ARCHITECTURE STUDIO (AND THEORY) FOR IDIOTS: index of resources

essays, diagrams, announcements, and self-serving promotionals

This project argues that the distinctive educational method known as “the architecture studio” has relevance for anyone interested to use learning as a therapeutic and intensive method of recalibrating one’s personal relationship to the world, a project that becomes increasingly important with aging and the increased availability of leisure time assignable to “life long learning." Contact the author, Donald Kunze (kunze767@gmail.com), for permission to quote from or use text, files, or images from this collection.

FALL SEMESTER TOPICS ARE COLLECTED FOR THE FRASCARI SYMPOSIUM, CARLETON UNIVERSITY AZRIELI SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE AND PLANNING, FEBRUARY 2013.

the goldfish variations reversed predicationthe table of exceptionLacanian discoursesdiscourses as charactersproof of concept

RESOURCES

The basic idea. The traditional method of learning to be an architect has been specific to the education of architects only in terms of supply. Only those students who declare that being an architect is their vocational goal get to try it. When they fail, they drop out; when they succeed they are passed on to either a term of internship and licensure or to an advanced degree program where the studio method is repeated, along with courses focused even more on the career choice of professional practice or pedagogy. The workshops/tutorials come in two parts: (1) architecture studio for idiots and (2) architecture theory for idiots. The pedagogy behind architecture for idiots involves personalization, active private learning, and de-centering techniques aiming at insight and well-being.

Bloom's system of six idea-terms. The list has been tweaked to make the connections to architecture studio possible to see, even at this early point, but they are still true to the original Greek meanings. Some terms relate clearly to the process of doing things in studio: the need for detachment and discipline and learning as revelation are the most obvious cases. Others relate to specifically spatial, architectural situations, such as inside-out relationships.

revisionary ratios
askesis
clinamen
kenosis
tessera
apophrades
dæmon

anxiety

Diagrams: the six terms in Bloom's system align to reveal key relationships. The anxiety of influence can be understood as a series of stages of "getting distance on" the sources of anxiety. The until now undiscovered sequence within Bloom's system can be used as a study method, with terms generating key diagrams.

Theories: several working papers have developed the theoretical platform from which the idea of an "architecture studio for end-times" has grown. The most recent of these is on the subject of reversed predication, the idea that we constantly use particulars to function as universals (and vice versa), getting around the hierarchical Aristotelian world-view of order springing from a constant, fixed source. Three essays have been included in a proposal, as "writing samples" for the book, The Architecture of End Times: Handbook for a Personal Studio.

Why should it work? Unlike the modern scholastic emphasis on mastery and success, this program emphasizes the commonplace wisdom that we learn by mistakes. The ability and willingness to start over is a mark of character as well as good critical thinking strategy. Privatizing/personalizing the studio method opens up insights and builds reslience based on the idea that systems are both open-ended and durable as long as they involve a symmetry that continually circulates between "internal orders" and "external experiences." Even the use of crazy Greek words has a point: to create a system of passwords that can be continually redefined and redeployed.

Why not connect with the popular movement to adopt design studio strategies in industry, financial planning and government? (A good friend has suggested this, and it is worth addressing.) The non-architectural private sector is indeed increasingly interested in the vitality of the "design studio method" for provoking novel strategies and innovative design ideas for all kinds of practical problems. The studio works well because it is collaborative, yet it encourages ecclecticism and risk-taking. It rewards visual thinking and "lateral reasoning." This movement is already under weigh; it has our blessing. But, what is missing in the studio oriented toward solving practical problems is what was always missing in the studio in professional-vocational architectural programs: the possibility of extending a project entirely into a "fantasy" mode, beneficial to the designer and anyone interested in following this adventure, but officially short of practical benefits for all humankind. The studio for and of idiots sticks to its privacy goals, its resistance to being turned over to practical problem solving in the same way a novelist would stick to the idea of making a good story without regard to whether or not the reader could learn something practical from it.

This is not to say that we do not learn from "impractical" works of art. In fact, we learn more than we learn from projects intended to teach us something. We learn at a level we cannot immediately identify. What we learn is not specifically moral, practical, informational, or philosophical. It is a combination of things that benefit from the re-orientation they acquire by being disconnected and reconnected. With all respect that is due to the practical employment of the studio method — and there is much to be done here — the idiots' studio persists in its idiocy, simply to preserve its value to the person as such. It is in the hope that such privacy will have broad effects, in the same way that a room of planners who have read Madam Bovary is possibly more intelligent than a room that has not. Or, that the things of ultimate worth are personal things, things that can be possessed in a different way than concepts or techniques. We might say that the idiots' studio aims at ideas that possess us, rather than we them. Presumably, no practical minded planner or financial analyst will go for a method called "studio for idiots." Unless they show real promise, that is.

