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BOUNDARY LANGUAGE
a critical system for architecture, film, landscape, visual culture

The Boundary Language Project was initially sponsored by a Shogren Foundation Grant (NCSU) and has since been expanded through grants/fellowships from the University at Buffalo, LSU, University of Pennsylvania, and Penn State University. Boundary Language is a critical system accompanied by a graphic system deployed to explore the overlaps of architecture, film, landscape, literature, and the visual and performing arts. This collection includes full essays, short position papers, drafts, readings, and materials, many of them prepared for specific projects and contexts long vanished. There are redundancies and gaps. For questions about reproduction and re-circulation, contact the author, Donald Kunze. To explore this site go to specialized indices linked from sub-heads, or try Google-ing any topic followed by “art3idea.”

mirrors, Cranbrook

button latest projects SEMINAR ON METALEPSIS

Critical questions are those that must be re-cast continually within new epistemologies and new vocabularies. What remains the same is the gap, by which the subject learns how to tarry with the negative that is subjectivity’s essential nature. A seminar that took place in the fall of 2013 featured the rhetorical figure of metalepsis as a motive for revising the order of the Vitruvian "virtues" of utilitas, firmitas, and venustas. Key texts from Todd McGowan, Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Slavoj Žižek, Harold Bloom, Henry Johnstone, Eric Santner, and others were used to promote the idea that theory should move away from interpretation and toward active experiment. The Horizontal Atlas was a resource, and recent key papers, such as "The Goldfish Variations" and "Metalepsis of the Site of Exception" involved key terms: reversed predication, cross inscription, diegesis/mimesis, and the inside frame. The seminar was accompanied by a film series organized by Carolina Dayer.

From "Metalepsis of the Site of Exception": The figure of metalepsis brings a fresh perspective to the operation of dissensus within physical settings, where the architecture of “sites of exception” at the same time establishes retroactively what about architecture is architecture — i.e. its root relationship to venustas. Metalepsis deploys a logic by which “diegetic” framing elements are materialized as (phallic/phenomenal/material) elements whose anamorphic qualities create an uncanny disturbance within the “mimesis” of framed representation. The framing elements themselves constitute a case of reversed predication, a container-contained or hierarchical relationship that has “flipped.” This primary instability at the phenomenal level is nonetheless a stable topology within subjectivity as a whole; and the process of obversion is, as Lacan’s idea of extimacy demonstrates, fundamental to the subject’s realization of subjectivity as fundamentally negative. Despite the complexity of conditions and perplexities that result from translating topological conditions into “projective” experience, a calculus that represents … metalepsis shows how historically well established cultural practices (the uncanny, detached virtuality, storytelling strategies, ideological formations, etc.) already–always involve metalepsis as an operational logic. Architecture and landscape theory, in moving from interpretive to active modes, may use such a calculus to recast theory as primarily experimental, pro-active, and provocative.

The seminar referred to the LOCUS or BOUNDARY LANGUAGE sites as resources.

Metalepsis of the Site of Exception an essay in preparation for Architecture Against the Post-Political: Essays in Re-Claiming the Critical Project, ed. Nadir Lahiji and Elie Haddad (forthcoming, Ashgate)

Marco as angel

button MARCO FRASCARI, 1945–2013

Marco Frascari died on June 2, Carlo Scarpa's birthday, and this will possibly not be the last trick he will play on the audience who, for over thirty years of his career as an architect, teacher, theorist, and writer of macaronic texts, willingly accepted his plays on words and things. His first broadly distributed book, Monsters of Architecture, treated the semiotics that tied architecture to divination and forever maintained its repository of the coincidenta oppositorum. His last book, Eleven Exercises in the Art of Architectural Drawing: Slow Food for the Architect's Imagination, presents personal yet universal advice about why drawing is the same as, or better than, thinking. There is no way to estimate the full impact of Marco on architecture theory. Our main intersection was around the topic of Krazy Kat, the long-running comic strip drawn by George Herriman (left). Marco's voice, like Herriman's, was unique, and uniquely provocative. He steered clear of the fads that lured in others (me included) but was forgiving. You only got excommunicated for losing your sense of humor. Marco was at his best giving an account of his growing up in Mantova, where to get to school on time, he had to take a short-cut through Sant'Andrea where nuns were lying prone on the floor doing the final stages of their marriage to Christ. Like any obstacle course runner, he had to gauge his prospects of jumping without landing on a nun, and days differed by being "three nun days" or "four nun days." I think this is where he got his idea for the conference he held when teaching at WAAC in Alexandria on the subject of "hopscotch." There was never any room an Marco's thought for accident, but, as with the trans-nun jumps, necessary space made for luck. As Marco himself used to say, repeating the Italian witticism, Si non è vero, è ben trovato.

