Hannes Meyer’s New World

In the years after the war, Germany and Austria were boycotted by both the League of Nations and more importantly by the international scientific and humanities institutions formed in the wake of the League and affiliated to it, hence, questioning the apparent neutrality projected by these institutions. The ‘boycott’ was rooted in a stand against the German scientific communities’ sanction of its study for unmeasured brutality during the Great War. While, it is unclear if the boycott debilitated scientific development in Germany, it is however, clear that it fractured relations between the central powers and the allied powers. Till 1924, it appeared absolute – German and Austrians scientists were rarely published in international papers, were rarely invited to international congresses, and Germany lost its position as a leading host of scientific conferences. It included a rejection of the German language, which was the preeminent scientific language of the day, in an effort to reduce the country’s influence in the sciences. The ‘Boycott’ was reciprocated by a ‘Reaction’ enacted by the German scientists, supported by the public, who felt that they were being unjustly ostracised. In the years of the thaw, from 1924, they were reluctant to resume active participation in the international scientific community, despite the pressure exerted by German foreign policy which, by this time, was keen on resuming international relations. [1] Germany joined the League of Nations in 1926; Hannes Meyer’s manifesto calling for a ‘New World’ was published in 1926 and within this context his urge – ‘a ruthless denial of the past’ – acquires a poignancy that was not limited to the architectural orders. Continue reading “Hannes Meyer’s New World”

Glasarkitektur reflected in War

“German Expressionist writer Paul Scheerbart (1863–1914) articulated his convictions on the power of architectural construction and its relationship to the modern world in his final fictional narrative of 1914 entitled Das graue Tuch und zehn Prozent Weiß. Ein Damenroman [The GrayCloth and Ten Percent White. A Ladies Novel].” ([1])

In September 1909 spectators at the first International Aviation Exhibition (ILA) in Frankfurt, were enraptured by a display of the German version of an aircraft by the Wright brothers, the rights of which were bought by the German Flugmaschine Wright GMBH.[2] This event roused Paul Scheerbart and it resulted in his ‘pacifist tract’: The Development of Aerial Militarism and the Demobilisation of European Ground Forces, Fortresses and Naval Fleets.[3] Scheerbart’s disposition was hardly surprising in light of the umpteen peace conferences hosted in the first half of nineteenth century, which temporarily revved public passions.[4] Rosemarie Haag Bletter underlines Scheerbart’s concerns about war[5] as discernible in his  short stories, for example, ‘Transportable Cities’, and ‘Dynamite War’, writing: Continue reading “Glasarkitektur reflected in War”

Through the Looking Glass

It is an autumn evening I walk into my flat. It is still early, but I am tired. It is unusual for me to return home before seven in the evening. The day in the office was not unproductive – I got what needed to be done, done, albeit mechanically; however, I was restless. I don’t believe that any one at work noticed – the minute the lipstick slid on as I gazed into the mirror in the tiny foyer by my front door, just before I left home this morning, had conditioned by face to smile. In fact, a number of people commented on how happy and even how calm I looked – my laughter even while It was tinged with incredulity was not fake – honestly, more surprised at my successful deception. I dwelled on how the comment altered my mood; how reflections in another’s eyes controls and even forms one. On entering my apartment, the restlessness that I had quietened, resurfaced with additional vigour. I took a deep breath as I allowed the memories of the previous evening to engulf me. All day, I had wanted to quiet all the voices around me and allow myself the luxury of my private thoughts.

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‘The Future’ by Nick Montfort

While I was living in Singapore in 2008, I lost my job. While on most days I would optimistically cart my large portfolio from one office to another in the clammy Singapore humidity; however, every once in a while I would stay-in, in my beautiful condiminium in the centre, and wallow in self-pity. On one such day, my Chinese -Dutch flat-mate with his customary sense of humour thought it would be fun to have me watch a Korean film to raise my spirits, which was called ‘A Sad Story’. I did not dwell on its name – a rose by any other name is apparently just as sweet. It surpassed the level of sadness indicated in its name. To be fair, it began in a mild unpleasant sadness but ended in heart-wrenching hopelessness. For relief, somewhere towards the middle of the film there was a sliver of hope, which was brutally and unequivocally quashed.

It in inconceivable for us to believe that the future could be much worse than the present or the past. It would make living pointless. Progress, Potential and Possibilities are the prerequisites of our modern era. Since the Enlightenment, the future is imagined as a designable object backed by technological, legal, and scientific advancements. The future is synonymous with progress, civilisation, growth, development…

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Imaginary Wars: Benjamin and Scheerbart

“It will surely appear self-evident that the furniture in the glass house may not be placed against the precious, ornamentally-coloured glass walls. Pictures on the walls are, of course, totally impossible. Given the highest intentions, this revolution in the environment is inevitable. Glass architecture will have a tough fight on its hands, but force of habit must be overcome.” – Paul Scheerbart, Chapter 8, Glasarkitektur

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