The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely
MIT Press, 1992 - 257 pages
The Architectural Uncanny presents an engaging and original series of meditations onissues and figures that are at the heart of the most pressing debates surrounding architecturetoday. Anthony Vidler interprets contemporary buildings and projects in light of the resurgentinterest in the uncanny as a metaphor for a fundamentally "unhomely" modern condition. The essaysare at once historical - serving to situate contemporary discourse in its own intellectual traditionand theoretical - opening up the complex and difficult relationships between politics, socialthought, and architectural design in an era when the reality of homelessness and the idealism of theneo-avant-garde have never seemed so far apart.Vidler, one of the deftest and surest critics of thecontemporary scene, explores aspects of architecture through notions of the uncanny as they havebeen developed in literature, philosophy, and psychology from the beginning of the nineteenthcentury to the present. He interprets the unsettling qualities of today's architecture - itsfragmented neo-constructivist forms reminiscent of dismembered bodies, its "seeing walls"replicating the passive gaze of domestic cyborgs, its historical monuments indistinguishable fromglossy reproductions - in the light of modern reflection on questions of social and individualestrangement, alienation, exile, and homelessness.Focusing on the work of architects such as BernardTschumi, Rem Koolhaas, Peter Eisenman, Coop Himmelblau, John Hejduk, Elizabeth Diller, and RicardoScofidio, as well as theorists of the urban condition, Vidler delineates the problems and paradoxesassociated with the subject of domesticity.Anthony Vidler is William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor ofArchitecture at Princeton University. His most recent book is Claude-Nicolas Ledoux: Architectureand Social Reform at the End of the Ancien Régime.
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