12/27/2006

My discovery of Archigram and it's Collage Connection





Probing the net once again, and digging up references to collage and how it influences our art, culture and life, I found out about Archigram. "The movement came into being in late 1960, in the Hampstead area of London as a self-generated forum for several young and recently graduated architects"...Archigram is described as "the architectural collages and polemics produced by the Archigram group in England during the nineteen sixties" by Prof. David Walters, Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at UNC in Charlotte in this article.
I personally have not ever heard of Archigram, so it was interesting to discover something entirely new to me. Apparently these guys were hard core, believing in..."the tradition of radical modernism enunciated by Nietzsche ("Whoever wants to be creative . . . . must first . . . . annihilat[e] and destroy values"); and Henrik Ibsen ("The great task of our time is to blow up all existing institutions - to destroy")". Hard Core. Sounds like the attitude today. Be or Be Destroyed! ouch!!



"These home-produced magazines utilized collage (or more accurately, montage) as their primary medium, with photographs, drawings and text defying any attempt at conventional reading"..." For the early issues of the Archigram magazine the choice of the collage medium was a conscious one, a deliberate collision of form and content designed to frustrate conventional synthesis."...
I found this paragraph particularly interesting....noting a collage effect in Architecture....
" It was not until the mid 1970s that any scholarly or critical discussion of the medium of collage re-entered the theoretical discourse of architecture in any meaningful way. In the August 1975 issue of Architectural Review, Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter set out their theory of Collage City, where the authors envisaged the city as an aggregate of discontinuous fragments, creating ". . . a highly impacted condition of symbolic reference. . ." This seems very like Pound's superpositioning, or Braque and Picasso's early cubist collages, and indeed, in a key passage Koetter and Rowe quote Alfred Barr's analysis of Picasso's "Still Life with Chair Caning" as an incitement to architects to engage in the manipulation of multiple levels of urban reality, all constructed from disparate elements, artifacts and allusions. The "Collage City" article achieved a highly rigorous theoretical tone, and thus stands as an important benchmark in the evolution of postmodern urban aesthetics..."



And finally read how collage was used to illustrate a method of transformation ...
"The collages of Archigram were intentionally shocking, brash and 'difficult', deliberately fracturing the illusion of real space, or providing multiple overlapping views, as opposed to the cultured urban elegance of "The Civilian Dream." The intention of Archigram was to break down real and imagined barriers of form and statement on the page just as much as on the ground in actual construction, and the media of collage and montage were the means of assault. The ambition of Cook, Herron and the others was to provoke discussion by evocative, colliding images, layered one over another so that the argument was not decipherable by the standards of conventional text or linear reasoning, but rather by the simultaneous collage of the information board. The group had particular literary objectives in their manipulation of the printed word and evocative image. They felt that in this way their message would be transmitted most effectively, and at the same time remain free from the deadening embrace of the architectural literary and critical establishment."
Cool stuff. Collage is not only an art form. Apparently it is also a method.

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___A place to find all kinds of information about collage.