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Clouds of architecture

Clouds of architecture

Mark dorrian

According to the newspapers, the recent unveiling of Frank Gehryʼs design for the Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation – to be built in the Jardin dʼAcclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne – left observers struggling for a suitable metaphor. However, as the Guardian reported it, the architect himself seemed in no doubt: ʻ“Itʼs a cloud of glass – magical, ephemeral, all transparent,” [Gehry] said. It was, he added, “not stodgy.”ʼ [1] Stodginess, certainly, is something that the appeal to clouds might well be hoped to ward off. Of all the flow-motifs available to oppose the heaviness of congealed and earth-bound stodge, the slow and complex three-dimensional circulation, drift and dispersion of the nebular seems the most promising. Moreover, not only does the cloud seem opposed to all material loading, equally it appears to resist being weighted down and tethered by signification. As, symptomatically, the Guardianʼs report concluded: ʻGehry added that one of his main aims was to attract youngsters. He said: ʻI hope they will look at the building and say, “what is that?”ʼ [2] While there is a long association of divine and fantastic architectures with cloud, from the heavenly city, to fairytale giantsʼ castles reached by beanstalks, to Swiftʼs flying island of Laputa buoyed upon the magnetic field of the giant lodestone at its core, it is only recently that we have had a situation in which the cloud has shifted from being a fabulous support for the building to a trope for the architectural project itself. Clouds of architecture have been accumulating, and the allusion has become increasingly visible as a sort of postmodern counterpart to the high modern metaphoric series of organism, crystal, machine, and so on. My intention here is to explore this architectural aspiration for the cloud, to try to make some suggestions about how we might understand it, and to try to describe the work that the cloud motif might be said to do for architecture and architects.

From one point of view it is unsurprising that the cloud is an area of interest for practices that see themselves as aiming to transgress architectureʼs disciplinary constitution, opening architecture onto what is taken to be excessive to it, or mounting an assault upon it. At one point in his book A Theory of /Cloud/ – to which Iʼll return – Hubert Damisch characterizes cloud as ʻ“matter” aspiring to “form”ʼ, thereby registering its infinite provisionality and imminence. [3] But equally the cloud might be thought of as ʻmatter after formʼ, the characteristic ʻthingʼ that accompanies destruction and demolition, the dispersion and suspension of particles that follows convulsions of matter and that is historically and iconographically fixed in photographs such as those of the dynamiting of the Pruitt-Igoe housing in St Louis in 1972, or the attack on the World Trade Center. Curiously it was two buildings by the same architect, Minoru Yamasaki, that supplied the material for these two most iconic examples of the destructuring of form into cloud. At the same time, the Pruitt-Igoe demolition was famously promoted – by, for example, Charles Jencks – as the death rattle of modernism itself, thereby staging that particular cloud as the registration of not just the collapse of a specific architectural project but of an entire ideology. [4]

Lightness and pneumatology

In 1995 Coop Himmelb(l)au, an Austrian-based architectural practice, produced a competition project for a United Nations building in Geneva, under the title Cloud #9. In a breathless text written fifteen years earlier, this group – whose affiliation with the sky, and indeed the clouds, was declared in their name (Himmelblau meaning ʻsky blueʼ and, with the ʻlʼ bracketed off, ʻsky buildingʼ) – concluded ʻArchitecture must burnʼ. This text accompanied their Blazing Wing installation in the courtyard of the Technical University in Graz, whose heat, it is reported, smashed the windows in the surrounding historic facades. [5] However, the cloud of which they dreamed in 1995 did not consist of the smoke of architectureʼs combustion: instead it was, they wrote, ʻa soft, fluctuating enigma – a building that does not want to be a building any moreʼ. Declaring cloud to be ʻan idea without an appropriate conceptʼ, they insisted that ʻat the end of the twentieth century … the idea of cloud acquires a new significance.ʼ Cloud is ʻa differentiated system rather than an objectʼ, which as ʻa product of a complex tissue of influences in which it constantly recreates itself … is entirely without identity.ʼ [6] Whatever the gap we might feel exists between this and the actual building proposal, what is being rhetorically conjured here is something infinitely responsive and in transformation, something, that is, that is always on the point of becoming something else. The following year Coop Himmelb(l)au extended the allusion to the city itself, comparing the digitally networked city to a ʻfield of cloudsʼ in constant flux in patterns of complex interaction. ʻThe vocabulary of urban planningʼ, they wrote, ʻshould be placed in an architectural antique shop and replaced with phantasms still to be defined, which fluctuate and flicker like television screens after broadcast.ʼ [7]

