum of the V12 sports engine. Volume became member of this back seat club to discuss some intentions behind Fundamentals and perspectives on architecture it produced.
Let’s talk about law and faith. The law requires a certain faith – faith that it will perform in our collective best interest. Last year in particular, it was easy to lose that faith. Several high-profile cases brought to light incongruities in our judicial systems that unduly exonerated some, while persecuting others. Take the case of Wall Street. Following the 2008 crash, the US government put together its best legal team to root out what went wrong and who were the culprits. In a case where rapacious greed and gross misconduct were clearly at play, the government failed to prosecute a single major banker. Or look to the cold-blooded murder of Trayvon Martin by neighborhood vigilante George Zimmerman. Using Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, lawyers were able to justify the racially-charged murder of a defenseless boy. Then there’s Guantanamo Bay, a prison run by the ‘most democratic nation’ in the world, still holding people stripped of their rights. All of this is technically legal.
We’re calling on the Volume network to share examples of laws and their unintended consequences in preparation for our end-of-the year issue.
That’s a wrap. The dust has settled, the ink has dried, and copies of Volume 36 have been shipped off to subscribers, newsstands, and the gracious contributors that made it all possible. With some respite now at hand, I wanted to take time to write out some thoughts and reflections on the production of the […]
‘Ivory towers’ and ‘paper architecture’ are common put-downs used to question the agency of critical and speculative thought. After the theoretical hangover of a Deleuze et al architectural education, many young critical thinkers turned to practice as a means to put their thoughts into action. We sat down with Markus Miessen, who has spent the past several years researching critical and spatial practice, to see what this means for the field of criticism.
Here’s your chance to have your photographs featured in Volume. For our upcoming issue we’re re-evaluating the role of criticism in architectural production. For a feature called ‘Likes and Dislikes: The New Critical Economy’ we’re reducing ourselves to a Facebook-style crowdsourcing of likes and dislikes among Volume readers; and we’re asking for your contribution.
Question of the Day: With our next issue, Volume dives into ‘ways to be critical’. We’re examining the current condition of architecture criticism and the various ways it’s broadcasted. So our question: What are your go-to sources for architectural criticism? Which medium do you prefer? Print, tumblr, e-book, etc. Shoot us your response to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Dutch Rathenau Instituut started in 1986 as a technology assessment center to advise Dutch Parliament. It has since developed into a broader think tank studying the organization and development of science systems, while regularly publishing and stimulating debate about the social impact of new technologies. Volume talks to the Institute’s Rinie van Est and Virgil Rerimassie to hear about the main trends in synthetic biology and related disciplines. They paint a picture of the world where biology and technology have converged, and where our fundamental way of working through scientific problems has shifted.