22 May 2013
Universidad Europea, Madrid
The conference “On the verge of criticism”, organized by Universidad Europea of Madrid, (UEM) was curated by Ramiro Losada, Beatriz Villanueva and Francisco J. Casas. It began with a session about architectural criticism in new media, focusing on the audiovisual and the Internet. The format involved a historical introduction, followed by a short presentation by each participant, ending with a round-table discussion.
The historical introduction was presented by Ramiro Losada, a professor at UEM and co-founder of Studio Banana TV. He warned that the emergence of new ways of making the contemporary open almost infinite possibilities for documentation and architectural criticism, “to which the new view of society not only accompanies but also demands”. Of all of these, continued Losada, “the most valuable information is the audiovisual, a global mechanism with critical possibilities which is understood by most cultures and whose most important method of transmission is youtube”. In architecture, it was possible to watch short documentaries such as Architectures d’aujourd’hui (Pierre Chenal, 1930) from the early 30s. Even then, it had already begun to embody the expressive and communicative versatility that new technology allows nowadays. This technology, with pieces like Koolhaas HouseLife (2008, Beka-Lemoine), If Buildings Could Talk (Wim Wenders, 2010) or How much does your building weigh, Mr. Foster? (Carcas-López, 2010), renews the audiovisual language through their formal and aesthetic attributes, allowing architectural criticism to exist outside of the more traditional texts.
The presentations of the speakers began with José Yuste, Deputy Director of the magazine Arquitectura Viva, who explained that the magazine’s editorial strategy is based on a “gradation of information” that goes from the instantaneous social network twitter, through its website and ends with the traditional printed version of the magazine. Nuria A. Lombardero (AA Intermediate 8 Unit Master) detailed her audiovisual experience with her students in London and said that video is an indispensable tool for the new generation. “We use the audiovisual software as a tool to explore projects that are not static and change over time”, Lombardero reported. Edgar Gonzalez, (Universidad Europea de Madrid, professor) warned of the importance of the use of “like” in social networks such as facebook: “The democratizing moderators act has established new paradigms in relation to architecture and criticism nowadays.” Norberto López Amado, co-director of the film “How much does your building weigh, Mr. Foster?”, explained his experience from outside architecture after filming a documentary about an architect. “I contended that the best way to understand an architect is to feel his work. I went to see the buildings with my travel-books and I was transcribing my feelings … To my surprise Norman [Foster’s] buildings didn’t tell me anything…. But I had a magical surprise when I put them in front of the camera. Then the emotion changed radically and I saw things I hadn’t seen before with my eyes”.