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'Thrilling wonder Stories: Speculative Futures for an Alternate Present', a symposium, co-organized by Liam Young (AA Inter 7) and Geoff Manaugh (BLDGBLOG) took place at The Architectural Association, on Friday, 29 May.
Jumping between the real and the imagined, stories from fields like gaming, film, comics, animation, literature and art, not to mention architecture, were gathered in an array of presentations, pseudo interviews and short Q&A sessions with speakers such as Geoff Manaugh, Viktor Antonov, François Roche and Stéphanie Lavaux, Warren Ellis, Archigram (Peter Cook), Ian Macleod, Squint Opera and Jim Rossignol among others.
Although being only present in the morning, we can surely state that we saw a truly thrilling wonder story, whose main character, qua superhero, Peter Cook, transforming himself, undressed the architect figure and became the radical superhero of the 'weird-shit architecture', defending the pertinence and value, and innovation capacity of the underground stream of radical architecture/art research projects accross the world.
Here are some photos of the strip-tease running lecture.

Reminding all of us that architecture is about pushing edges, Peter Cook, the Archigram hero, 'has arrived' and dwels in the ordinary world as we do. When questioned about if there would be any science-fiction precedent in ancient history (a notorious fixation stated by the chair of the event, Geoff Manaugh, from the first instance) he just replied that he was not 'a very good historian'.
Neverthless, Peter Cook left us an outline for a Thrilling Wonder Story in an image of a recent painting/project, that seemed to depart from the premise that when a log is cut and thrown into the river, you can foresee the movement, but you will never be sure that it will get and how it will get to the finishing point. The wonder is in the trip!

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URBANSCAPES will be a scattered photoessay accross the blog. From now on, photographs (with the tag urbanscapes) will be regularly uploaded, recording the everyday events and spaces that we live in and pass by in our everyday urban life. Mostly focused on London, the images will depict ramdom shots, in a reinvention of the flanêur experience accross the urban landscape.

Photos by Emanuel de Sousa. All rights reserved.



'Dawns and Dusks' at the Louise Blouin Foundation in London, is an impressive retrospective of one of the most important american female sculptor, Louise Nevelson. The retrospective, the first show of the artist in 40 years in London, gathers an array of work by one of the most influential and innovative artists in the post world war scene in the US, namely in New York, where she was based. The works of art always challenges the viewer with ambivalent structures, between the aesthetic realm of painting and the material construct of the sculpture. The assemblages presented here cross the development of a carreer that was based in the collection of urban lefthovers including street-discarded furniture, scraps of wood, refuse from factories, hat forms, patterns and moulds which were then assembled and painted, uniformizing the structure into a new collection of forms and shadows.

[ images: view of the gallery, with Untitled (1964, wood painted black, 263.5x263.5x52.1cm) and in the background, 'End of Day Nightscape' (1973, wood painted black, 281.9x421.6x16.5cm); 'Cascade VII' (1979, wood painted black, 269.2x330.2x40.6cm); detail 'Cascade VII' ]

The artist synthesized the process and the recurrent choice on black as follows:

'When I fell in love with black, it contained all colour. It wasn't a negation of colour. It was an acceptance. Because black encompasses all colours. Black is the most aristocratic colour of all. The only aristocratic colour. For me this is ultimate. You can be quiet and it contains the whole thing. There is no colour that will give you the feeling of totality. Of peace. Of greatness. Of quietness. Of excitment. I have seen things that were transformed into black that took on just greatness. I don't want to use a lesser word. Now if it does that for things I've handled, that means that the essence of it is just what you call alchemy.' Louise Nevelson

Louise Nevelson considered herself a formalist, part of the Abstract Expressionism among others like Rothko, Kooning and Reinhardt who were close friends of the female sculptor.
The monumental works here presented sometimes seem to become cabinets of curiosities, filled with every possible reality. Often overwhelming, the works stand between the painting and the sculptuere, usually hang or leaning onto the wall, they create a kind of a black void, an intersticial space that becomes full with the viewer entering the offered reality.
'End of Day Nightscape' (1973, wood painted black, 281.9x421.6x16.5cm) encapsules one of these transcending experiences that seem to swallow the viwer into another dimension, another reality, and in-between place.

