This Thing Called Theory – 12th AHRA International Conference
Leeds Beckett University / School of Art, Architecture and Design / Leeds, United Kingdom
19th-21st November 2015
This conference proposes Theory as a form of architectural practice which opposes the instrumentalization of its use. It aims to explore the status of Theory in architecture through an examination of instances in current practice, and invites critical reconsiderations of the role of Theory in architecture, its successes and shortcomings. It seeks to trigger discussions, arguments and polemics around this thing called Theory.
Since the Architectural Humanities Research Association was created twelve years ago to promote and develop research in the architectural humanities, the practices of architecture have transformed and diversified, and so has the relationship between the designs, representations and makings of architecture and their surrounding discourses. After semiotics, psychoanalysis, deconstruction’s flirt with Derridean philosophy, and Deleuzian redefinitions of folds and diagrams, the impact of the digital in architecture seemed to have vanquished the ‘need’ for architecture to refer to discourses from the humanities. Whilst concerns of the humanities are converging with the sciences, they are also simultaneously diverging and dissipating with notions of network, apparatus and agency. The recent imperative in architecture to withdraw from claims of singular design visions has also been characterised by the gathering of individuated credits and subjecting to commodified distribution in the production of theory.
Today, in an age of extreme specialization and thus far inconceivable intersections of fragmented strands of knowledge, architecture continues to reinvent itself. As architecture reconsiders its status as a discipline in relation to digital technologies, material sciences, biology and environmental transformations, it continues to resort to and introject thoughts and practices developed ‘outside’ architecture. It is indeed the very openness and connectedness of architecture that can offer a line of continuity in the ongoing process of self-definition and reinvention that has always characterized architecture as a practice of the multiple and of the critical. As a discipline that never simply makes physical environments, architecture will continue to act in and through all its intersections with its ‘other’ as a critical and cultural agent.
Keynote Speakers: Andrew Benjamin, Cynthia Davidson, Marco De Michelis, Mario Carpo, Mark Cousins, and Sylvia Lavin.
More information: http://www.thisthingcalledtheory.org/
CALL FOR PAPERS
While architecture’s discourse seemed to have been muted with the shift from the alphabet to the algorithm (Mario Carpo, 2011), it has more recently emerged that even for the digital it is already not only possible but indeed necessary to construct an archaeology (Greg Lynn, 2013), and this has to be both historical and critical. Log’s ‘Stocktaking’ issue (summer 2013) borrowed Reyner Banham 1960’s instrumental opposition of tradition and technology to resume (or restart) a critical discourse on contemporary architectural practices, attempting to relate them to recent and not so recent disciplinary pasts, while the ‘Ways to Be Critical’ proposed by Volume 36 (Archis 2013, no. 2) seems to reduce the issue of criticality to a series of positions of militant criticism.
Beyond the mediatory function of theory (Michael Hays, 2000) and its problematic tag of authorship and authority (Giorgio Agamben, 2002), this conference proposes that theory, far from dead, extinct or rejected, remains crucial to the discipline. In the age of post-digital architecture and digital materiality, This Thing Called Theory aims to explore current practices of theory.
Deadline for abstracts 4th May 2015