The Anaesthetics of Architecture by Neil Leach

By Neil Leach

During this brief, deliberately polemical ebook, Neil Leach attracts at the principles of philosophers and cultural theorists corresponding to Walter Benjamin and Jean Baudrillard to advance a unique and hugely incisive critique of the results of the starting to be preoccupation with photographs and image-making in modern architectural culture.The challenge with this preoccupation, Leach argues, is that it could possibly result in a type of numbness, because the saturation of pictures floods the senses and obscures deeper matters. This challenge is especially acute for a self-discipline similar to structure, which is predicated seriously on visible illustration. hence, architects can develop into anaesthetized from the social and political realities of way of life. within the intoxicating international of the picture, the aesthetics of structure threaten to develop into the anaesthetics of structure. during this tradition of aesthetic intake, this "culture of the cocktail," significant discourse supplies strategy to concepts of seduction, and architectural layout is lowered to the superficial play of empty, seductive types.

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It is precisely when architects claim that their work is unaesthetic, when they claim that is it governed by utilitarian concerns in which Page 11 "art" plays no role, that the risk of aestheticization is most acute. The discourse of functionalism provides an obvious example. For when an architectural element so patently unfunctional as a flat roof belongs to a repertoire of features that come under the definition of "functionalism," the very functionality of functionalism should be treated with some caution.

Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München. " 7 And it is in the sublime that art begins to align itself with the force and intensity of war. With the development of the sublime, art sets the scene for the aesthetic celebration of violence that underpinned fascist thinking. While fascism did not always operate within an aesthetic domainthere can be little of the aesthetic in the horror of Auschwitzin its self-representation, and hence its self-justification and methods of propaganda, fascism exploited the aestheticization of politics.

I think that it can never be inherent in the structure of things to guarantee the exercise of freedom. " 22 All that architectural form can hope to achieve is to hinder or prevent a certain politics of use. "23 In the case of the panopticon, then, it is not the architectural form that conditions behavior, but the power differential between guard and prisoners. The efficient layout of the architecture merely supports the exercise of this power. Foucault thereby makes a crucial observation on the capacity for architecture to influence human behavior.

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