design and non-design

COPY/PASTE from Architecture Theory since 1968

(More Diana Agrest)

The discursive specificity of architectural codes which are permeable to other cultural codes.

The relative autonomy of levels in a social formation organized in a structured but decentred totality.

Each practice is determined by the effects and interactions of all other instances at one - a set of insides and outsides enfolded in the structural totality.

The interaction of these zones is an exchange of ideological codes, each of which has its own designations of relevance, propriety, regularity, and so forth, but which can transcode, that is, act as a kind of commutation device, moving and sorting among other discourses and levels in the cultural field.

A code is like an ideological prospect, constantly shifting its point of view, constantly being produced, constantly seeking to compare itself to the conceptual possibility of other codes.

Architecture is not confined to its own narrow idiolect of design, but rather transcodes between design and non-design, throwing discursive forces into multiple play.

Design can achieve a certain plurality. Within its necessary enclosure of specificity - its cultivation of its own autonomous techniques and occlusion of other cultural codes - it is unconstrained by an imperative of representation; it can combine multiple networks of self-reflexive meaning and provide various points of access for filtering material from outside. Nevertheless, design classically conceived produces what Roland Barthes called a lisible text, in which the whole range of institutionalised techniques and habits necessary for its legibility - and that make it an integral whole, a traditionally "good" design - limit the plurality of the text. Non-design, in contrast, produces a scriptable text, permeable, fluctuating, giving no indications as as to how it is to be read, demanding that its reading be in effect its rewriting. To maintain the architectural text's plurality, a reading is called for that refuses to make hierarchies, integrations, or syntheses of the heterogeneous constituent codes, that instead simply juxtaposes fragment by fragment - a productive reading, mise-en-sequence


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