matzine #13 ‘Jargon’ – Food for Thought

Posted in Announcements, Food for Thought by esmefieldhouse on June 24, 2013

The deadline for submissions to matzine #13 is fast approaching (10th July), so about time for some food for thought on jargon from the editors .


When launching the 2013 Serpentine Pavilion – designed by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto – programme director Hans Ulrich Obrist described the work as “an oscillation between the finished and unfinished, the organic and the geometric’ and a “utopic cloud city”; meanwhile, in the artist’s own description, a “new form of environment will be created, where the natural and the man-made merge; not solely architectural nor solely natural, but a unique meeting of the two”.

With the use of language in this register, both commissioner and ‘artist’ seek to augment – not merely describe – the artefact in question. That writing on architecture and art more often seeks to create consensus than to ‘communicate’ ideas relating to the work is no surprise; but to proclaim that this – technically impressive – assemblage of 20mm steel tubing can create a ‘new form of environment’ is a lofty intention.

The intention here is not to be pedantic – rather, to note an example of the engagement between the reality of artefact (building, photograph, drawing, installation), and the means of its basic – or extended – interpretation, in text and imagery. The language employed in the description of architecture is notoriously artificial – used to further the illusion of single authorship, or to ‘shoehorn’ a piece of architecture into a history and tradition to which it does not belong. The archetypical artist’s statement takes a different form – but it is one not without a similar agenda.

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