Consumptive Affect

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand 30, Open, 2013, pp. 275 - 286
Issue Date:
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The formal repertoire of digital design is now so well established that formal novelty can no longer be used to intellectually sustain this practice. As suggested by Patrik Schumachers 'Digital Semiotics' and Greg Lynns 'Too Many Columns' studios run at Viennas Institute of Architecture, the key figures of digital design are themselves returning to more enduring architectural issues. However, the continued reliance of key theoretical concepts, borrowed primarily from Deleuze, ensures the emphasis on process remains valid because its supposedly non-formal basis frees design from the ideological predetermination of form. There is no intention of returning to postmodernism semiotics or the link between form and knowable experience, as promoted in phenomemological thinking. If experience exists, it does so as a condition of 'affect' where, as Brian Massumi argues, it is an autonomous procedural state that is not just independent of form but is its actual sponsor. Unlike Greg Lynn, theorist Brian Massumi makes this claim for affect based on the formation and action of the object. This paper will examine why the role of process in digital design as the 'affective condition of formation' represents yet another failed attempt to separate the act of making from ideology. Of particular import is the type of radical devaluing of form one sees in the text of Massumi, which ensures there is no other purpose for the object other than as a 'resource' or 'material' for the processes of 'affect.' Drawing specifically on Georges Batailles account of Calvinist expenditure, the trace of ideology will be revealed in how this procedural schema ensures the object, as stuff to be folded and reabsorbed back into production, uncannily fulfills the same role it plays in supporting the capitalist ideal of meaningful consumption. In this way the valorising of process is ideologically consistent the capitalist paradigm of consumption.
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