Drawing in the Silence by Adrianna Ross and Marco Frascari, available through Lulu.com
Tell the Tale Detail this is probably Marco's most widely read and cited essay
Collected Essays in PhilPapers a collection of Marco's essays will be shortly available at the PhlPapers web site (so they say)
Collected Essays on Scribd here are essays already being downloaded; vive macaroni!

magic

button latest projects THE HORIZONTAL ATLAS

Research on encadrement, enunciation, extimity, and other boundary considerations is collected in a book-length work, Atlas of the Obverse. In the style of an actual atlas, “maps” are presented on one side, a text/commentary on the other. This project employs the idea of the “grimoire,” the magic texts that proliferated in the first centuries of Christianity and again during the Renaissance. A grimoire has to do with how a text is used rather than how it is intended to be read or interpreted, as in the present-day practice of using the Bible or Koran for swearing oaths. In addition to the Atlas there is an in-progress journal, 365 planned commentaries on the Atlas project, woven into narratives of the everyday. A practical guide/summary of the Atlas methodology related to architecture education is provided in several short essays introduced by “Architects Should Be Idiots.” The Atlas provides a system of “horizontal mapping” as opposed to maps created from “zenithal authority.” The idea is to move from the “vertical” to “vertigo.” (Hence, Hitchcock’s famous movie is both an example and a guide.) At the point where the system tilts — thanks to the unexpected potentials of idiocy — a new subjectivity is revealed .

Atlas of the Obverse 99 essays, 99 “maps,” with appendices, in the style of a “horizontal atlas”; review copy
Posthumous Journal of a Living Writer fictional account of writing the Atlas of the Obverse, using the device of the unreliable narrator
Architects Should be Idiots a plea for de-professionalizing the role of fantasy in constructing and construing architecture
Studio Handbook for End Times studio is good for everyone who wishes to understand the world before it disintegrates entirely
Theory for Idiots architecture theory is about the structure of space-time in relation to the human imagination
The Case of the Pink Carnation Piero della Francesca was in step with his age in seeing, in the carnation flower, a key to reversed predication
Sliding Signifiers the issue of universals gets complicated with the question of cultural origins is involved
Hermes, the Polythetical Thief the political, the unconscious, and architecture … unified by the god of crossroads and tricky oaths
Reversed Predication an attempt to survey the modalities and relationships surrounding this way of talking about extimacy
Interrogating the Gap to break the hold of ideology and move to subjectivity's second act, "interrogate the gap" between predicating and predication
Lacanian Discourses and Predication this is correlation central for relations of the discourses to frame theory, reversed predication, and metalepsis
Re-Predicating the Monster the ancient figure of the monster has been "empricized away" from its origins


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button LATEST PROJECTS: WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT …

CagaLibri was a symposium on the subject of shit, particularly shit‘s role in art, literature, religion, city planning, architecture, and philosophy. No less a theorist than Slavoj Žižek has opened the way for this discussion of the subject‘s most subjective substance with his correlation of the three major western philosophical schools, Continental (mostly French) philosophy, German Idealism (Hegel, etc.), and British Empiricism with toilet designs. From fortune telling to politically directed phobias, shit has played a central role. So, it does seem indefensible that there is, in no university, a program of Shit Studies. And, apart from a few semi-famous sources, there are no founding studies. The temptation to go straight from proposition to academia’s secret bottom-feeding impulses seems to be too great. This nano-symposium will collate conversations, writings, and art interventions to produce what will be one of the first and certainly one of the few efforts to get beyond the usual. The substance, rather than the expression, is at stake. How this most modest of personal excretions has acquired an intimate relationship with the highest functions of the psyche is a mystery surpassing Hegel’s observation about pissing and procreation involving the same body part. We are close, in this master of dialectic’s hysterical definition, so close.

