I began this week's readings with the McLaren piece on importance of publication to the history of architecture. As examples he looked at two pre-war Italian publications, Casabella and Architettura, comparing their differences in philosophies and aesthetics. The former, the more modernist and avant-garde, the latter the fascist-aligned and conservative, McLaren takes a look at how they covered an event, the Mostra della Rivoluzione Fascista. I thought it was interesting how he was able to draw parallels between the representations of each publication and their political bent. Architettura presented a stark and straightforward documentary overview of the exhibition, with more classical photos of exteriors that presented a strong "modern militaristic aesthetic." In contrast Casabella ran coverage which used close-cropped and angled photos which were more avant-garde and disorienting. He claims that this latter approach allows the reader of the article more leeway to make a decision about the exhibition, while the Architettura piece is trying to display one interpretation to the reader. In this way he argues that the reproduction of these images is architecture in itself in the case of Casabella, because they are trying to recreate the experience of the exhibit in the mind of the reader. This was an intriguing reading. I found it more accessible than the Wright reading, which is to say I could more easily tie McLaren's positions to the blogs and modern-day architecture publications I am more familiar with.
The Mumford reading on the "Paper Dream City" gave me a chuckle. Living in the modern city of the future like I do it's hard to think that at one time the city could have been so strongly related to paper. Although we've recognized that the idea of the "paperless office" and all-digital communication is a joke even in 2009, paper just doesn't factor into my day as much as it did in Mumford's I guess. This is Plato and the Phaedrus argument all over again...new technologies will poison our minds and make us less potent, less real, dilute us to the point that we are ghosts inhabiting a dream world. It hasn't happened yet, but with Web 2.0 funneling us ever faster toward the singularity you don't have to look very far to see the gray goo on the horizon I suppose.