Felicity D. Scott

Felicity D. Scott is Associate Professor of Architecture at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, where she directs the PhD program in architecture and codirects the program in Critical, Curatorial and Conceptual Practices in Architecture. She is the author of Architecture or Techno-utopia: Politics after Modernism (MIT Press).

  • Disorientation

    Disorientation

    Bernard Rudofsky in the Empire of Signs

    Felicity D. Scott

    Viennese émigré architect Bernard Rudofsky (1905–1988) is most frequently recalled for curating “Architecture without Architects,” the famous 1964 photography exhibition of vernacular, preindustrial structures at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Far from simply a romantic or nostalgic invocation of cultures lost to industrial modernity, Rudofsky's exhibition drew on decades of speculations about modern architecture and urbanism, particularly their semantic, technological, institutional, commercial, and geopolitical influences.

    Focusing on Rudofsky's encounters with Japan in the 1950s—he described postwar Japan as a “rear-view mirror” of the American way of life—architectural historian Felicity D. Scott revisits the architect's readings of the vernacular both in the United States and Japan, which resonate with his attempts to imagine architecture and cities that refused to communicate in a normative sense. In a contemporary world saturated with visual information, Rudofsky's unconventional musings take on a heightened resonance.

    Critical Spatial Practice 7Edited by Nikolaus Hirsch, Markus MiessenFeaturing artwork by Martin Beck

    • Paperback $19.95
  • Outlaw Territories

    Outlaw Territories

    Environments of Insecurity/Architectures of Counterinsurgency

    Felicity D. Scott

    Revisiting an era when the discipline of architecture staked out a role in global environmental governance and the biopolitical management of populations.

    In Outlaw Territories, Felicity Scott traces the relation of architecture and urbanism to human unsettlement and territorial insecurity during the 1960s and 1970s. Investigating a set of responses to the growing urban unrest in the developed and developing worlds, Scott revisits an era when the discipline of architecture staked out a role in global environmental governance and the biopolitical management of populations. She describes architecture's response to the displacement of persons brought on by migration, urbanization, environmental catastrophe, and warfare, and she traces architecture's relationship to the material, environmental, psychological, and geopolitical transformations brought on by postindustrial technologies and neoliberal capitalism after World War II.

    At the height of the U.S.-led war in Vietnam and Cambodia, with ongoing decolonization struggles in many parts of the world, architecture not only emerged as a target of political agitation because of its inherent normativity but also became heavily enmeshed with military, legal, and humanitarian apparatuses, participating in scientific and technological research dedicated to questions of international management and security. Once architecture became aligned with a global matrix of forces concerned with the environment, economic development, migration, genocide, and war, its role shifted at times toward providing strategic expertise for institutions born of neoliberal capitalism. Scott investigates this nexus and questions how and to what ends architecture and the environment came to be intimately connected to the expanded exercise of power within the shifting geopolitical frameworks at this time.

    • Hardcover $39.95 £30.00
  • Architecture or Techno-Utopia

    Architecture or Techno-Utopia

    Politics after Modernism

    Felicity D. Scott

    The first history of twentieth-century America's architecture that puts architecture and its institutions into a dialogue with the “underground”—featuring the experiments, practices, and polemics of the 1960s and 1970s.

    In Architecture or Techno-Utopia, Felicity Scott traces an alternative genealogy of the postmodern turn in American architecture, focusing on a set of experimental practices and polemics that emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Scott examines projects, conceptual work, exhibitions, publications, pedagogical initiatives, and agitprop performances that had as their premise the belief that architecture could be ethically and politically relevant. Although most of these strategies were far from the mainstream of American architectural practice, Scott suggests that their ambition—the demonstration of architecture's ongoing potential for social and political engagement—was nonetheless remarkable.

    Scott examines both the marginal and the prominent: the Marxist architectural criticism of Meyer Schapiro; the curatorial work of Arthur Drexler at New York's Museum of Modern Art; Emilio Ambasz's introduction of ideas from environmental design, European critical theory, and Italian radicalism at MoMA; the counterculture's embrace of Buckminster Fuller's domes; psychedelic and intermedia environments; the video and architectural collective Ant Farm and the politics of ecology; the early experimental practices of Rem Koolhaas; and, connecting these earlier practices to the present day, the missed opportunities for political engagement in the competition sponsored by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation for the World Trade Center site. At a time of increasing receptiveness to thinking politically about architecture and design, Architecture or Techno-Utopia offers a detailed account of the ways in which the work of architects and designers can speak to the contemporary condition.

    • Hardcover $31.95 £23.95
    • Paperback $24.95 £20.00

Contributor

  • Sensible Politics

    Sensible Politics

    The Visual Culture of Nongovernmental Activism

    Meg McLagan and Yates McKee

    The interaction of politics and the visual in the activities of nongovernmental activists.

    Political acts are encoded in medial forms—punch holes on a card, images on a live stream, tweets about events unfolding in real time—that have force, shaping people as subjects and forming the contours of what is sensible, legible, and visible. In doing so they define the terms of political possibility and create terrain for political acts.

    Sensible Politics considers the constitutive role played by aesthetic and performative techniques in the staging of claims by nongovernmental activists. Attending to political aesthetics means focusing not on a disembodied image that travels under the concept of art or visual culture, nor on a preformed domain of the political that seeks subsequent expression in media form. Instead it requires bringing the two realms together into the same analytic frame.

    A diverse group of contributors, from art historians, anthropologists, and political theorists to artists, filmmakers, and architects, considers the interaction of politics and the visual in such topics as the political consequences of a photograph taken by an Israeli soldier in a Palestinian house in Ramallah; AIDS activism; images of social suffering in Iran; the “forensic architecture” of claims to truth; and the “Make Poverty History” campaign. Transcending disciplines, they trace a broader image complex whereby politics is brought to visibility through the mediation of specific cultural forms that mix the legal and the visual, the hermeneutic and the technical, the political and the aesthetic. Their contributions offer critical insight into the practices of mediation whereby the political becomes manifest.

    • Hardcover $37.95 £30.00
  • The Aspen Complex

    The Aspen Complex

    Martin Beck

    Martin Beck's exhibition “Panel 2—'Nothing better than a touch of ecology and catastrophe to unite the social classes…'” draws on the events of the 1970 International Design Conference in Aspen (IDCA) and the development of the Aspen Movie Map to form a visual environment that reflects the interrelations between art, architecture, design, ecology, and social movements.

    The 1970 IDCA marked a turning point in design thinking. The conference's theme, “Environment by Design,” brought together venerable figures of modern design in the United States, including Eliot Noyes, George Nelson, and Saul Bass; environmental collectives and activist architects from Berkeley such as the Environmental Action Group, Sim Van der Ryn, and Ant Farm; as well as a group of French designers and sociologists, among them Jean Aubert, Lionel Schein, and Jean Baudrillard. The conference quickly escalated into a site of unresolvable conflict about communication formats and the potential role of design for environmental practices in a rapidly changing society.

    The ensuing decade heralded the development of an interactive navigation system, which used the same Colorado resort town as its test site. The Aspen Movie Map—initiated by MIT's Architecture Machine Group (the predecessor to the Media Lab) and partially funded by the US Department of Defense—is an image-based surrogate travel system using footage filmed in Aspen. Meant to prepare users for quick orientation in places they have never been to, the Aspen Movie Map was a seminal prototype for today's military and consumer navigation systems.

    The Aspen Complex documents two versions of Beck's exhibition—at London's Gasworks and Columbia University's Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery—and brings together yet unpublished archival material and new research on the 1970 IDCA and the Aspen Movie Map.

    • Hardcover $32.00