At the end of his essay ʻHaze: On Nebular Modernismʼ, Steven Connor extends a discussion on the visual registration of mist in the direction of an account of the atmosphere as a medium traversed and saturated with invisible radiation, communication and interferences. [8] And there is something of the sense of this electromagnetic cloud in Coop Himmelb(l)auʼs new description of public space as a ʻsemi-conductorʼ. [9] Yet, at the same time, one is struck by the resplendent luminous, translucent (and auratic) character of these proposals for architectural clouds. Compare Gehryʼs statement that ʻI wanted to create something that every time you approach, it shows a different character depending on the light and the time of day. I wanted to emulate everything this word “transparence” meansʼ, with Coop Himmelb(l)auʼs description of their Geneva project: ʻThe cloud envelope becomes a glass-like net structure that loosely defines a semi-public space. The transparency of this shell makes it possible to look at people moving about through the layers of light and colour.ʼ [10] It is almost as if, by some trick of history, the destination of Paul Scheerbartʼs Glasarchitektur has turned out in fact to be the cloud.

However, we could also draw a very different historical line to architectureʼs contemporary clouds, one that would pass through the 1960sʼ and 1970sʼ preoccupation with pneumatic structures, those structures structured by air. The current prevalence of bouncy castles can obscure the political past of this technology, whose architectural uptake occurred in a context of radical commitments to the mobile, the temporary, the nomadic, the anti-authoritarian and the event. We can look again at Coop Himmelb(l)au here, who produced a number of pneumatic projects in the wake of the German engineer Frei Otto and, more locally, the Austrian architect Hans Hollein, who had ʻshifted his mobile one-man-office into a transparent inflatable – a “pneu” – for a time, to extraordinary effect in the media.ʼ [11] In 1968 Coop Himmelb(l)au produced their pneumatic Villa Rosa, a cocoonlike structure that might be characterized as an expanded essay in atmospherics, the inhabitant being enveloped doubly by the pressurized inflatable and an environment of sensory stimuli released by technical apparatus located in small spherical compartments. This led, in turn, on to their Cloud (Wolke) I and II projects of 1968–72.

In their commentary on the Villa Rosa, Coop Himmelb(l)au wrote: ʻSince the erection of the first totem pole the goal has been dematerialization. The dream has always been release from the force of gravity.ʼ [12] If the pneumatic structure could be understood as a building made of air, with a minimal material support – a building of ʻalmost nothingʼ – then by the same token it was minimally borne upon by gravity, which is to say, minimally hitched to the earth, that great sump of material and material history (ʻeverything we loved and by which we have livedʼ, as Malevich said). [13] Here we can recognize the proximity of the cloud to a modern thematic of lightness and detachment from the ground. Sources as diverse as Heinrich Wöfflinʼs Prologomena to a Psychology of Architecture and Georges Batailleʼs entry on Formless for the Critical Dictionary suggest an elevational economy whereby the movement upwards is associated with the sublimation of base matter into vital form – reprehensibly so for Bataille – in contradistinction to the lateral, descendental and gravity-directed seep of the former. Batailleʼs famous argument posits ʻformlessʼ as a declassifying term that serves to depress the status of things, and his references are to squashed spiders, earthworms and gobs of spittle. [14] Yet at the same time we would have to admit that the cloud presents us with a formless thing that ascends in all senses of the word.

