ZOON POLITIKON comprises a series of architectural models of a speculative nature that take their bearings from the last lectures given by the French philosopher, Jacques Derrida, prior to his death in 2004. These lectures, The Beast and the Sovereign, concern a definition of the human as that being who borders both animality and the divine and, equally, as a being whose understanding of Right or Law curiously excludes both animals and gods. Our concerns are more essentially with the legacies of that sovereign exclusion in the field of architecture, bio-political legacies and implications of the construal of a humanist grounding of architecture precisely at a time of unprecedented global turmoil with respect to human settlement, ecological disaster, massive escalation in refugee populations, mass migrations and de-settlements. Our response to Time, Space, Existence is to call into question the anthropocentric legacies installed into the essential grounding of architecture as production that privileges the human as rational animal.
Each model becomes an investigation into making processes expressing considerations and research into architecture and the political dimensions of the human, within four key tropes or epochal shifts in tectonic and technical capabilities of the political animal: Plato’s Cave – the hollow, The Primitive Hut – the outline, A Machine for Living In – assemblage, Virtual Worlds – networks. The models were developed in parallel design studios in Auckland and Sydney during January through to April. We have developed a separate publication for each model that offers a critical engagement with the philosophical, tectonic and material investigations of model propositions. We also developed an App that can be freely downloaded to I-phones, Computers, Tablets and Androids. The App (www.ZOONPOLITIKONAPP.COM) provides detailed background interviews with the young designers involved in the exhibition as well as further understandings of the scope and critical concerns of the project.
In his short essay “In Praise of Profanation,” the Italian philosopher, Giorgio Agamben, emphasizes how the same thing, or object, is able to pass from the sacred to the profane and from the profane to the sacred, from the divine realm to the human, or human to the divine, constituting in material things, living animals and fabricated objects, a threshold between the human and the divine. What links for us the four tectonic conditions of constructions and dwelling and their hybrids to concerns with materials and processes is precisely a concern with how we understand the notion of profanation, especially in the context of the enigmatic final sentence of Agamben’s text: “The profanation of the unprofanable is the political task of the coming generation.”
Our investigations encountered a crucial problematic between representational and non-representational practices. The aim was not to `translate' theoretical, political or ethical conditions into the configurations and materialities of three-dimensional form, but rather to enable spatial and material practices to emerge in parallel; to deploy a techne of propositional modeling that would constitute a means of research in its own right. Consequently, a persistent challenge was to maintain a mode of attentiveness to the formulation of ideas through making that had no prospective, teleological or formal ends – a process that Agamben refers to as a `means without ends.' This also engaged another key motif for Agamben, the notions of potentiality, preservation and restraint that produce a salvational condition in every act of creation.
Directing our vigilance to the in-form-ational rather than formal – the presentational rather than representational – state of the models demanded attentiveness to the distinctive temporality applying in each case. In some instances, the durational aspect became explicit through mobility and interactive engagement; in others temporality was subsumed, in a Bergsonian/Deleuzian sense, by considering the work as a cross-section of duration; a momentary, temporarily arrested state, in which multiple timeframes and narratives were overlaid to produce dense, ambiguous textures of sense.
Our concern was to work-into the spatialities and materialities of the models, exploring how, on the one hand, space, geometry and volume, and on the other, substances, grain and timbre could be labored so as to take them beyond normative limiting conditions of geometry, form and matter. Several trajectories, tied to the thematics of the project, directed these investigations. In particular, we were concerned with contesting the hegemonic, received rule of law – the sovereignty and verisimilitude of form over matter. Each model thereby presents a moment of crisis, catastrophe or profanation – whether in the breakdown of a sovereign regulatory system, the dematerialization of an architectonic monumentalism, the ruination of a substance or the excessive proliferation of simulacrae that exceed the restraining force of sovereign power. The tripartite opposition that initiated the project – Divinity, Humanity, Animality – is here brought into a phase of indiscernibility; into a state of exception wherein god and beast appear as so many indeterminable alterations and iterations of the one human world-forming impulse founded on exclusion and control.
Auckland University of Technology
Convenor: Associate Professor Mark Jackson
Studio Assistants: Jessica Mentis and Dr. Maria O’Connor
Students: Rachel Burton, Jacob Darowski, Hamish Davies, Chelsea Finlayson, Michaella Franklin, Celia Hall, Ethan Hoogenboom, Ethan Horne, Emily O’Hara, Christine Park, Madeline Racz, Angus Roberts
Event Coordinator: Emily O’Hara
Marketing: Carmel Rowden, Jane Skerman
Communications: Olivia Allison
3D Lab: Harold Barton, Michael Grobelny, Glenn Maxwell,
The University of Sydney
Convenor: Professor Michael Tawa
Students: David Brading, David Cadena, Santiago Cantanzano, Jet Gaeghan, Alexandra Harrington, Harriet Kensell, Matilda Leake, Rin Lynn Masuda, Tye McBride, Alice Middleton, Lewis Miles, Giselle Moore, Benjamin Jay Shand, Ana Subotic, Johanna Wang
Logistics: Victoria Jackson Wyatt, Zoe Skinner
Marketing and Communications: Michaela Dunworth
Photography" Maja Baska
Design Modeling and Fabrication Lab: Dylan Wozniak-O’Connor, Majella Beck, Rob Cohen