Key in any serious study of shit is the ability to detect — particularly in words such as “key” and “serious” — the impulse to hygiene that is shit’s inverse. The verso is as public-directed as the recto is private: public health, municipal sanitation … ethnic cleansing. Shit is almost always defined through its antipodes, whose measure are promoted neutrally, politically, axiomatically. Dominique Laporte’s classic book, The History of Shit (1978) begins with the story of 16c. royal edicts designed to bring order and cleanliness to the streets of Paris. From here to the summer camp calisthenics of the Hitler-Jungend, it is not hard to draw the line connecting shit with genocide, or to see how metaphor operates as an economy of exchange and not just a means of circumlocution to avoid rude words. Because theory is both about the history and logic of resistance and itself is a form of resistance, it must face this most resistant substance and restore its place in thought. Here are developing position papers designed to situate this discussion philosophically (all by Kunze):

What We Talk About When We Talk About Shit prolegommena to Simposium CagaLibri: de merda, locus difficile intellectae, corporae, et metafisicae
Interrogating the Gap in the model of “reversed predication,” the question is, between the two alternatives of the “forced choice,” is there an in-between?
The Causal Chain if extimacy’s main achievement is to break or subvert “the causal chain,” exactly what is this chain and how is it broken/subverted?

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buttonDISCOURSE THEORY, DETACHED VIRTUALITY, REVERSED PREDICATION, REVISIONARY RATIOS, CHIASMUS, RING STRUCTURES …

Plato, Antonello da Messina, Holbein, Giulio Camillo, Dante, Poe, Calvino, Piranesi, Libeskind, Stirling, Nabokov, Georges Perec, Jorge Luis Borges have, in literature, architecture, poetry, philosophy, and painting, specified templates of waht has been called variously chiasmus, counterpoint, or ring composition. Edgar Allan Poe’s remarkable cipher developed this design to perfection in “The Purloined Letter,” (described in part by Richard Kopley). Chiasmus employs internal symmetries and acousmetrics to dimensionalize a space-time within the work, which in turn becomes a passage of discovery and automatron/echo-chamber for various voices from the past (apophrades). Read more about this and other “odd evenings.” Here we tread upon the sacred ground of the cosmogram.

Hermes the Polythetical Thief reversed predication and detached virtuality structure Architecture, the Political, and the Unconscous
The Goldfish Variations it is not true that goldfish have bad memories; it is true that we need this fiction to model the role of detached virtuality
Anarchic Thinking the aim of thought is truth; anarchy is not thinking without a net; it is like thinking with infinite nets
Table: Discourses and Detached Virtuality detached virtuality is the medium of the modalities of the fantastic/uncanny
False Azure Nabokov’s Pale Fire: “I was the shadow of the waxwing slain / by the false azure in the window pane…”
Lacanian Formula for Fantasy an essay that is itself a fantasia on the ambiguity of ◊, <>, -◊.
Flash! Pop! what if Giorgione’s “La Tempesta” took place during a flash of lightning?
The Flesh of the World is Virtual Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s “flesh of the world” converted to the Lacanian extimate
The Four Lacanian Discourses the four Lacanian discourses become characters in a new Commedia del’ Arte
The Matheme the poinçon (◊), calibrated to the non-numerical calculus of George Spencer-Brown
Metalepsis officially “the metonymy of a metonymy,” but the key is the reference to something outside the chain of signifiers
Middle Voice the middle: a hinge, a gap, a Janusian turn, a twist, a trope, a trick …
Military Labyrinth I’m not making this up; it actually happened this way
Mind the Gap facsimile of an essay published in the Journal of Architectural Education
Natural Attitude vs. the Uncanny chiasmus, L-graphs, the Marlboro Man …
Motion in Poe: Anagnorisis, Chiaroscuro, Anacoluthon look both ways before crossing this boundary
The Architectural Performative and the Uncanny architecture’s origins and ends lie in the structure of the performative
The Performative in Architecture a shorter consideration of the above, with emphasis on the uncanny
Poetry as Reverse Engineering a sideways entry into the idea of reversed predication
Roussel’s Three Tricks until Ford’s study of Roussel, these highly architectural tricks were virtually unknown
Heterology: The Silent Middle in Economies of Exchange Marcel Mauss is the unnamed hero of this short essay
Theory of Everything between the two deaths lies … the palidrome
Theory: Stereognosis and Propriocept stereognosis =knowledge of the world through touch; propriocept = the self understood as location

 

buttonBIG PROJECTS: VICO, THEN VICO/LACAN

A second edition of the 1987 book published by Peter Lang, Thought and Place: The Architecture of Eternal Place in the Philosophy of Giambattista Vico, out of print, is in proof-reading stages. Other, shorter works have compared Vico to Lacan and asked how Vico has continually slipped back into obscurity just when theory asks its perennial question, how to integrate theory of place with general philosophical issues and projects. The “Vico answer” has not been welcomed, but it is still viable.