INDEX OF RESOURCES

The Idiots Web Site is a collection of short essays and diagrams intended to support self-study and actual workshop events. New materials are added continually and, if read independently, may be sometimes bewildering. Nonetheless, this index will give readers access to the full collection, where they can pick and choose according to whatever whim or fancy.

Anxiety: a consideration of the fundamental theme of Bloom's list of six "revisionary ratios."

Anxiety diagrammed: anxiety is "demonic" in Bloom's view. See how the stages of escaping the ideology of anxiety works, through diagrams.

Architecture and: a critique of the practice of studying architecture (or employing the studio method) by relating it to "external interests." For architecture, nearly everything is "internal."

Askesis: an attempt to summarize this idea, one of Bloom's six revisionary ratios.

Checklist: to use the six-term system, you need a checklist that doesn't allow you to take a break from 1–6. This checklist uses three levels of understanding, "raw," "cooked" (some example), and overlap/eclipse (the term in its role of decontamination/recontamination — i.e. the demonic process.

Clinamen: this ratio is the link to Lucretius's "flow model," a way of seeing architecture in terms of dynamic synchronic flows.

Credibility: without this, nothing can be done; how to use the system of six terms to establish this without aspiring to the (ideological) goal of mastery.

Bloom's system—demonic emergence: this diagram views Bloom's system in terms of the project of freeing work from ideology and influence.

The Exceptions Table: Why is the question of virtual space central — if not key — to the "architecture for idiots" idea? Idiocy is, if anything, about subjectivity and subjectivity's two-stage evolution from the "ideological subject" to a fully self-reflective subject. This table engages Lacan's theory of discourse to map this transition and specify how discourse spans ideology and self-realiztion through a performative idea of architecture. The table's ideas are elaborated in an essay that annotates each of its elements and considers their correlations as the primary experiment behind architecture for idiots.

Idea of reading: what is "stochastic resonance"? —a new model for how meaning develops within a system of cross-references.

Ideology: the project of escaping ideology is a "flight from the enchanter(s)" that is, among other things, about the virtuality of the unconscious.

Kenosis: this form of "knowing without knowing" is the aim of internalizing the studio method; the "privacy" of this project is a defendable-but-not-defensive (i.e. open) aim of life-long learning.

Lucretian veil: converting to a flow-model way of thinking and seeing architecture in light of relative velocities is not easy. "The veil" describes just how different this model can be.

Passwords: new learning involves the idea of community, virtual or actual. To get into the clubhouse, a password is required, and the Bloom systems has six. Why? and what IS a password?

Predication both ways: conventional thinking stabilizes qualities and their "objects" with a one-way system. The Lucretian model and Bloom's system converts predication into a hinge function.

Principles of the workshops: this is a contract of aims, goals, and values of the "architecture studio for idiots" project.

Remainder: Bloom's system aims specifically to identify and situate the role of the "resistant kernel of meaning" left over from traditional critical analysis.

Resilience and checklists: Atul Gawanda's study of the usefulness of checklists for hospitals and industries points to their ability to stabilize thinking in times of crisis. So when do we not have a crisis?

Revisionary ratios: this is a list of definitions of the six terms adopted from Bloom's "revisionary ratios" in The Anxiety of Influence.

Six ratios diagrammed: graphically, Bloom's six terms share a single symmetry, related to an "emergence" from the demonic contamination of authority.

Start over: self criticism is based on the willingness to begin again with a completely different point of view. Read how this can be done.

Studio for everyone: the workshops are based on the premise that the studio method of education is universally beneficial. It's about personal development, not vocational indoctrination.

Study tips: borrowing from Ambrose Beirce's Devil's Dictionary idea, these quick aphorisms suggest some rules to follow while internalizing the six revisionary ratios of Bloom's system.

System idea: Bloom uses his terms sequentially and independently, but the symmetries connecting the terms logically and historically are the basis for their "internalization" as a study method.

 © 2013, Donald Kunze, all rights reserved