The Pinners, the Grammers and more in the Thumbs Up Era

Brief

Since the age of mechanical replication, arts and architecture have been diffused and divulged by the media. It’s no news that architecture is experienced directly, but more often shows its “material” status, through media. Almost 30 years ago Beatriz Colomina wrote on how architecture media can be seen as “a site of architecture production that parallels the construction site”.

Today architecture can be seen, discussed and experienced at a global scale by a ‘siteless’ population. Instagram counts more than 800 million active users and shares 95 million photos and videos daily whilst with 250 million Pinterest users share more than 175 billion pins generating a $15 Billion market value. This is without mentioning the infinity of other online platforms.

This kind of data cannot be compared to any hard-copy publication or magazine. Architecture has never been so open. Users distribute millions of images, spreading trends, popularizing places, and ultimately, influencing built and designed environments, or at least their fame. Yet, today’s image consumption and digital publication platforms, with their millions of followers and fast divulged, are under scrutiny for incrementing a superficial and “copycat” attitude. Every time we are posting something online, we are on the verge of plagiarism. Everything is immediate. The critical process of creation, representation, construction, selection and publication is rapidly being substituted by a phone click. However once again, Scott Brown and Venturi introduced the notion of a “photogenic Architecture”, (now called instagrammable), a mise-en-scenes, examining the ‘Duck’ buildings and the decorated sheds.

Digital platforms have changed their users, having access to unlimited information, has turned our generation lazy. Our memory chooses not to archive information that we know is readily available somewhere else making Google part of our cognitive tool set. This shift has also dramatically changed the where and the when we “read”. Users are usually looking scrolling while they are idle: queuing, in traffic jams, on the bus etc. With a low attention span we indulge in a culture of less text more images, fast news and quick access to ideas. However, the Digital has not only allowed us to become part of this quick dialogue by actions as liking, tagging, commenting, it has certainly made us a more “active” audience, maybe more superficial?

Digital media produces fluid identities rather than oppositional ones: audience and public, consumer and producers, voyeurs and citizen. Anyone can be anything online. In this context Digital media affords audiences for architecture that contest the structure put in place and main tend by traditional media. The private sphere of architecture is now publicly posted; its process, representation is quickly judged, or at least commented, by the online Agorà. Mistakes, intermediate phases, drafts and schemes are often and almost randomly pinned in boards without any reference. In the WWW where everybody can be anything and social hierarchy is twisted, everybody is an editor-in-chief who must be followed,

It is no coincidence that on the entrance to Pinterest’s San Francisco headquarters, a bright orange sign with white lettering reads: CREATIVITY IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER. It is however ironic that this creativity is limited to 500 boards and 200,000 Pins.

In the same way, however, the internet continues to give the opportunity to see and appreciate parts of the world that we can hardly access. Today each one of us is contemporarily – artist, writer, publisher, critic and public. The user becomes more and more active and manages to engage in the discussion. The Internet allows us to meet, to talk, to confront ourselves, for example, on the occasion of these architectural dialogues organized by KooZA / rch during MDW 2019.

This program of talks is held in conjunction with the exhibition ‘MICRO TOOLS: THE INVISIBLE SYNAPSE’ by KooZA / rch in collaboration with (ab) Normal at Alcova.

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