Thought and Place: The Architecture of Eternal Place in the Philosophy of Giambattista Vico
• “Vichianism after Vico,” for the International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, ed. R. Kitchin and N. Thrift
The Vico Lacan Connection (short position paper)
Negation, Fathers, Sexuation a complicated review of the Lacanian theory of sexuation and the Symbolic
Desire and the End of History: Repetition in Vico and Lacan by Timothy Harfield, possibly the only (other) scholar to link Vico and Lacan

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buttonPUBLISHED OR NEARLY PUBLISHED WORKS

 

film study

button FILM CRITICISM

Thanks to Todd McGowan’s The Real Gaze, a revisionary work on restoring Lacan to his (previously backwards) relation to understanding film in relation to the gaze, other, Real, and discourse, it is possible to use film as a laboratory for boundary language theorizing. Early essays, for example a critical analysis of Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove for ArtPapers, focus on finding elements of discourse, such as the Master, the object petit a, etc. in material conditions. The aim is to find a place where architecture and art meet, thanks to the device of the “fourth wall,” and the operational mechanisms of the ø-phenomenon, which is also, in its Lacanian guise, the phallic ø and castration, -ø. Don’t fret — castration is symbolic, which means “castration by symbols.”

The Master’s House (later published in Nadir Lahiji, ed., The Political Unconscious of Architecture); also see follow-up essay.
films central to boundary language study; more films.
Architecture 417, a seminar on architecture and film. Use for references to Vertigo and methodology.
Vertigo series: 1-opening, 2-proposition, 3-romance, 4-recovery, 5-Judy/jewel, 6-cut to chase; summary.
Architecture and Its Doubles: The Sutured Landscape of Mulholland Drive
Sequencing the Four Discourses (obsolete)
The Slow Architecture of Ruins (for D. Kunze, S. Brott, and D. Bertolini eds., Architecture Post Mortem)
Storyboarding (nano field guide)
The Gap

 

architecture for idiots

buttonSTUDIO FOR END TIMES PROJECT

Architecture theory and studio should not just be for those aiming to spend their lives running CAD programs or chasing clients. Architecture is not only an exquisite art surrounding us everyday and in dreams, its calculations and extensions are open to speculation, experiment, and fantasy, as the works of Georges Perec (Life, A User’s Manual) have demonstrated. An “idiot” is not a dunce but, rather, a “private person” who renounces architecture-for-hire and takes on, particularly in light of the proximity of environmental deterioration, projects of play, memory, and personal understanding. The device for this personal play is the studio, particularly the architectural studio, where everything is on the table. This quixotic project began as a workshop but quickly adopted the disciplinary “ratios” devised by the literary critic Harold Bloom in his early book, The Anxiety of Influence. It has been rejected, first by those who see no point in learning past vocational ambition, second by those offended by the term “idiot.” Not in these groups? Welcome.

Architecture Studio for Idiots
Architecture Theory for Idiots
Architecture Studio: A Self-Educational Style for Everyone
Bloom’s System of Six Terms (Ratios)
Definition of Bloom’s Six Terms
Critical Resiliance (diagram)
The Idea of Reading
Learning Is Increasingly Dominated by Anxiety
Anxiety Diagram
The Idea of Exception
Askesis
Clinamen
Kenosis
Ideology: Flight from the Enchanters
Index to Resources
Reversed Predication: A Review
Predication Both Ways
The Remainder
Sample Chapters for Studio for End Times
Open Mind: A Project
What’s the Point?
Point of View / Vanishing Point

 

buttonTRAVEL AS ARCHITECTURE

Henry Johnstone proposed a series of “categories of travel” as means of distinguishing authentic travel from other kinds of human movement. These categories intersect in unexpected ways with Bloom’s revisionary ratios and enunciation/discourse theory. In the study of “sites of exception” (Eric Santner) and the gnostic travel of W. G. Sebald, Bruce Chatwin, and others, Johnstone provides key links.

