standardization


…Frank Loyd Wright['s] design for Broadacre City … was based both on his wholesome appreciation of the hygienic and domestic values of rural life, and his Jeffersonian contempt for the many-sided corporate and institutional life of the city. In the name of the first, he was ready to shrink the acreage of productive soils and break down the special human values of the rural landscape, with the functional divisions of meadow, pasture, and woodland, of cultivated land and wild land, in order to give every house and family a subsistence garden; and he was no less ready to break down the natural coagulations of life in villages and country towns, in a new fashion that made every social activity call for long distance transportation and therefore the incessant use of the motor car….The high price of such remote lots automatically turns the farmer into a real-estate speculator, and results, as in California, in the slaughter of orchards, vineyards, and market gardens that once gave both health and delight–to say nothing of fresh food–to the nearby urban communities.

… the anti-city combines two contradictory and almost irreconcilable aspects of modern civilization: an expanding economy that calls for the constant employment of the machine (motor car, radio, television, telephone, automated factory, and assembly line) to secure both both full production and a minimal counterfeit of normal social life; and as a necessary offset to these demands, an effort to escape from the over-regulated routines, the impoverished personal choices, the monotonous prospects of this regime by daily withdrawal to a private rural asylum, where bureaucratic compulsions give way to exurban relaxation and permissiveness, in a purely family environment as much unlike the metropolis as possible. Thus the anti-city produces an illusory image of freedom at the very moment all the screws of organization are being tightened….

Because the anti-city is by nature fragmentary, any part can be built by anybody anywhere at any time. This is the ideal formula for promoting total urban disintegration.

Not the least factor in this development, certainly in America, is the persistent residue of the curious pioneer belief in space and mobility as a panacea for the ills of social life…. [which] is the current doctrine of space for space’s sake…. This has become the “space age” with a vengeance: in architecture space has become a substitute for urbane design….

No secondary modes of intercourse, neither the printed page, the telephone, nor television, can take the place of that direct face-to-face intercourse whose occasions the city, when it remains close to the human scale, multiplies. Without an urban container deliberately planned for such intercourse, the dominant economic and technical pressures of our time tend to form a multitude of over-specialized, non-cooperating, and non-communicating enclaves, whose spatial remoteness and social segregation favor the totalitarian automatism of our time….

Though the isolated institutional parts might be as hyper-productive as those computers whose data is already too abundant to be assembled and interpreted, the cultural creativity that fosters further human development is bound to drop, within a generation or two, toward zero.

– Lewis Mumford, “The Megalopolis as Anti-City” [c.1962-3]. In Jeanne M. Davern (ed.). Lewis Mumford. Architecture as a Home for Man: Essays for Architectural Record. New York: Architectural Record Books, 1975, pp. 121-128.

“But  while architectural changes in the window were coincident with changes in perspective in modern painting early in the twentieth century, the media of film and television retained  a perspectival frame through the “modern” period. The moving image offered  multiple perspectives through the sequential shifts of montage and editing; yet, aside from a few historical anomalies, it has only been with the advent of digital imaging technologies  and new technologies of display in the 1990s that the media “window” began  to include multiple perspectives within a single frame.

Now, a variety of screens — long and wide and square, large and small, composed of grains, composed of pixels — compete for our attention without any (convincing) arguments  about hegemony.”

Anne Friedberg, “The Virtual Window” in Rethinking Media Change: The Aesthetics of Transition, ed. David Thorburn and Henry Jenkins. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, Kindle Edition, 2003), 4710-4714. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, Hardcover Edition, 2004), pp. 347-348.

it is happy lifestyle and me
it is happy ideas and me
it is transparent pleasures and me
it is transparent manners and me
it is fresh appetite and me
it is fresh love and me

memories of blue past
all dumped in ink bottle

From Kitasono Katue’s poem, “Semiotic Theory” (1929). Translated by John Solt. In oceans beyond monotonous space: selected poems of Kitasono Katue. Hollywood, CA: Highmoonoon Books. 2007, p. 22.

… whenever thought for a time runs along an accepted groove—there is an opportunity for the machine …

– Vannevar Bush. “As We May Think.” Atlantic Monthly (1945).  (Last accessed June 10, 2009.)

… in fascism, power had to express itself visually ….  the fascist aesthetic itself reflected the needs and hopes of contemporary society, …  the so-called superstructure was in reality the means through which most people grasped the fascist message, transforming politics into a civic religion.

… The ideal of beauty was central to this aesthetic, whether that of the human body or of the political liturgy. The longing for a set standard of beauty was deeply ingrained in the European middle classes, and the definition of the beautiful as the ‘good, the true, and the holy’ was an important background to the fascist cult.

… what seemed at first glance to have no possible connection to politics became politically charged through the connection between art, beauty and truth which lay readily at hand to be used by modern political movements.

… a certain public standard of beauty reigned all over Europe, one which fascism was to annex as its own. The rediscovery of classical antiquity in the eighteenth century set a standard of beauty which never lost its attraction for the educated [in many European countries in the interwar period who] saw it as their own particular heritage. They valued classical beauty of form whether of the human body or, to a lesser extent, of official architecture, as close to the sublime.

