Factory Pate’-the machine of authentication
Sabrina Morreale @ Architectural Association 2009-2016
The factory examines architectural production. Architecture as a discipline is strictly dictated by individual authorship. Although, we have always been taught to collaborate and exchange ideas, in the architectural environment there is always been a strong emphasis on what is it that you made. What is yours?
Even though we can most definitely argue that culture within arts and architecture has always been based on the action of copying as a precursory to creation. We are cemented with a primitive idea of what a copy is, misusing the term between forgery/ imitation/ appropriation. Although the project is not concerning a direct extract of the original translated into a different context. What the factory is searching for is for works in which the copy is a translation, in which there is no certainty in what we can call the original, the first. Because, honestly. It does not matter.
Copies and intellectual property is a very current issue today. Every day we are bombarded with messages that try to teach you how to be original. We are guided by copyright that determine percentages of what and how much of it you can use. To what extent we can limit from using the same musical note? To what extent are we constrained from using a single architectural element?
The project explores this action of appropriation which implies an action of copying and erasure.
Authenticity is an action which needs to be implemented in the architectural discourse. What we have today is the figure of the architect which do not want to acknowledge the many others involved in the project.
The architect is the aggregator, a bricoleur, someone who works with its hands. who assembles ideas from found objects from whatever it is at hands. From which, in fact, the word bricolage comes from. As Colin Rowe describe in his collage city: the bricoleur addresses himself to a collection of oddments left over from human endeavours. In this way the bricoleur assemble a cartography of different fragments, creating the factory which is both the place of production and its outcome.
This project calls for a form of collaboration which make space for exchange fragments. Architecture would benefit from becoming part of a broader shared knowledge and practice. Where projects would be free to be seen and used by anyone.Every time the project evolves, and it is presented, you are not just reconstructing the originals, you are keeping alive their previous life significance and authors. Although you are presenting something new. It is a well an action which prevent the work to end up in an archive. You become the ballad singer of architecture, keeping it alive.
The architectural language is made through sampling. I advocate for a modus operandi based on sampling as architectural production. Architecture is about “ taking a portion” more specifically a 5% allowance for academic studies. In this way, 5% of fragments can now be yours. The pieces, the patterns are stripped bare from their environment, becoming part of an active action.
In the action of taking and inserting new fragments it is giving shape to the factory which slowly builds itself up. It is a slow process of construction through layers, which increaseswithmoreandmorepeople joining.
It is not a singular process but a collective assembling line. The factory becomes a didactic instrument in which the factory/the city becomes as a benevolent source of random but carefully selected information, a profusion of references carefully assembled.
The figure of the architect today, is in contraposition with this collective way of producing architecture that the project put forward. The architect is usually seen as a single individual working in his studio but authentic projects rely on a debris of collusive fields, it is a coagulation of things, conversations and collaborations. One of the most important moment is the moment of exchange, the interviews, where the many are folded into the project. Here participation, voluntary or involuntary becomes a critical interchange moment. It is offering a highly energetic scaffold for debate/discussions.
When you look into these drawings, the fragments unfolds endlessly. The factory becomes a dialectic between past and future, of an impacting of iconographic content, of a temporal as well as a spatial collision. In this way, the many are integrated into the space as viewers and as active participants.These drawings depends upon the complexity of its parts, which collectively may not only check each other but protect the individual in this collectivism. The factory becomes a symbol of fraternal order, a grouping of the equal and likeminded, which collectively assumes the power to negotiate its freedoms.
If art is a mirror of life, I am the mirror maker. The factory becomes a self portrait of many. The project isproposing the construction of your own identity through others. The factory here is a machine of authentication, which need to copy and appropriate in order to work.
In this way the project is not showing. It is doing. It execute truthfully, the truth of architectural production. Design with beauty, build in truth. I do believe in this.
In this architectural approach the project need to be an instrument of liberation from the rules which are set now. The factory is a catalyst for the exploration of originality, authorship, image culture; consuming anything as a loose score to be enacted, with irony as well
The factory becomes a part of something bigger, where I am establishing the cultural ground for architectural freedom. Having establishedarchitecture as a performance proceeding of ceaseless interaction of affirmations and contradictions. You can choose where to stand.
How did this project start?
I have never been able to draw. Everyone thought this was going to be an issue if I wanted to study architecture. I never understood why. This is because architecture is based on what is that you produce, how you create, and how you portray yourself signing that project. In the architectural environment, everyone is asking for something new, something they have never seen before. Architecture as a discipline, is strictly dictated by originality and authorship. I believe that the world is full of architecture, more or less interesting and I do not wish to add more to it. Instead, I advocate for a reconstruction of architectural fragments which urges to provoke and question how you design. I propose therefore, appropriation as a tool and as a mean of architectural production and form making. An orgy of construction. Where architecture is in the action of appropriation.
How and to what extent has the world wide web and the realm of the digital raised and augmented issues of authorship? Who are for you the main culprits?
Today we deal with architecture as a representation of architecture. Architecture is portrayed as an infinite reproduction of repetitive models which has been consolidated through this last century. Architecture is represented through highly curated images, updated in real time from all around the globe on different platforms online. The thousands of fragmented images are stripped by its original geographical and cultural context, suggesting an overly simplified reading based purely on the name of the author who produced the project and its aesthetical details to grab your attention for no more than half of a second.