Categories of Travel
Hieroglyphic Travel

buttonTHE BoLaGRAM

Thanks to a Shogren Foundation grant (N. C. State University) and subsequent support from the Nadine Carter Russell Fellowship (LSU) and the Reyner Banham Fellowship (University at Buffalo), the project to ally a critical theory initiative to a graphic language began and developed from the 1990s to present. The graphic heart, the BOundary LAnguage diaGRAM, fashions loci from Lacan into a Möbius-band creature, model of the “sites of exception” that create n-dimensional openings in the otherwise Lucretian cause-and-effect space-time. Workshops at Penn State (“Sleuth Architecture Weekends), Cleveland Urban Center, University of Pennsylvania, and Virginia Tech’s Alexandria Center afforded many refinements. Thanks to Katsu Muramoto, Daniel Willis, Michael Jemtrud, and Christopher Diehl for their early important contributions.

the original Boundary Language Web Site
Krazy Kat
Rhetorical Figures 1
Rhetorical Figures 2
The Use of Gesture in Architecture
Center Everywhere, Periphery Nowhere: A Screen Theory of Architecture
Fictim Design: The Seven Steps (obsolete)

buttonREVERSED PREDICATION / INTERROGATING THE GAP

A reading group self-designated as “the Niners” has inspired the elaboration of ideas surrounding and supporting the notion of reversed predication. This is the basis of boundary language, but the essential “stereognosis” of its left-right operations have only been articulated recently. This set of sites offers a zoom into the idea to collect the grammatical transformations by which, as Ovid would have it, the victim and victimizer can “shake hands.” Thanks to Azita Ranjbar for coining the term, “interrogating the gap.”

Reversed Predication an attempt to survey the modalities and relationships surrounding this way of talking about extimacy
Hermes the Polythetical Thief reversed predication and detached virtuality structure Architecture, the Political, and the Unconscous
The Goldfish Variations it is not true that goldfish have bad memories; it is true that we need this fiction to model the role of detached virtuality
Anarchic Thinking the aim of thought is truth; anarchy is not thinking without a net; it is like thinking with infinite nets
Table: Discourses and Detached Virtuality detached virtuality is the medium of the modalities of the fantastic/uncanny
False Azure Nabokov‘s Pale Fire: “I was the shadow of the waxwing slain / by the false azure in the window pane…”
The Case of the Pink Carnation Piero della Francesca was in step with his age in seeing, in the carnation flower, a key to reversed predication
Reversed Predication an attempt to survey the modalities and relationships surrounding this way of talking about extimacy
Interrogating the Gap to break the hold of ideology and move to subjectivity's second act, "interrogate the gap" between predicating and predication
Lacanian Discourses and Predication this is correlation central for relations of the discourses to frame theory, reversed predication, and metalepsis
Re-Predicating the Monster the ancient figure of the monster has been "empricized away" from its origins

 

angles

buttonENUNCIATION, ARISTOTELIAN CAUSE, ENCADREMENT, THE UNCANNY

Getting to a user-friendly version of issues surrounding “reverse predication” is not easy. A group of what might be considered failed projects generated some possibly useful flotsam and jetsam after the initial storm surge. For a list of interventions concerning Lacan’s idea of enunciation-as-performative, see this index. The following is a list of treatments that “didn‘t make the list.”

Discourse as Architecture
The Lacanian Discourses as Characters
MapSpace is Topological Not Projective
The Uncanny as the Root of Distinction
The Dummy
The Square Wave
Four Types of Encadrement
Poché: Encadrement as Enclosure
The Hysterical Topology of Singular Sites
Enunciation Theory and Architecture
Enoncé: Poe
Enoncé: Lynch
Enoncé: The Queer Feet
Enoncé: Simonides
Enoncé: Travel
Enoncé: Vico
Enoncé: Blank Form
Frame: Enunciation Theory and the Frame
Double Frame
Frame: Hysteria
Frame: Lacan
Frame Mulholland Drive
Frame: The Queer Feet
Frame: Simonides
Frame: Strangers on a Train
Frame: Symbolic/Imaginary/Real
Frame: Travel
Frame: Veronika Voss
Frame: Stereognosis
Frame: Polythetic Meaning