From Automatic Architecture to Architectural Automatisms
This chapter expands our understanding of the automatic, and the role it plays both in these historical cases and in contemporary architecture, by re-examining it through Stanley Cavell’s concept of “automatism.” What Cavell suggests is that, although some form of the automatic is inherent to postwar artistic practices, these practices must also move beyond the merely automatic—which is empty of meaning—and into the conscious deployment of the automatic as a technique within the realms of cultural production. As such, his interpretation of the postwar condition sheds light both on the historical cases gathered here and on their various extensions in contemporary architectural practice, for which computation has made confrontation with the automatic inescapable. A shift in tone and timeframe marks this chapter. This is by design. My aim is to pull back from the historical cases of the 1960s and 1970s to address the conceptual terrain these cases share with the influential role of computation in contemporary architecture. This is certainly not intended to naively instrumentalize the historical analysis, but rather to unfold an alternative notion of the automatic by which both the historical cases and present day computational practice can be read.
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