For now, let's get back to the regularly scheduled programming -- passing thoughts about architecture today.
(The really nerdy conceptual stuff that doesn't have much "practical" value)
THE SPACE BETWEEN
SAY SOMETHING YOU MEAN
KNOW YOUR PLACE. NO, REALLY.
DIGITAL-ISM IS THE ISM
At first, I was super disappointed. What do you mean that there are no longer any -isms? Does that mean the overriding -ism today is just f*ing market capital-ism??? I refused to believe it. Yet, even after going to architecture school, I still didn't figure it out (though Japanese modernism was all the rage for a couple years).
It turns out that I was half-right. Yes, there are no dominant ideologies today because market capitalism is the one and only system we all believe in, live with, and trust in. We have no other alternative. We will design for whatever the market wants, so there are no longer any large ideological aspirations in the field, other than some vague and aspirational notion of providing for sustainability and social equity.
Today, the dominant ideology is "digital-ism". Go into any office in any part of the world, and you will see the same computers, the same drafting software, and the same types of computer-generated graphics and construction documents. The overarching theme over the past 30 years has been the continuous integration of computer-aided design, which has "flattened" and "standardized" the types of work we build and create. The slow creep of software has silently created a ideology of its own, one driven by seemingly "non-ideological" data, code, and performance optimization. I liken this moment to the Hugh Ferriss renderings of the 1930's and 1940's, when the popular artist would create visualizations of New York City skyscrapers sculpted by zoning setbacks. His services were so popular at the time, that it can be reasonably argued that he had a much greater influence on New York architecture than the architects themselves. Today, the dominant ideological force is the software company Autodesk, whose products are invaluable to everyone in the construction trades. When we start considering projects as databases, templates, and families, rather than walls, columns, and windows, then you have to start questioning who is really in control (the tools or the user). If we can finally recognize that "the digital" is an ideological style of its own, then we can finally accept and move on to the next, hopefully more human and less generic, architectural worldview.