In his commentary on the frescoes painted in the earlier sixteenth century by Correggio in the cupolas of San Giovanni Evangelista and the Cathedral in Parma, Hubert Damisch, borrowing a phrase from Gaston Bachelard, describes these images enabled by cloud as ʻoperators of elevationʼ, while at the same time noting that the cloud theme ʻcontradicts the very idea of outline and delineation and through its relative insubstantiality constitutes a negation of the solidity, permanence and identity that define shapeʼ. [15] We have the paradigmatic example of this last point by way of Damischʼs classic analysis of the demonstration of perspective reportedly carried out by Filippo Brunelleschi. Onto a small panel, Brunelleschi painted a perspectival rendering of the baptistery in Florence, making a hole in the board at the vanishing point towards which the parallels converged. Holding the back of the painting to his face, and looking through the hole, he used a mirror held in front of him to sight the image, thereby producing an optical structure that articulated the homology between the eye of the observer and the vanishing point. However, on the painting Brunelleschi crucially did not render the sky, but instead provided a silvered surface upon which the real sky was reflected, before being again reflected in the hand-held mirror. Damisch argues that cloud is thus presented as something excessive to the perspectival system, something that escapes the jurisdiction of perspective and forms its constitutive ʻoutsideʼ. Of cloud he writes:

this unmastered, unmasterable background element … had to be shown but could not be except by the use of a mirror – that is, paradoxically, by resorting to a di-monstratio. Thus the cloud mirror functioned as an index (narrowly construed) of a discontinuity between the order of that susceptible to representation by the means of perspectiva artificialis, and another element which, admitting of no term and no limit, seems to escape capture, demanding to be presented ʻin its natural formʼ. [16]

Nebular atmospherics and euphorics

Now it seems to me that there are legitimate connections to be drawn between this transcendent lightness that cloud offers and certain reflections on architectural drawing, which bring the latter within the ambit of our concerns with contemporary clouds of architecture. I am struck, for example, by the terms in which John Hejduk described his drawings for his Lancaster/ Hanover Masque, produced between 1979 and 1982. The community of scripted ʻobjectsʼ and ʻsubjectsʼ that this work describes are organized in relation to a central, voided square across which the Church House and Death House face the Court House and Prison House. Hejduk proposed that the drawings he did for these were, ʻI believe, the first X-ray drawings … The drawings are apparitions.ʼ He continues:

During the revealing of a thought the pencil in my hand was almost without weight. The lead of the pencil hardly touched the surface of the paper; a thought captured before total concretion. The drawing of the Court House … may at first appear to be the vaguest, yet it is most complete. It encompasses the whole of a dematerialised thought. [17]

Here the material ineffability of the drawing, precisely the lightness of the material of the pencil upon the paper – a lightness that, again, makes it almost, but not quite, nothing – is correlated with thought itself, which finds itself transported and registered on the paper before, as Hejduk puts it, ʻtotal concretionʼ. Here we are close to the cloud once more and specifically to its spectral equivocality and resistance to being definitively located or contained within representational forms, insofar as the precondition for its appearance turns out to be its simultaneous (virtual) absence – in this case the lightness of a drawing produced by a pencil that ʻhardly touched the surface of the paperʼ. Thus too Hejdukʼs reference to the X-ray. For if photography has been claimed to be a spectralizing technology, [18] how much more so is its offspring the X-ray, which works by lightening and absenting matter, dissolving solid fleshiness into cloud or ʻa spectral haze or plasmaʼ. [19]

It may be happenstance that Hejduk – in his pedagogical role as Professor of Architecture at (and, from 1975, Dean of) the School of Architecture at the Cooper Union in New York – was a teacher and colleague of three other architects to whom we could refer at this point. The first, Daniel Libeskind, can be passed over quickly, simply noting his comment that ʻWhat I tried to do with the problem of architecture … was to disengage it from its position on earth … to send it to its stellar sourceʼ, [20] along with the ʻcloud propʼ of his competition-wining City Edge project for Berlin in 1987. The other architects, Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, who practice together as Diller + Scofidio (and latterly as Diller, Scofidio + Renfro), here require a little more attention as they are the producers of the most literal and celebrated of contemporary architectural clouds. Iʼm referring of course to their Blur building, an exhibition pavilion constructed for Swiss Expo 2002 on Lake Neuchâtel, beside the town of Yverdon-les-Bains, in Switzerland. Originating with an invitation to work collaboratively on a competition project for Swiss Expo 2001, Diller + Scofidio first worked – and were entrusted with what was called ʻimmaterial designʼ – as part of a team called Extasia, on what was conceived as a new media landscape. The overarching theme of the Expo was to be ʻSwissnessʼ, and Extasiaʼs ʻassigned themeʼ was ʻsensuality and sexualityʼ. [21] At first, it seems, the project was imagined as a void that would be made in the lake itself, and be called the ʻWaterhole Restaurantʼ.