'[T]he work that I do is not the matter and it isn’t the colour, [...] it adds up to the in-between place, between the material I use and the manifestation afterwards; the dawns and the dusks, the places between the land and the sea. The place of in-between means that all of this that I use—and you can put a label on it like ‘black’—is something I'm using to say something else.' Louise Nevelson

The artist seemed to resume her approach to life and to art in this willingness 'to show the world that art is everywhere'.

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Here is the abstract of the paper I presented at the AA PhD Dialogues 2009: Ideology in Transparency, on Friday, 8 May, entitled 'Other Transparencies: Heterotopia Disrupting Modern Self-Transparency'.

'The paper investigates ideology and heterotopia in relation to the social ideal of modernity as ‘the utopia of absolute self-transparency’ [Vattimo, 1989].
The subjection of modern society to scientific analysis – analogous to the one applied in the natural sciences – was not only an epistemological programme but also a revolutionary move towards the ideal of a radical transformation of society – the self-transparency of reason and the self-consciousness of ‘being’ in the public sphere.
The belief that society could be transformed through similar processes by which matter and natural form were being transformed implied a framework of unilinear (universal) history; one that would come to an end with the end of revolutionary utopia of the nineteen-sixties, making impossible in principle the realisation of self-transparency.
The utopia of aesthetic rehabilitation of the beautiful and the everyday was now a distorted counter-utopia, coping with an idea of ‘being’, not as ground and as stability of eternal structures, but rather as event and as plural ethics of interpretation.
‘Other Transparencies’ explores the appropriations of the term heterotopia – as textual and geographical ‘other’ sites – in cultural and spatial theory, in order to diagnose a ‘transferred’ understanding of ideology, in contrast to the supposedly ‘post-ideological’ conditions of the present.'

A forthcoming publication on this year's theme, Ideology in Transparency, is being edited by Kirk Wooller and myself, Emanuel de Sousa.
For more information on the AA PhD Dialogues 2010, please visit AA PhD Dialogues.

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[ images: Eva Eylers presenting, photo by Valerie Bennett; Morning panel dicussion moderated by Marina Lathouri, clockwise, Yara Sharif, Kathleen O'Donnell, Eva Eylers, Marina Lathouri, Hyun-Tae Jung and Emma Cheattle, photo by Kirk Wooller; Roemer va toorn Q&A after the lecture ]

' [...] The event counted with presentations by ten PhD candidates from six invited institutions around the world, namely the AA, The Bartlett School of Built Environment, Columbia GSAPP, ETSA Seville, The London Consortium, and University of Westminster. Marina Lathouri (Co-Director of the AA Histories and Theories Graduate Programme) and Murray Fraser (Professor of Architecture and Coordinator for Postgraduate Studies and Research at the University of Westminster) moderated the two panel discussions. The day was concluded with a keynote address by Roemer van Toorn, Professor and Director of the Projective Theory Programme at the Berlage Institute. Roemer’s talk, entitled ‘Learning from Free Indirect Discourse: Aesthetics as a Form of Politics’, argued that ‘free indirect discourse’ – a cinematic conceptual method initially theorised by Pasolini - has spatial and aesthetic implications that could be of decisive importance to make architecture politically again. [...]'

[ extract from the review by Kirk Wooller and myself to be published in the AA Projects Review 08/09, forthcoming ]

Here is the poster for this year's AA PhD Symposium, AA PhD Dialogues 2009: Ideology in Transparency which announced the event around the world.
I designed it using as a background image a photograph of mine taken in Oxford on a greyish day a while ago.

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2nd Annual AA PhD Research Symposium

Architectural Association
School of Architecture
36 Bedford Square
London WC1B 3ES

Friday 8 May 2009, 10.00 – 7.00

AA PhD Dialogues is an annual international event organised by a select group of PhD candidates at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, London.
AA PhD Dialogues is the follow-up event to the 2008 AA PhD Symposium, ‘The Critique of the New: Questioning the Legitimization of Newness Through Technology’, with Mark Wigley (Columbia University GSAPP) as keynote speaker.
Each year a theme is selected based upon a particular set of terms that address current questions within contemporary architectural discourse. This theme operates as an umbrella under which individual PhD research can be collectively discussed in an international forum.

