April 14, 2011

Foam City
Peter Sloterdijk
It appears that through this essay, Peter Sloterdijk, is stating a challenge for architecture in contemporary society, to create spaces within which the masses, or rather, the individuals within society who have formed into an ensemble to create foams, can gather in order to exercise some influence.
 “Considering the comparatively looser aggregation of their symbionts, moderns collectives are confronted with the challenge of creating spacial conditions that enable both the isolation of individuals, and the concentration of the isolated entities into collective ensembles of cooperation and contemplation. This calls for a new commitment on the part of architecture”.
To create a spacial arrangement which accommodates both the individual as a singularity and also the individual as a member of a ensemble is the challenge of contemporary architecture. To create spaces within which gatherings can occur, or possibly demonstrations in regard to political conditions. The challenge is how to create these bases without using the basis of classical configurations.
At the beginning of the essay there is an exploration into the various competitions and projects which strived to creates spaces for the assembly of the people, to bring together the masses within a national assembly, as well as the variety of means by which populations have taken control of a space in order to create an assembly there. However, as we move further through the essay, the manner in which the state quickly took control over this assembly and turned it into a choreographed exhibition intended to create a “collective enthrallment” for the purpose of consensus is demonstrated. This is the state of pseudo-inclusion.
When it was realized that any type of gathering of the masses, specifically in the streets, could be a threat to the government, the initiative to suppress them is taken. To give the term ‘Mob’ to groups of people gathering in the streets is to classify all people as a potentially problematic or violent, and thus allowing the governing political body or bourgeoise to control them.
 “Already the constitution of 1791 attempted to suppress gathering in which the attendant crowd wanted to articulate itself as a political society of the people, and thus a part of incarnate sovereign”.
This essay gives a view on the manner in which contemporary cities became ‘foam cities’, highly individualized spaces within which people operate of solitary universes which share a common boundary. It is an explanation of a point of view regarding the means by which people became very singular to the point where there is no ‘society’ anymore, but rather moments of ensemble. It explores the process by which populations attempted to become a part of the sovereign power, and form a democratic society, and where quickly suppressed; and I believe lastly, it is a challenge toward the people within a society to take initiative and have influence over institutions, and also towards architects to create the spaces which can both initiate and accommodate this, within a new configuration.
Luke flanagan


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