In the event the Expo was deferred for a year, and Diller + Scofidioʼs pavilion emerged as a separate project. Variously described as ʻpure atmosphereʼ and ʻthe making of nothingʼ – the title of a book documenting the work22 – the project was specifically envisioned as an anti-spectacle, a refusal of the demand for visual clarity and the scintillating display of commodities normally associated with exhibitionary pavilions. The building would take the form of a cloud hovering over the lake, a ʻfog massʼ, [23] a piece of architecture made, according to the architects, out of nothing but the ʻsite itself: waterʼ. [24] One of the project descriptions put it like this:

Upon entering the fog mass, visual and acoustic references are erased, leaving only an optical ʻwhite outʼ and ʻwhite noiseʼ of pulsing nozzles. Contrary to immersive environments that strive for highdefinition visual fidelity with ever-greater technical virtuosity, Blur is decidedly low-definition: there is nothing to see but our dependence on vision itself. [25] Now it seems possible to claim this as part of a more general equation that links humidity and visual definition. As Paul Carter has pointed out, a precondition of legibility tends to be that things are dried out, so that – to take an example – inkʼs temporary flow occurs upon an arid surface that guarantees the future shape of the dried character. To expose a document to humidity is to place in hazard its stability won through dryness, by exposing it to the warp and wrack of its material substrate. Under the encouragement of the humid, whose very emblem could be the cloud, things lose their linearity, contour and shape: they seep, blot and blur. As Paul Carter puts it:

the humid … is what causes lines to spread, to get back in touch with the ʻinteriornessʼ of the world.

The humid usefully resists the drive toward ʻlegibilityʼ, producing instead a class of marks where writing and drawing discover their common ground.

As matter writing back, the humid is the site of movement traces normally overlooked. [26]

The architectsʼ own descriptions of the project consistently characterize Blur through claims of what it excludes, rather than what it incorporates, the claims culminating in the statement that it is the ʻmaking of nothingʼ. Described as a ʻmassless and elastic medium in which time is suspended and orientation is lostʼ [27] (no mass, no time, no direction), and again as ʻspaceless, formless, featureless, depthless, scaleless, massless, surfaceless, and dimensionlessʼ, [28] one is encouraged to suspect that cloud approximates the propertyless ʻthingʼ which Peter Eisenman and Jacques Derrida sought during their ill-fated collaboration on the design of a garden related to Derridaʼs commentary on the Platonic chora, for the Parc de la Villette in Paris29 – especially when one recalls the momentary flickering and dissolution of aleamorphic forms that have historically been glimpsed in clouds, whose art historical aspects have been studied by Ernst Gombrich, James Elkins and others. [30]

It is tempting, then, to see Blur as representing an overcoming of ʻconstructionʼ by a non-hylomorphic ʻatmosphericsʼ. In a richly suggestive essay on the architecture of atmosphere, Mark Wigley has written that atmosphere ʻis precisely that which escapes analysis. … Atmosphere may be the core of architecture but it is a core that cannot simply be addressed or controlled.ʼ [31] There is much to this, and yet one of the things that is striking about Blur is the huge technological sophistication and the hyper-hylomorphic control of material upon which the vapour cloud is predicated, and indeed how effectively it – as a melding of the meanings of atmosphere as gaseous envelope and atmosphere as experiential ambience – was orchestrated. ʻWe were determined to defy natureʼ, commented Ricardo Scofidio. Blur ʻwas like a magic trick. A great effect that took a lot of artifice.ʼ [32]