The notion of transparency has achieved a continued, if varied, currency in architectural discourse throughout the twentieth-century. Along with a multitude of material attributes, transparency advocates a shifting, yet ever-present, ideological sensibility. Towards the latter part of the twentieth-century, however, the general notion of transparency as an ideological mechanism began to decline. Today, while a literal sense of transparency remains, seemingly its ideology does not. This symposium aims to resurface the question of ideology in (contemporary) architectural discourse by creating dialogues around the following questions:
_ As the notion of transparency appears to be superseded by the immateriality of the digital, how can contemporary architectural research address transparency’s role as a technological innovation, as a mechanism for design, and, above all, as an ideological device?
_ Do new design technologies and media produce more transparent systems of communication?
_ Despite the apparent displacement of ideology in current architectural arguments and projects, what are the subjacent ideologies that remain and how might we be able to scrutinise them?

Roemer van Toorn, from the Berlage Institute

Doreen Bernath, Nerma Cridge, Eva Eylers, Kris Mun, Emanuel de Sousa, Tania Lopez Winkler and Kirk Wooller

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Here is the manifesto I presented at the AA MANIFESTO: IDEOLOGY, among readings of the old favourites: Futurist Manifesto by FT Marinetti (1909) and Surrealist Manifesto by André Breton (1924).

Think before you build, but never stop building and rebuilding.
In building you discover the other side of the computer screen, in hacking buildings you fight the ruling systems, in transforming buildings you are renewing society.
If you get it wrong, just be happy, you just finished the newest ruin of the near future.
Don’t build forms, build space. Build the void, discover the interstitial space of emptiness where fullness is achieved, like the air you breathe through your lungs, architecture will be the everchanging vessel.
If you end up with a blurred bubbly blob, just join the rest of the world!
In building you are creating the space of future, present and past, collapsed in a single space and time filled with exponential possibilities. Build the future, living the present, not forgetting your past. Be here and now always.
Just trust your own vision, your own voice and have a laugh drinking.

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[ images: Eva Eylers, Kirk Wooller and myself 'cheering', photo by Valerie Bennett; Eva Eylers starting her manifest and audience; Kirk Wooller delivering his manifesto from the rooftops; the end of the event, after some manifestos ]
Here are some photos of the AA MANIFESTO: IDEOLOGY, which took place at the AA terrace, on Tuesday, May 05.
You can find more photos on the Flikr AA PhD Photostream.

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AA MANIFESTO: IDEOLOGY was a pre-event (a 'beer summit' to tell the truth!) organised as a pre-event to the AA PhD Dialogues ‘Ideology in Transparency’, 8 May 2009.
Here's the calling we launched along with a bunch of posters (which I designed) that announced the event throughout the AA and wider London.

'Calling All Visionaries!
Are you disgruntled with the current state of architecture?
Do you have a better vision for its immediate future?
Can you formulate this vision into a 1-minute manifesto?
Will you seize this opportunity to shout it from the rooftops?'

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After six months since the last post, here am I! Again!
And writing in English! And with new ideas to make this blog alive again, (besides the comprehensive resource of cool websites of creatives that I know people, specially friends, use to avoid googling for some architect or designer)
From now on the website will shift between english and portuguese, depending where the action is placed, as since 2008 (old news, I know) I have been based most of my time in London (some people say, I am doing my PhD, and so I should believe so... everyday)
Well this (pseudo) return has been in my mind for some time now, but it got always postponed, and then a series of events, just made me think about it again.
First it was a visit (well, a comment that was left here in one of the posts) which made me think that it was still alive (although almost dying and threaten with extinction in the blogsphere) and secondly, this friday, in a lecture at AA, a blogger (Geoff Manaugh, BLDGBLOG), said that nowadays, if your blog has not 400 visits per day or per post in each day (oh my god, I had 26 visits this month... what a disgrace) , it is like the end of the world (you are like in the dead zone of blogsphere).
Well, I am alive and kicking, as they say.
I am not aiming at having 16.000 people every month visiting the blog, but who ever is interested in architecture and theatre, then they will have posts on that every other day.
Well, I should stop writing! Till the next post (which will be right now, I will do some retroactive posts to put everything up-to-date, so this week, will be peculiar, with a bunch of posts all uploaded instantly... we'll see)

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Emanuel de Sousa, arq