… it was the strength of fascism in general that it realized, as other political movements and parties did not, that with the nineteenth century Europe had entered a visual age, the age of political symbols, such as the national flag…. The populism of fascism helped the movement to arrive at this insight; the need to integrate the masses into a so-called spiritual revolution which represented itself through a largely traditional aesthetic.

… this aesthetic formed a bridge between the public and the private sphere…. The creation of modern stereotypes as standardized mental pictures which encompassed the whole human being, body and soul, was something new at the beginning of the nineteenth century…. Aesthetics played a determining role in stereotyping: every man must aspire to a classical standard of beauty, and as he built and sculptured his body (and we must remember the part played by physical exercise in the aesthetics of fascism), his mind would come to encompass all the manly virtues which the fascists prized so highly.

… significantly, such a body was not merely a fascist symbol, but one which had already been adopted by society at large. Here we are at the intersection between traditional, normative society, and fascist aesthetics; here the social and the aesthetic were not strictly separate one from another. The beautiful male body … projected both self-control in its posture and virility in the play of its muscles; it symbolized both the dynamic and the discipline which society wanted and needed. Here, order and progress, often in conflict, were reconciled through the symbolism of the male body …

Through stereotypes, fascism worked not only with abstract symbols but with living human symbols as well. The true fascist man must through his looks, body, and comportment, project the ideal of male beauty. Men of flesh and blood were given a symbolic dimension, a fact which added to the fascist appeal. Here was an aesthetic which was not confined to the public realm, but one which penetrated daily life.

… Aesthetics shaped the fascist view of man, of his surroundings and of politics. It was a cement which held fascism together.

George L. Mosse. “Fascist Aesthetics and Society: Some Considerations.” Journal of Contemporary History 31, no. 2 (1996): 245-52.

Writing has never been capitalism’s thing. Capitalism is profoundly illiterate…. Writing typically plays the role of an archaism in capitalism, the Gutenberg press being the element that confers on the archaism a current function. But the capitalist use of language is different in nature; it is realized or becomes concrete within the field of immanence peculiar to capitalism itself, with the appearance of the technical means of expression that correspond to the generalized decoding of flows, instead of still referring in a direct or indirect form to despotic overcoding.

This seems to us to be the significance of McLuhan’s analyses: to have shown what a language of decoded flows is, as opposed to a signifier that strangles and overcodes the flows. In the first place, for nonsignifying language anything will do: whether it be phonic, graphic, gestural, etc., no flow is privileged in this language, which remains indifferent to its substance or its support, inasmuch as the latter is an amorphous continuum. The electric flow can be considered as the realization of such a flow that is indeterminate as such. But a substance is said to be formed when a flow enters into a relatioship with another flow, such that the first defines a content and the second, an expression.

Electric language does not go by way of the voice or writing; data processing does without them both … Michael Serres defines in this sense the correlation of the break and the flow in the signs of the new technical language machines, where production is narrowly determined by information …

– Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983: 240-241.

The Hagley Postcards of Motels and Roadside Attractions Collection, contains a postcard of the original location and possibly first building of the first hotel in the Holiday Inn hotel chain. An archivist notes that the inn was “designed to be clean and predictable.” On the back of the card includes the text, “450 Rooms – 450 Baths – 100% Air-Conditioned – Steam Heat – Pleasure Eating – Bridal Suite – Free Swimming Pool for Guests Only. Your Host from Coast-to-Coast.”

Progress.

A standard is necessary for order in human effort….

All great works of art are based on one or other of the great standards of the heart….

Civilizations advance. They pass through the age of the peasant, the soldier and the priest and attain what is rightly called culture. Culture is the flowering of the effort to select. Selection means rejection, pruning, cleansing; the clear and naked emergence of the essential….

… we [pass] from the elementary satisfactions (decoration) to the higher satisfactions (mathematics)….

it remains to use the motor-car as a challenge to our houses and our great buildings…

 

Decoration is of a sensorial and elementary order, as is colour, and is suited to simple races, peasants, and savages. Harmony and proportion incite the intellectual faculties and arrest the man of culture….

And beauty? This is an imponderable which cannot function except in the actual presence of its primordial bases: the reasonable satisfaction of the mind (utility, economy); after that, cubes, spheres, cylinders, cones, etc. (sensorial). Then … the imponderable, the relationships which create the imponderable: this is genius, inventive genius, plastic genius,  mathematical genius, this capacity for achieving order and unity by measurement and for organizing, in accordance with evident laws, all those things which excite and satisfy our visual senses to the fullest degree.

Then there arise those multifarious sensations, which evoke all that a highly cultivated man may have seen, felt and loved; which release, by means he cannot escape, vibrations he has already experienced in the drama of life: nature, men, the world.

Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture [1923]. Frederick Etchells’ translation. New York: Dover, 1986, pp. 138-143.