The hidden support of the project was a steel tensegrity structure anchored into the lake bed, which was armed with 31,500 nozzles through which water, pumped from the lake and filtered, was fed at high pressure and vaporized. During the design process, some large-scale fog tests were carried out, and considerable sophistication and ingenuity had to be deployed in fine-tuning the technique to produce the desired effect (irregular nozzle concentrations, for example). To maintain the cloud within defined limits – to stop it blowing away, dissolving, and so on – the whole water delivery system and assemblage was controlled via a ʻsmart weatherʼ system that monitored the broader environmental condition (temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, etc.) and regulated the rate of feed to the nozzles accordingly. This pumping of stuff into a zone could be described, I suppose, as a technology of ʻinflationʼ used – paradoxically – in the absence of any building envelope. And, at the same time, this technology of inflation was producing what we could call a sort of ʻair-conditioningʼ. Such a point, it seems to me, opens Blur on to a different kind of cultural history than that within which it is usually situated and suggests another, perhaps more critical, way of thinking about the project.

At the invitation of the architects, Hubert Damisch himself visited the project, and subsequently wrote a commentary on it. In this he suggested that Blur had ʻsomething to do with the idea of an inhabitable place, a place where it would be good to breathe, and to breathe differently, by inhaling a different air.ʼ Blur had, he said, a ʻkind of “pneumatic” beautyʼ (where pneuma is both breath and spirit). [33] There is a euphoric aspect to Damischʼs discourse here, and I want to offer for comparison an earlier architectural project which is also euphoric, about an inhabitable place and breathing, and which will return us very directly to the experiments with pneumatic structures at which we glanced before. The project I have in mind is Reyner Banham and François Dallegretʼs ʻEnvironment Bubbleʼ from their 1965 article ʻA Home is Not a Houseʼ, published in Art in America. [34] What is interesting here in terms of the comparison with Blur is that, analogously, the ʻstuffʼ of the site – air – is drawn in, filtered, and then pumped out by the internal air-conditioning system with the resultant internal pressure then inflating the dome. It is as if the project develops an internal environmental cloud which takes the form precisely of air-conditioning and which is consolidated and restrained by virtue of the skin, which, in the Diller + Scofidio project, disappears to leave a visible environmentally conditioned zone which is locationally stabilized not just by the steel structure with its array of nozzles, but by the computer monitoring system too.

Environmental commodification

Damischʼs euphoric response to Blur was by no means unique, and in this regard it is interesting to note shifts in the architectsʼ own accounts as the project developed. In 2000, they presented it in terms of an integrated media installation entitled Blur/Babble, in which visitors would be equipped with so-called ʻbraincoatsʼ, electronically equipped raincoats, enabling fragments of conversation to be detached, jumbled, resequenced and relayed to visitors, thus supersensitizing, as they put it, hearing and ʻproducing an architecture of atmosphere in which the spectacular is traded for the oracularʼ. [35] The Babble media installation was in the end shelved due to loss of sponsorship, but the paranoid sense of being tracked by the building – an explicit aim of the project at this point – is very different in flavour to the description we find when the completed project was published in the architectural journal Lotus. Here, the visitorʼs ascent to the ʻAngel Deckʼ at the summit of the structure is likened to ʻpiercing a cloud layer while in flight to the blue skyʼ. [36]

The euphoric response might, then, make us suspect that we are indeed rather closer to the spectacle here than previously suggested. As Damisch noted, Blur did not fit into the tradition of expositionary pavilions displaying the objects of mercantile production. Yet it certainly still sold something, for located within it was a ʻwater barʼ stocked with bottled waters from around the world. Which is to say – I think without stretching things too far – that what was being sold was an idea of purity. Damisch seems to say as much when he comments that, at the bar, ʻone could take the waters once more, this time as mineral water, still or sparkling, everything playing on the juncture of the two elements of water and air with nothing earthy muddying the waters.ʼ [37]

