Sites of Encounter

Currently running in the School of Architecture and Design at the University of Brighton is this exhibition (poster above) of research which I instigated and organised, and then co-curated with Sam Lynch. Partly a celebration of the work of talented colleagues, partly a way of testing and framing some practice-based (but far from only practice-based) work as research, the extreme variety of work lent itself to a form of curation which wilfully juxtaposed sometimes dramatically different types of work.
Struggling to think of a name for what is essentially a themeless exhibition, where an architectural model might sit beside a transformed and animated Harris Matrix (Fig.8) beside a vitrine of books and journals (Fig.10), beside a disassembled camera obscura (Fig.2), I was reminded of Julia Kristeva’s phrase “site of encounter”. In 1998 she wrote, “interdisciplinarity was a site of great enthusiasm but after a while we started to realise that as a site of encounter amongst various forms of practices, it constituted a very difficult, if not perilous, enterprise.”[0] This, for me, was not as negative as it sounded and in my architecture-archaeology centred PhD thesis I wrote in response:

Critics have argued for a utopian site of interdisciplinary production – a site free from the hegemonic influences of normative disciplinarities. Elizabeth Grosz argues for just such a space; outside of both her discipline of philosophy and of the strictures of architecture, the discipline with which she would work;

To explore architecture philosophically would entail submitting architectural design, construction, and theory to the requirements and exigencies of philosophical discourse, the rigor of philosophical argument, and the abstraction of philosophical speculation. And to examine philosophy architecturally would require using philosophical concepts and propositions, wrenched from their own theoretical context and transformed, perhaps mutilated, for architectural purposes. In either case, one discipline would submit the other to its internal needs and constraints, reducing it to its subordinated other.[1]

I would argue that this “submission” is both inevitable and to be welcomed. If we accept Hal Foster’s claim that a pre-figuring disciplinary “groundedness” is necessary for interdisciplinary practice,[2] then disciplinary hierarchy is unavoidable. But this submission is not orientated the way that Grosz thinks it is, nor is it an ungenerous relationship; this thesis describes the transdisciplinary movement away from architecture by an architect (me) and, at times, that architect’s necessary submission to archaeology. In Bruno Latour’s terms this is an “offer”[3] made by architecture to archaeology and a greater offer made by archaeology to architecture; I might offer the results of my practice at an archaeological conference where “grounded” practitioners of archaeology might offer their, usually frank, views. The revised trajectory of this, now interdisciplinary, work may again be offered back to archaeology.

Grosz’s answer to the problem of hierarchy is to posit the existence of a “third space” which she terms “the outside,” a space which is external to the disciplines in question;

Outside each of the disciplines in their most privileged and accepted forms, outside the doxa and received conceptions, where they become experiment and innovation more than good sense with guaranteed outcomes, we will find the most perilous, experimental, and risky of texts and practices.[4]

In this thesis Grosz’s “third space” cannot exist; there is no “outside” to a discipline.[…]
There are no boundaries per se around these – or any – disciplines, only ever-weakening ripples as the influence of particular disciplines recede infinitely across the space beyond their centres.”[5]

and:

The interdisciplinary practice which attends these transdisciplinary movements are, as Latour’s terminology of magnanimity – proposition and offer – suggests, reciprocal acts of generosity between disciplines, and this has certainly been my experience.[6]

Lynch

Figure 1: Samantha Lynch
The Dark Mirror: Engaging Multiple Temporalities through Drawing, PhD (2013-2017)

Longden-Thurgood

Figure 2: Glenn Longden-Thurgood
Watch Look Listen: New perspectives on Newhaven Fort. Daylight Projector / Periscope Group Installation, Newhaven Fort, June to October 2017
Watch, Look, Listen was an exhibition of interactive objects and experiences created by students and staff of the University of Brighton, School of Architecture and Design.

