Theory's Use Value

University of South Australia
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Critique 2013 Conference Proceedings, 2013, pp. 17 - 29
Issue Date:
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Post-Critical and Affect Theory discourse rejects the conventional transaction between theory, critique and design because it trades the artifacts sovereignty for theorys gift of legitimacy. Foucaults suggestion that theory is `a kind of tool-box for users, not readers is useful because it repositions theorys `job from authentication to production. The problem with this radical rejection of theory and critique is that it privileges the act of design to the point where judgment potentially traps the artifact within the capitalist rhetoric of production. The uneasy relationship between theory, critique and design is partially a consequence of Architectures unique relation to function and scale. Here the drawing accentuates the slippage in the transformative movement between representation and form. Typically this has resulted in enlisting theory as a mechanism to substantiate responses that exceed the 'design problem'. This defensive posture imparts the artefact with 'significance' and `meaning. However, this exchange also sublimates the presence of doctrine as a sort of essential truth, allowing its ideological drivers to remain hidden and uncontested. In contrast, Yve Alain Bois and Rosalind Krauss see a `use value for the artifact that places theory and critique at the disposal of design practice. Referring to theorists like John Rajchman, Elizabeth Grosz and Andrew Benjamin, it is possible to argue that this approach necessitates a particular `ethic to design practice and research that is open to a diversity of processes, techniques and outcomes. Drawing on postgraduate architectural design projects that actively deploy operative modes of design practice, the paper will reconsider the artifact as a site of constructive potentiality, criticality and openness. Predicated on the tolerance of difference and the redemption of rhetorics value, the conduct and substantiated of research offers both a more equitable interaction with theory and more sympathetic research model for the design disciplines.
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