In this proliferation of architectural images, the question of authorship is a central debate. Making the architectural project the product of a singular person instead of the work of a collective. Architecture loses its value, becoming a fetishized hymn to the single person, in which is not possible to define the authenticity of a project but just few images which represent the project itself.
This process of architectural production needs to be reformulated in order to re-gain architectural and personal identity in the architectural environment, within the architectural sameness. The culprits are those who are shamed to say that they copy, those who use and re use the same references, all of them which keep drawing the same way since twenty years.
What was your work process in terms of selecting, collecting, re-appropriating the various fragments?
I propose a modus operandi based on the appropriation of these fragments, creating products through an assembly line constructed by the copies of others. Through the selection, use and the methodology of tracing these fragments, you are authenticating yourself. The final products incorporates the various authors from which you have copied, creating a collection chain where the work is absolutely yours, yet of a thousand others. Every final result will have its own individuality despite it is made by a collective of authors. Here the dichotomy of the factory.
In this particular case as it was an academic project, I decided to “take” from the best, therefore I carefully chose what was considered the best of the year, the projects which received an award or that most people appreciated it. Most of the time, I did not fully understand why a project was considered “A good project” so I started to list the various reasons: from their ideas(their argument), their craftmenship (beautifully crafted models), their skills( incredible drawings), their attitude(great talkers). What happened is that whenever I took these pieces from other projects, they automatically turned into something else. Everytime it was almost like a kitbashed moment of mixing media, scale, style. Gillo Dorflestalks about this through the history of kitsch: and how popular culture mixes without knowing how to properly replicate, creating hybrids, perhaps ugly, but extraordinary.
How important was the question of originality to develop and articulate the project?
There is no original work in this project. Everything you see, I did not create it. I did not draw it. It has all been assembled through sampling. Through appropriation. The architectural environment is every time asking for something new, something they have never seen before. Architecture as a discipline, is strictly dictated by what is still today defined “original” and its “authorship.” Terms as re-appropriation-detournement-object trouvè-mash up are still a taboo in the architectural environment. I do believe that imitation and copies are the roots of our modern society, and it is now absolutely needed to implement them into the architectural discourse. I was reading this article by Han Byung Chui, where he was stating the difference in China between “Fangzhipin” which is an imitation of the original and “Fuzhipin” which is an exact reproduction of the original. For Chinese people, the latter has the same value of the original one. I do believe that more we achieve a plurality in architecture and more that we can call something authentic. Originality is not that important.
How can you define this infamous 5%?
This 5% is what is called “fair use” copyright.
In thearchitecture realm is still a ghost topic, in musical circles it is practically the main rule that in my opinion also limits the production itself. This 5% is the framework in which anyone of us can “steal” from others without the need of asking permission for it. In the academia or for research studies for instance you are able to take 10% of a short book(up to 200 pages), one article, one quarter of a painting/drawing without editing one bit out of it. When it comes to pastiche instead, you are extremely limited although editing the fragments you take. This is the controversy. It seems that if you take the “originality” of it, it is allowed but whenever you edit the actual work, it is banned. As an action we are still not used to deform, to take and to give away, to exchange, to plagiarize. On this note, I remember Sam Jacob’s “Book of copies” exhibition thinking: isn’t exactly this what we need in Architecture schools?
What brought you to articulate the final images through the format of the poster? What is the effect and purpose for this?
The idea of literally “papering” the university with posters was actually done at the beginning of the year when I did not have a project but I had several questions on architectural production. Architectural students tend to stay behind their screens, without exchanging ideas and without being able to see the work of others in progress. We always see the final projects, the “money shot” images. I wanted to make people feel guilty of non telling the truth about designing. All those who never say where they find things to put in their drawings or who arrogantly believe they would be able to draw from scratch without any reference. The posters needed to bother people, to highlight how much truly we are dependent on others, on magazines, on conversations. This is why I decided to spread them around the canteen, the bar, the walls of the bathrooms etc.
Making several posters forces you to synthesize your message. “Are you making something original? Are you able to create by yourself? Can you draw without copying? ” You see? Straight to the point.
How has this project influenced how you operate as an architect? What is your current method and approach to ‘making’ architecture?
This project is still in progress, I never stop adding bits and pieces and I do think that almost all the work which I did afterwards, acts as a continuum from my fourth year project. I still do not know how architectural production can change, but surely “Factory Pate” taught me the methodology to make something which triggers questions. Claude Levi Strauss provides an effective description of what an architect should be, defining the role of the bricoleur: “The bricoleur is adept at performing a large number of different tasks, his universe of instruments is to make whatever is at hand, that is to say with a set of tools and material which is always finite and heterogenous because what it contains bears no relation to the current project, but it is contingent result of all occasions”. I think that the work of an architect deals with time as the main constrain. But as well with chance. Most of the time we are not able to set the parameters of our work, all we can do is to make relationship between the pieces, creating an intertwine pattern of knowledge, of questions. These are the operations which every architect should make. How many times I quoted someone in this interview? And what if I copied bits of texts in order to answer these questions? Would this change the questions you have made reading this?