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Learn Spanish by EuroTalk Ltd. Non-Fiction Books. They have also been lucrative: both monographs have sold out their original print runs and are now in renewed editions. Both photographers presented idiosyncratically curated selections of buildings based predominantly on visual criteria, an approach that may defy the standards of historical scholarship, but does not merit serious criticism in itself. The erasure of their meaning is thus perfectly justified: if the memorial to a concentration camp is as frivolous as a lava lamp and as exhausted as a cigarette butt, its commemorative purpose surely cannot be taken seriously.

It can be used as a mute backdrop for a sci-fi movie, or to practice parkour. To his credit, Chaubin makes an effort to include basic information about the buildings he photographed; Kempenaers, however, never affords his objects any of the minimum obligatory identifiers of actual works of art, including neither their names, nor the dates of construction, nor the names of the artists who created them. Instead, each monument is only assigned a number. Is this a post-socialist version of cultural appropriation?

This is Not Architecture

For even when it deserves attention, the architectural heritage of socialism appears to be worth knowing only as a Western art project. Here is Orientalism in its classic form: representing a whole complex culture as a homogeneous other, with the effect of establishing hegemonic power over its interpretation. I often hear the argument that such problematic connotations do not really matter as long as the architecture in question is afforded world-wide exposure. Perhaps, but it is Orientalism nonetheless.

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In addition, more than a decade after the images of late socialist architecture have started circulating in the digital realm, I have yet to witness actual positive effects of such exposure: rather than becoming identifiable in their own right, socialist buildings have only become further integrated into the economy of digital images, with the same anonymous detachment that ignores both their original meaning and their artistic merit. What is new is not only the fact that the target is an explicitly modern culture, but also an ideological dimension inherited from the Cold War: the so-called totalitarian paradigm, a discursive weapon used by the West during the Cold War, which represented state socialism as an almost cartoonish system of absolute top-down control.

Historians have challenged such views for decades, and the enormous amount of new multidisciplinary research of the socialist world largely rests on what we might call a post-totalitarian premise. Research into the history of the built environment has been especially fruitful in that respect, highlighting the myriad negotiations involved in the production and occupation of space.

Media Architecture Institute

In short, we know that the inner workings of socialist architecture were far more complex and diverse than what the stereotypes suggest. Despite the fact that a vast amount of scholarship testifies otherwise, new Orientalists continue regurgitating the totalitarian paradigm. At the same time, the statement reveals the degree to which the neoliberal dogma has become internalized: the extraordinary fact that the resort provided workers with a paid vacation — which from a post-socialist perspective sounds positively surreal — is glossed over, and the whole structure ends up reduced to a mere device of totalitarian control.

The totalitarian paradigm has recently received a new lease on life in European politics through a series of official measures requiring that communism is remembered in the same way as Nazism. It is as if anything worthwhile that came out of socialism could not help but be dissident, even if only in form. The trouble is, the comparison implies that not only are communism and fascism the same, but so are fascism and antifascism.

If eight years ago, when Kempenaers first published his book, comparing fascist headquarters and antifascist monuments may have appeared uncontroversial just because the latter were produced under a socialist state, today that is no longer the case. As we approach the thirtieth anniversary of the collapse of socialism, its architectural heritage condenses the paradoxes and contradictions of the long-standing liberal consensus, which itself appears in collapse today.

Architectural historians are facing fundamental questions: Who should have the right to shape the public perception of architectural history?

Orientalizing Socialism: Architecture, Media, and the Representations of Eastern Europe

How is architectural history used to support ideologies and geopolitical hierarchies? Can historians wrest relevance from mass media, if access to the dissemination of information remains controlled by powerful commercial and political interests? As the political polarization sharpens, such questions will be asked with increasing urgency, not only in the East, but in all of Europe. After I wrote the first draft of this essay three years ago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York expressed its interest in the architecture of socialist Yugoslavia.

The result is an exhibition that I have co-curated in collaboration with Martino Stierli, which opens in July Exposure provided by a powerful platform such as MoMA has the potential to be transformative for the perception of architecture, not only in the former Yugoslavia, but perhaps also in the entire former socialist world. That fact, however, does not invalidate my argument; as a matter of fact, in some ways we have conceived the show precisely as a remedy for the misrepresentations described above. Whether our efforts will be sufficient to effect a sea-change remains to be seen.

For the current state of scholarship, see the recent special issue of the Journal of Urban History edited by Daria Bocharnikova and Steven Harris, including their introduction Bocharnikova and Harris For a critique, see Ghodsee Azzarello, N. Design Boom , 10 November.


Bezjak, R. And I now have a nearly complete draft — with just a few questions remaining. I always have to keep in mind that my students are media studies students — not design students.

Very few have any background in architectural or design history and theory. This is also why, after having taught this course a few times, I decided to flip it from a chronological to a reverse-chronological organization, so we can start with what students are most familiar with — new media — and then dig further back into time, drawing connections between the old and the new, as the weeks go on.

Despite those proclamations, we have not traded in our corporeality for virtuality—nor have we exchanged all of our brick-and-mortar edifices and cities for virtual versions.

Media Constructions, 1st Edition

In fact, many architects, urban planners, sociologists, psychologists, geographers, and scholars and practitioners in related disciplines argue that as our media have become ever more virtual, the design and development of our physical spaces—through architecture, landscape design, and urban and regional planning—have become even more important. If our media and our built spaces do not follow the same evolutionary paths, what is the relationship between these two fields of production and experience?

This course examines the dynamic and complex relationship between media and architecture. We will look at architecture as media, symbols and embodiments of particular ideas and values—and at the impact that communication media have had on the practice of architecture and the way we experience our built environments. After equipping ourselves with a basic design vocabulary and a selection of relevant theoretical frameworks, we will trace the contemporaneous development of media and architecture from the scribal era in the Middle Ages to the digital era of today and tomorrow.

In the process, we will find that underlying and inspiring these various systems of cultural production throughout history are certain foundational elements—particular value systems and kinds of experience, cultural perspectives and worldviews. What do various media and architectural historians and theorists have to say about the relationships between media and architecture? Does architecture have a language? Can it be regarded as a mass medium? If so, what methods of analysis—e. Walter Benjamin is ubiquitou s in media-architecture research. What has happened to our conceptions of space in an era of dematerialization and decentralization?

How have networked digital technologies changed the way we design our buildings and cities, and altered our experiences of those built spaces? How new are these ideas of networked and immaterial architectures?