Visual Culture Unit
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3 Visuelle Kultur der Stadt | LVA: 264.094

The Future Starts Here, Victoria and Albert Museum, 2018

LVA: 264.094 Visuelle Kultur der Stadt VU 2.0h/2,5ECTS

Beginn: Di, 16. Oktober 2018, 16-20 Uhr
Ort: Seminarraum 264/1, Karlsgasse 13

Imagining the Future: Architecture and Speculation

The future used to be something distant. Something that belonged to the world of fantasy and might perhaps be exciting to dream about, but when it comes to what really matters did not count for much. In recent times though, concerns about what lies ahead have gained such prominence that the future – or, more precisely, envisaged versions of it – has become one of the key framings through which we view the present world. More often than not, decisions we are making today have become geared towards speculations about their future impact and profit rather than being based on their relation to immediate needs and livelihoods. The questions thus is, why and how has it been possible that the future has gained such a stranglehold on the present?

Architecture with its presumed longevity and material manifestation of values has particularly become a preferred medium to project the potentials of this future and, by this token, to legitimise investment in it. Whether it is large scale speculative real estate developments, eco-friendly community projects or technologically enhanced smart living – in all of these cases, architecture’s capacity to represent a more desirable future has turned spatial design and urban planning into primary fields of political and economic action. In this context, the value of such ‘futuristic’ architecture then does not depend on how well it fulfils certain functions in the here and now but on how well it represents the promise of future investment returns.

In this course, we will interrogate what these developments herald and signify for contemporary practices of architecture. Continuing our long-term investigations into modes of “building capital” – the ways in which architecture mobilises and constitutes capital – we will explore how this newly arisen fascination and obsession with the future is fundamentally linked to the speculative paradigm of capitalist society. Recognising that the future is an ambivalent beast, holding both the promise and fear of change, we will seek to understand the many contradictions involved in speculating about the future. Specifically, we will look at how increasingly trending notions such as innovation, disruption, or resilience are gaining value by moving between different discourses (critical theory, arts, economics, etc.) and in the course of this have begun to inform and shape not only emerging architectural styles but the entire economy of spatial production as such.

Taught in conjunction with the more theoretically oriented lecture course “Contemporary Culture” (Prof Mörtenböck), this course will emphasize a practice-oriented approach of research architecture. To this end, we will first identify relevant sites of ‘futuristic’ architecture as described above. Secondly, we will engage with a series of analytical tools from time-space diagrams to performative re-enactments, outcomes of which will be documented and mapped. Thirdly, these investigations will culminate in a joint exhibition at the end of term, aiming to question the often hidden agendas of speculative futures.

Depending on students’ preferences this course will be taught in either English or German.

Änderungen vorbehalten!