Excerpt: Simplicity is Dead

Modernism’s simplifications established the framework for how architecture exists today. Following Tafuri, the aims of modern architecture migrated from the avant garde to mainstream economic tool; the field now exists in a crisis of undervalued cultural capital. After proclaiming to the world that “form follows function,” developers now hold us to that, expecting automatic architecture as quickly as possible.[1] Less is no longer more, just as less is no longer loud enough to compete with everything else. As Gage pointed out in other writings,[2] architecture doesn’t exist at the timescale of the ad hoc, hand-painted signs of political protest. Instead, architecture participates with the distribution and systems of power on a longer timescale and through more indirect engagements. Every architectural project has the potential to paint a picture of a future world, a vision of something other. In making this world, we want it to be as complete and nuanced as possible, in an effort to approach the believability of our lived experience . To do this, simplicity gets in the way. We, as visual visionaries, desire a complexity that promotes new attentions, new possibilities, and new configurations of space and power. If we do not think radically, or if we cannot or choose not to envision better futures, then who will? One aspect of what happens when we resign ourselves to the tropes of fashionably vacant coolness is that our political climate is tacitly deemed acceptable enough to not merit a comment or an attempt to improve its operations. Simplicity as an aesthetic paradigm, in its quietness and plainness, is not enough to move the sociopolitical mountains at stake today. Perhaps, following Latour, in shedding modernism’s simplicity, we can finally be modern.