This special themed issue of the Journal of Visual Culture entitled Architecture! has two aims. First, to present a collection of essays and shorter provocation/position pieces about the failure of contemporary architecture to address the full complex of issues engaged by visual culture studies. Second, these lines of inquiry are meant not merely to critique architecture and its discursive conceits, but rather any critique is only valid to the degree that it identifies what is significant and vital about architecture for visual culture as such. This is a critical examination of architecture (as both object and discourse) in contemporary visual culture: its failures, blind spots, refusals, and symptoms, yes, but also its successes, minor discourses, and alternative models of practice. In short, the contributors to this themed issue are invested in discovering an ‘outside’, that is, a passage beyond ‘starchitect’ vanity/ideological projects in favor of a critical--vital—interest in architecture as a socio-cultural and historical means of transmitting unforeseen aesthetic possibilities and modes of knowledge. This requires forcing ourselves not only to think ‘architecture from the outside’ (as Elizabeth Grosz has said), but from the inside as well because only along this fold does architecture become a plane within which visual cultures are immanently composed. It is along this fold that architecture presents its full powers: to create intervals and delays, to demarcate and cross thresholds between political and temporal blocs, to attract or magnetize disparate communities of people, and to render ontological immanence visible. I hope the essays and statements in this issue traverse these problematics that lie at the heart of architectural discourse from a variety of disciplinary, aesthetic, ethical, and political perspectives: architectural historiography and criticism, socio-political and theoretical architectural practice, the relation between art and architecture in modern and contemporary visual culture, and practiced ethics and reimagining architecture otherwise. Collectively they present a critical and creative rethinking of architectural practice and theory, one that hopefully will revitalize the necessary social, political, ethical, and cultural relation between architecture and visual culture studies.
– Jae Emerling
Check out our December 2016 Architecture! issue here. - JVC