SYMPOSIUM 1: On the verge of criticism Review

by Beatriz Villanueva, Francisco J. Casas (both AA Summer School Tutors 2012) and Ramiro Losada

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”.

José Tono, CentroCentro director, moderated the debate, stating from the beginning that “the traditional role of the critic was to mediate between “like”, i.e., the immediate response to a building, and its related criticism”. Yuste claimed that blog readers are a mass that also mature slowly. Norberto’s experience around criticism in the field of cinema was explained by how part of the mass within social networks speak without knowledge. He warned against random spontaneity, which he predicted that without meditation, the new forms of communication will give us. They don’t help to understand a work, film or building. On the other hand, the film maker encouraged the audience to read true criticism because “they open new worlds to creativity and art”.

 

When the microphone went to the audience, there were several speakers. One of them, Atxu Aman, who teaches at ETSA Madrid, apprised speakers of the fear she saw in their words relating to the new paradigm where the architect is no longer the great saviour,. She encouraged the audience and the speakers to see the moment as an opportunity “to stop doing things just for ourselves.”

 

For more information:

Universidad Europea de Madrid

Ramiro Losada

bRijUNi Architects

On the verge of Criticism Event Poster

 

Nuria Álvarez Lombardero (AA Inter 8 Unit Master) speaking at the beginning of the session.
Image Credit: Lin Davis

José Yuste, Deputy Director Arquitectura Viva, presenting
Image Credit: Lin Davis

José Tono (CentroCentro) was the chair of the round table. José Yuste (left) is the Deputy Director of the Spanish magazine, Arquitectura Viva.
Image Credit: Lin Davis

Edgar González (Universidad Europea de Madrid, professor), speaking during the round table discussion.
Image Credit: Lin Davis

Juan Carlos García Perrote, (Universidad Europea de Madrid), speaking after the round-table, from the audience.
Image Credit: Beatriz Villaneuva