2 December | 4:00 pm | Michael Meredith, MOS Architects | New York

Join us via Zoom
Meeting-ID: 646 4986 6532
Passcode: 530067

In the winter semester 2021 – 22 continuing the event series On Cities and Models of Beauty studio díazmoreno garcíagrinda is inviting guests to present their work to the students and discuss it afterwards. The third lecture entitled: Thinking about the debate between Cornel West and Rem Koolhaas at the MoMA Pragmatism Conference in the year 2000.” will be held by Michael Meredith of MOS Architects.
For better or worse, realism is typically pitted against abstraction. Abstraction thinks at a broad scale. It is utopian, theoretical, geometric, diagrammatic – removing contingencies for something more ideal, or systematic or meaningful. Realism, alternatively, is smaller, more local, material and constructed. It engages with the messy relativism of contingency. It is what it is. Abstraction prefers theory. Realism prefers history. Some think realism has a socialist agenda, against the elitist class politics of abstraction. Some think architecture is a religion of abstraction. Novelty in realism comes through reworking relationships between things already in the world, while abstraction achieves novelty through the rupture of newness, defamiliarization, remaining abstract, ideological, tautological, and aloof of everything around it. It relies on translation – planar geometry into three-dimensional form, form into words, music into visual art, aesthetics into politics – signifiers and meaning and ideology. Realism is indifferent to signification and ideology. It takes deadpan documentary photos of the situation. It operates pragmatically. It doesn’t think scientific empiricism and religious belief contradict each other, they just both are. It uses whatever’s available in the world, including abstraction. To realism it’s all something to use. It doesn’t care if it’s completely logical or consistent, it mostly cares if it’s real, and like most real things, it can be both simple and complicated depending on your point of view. The more you look at things and points of views you see, the more everything feels distant and abstract. In the infinite global world of media, constructed from disconnected windows, the abstract and real have become interchangeable and vague. Architecture, like almost everything else, has become a fragmented archipelago of differing realities – each with their own truths, meanings, and value judgments. Although architecture cannot exist without either abstraction or realism, at the moment, it seems that the abstraction of architecture has only furthered the distance between us and we need to share a more local, collective reality, instead of continually trying to escape from it.