There is no doubt that Blur was a remarkable, and properly architectural, achievement: certainly one of the most thoughtful and thought-provoking projects realized in recent times. It provided a witty and critical commentary on expositionary architecture and, more widely, visual desire. Presenting itself as an anti-spectacle, at the same time it conformed to the spectacular demand of the exhibition: to be, in short, show-stopping. And what could be more jaw-droppingly extraordinary than the anchoring of a ʻreal, liveʼ cloud just above the lake, like a mass hallucination or a little piece of heaven brought down to earth. The computer simulations that Diller + Scofidio produced indicate that their nebular vision participated in the same kind of iridescent, diaphanous imaginary as that of Coop Himmelb(l)au and Gehry. [38] These are magical, transcendent and rather untroubling clouds. Despite my comments on dust clouds at the start, it seems that architects are not so much interested in historicizing their clouds, and certainly not clouds that are part of the modern history of desolation – whether Ruskinʼs ʻstorm cloud of the nineteenthcenturyʼ, [39] the mushroom cloud of the atom bomb, or others.

As such, it may be that for some Blurʼs achievement is, in fact, the pioneering of a new kind of environmental commodification – a new development in the socio-political history of air conditioning – which takes the form of a localized air conditioning of environmentally manipulated zones, no longer encapsulated within building envelopes, secured against a generally degrading environment. As the planetary environment atrophies, this argument would run, so capital will seek to reconstitute it in localized and socially exclusive zones, and an ideology of purity would be part and parcel of this. In this regard, it might be suggested that Blur has some surprising filiations with, for example, some of the buildings produced for another exhibition: Expo ʼ92 in Seville. There localized cooling effects were produced by tower constructions that used micronizers to spray a fine water mist. Similarly, Nicholas Grimshawʼs British pavilion used evaporative techniques, such as a water wall that produced a mist, to cool visitors. This may be – like bottled water – an admirable technology that addresses a problem: but it is a problem in which the social can no longer be intelligibly detached from the natural, and it does it in a localized, restricted and even distorted way.

And, in the end, what do clouds do for architects?

They allow architects, it seems, to have a foot in two very different places at the same time: to rhetorically present works as anti-essentialist, de-ontologized, provisional, shifting and dynamic, while simultaneously enjoying a wonderful weightlessness and a transcendental purity. As a ʻdesignerʼ of clouds one can, rather magically, be a visionary without the burden, and attendant vulnerability, of having to delineate a vision. As Frank Gehry said of his commission to build a cloud in Paris, it is ʻheavenlyʼ. [40]

Notes

1. ^ Kim Willsher, ʻIs It a Cloud? Is it a Cocoon? Gehryʼs Paris Museum Unveiledʼ, Guardian, 3 October 2006, p. 15.

2. ^ Ibid., p. 15.

3. ^ Hubert Damisch, A Theory of /Cloud/: Toward a History of Painting, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2002, p. 35.

4. ^ ʻModern architecture died in St Louis, Missouri on July 15, 1972 at 3.32 pm (or thereabouts), when the infamous Pruitt-Igoe scheme, or rather several of its slab blocks, were given the fi nal coup de grâce by dynamite.ʼ Charles Jencks, The Language of Post-Modern Architecture, Academy Editions, London, 1987, p. 9.

5. ^ Frank Werner, Covering + Exposing: The Architecture of Coop Himmelb(l)au, Birkhäuser, Basel, Berlin and Boston, 2000.

6. ^ Ibid., pp. 67–8.

7. ^ Ibid., p. 21.

8. ^ Steven Connor, ʻHaze: On Nebular Modernismʼ, a paper given at ʻModernism and Beyond: Interdisciplinary Seminar in Art Theory and Literary Theoryʼ, Trinity College, Oxford, 12 May 2006, pp. 12–16. Available at www.bbk.ac.uk/english/skc/haze/haze.pdf. [archive]

9. ^ Werner, Covering + Exposing, p. 21.

10. ^ Willsher, ʻIs it a cloud?ʼ, p. 15; Werner, Covering + Exposing, p. 68.

11. ^ Werner, Covering + Exposing, p. 27.

12. ^ Ibid., p. 28.

13. ^ Kasimir Malevich, The Non-Objective World: The Manifesto of Suprematism, Dover Publications, Mineola and New York, 2003, p. 68.

