Divergent Accounts of Architectural Progress: Virilio and War, Flusser and the Factory

Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand (SAHANZ) Annual Conference, 2003, pp. 163 - 167
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The city, declares Paul Virilio "is constitutive of the form of conflict called WAR, just as war is itself constitutive of the political form called the CITY."1 With equivalent boldness Vilem Flusser contends that the history of the city, indeed human history as a whole, is "the history of manufacturing and everything else (is) mere footnotes." This paper compares the determinist accounts of urbanism offered by Flusser and Virilio. Virilio's perception that technology is at war with humanity and has led to the dematerialization of the body and the urban realm has been widely cited in architecture. Flusser's concerns and phenornenological rnethod are very close to those of Virilio, yet Flusser's ernphasis on the collaborative and identity-making processes of manufacturing and his confidence in human agency leads hirn to predict alternative futures. Diagnosis of the present and predictions for the future are, like the writing of history, interpretive acts involving the selection and ordering of events frorn innumerable alternatives. This paper will consider the consequences of the two divergent accounts for a consideration of progress and technology in architecture, particularly in regard to the use of the past as a predicate to imagining the future.
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