PhD seminars

TERM 2, 2014-2015


Friday 6 March, 2 pm, New Soft Room

Joint PhD seminar – HCT debate

De-archētecture: form and life
Thanos Zartaloudis

Thus talk will outline some key elements in Giorgio Agamben’s recent thought with regard to a potential contribution of these elements to rethinking the architectural form in the production, of what could be called ‘living forms of architecture’. Key to the talk will be the concept of use, which seems to require a careful reintroduction in the field of architectural theory in order to consider its contribution to rethinking, to use a provisional phrase, a living architecture.

Thanos Zartaloudis is an academic at the University of Kent and the AA (Dip. History and Theory). He has written mostly in the fields of philosophy, legal history and theory and is currently working on two manuscripts: The Idea of Justice; and The Use of Things: in law, art and architecture.

This is a joint seminar for both HCT and PhD programmes, organised by Gabriela Garcia de Cortazar and Marina Lathouri.
Suggested readings:
– Aureli, Pier Vittorio: Less is Enough, on architecture and asceticism (Strelka Press, 2013)
– Zartaloudis, Thanos: “Violence without Law: On Pure Violence as a Destituent Power”
—> Download article

Monday 12 January, 6pm, 32FFB
Learning to see: Otto Neurath’s Visual Autobiography
Valeria Guzmán Verri,
researcher and associate professor at the University of Costa Rica

Otto Neurath’s From Hieroglyphics to Isotype, A Visual Autobiography, published for the first time in 2010, recounts the ways in which its author learnt to see through images, drawings, maps, paintings and other visual material from the end of 19thC. We will look at three themes formulated in the Autobiography: experiences of seeing, visual education, and the democratisation of knowledge, and will offer a consideration of a few of the modalities in which contemporary architecture still activates some of Neurath’s most problematic aims, notably, the relationship between the use of graphic language and a subsequent aspiration to the enhancement of democratic societies.

Suggested reading:

  1. Otto Neurath, “Some glimpses at a Visual Authobiography,” in From hieroglyphics to Isotype, a visual autobiography, M. Eve and Ch. Burke, eds.(London, Hyphen Press, 2010).
  2. Otto Neurath, “The Question of an International Langauge,” in International Picture Language(Reading: University of Reading,1980[1936]).
  3. Gern Arntz and Otto Neurath, sample of Statistical Atlas on Society and Economy, Vienna, 1930.
  4. Georges Didi-Huberman, “Question Posed,” inConfronting images: questioning the ends of a certain history of art (Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2005).

PHD SEMINAR SERIES, organised by Gabriela Garcia de Cortazar, PhD candidate AA
TERM 1, 2014-2015
(Please note that all related readings are held in the PhD Seminar series shelf in the library)

Friday 14 November at 3pm, New Soft Room
The present interior: the pathology of space-time in the urban
Ross Adams
, assistant professor of architecture and urban theory at Iowa State University

What is it about the urban that seems to foreclose any visibility of itself outside of its immediate present? What is it about the nature of this space that presupposes its comprehension only in its most recent changes, shifts, growths, collapses, crises and inversions? How is it that even when attempting to theorize this spatial category itself, we are stuck examining it through only those factors which are ‘emergent?’ Can the urban—a space that appears as the product of a timeless condition of human co-existence—be understood historically in itself? This seminar will postulate that the relation between the urban and its temporal visibility is articulated by the fact that, unlike any other spatial order, it is both a space and a process (urbanisation) born amidst what Reinhart Koselleck has called a great ‘inversion of the horizon of expectation’. I will look at how this perception has in recent years affected its spatial reproduction.

Suggested reading:

  1. Adams, Ross: “Notes from the Resilient City” (Log 32) p. 126-137 [Download pdf]


Thursday 20 November at 5pm, New Soft Room
Building and Constraints
Enrique Walker, architect, associate professor and director of the MSc in Advanced Architectural Design. at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University.

Following on the work on constraints in literature and cinema, this seminar will tackle constraints in architecture, while offering possible genealogies.

Suggested reading:

  1. Walker, Enrique: “Scaffolding” (Log 31), p. 59-61

Wednesday 26 November at 5pm, 33FFB
Building and time: Curating ‘Ruin Lust’
Amy Concannon
, Assistant Curator at Tate Britain, 1790-1850, PhD candidate at the University of Nottingham

At certain moments in time, architectural ruins and ideas of ruination have proven irresistible for artists. From the seventeenth century to the present day artists as diverse as Piranesi, JMW Turner, Eduardo Paolozzi, John Piper, Rachel Whiteread and Tacita Dean have exploited the mournful, thrilling, comic and perverse qualities of ruins, whether in dreamy contemplation of the crumbling remains of classical antiquity, fantasised evocations of future ruins, or through the depiction of urban hinterlands and military apocalypse. Illuminating the curatorial process behind the exhibition Ruin Lust held at Tate Britain earlier this year – the widest-ranging exhibition on this subject ever to be held – this paper will reveal the challenges and surprises encountered in the conception, research and physical realisation of the exhibition.

Suggested reading:

  1. Dillon, Brian: Ruin Lust (Tate Publishing, 2014), catalogue of exhibition
  2. Link to exhibition Ruin Lust

Monday 8 December at 5pm, New Soft Room
Building and interior: The Surreal House
Jane Alison
, Head of Visual Arts and curator, Barbican.

This seminar will discuss the process of curating The Surreal House (Barbican, 2010), an exhibition that focused on domestic space in surrealist art and architecture. This exhibition, the first of its kind, attempted to do two things: create a ‘surreal house’ and introduce the idea of a surrealist architecture, while being a successful cross-disciplinary and cross-generational exhibition that would appeal to a broad audience. The seminar will also discuss the architecture strand within the Barbican’s exhibition programme and the Barbican itself.

Suggested reading:

  1. Alison, Jane: The Surreal House (Yale University Press, 2010), catalogue of exhibition
  2. Link to exhibition The Surreal House

Wednesday 10 December at 5pm, New Soft Room
Building and page: Ponge, Prouvé and the life of things
Kevin Donovan
, MA Modern language and literature, PhD candidate at UCD

For Francis Ponge, poet and essayist, the atelier, or workshop,was a conceptual device within which a piece of written work might be brought to form. For Jean Prouvé, the atelier de fabrication was a place of collaboration among spaces, materials, workers, tools, machinery, scales, clients, techniques etc. Each atelier housed a radical practice producing unusual work by unusual means.

This session, based on my current PhD work, will juxtapose examples from the work of Prouvé (Maison du Peuple, Clichy, 1936-39) and Ponge (‘Rain’, 1942 and ‘The Making of the Meadow’, 1971) in a discussion of material, process and authorship.

Please note that the last seminar, by Thanos Zartaloudis, originally taking place on Wednesday 17 December, has been rescheduled for the next term. More information to come.