6.2.2008

Big Brother Generation

A Fredy’s article on 0300.TV blog www.0300.tv

«God is favorite sci-fi character» – Homer J. Simpson

When we refer to «Big Brother generation», we’re not alluding to the oppressive situation of constant surveillance that George Orwell imagined in 1984 – a concept of retro future partially confirmed from our own temporal perspective. This denomination alludes to a spread behavior, from which a direct analogy between life and a reality show can be established.

This desire of exposure, permanent visibility and fictionalized existence is present in all aspects of contemporary construction, especially in those stratums where ideas are scarce and volatile, always seeking for their own [ephemeral or not so ephemeral] five minutes of fame, as an opportunity for media reputation and subsequent profit. This thirst for renown has always been inside architect’s entrails, not only because it fulfills their egos with media transcendence, but because it crystalizes the possibility of carrying on with risky projects, a nowadays obsession bordering -if not surpassing- ridicule.

The necessity of maintaining a certain front-line status -even if there’s no message to communicate-, of making banal and performatic public appearances; young [and not so young] architects trying to imitate the outdated modus operandi of a senile and mindless star-system with nostalgic feelings towards last century.

Nowadays, the use of the tools provided by contemporary technology is much more complex and powerful. There’s hope in beliebeving that is possible to create new modes of living and new ways to relate to the enviroment, in a much more complex way than any of the banal simplifications or ignorant ideas we see everywhere these days, as a pointless debate on pointless ideas, obstinated to pose as something spectacular, using parameters with the same level of credibility as junk television.

Our duty to understand and making use of digital technology has nothing to do with this bonfire of banalities and vanities, a media circus that [almost] everybody wants to be part of; with critics who don’t understand the significance of the changes occurring nowadays, cheering young [and not so young] minds with nonesense promises: bad actors playing their roles at office -not without their mentor’s blessings, the [a]critics-, as part of a reality show of deceptive craft that continues to disorientate the public.

We can either resist this trend – meaning that we’re against today’s reality, dominated by the society of the spectacle- or we can defy establishment with this slogan, as if we were angry futurists: «Reality is on TV». Such statement wouldn’t be totally wrong if we place it in the context of an information society. But if we act this way, we’d be out of the game, like any of those characters with nihilistic and groundless discourses.

Information society is one of history’s most complex and incomprehensible phenomenons. To go along with this potential complexity as mere mediatized / mediatizable subjects could lead us towards mediocrity and banality and, therefore, to a society where everybody wants to be a star and a critic, with the subsequent demise of all ideas and theory as well. In such case, our society could become a space where anything goes, while at the same time nothing can be created -a fertile ground for the arising of ignorant and worthless celebrities.

It is wrong to narrow down the richness of contemporary societies to this only subject: the multiplicity of media opens new ways of expression and arouses creative interactions. We must work from the entrains of this hyper-informed and chaotic society, from within its digital construction, in order to extract all the material we need, not only to unmask every wise ass arround, but also to make an Architecture according to the reality of today’s society.

Fredy Massad. Architecture Degree at Universidad de Buenos Aires. Founding member of ¿btbW/Architecture [1996, with Alicia Guerrero Yeste]. Senior co-editor of A+A Architecturanimation [Actar, Barcelona, 2002], Experimenta’s monograph issue “Arquitectura en la época de la Revolución Digital” [Architecture in the age of Digital Revolution, 2002, Madrid]. He has participated as curator [2004] and lecturer [2005] in SONAR [Annual festival of progressive music and multimedia arts in Barcelona]. Senior co-curator of Visions of Latin American Architecture, for Museo del Barrio [NYC, 2007]. He’s currently writing as architecture critic for ABC and La Vanguardia [Spain].

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