The Cybernetic Hypothesis & Architecture

Authors

  • Fredrik Torisson The School of Architecture, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm http://orcid.org/0000-0001-8813-6022

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.2611-0075/7208

Keywords:

Cybernetics, Hauntology, Post-critical, Architecture, Neo-liberal

Abstract

Whatever happened to cybernetics in architecture? Cybernetics was swaggering from day one. Its original mission, to predict the evasive manoeuvres of bomber pilots, soon evolved into making predictions in social systems and game theory. In the early 1960s, cybernetics began to make inroads into architecture, famously so in the never-realised Fun Palace, designed by architect Cedric Price, theatre director Joan Littlewood and cyberneticist Gordon Pask. Pask continued developed his thoughts on the uses for cybernetics in the field of architecture, and in 1969 published “The Architectural Relevance of Cybernetics” (Gordon Pask, "The Architectural Relevance of Cybernetics," Architectural Design, no. September, 1969). By then however, cybernetics’ moment had all but passed, and cybernetics faded into obscurity. Or, so the story goes.

What if, on the contrary, cybernetics disappeared in name only, and its principles thrive architectural practices? Tiqqun’s ‘The Cybernetic Hypothesis’ argues that the cybernetic hypothesis replaces the liberal hypothesis of sovereignty with one of control (Tiqqun, "L'hypothèse Cybernétique," Tiqqun 2, 2001).
What we then have is architecture haunted by cybernetics – simultaneously be not-present and not-absent, following Jacques Derrida (Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning and the New International, New York: Routledge, 2006).

The article retraces cybernetics in architecture, discusses Pask’s take on architecture and cybernetics, and aims to articulate how cybernetics remains not-present and not-absent to the architectural discipline in the “post-critical” architecture that currently dominates (or suffocates) the architectural theory discourse since the turn of the millennium.

References

Alexander, Christopher. "Systems Generating Systems." Architectural Design 12 (1968): 605-10.

Awan, N., T. Schneider, and J. Till. Spatial Agency: Other Ways of Doing Architecture. Routledge Chapman & Hall, 2011.

Baird, George "Criticality and Its Discontents." In The New Architectural Pragmatism : A Harvard Design Magazine Reader, edited by William S. Saunders. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007.

Berry, David M., and Alexander R. Galloway. "A Network Is a Network Is a Network: Reflections on the Computational and the Societies of Control." Theory, Culture & Society 33, no. 4 (2016): 151-72.

Bloch, Ernst. The Principle of Hope. Oxford: Blackwell, 1986.

Derrida, Jacques. Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning and the New International. New York: Routledge, 2006. (1993).

Fisher, Mark. Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures. Winchester: Zero Books, 2014.

Franklin, Seb. Control: Digitality as Cultural Logic. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2015.

Frazer, John Hamilton. "The Cybernetics of Architecture: A Tribute to the Contribution of Gordon Pask." Kybernetes 30, no. 5/6 (2001): 641-51.

Galloway, Alexander R. "The Cybernetic Hypothesis." Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 25, no. 1 (2014): 107-31.

Galloway, Alexander R., and Eugene Thacker. The Exploit: A Theory of Networks. Electronic Mediations. Vol. 21, Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 2007.

Giddens, Anthony. The Constitution of Society : Outline of the Theory of Structuration. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1984.

Graeber, David. Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press, 2004.

Hägglund, Martin. Radical Atheism: Derrida and the Time of Life. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008.

Haque, Usman. "The Architectural Relevance of Gordon Pask." Architectural Design 77, no. 4 (07//July/August 2007 2007): 54-61.

Hayles, N. Katherine. "Cybernetics." In Critical Terms for Media Studies, edited by William J. Mitchell and Mark B. N. Hansen. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2010.

———. How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Hetherington, Kevin. The Badlands of Modernity: Heterotopia and Social Ordering. London: Routledge, 1997.

Jones, Wes. "Big Forking Dilemma." Harvard Design Magazine Spring/Summer 2010, no. 32 (2010).

Kline, Ronald R. The Cybernetics Moment: Or Why We Call Our Age the Information Age. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2015.

Lobsinger, Mary Louise. "Cybernetic Theory and the Architecture of Performance: Cedric Price's Fun Palace." In Anxious Modernisms: Experimentation in Postwar Architectural Culture, edited by Sarah Williams Goldhagen and Réjean Legault, 119-39. Montréal: Canadian Centre for Architecture/MIT Press, 2000.

Lootsma, Bart. Superdutch. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2000.

Massey, Jonathan. "Buckminster Fuller's Cybernetic Pastoral: The United States Pavilion at Expo 67." The Journal of Architecture 11, no. 4 (2006): 463-83.

Mathews, Stanley. "The Fun Palace: Cedric Price's Experiment in Architecture and Technology." Technoetic Arts: A Journal of Speculative Research 3, no. 2 (2005).

Minton, Anna. Ground Control : Fear and Happiness in the Twenty-First-Century City. London: Penguin, 2012.

Parisi, Luciana. "Cybernetic Thought." In Contagious Architecture: Computation, Aesthetics, and Space, 193-99. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2013.

Pask, Gordon. "The Architectural Relevance of Cybernetics." Architectural Design, no. September (1969): 494-96.

Pickering, Andrew. The Cybernetic Brain. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2010.

———. "Ontological Theatre: Gordon Pask, Cybernetics and the Arts." Cybernetics and Human Knowing 14, no. 4 (2007): 43-57.

Rosenblueth, Arturo, Norbert Wiener, and Julian Bigelow. "Behavior, Purpose and Teleology." Philosophy of Science 10, no. 1 (1943): 18.

Rosengren, Mats. "Doxa Och Den Nya Retorikens Kunskapssyn." Rhetorica Scandinavica 8 (1998): 10-17.

Somol, Robert, and Sarah Whiting. "Notes around the Doppler Effect and Other Moods of Modernism." Perspecta 33 (2002): 72.

Speaks, Michael. "Design Intelligence and the New Economy." Architectural record 190, no. 1 (2002): 72.

Spencer, Douglas. The Architecture of Neoliberalism: How Contemporary Architecture Became an Instrument of Control and Compliance. London: Bloomsbury, 2016.

Tiqqun. "The Cybernetic Hypothesis." https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/tiqqun-the-cybernetic-hypothesis.pdf.

———. "L'hypothèse Cybernétique." Tiqqun 2 (2001).

Toorn, Roemer van. "No More Dreams?". In The New Architectural Pragmatism : A Harvard Design Magazine Reader, edited by William S. Saunders. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007.

Wiener, Norbert. Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985 [1948].

Wigley, Mark. "The Architectural Brain." In Network Practices: New Strategies in Architecture and Design, edited by Anthony Burke and Therese Thierney. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2007.

Wollesley-Miller, Sean. "Self-Organizing Environments." Architectural Design 5 (1972): 314-16.

Zaera-Polo, Alejandro. "The Politics of the Envelope." Volume 17 (2008): 76-105.

Downloads

Published

2017-12-29

How to Cite

Torisson, F. (2017). The Cybernetic Hypothesis & Architecture. Histories of Postwar Architecture, 1(1). https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.2611-0075/7208