Yetton and Hoskin

Figure 3: Sophie Yetton & Gabriel Birch (Pavilion)
Here is no water but only rock ‘Mapping Margage’,
CRATE, Margate. Exhibition
Claire Hoskin
Reconstructed Drawings, Paper and card collages

Peralta

Figure 4: Carlos Peralta & Liliana Rodriguez (Design team) J, Vera, G. Dean, S. Sony, C. Llewellyn (Medical team)
Vending Machine Technology to promote HIV self-testing
Winner of the 2018 BMJ (British Medical Journal) Innovation Award Interface/Artifact/service

Hall-Patch

Figure 5: Phillip Hall-Patch
Photography With Sculpture. Untitled, Nos. 2, 3 & 4 (2018)

Ungerer, Zambelli and Lynch

Figure 6: Sophie Ungerer
A Question of Complexity not Scale, Conference Paper in collaboration with Nerma Cridge
Presented at Interior-Inferior-In Theory conference in Berlin, May 2018
Alessandro Zambelli
Wastes and Strays: the past, present and future of English urban commons, AHRC-funded, 3-year research project with Newcastle University, the University of Sheffield and the University of Exeter. 2019-2021. Poster
Samantha Lynch
The Dark Mirror: Engaging Multiple Temporalities through Drawing, PhD (2013-2017)

Chalmers_1

Figure 7: Alex Chalmers
Drawing as research practice: Place
Studio Practice

Yetton and Zambelli

Figure 8: Alessandro Zambelli with Eleanor Suess
The Reflexive Seriation Diagram, from Scandalous Artefacts: Visual and Analogical Practice Between Architecture and Archaeology (unpublished PhD thesis, 2016). Animation
Sophie Yetton & Gabriel Birch (Pavilion)
Here is no water but only rock ‘Mapping Margage’,
CRATE, Margate. Exhibition

Cheyne

Figure 9: Kate Cheyne
Dwyle Flunking, Pantomime Animal Races, The World Pea Throwing Championship and other absurdist customs of the Lewes Arms. Annual events, customs and games at a small town local pub. Events [photographs]

Books, Journals and Theses

Figure 10: Tilo Amhoff, Katy Beinart, Andrew Coleman, Luis Diaz, Alex Fitch, Phillip Hall-Patch, Anuschka Kutz, Catalina Mejia Moreno, Carlos Peralta, Ben Sweeting, Jeff Turko, Alessandro Zambelli
Books, Journals and Theses in display vitrine.

_______________________________________

Coles, Alex, and Alexia Defert. De-, Dis-, Ex-. Vol.2, Anxiety of Interdisciplinarity.  London: BACKless Books in association with Black Dog Publishing, 1998.

Grosz, Elizabeth. Architecture from the Outside : Essays on Virtual and Real Space.  Cambridge, Mass. ; [Great Britain]: MIT Press, 2001.

Latour, Bruno. Pandora’s Hope : Essays on the Reality of Science Studies.  Cambridge, Mass. ; London: Harvard University Press, 1999.

Zambelli, Alessandro. “Scandalous Artefacts: Visual and Analogical Practice between Architecture and Archaeology.” UCL: unpublished PhD Thesis, 2016.

_______________________________________

[0] Julia Kristeva, “Institutional Interdisciplinarity in Theory and in Practice: An Interview,” in De-, Dis-, Ex-. Vol.2, Anxiety of Interdisciplinarity, ed. Alex Coles and Alexia Defert (London: BACKless Books in association with Black Dog Publishing, 1998), 5

[1] Elizabeth Grosz, Architecture from the Outside : Essays on Virtual and Real Space  (Cambridge, Mass. ; [Great Britain]: MIT Press, 2001), xvi.

[2] Alex Coles and Alexia Defert, De-, Dis-, Ex-. Vol.2, Anxiety of Interdisciplinarity  (London: BACKless Books in association with Black Dog Publishing, 1998), 162.

[3] Bruno Latour, Pandora’s Hope : Essays on the Reality of Science Studies  (Cambridge, Mass. ; London: Harvard University Press, 1999), 309.

[4] Grosz, Architecture from the Outside : Essays on Virtual and Real Space, xvi.

[5] Alessandro Zambelli, “Scandalous Artefacts: Visual and Analogical Practice between Architecture and Archaeology” (UCL: unpublished PhD Thesis, 2016), 43-44.

[6] Alessandro Zambelli, “Scandalous Artefacts: Visual and Analogical Practice between Architecture and Archaeology” (UCL: unpublished PhD Thesis, 2016), 349

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