14. ^ Heinrich Wöffl inʼs ʻPrologomena to a Psychology of Architectureʼ, in Harry Francis Mallgrave and Eleftherios Ikonomou, eds, Empathy, Form and Space: Problems in German Aesthetics, 1873–1893, Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, Santa Monica, 1994, pp. 149–90; Georges Bataille, ʻFormlessʼ in Atlas Arkhive Three: Encyclopaedia Acephalica, Atlas Press,

London, 1995, pp. 51–2.

15. ^ Damisch, A Theory of /Cloud/, pp. 21, 15.

16. ^ Hubert Damisch, The Origin of Perspective, MIT Press,

Cambridge, MA and London, 1994, p. 94.

17. ^ John Hejduk, The Lancaster/Hanover Masque, Text 8, Architecture Association and Canadian Centre for Architecture, London, 1992, p. 13.

18. ^ ʻI then experience a micro-version of death (of parenthesis): I am truly becoming a specter.ʼ Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida, Vintage, London, 1993, p. 14. See also Jacques Derrida, ʻThe Deaths of Roland Barthesʼ, in Hugh J. Silverman, ed., Philosophy and Non-Philosophy Since Merleau-Ponty, Routledge, London and New York, 1988, pp. 259–96.

19. ^ Connor, ʻHazeʼ, p. 12.

20. ^ Daniel Libeskind, ʻThe Pilgrimage of Absolute Architecture (A Conversational Explanation)ʼ, in Countersign, Academy Editions, London, 1991, p. 42.

21. ^ Charles Renfro, ʻBlur Buildingʼ, A+U 428 (2006), pp. 62–73, 67.

22. ^ Diller + Scofi dio, Blur: The Making of Nothing, Harry N. Abrams, New York, 2002.

23. ^ Diller + Scofi dio, ʻBlur Building, Expo 2002, Yverdon-les-bains, Suisseʼ, Lotus International 125 (Liquid Architecture) (2005), pp. 76–81, 78.

24. ^ Renfro, ʻBlur Buildingʼ, p. 67.

25. ^ Diller + Scofi dio, Lotus International, p. 78. Presumably, it is this ʻlow defi nitionʼ effect that Anthony Gormley sought to recreate with his much-publicised installation at the Hayward Gallery (May–September 2007), in which the cloud reappears inside a glass box, open to visitors.

26. ^ From a work in progress. I am grateful to Paul Carter for his permission to quote this.

27. ^ Diller + Scofi dio, ʻBlur: Swiss EXPO 2002 Diller + Scofi dio, Ear Studio, MIT Media Labʼ, Assemblage 41, 2000, p. 25.

28. ^ Diller + Scofi dio, Lotus International, p. 78.

29. ^ See Jacques Derrida and Peter Eisenman, Chora L Works, Monacelli Press, New York, 1997.

30. ^ Ernst Gombrich, Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation, Phaidon, London, 1977; James Elkins, Why Are Our Pictures Puzzles? On the Modern Origins of Pictorial Complexity, Routledge,

New York and London, 1999.

31. ^ Mark Wigley, ʻThe Architecture of Atmosphereʼ, Daidalos 68, 1998, pp. 18–27, 27.

32. ^ Patricia C. Phillips, ʻA Parallax Practice: A Conversation with Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofi dio, Art Journal, 22 September 2004.

33. ^ Hubert Damisch, ʻBlotting Out Architecture? A Fable in Seven Partsʼ, Log: Observations on Architecture and the Contemporary City 1, Fall 2003, pp. 9–26, 19, 26.

34. ^ Reyner Banham and François Dallegret, ʻA Home in Not a Houseʼ, Art in America 53, 1965, pp. 70–79.

35. ^ Diller + Scofi dio, Assemblage, p. 25.

36. ^ Diller + Scofi dio, Lotus International, p. 78.

37. ^ Damisch, ʻBlotting Out Architecture?ʼ, p. 19.

38. ^ Diller + Scofi dio, Blur: The Making of Nothing, pp. 48–9.

39. ^ See Raymond Fitch, The Poison Sky: Myth and Apocalypse in Ruskin, Ohio University Press, Athens OH, 1982.

40. ^ Willsher, ʻIs It a Cloud?ʼ, p. 15.subscribe online at

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