A Specific Theory of Models

AD: On Beauty, September/October 2019

Architecture needs new scales of engagement. The scope of anthropocentric attention is one of familiarity and comfort, defined by and for the human hand and eye. It turns all the diverse and wild entities of the world into things “for us,” as if all the snowflakes, gas giants, polar bears, kittens, and aircraft carriers of the world existed only to serve the human mind. Now is the time for architects to engage with the massive variety of entities and scales that make up reality, as unsettling and unfamiliar as that might be. Freed from allegiance to the human scale, architecture can refocus on challenging our expectations of what our access to reality is like. In the philosopher Timothy Morton’s Hyperobjects (2013) we see what can happen when we shift our attention from the human scale to that of the half-life of plutonium or the slowly shifting drone of the standing pressure wave over the Atlantic Ocean.We might also consider objects at a scale much smaller than human existence: “hypo-objects,” perhaps. In place of the human scale, we might jointly leverage the resources of the vast and the miniature, conceiving architecture at the scale of planets or toys. The aim would be to enchant the familiar by flattening assumed scale hierarchies onto a single ontological plane, as in the film Men in Black, when a jewel on the collar of a cat is found to contain a galaxy. ...

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