Mark Wigley

Mark Wigley is Professor of Architecture at Columbia University.

  • The Activist Drawing

    The Activist Drawing

    Retracing Situationist Architectures from Constant's New Babylon to Beyond

    Catherine de Zegher and Mark Wigley

    A reconsideration of Constant Nieuwenhuys's visionary architectural project, New Babylon, and of the role of drawing in and electronic age.

    Dutch artist Constant Nieuwenhuys (b. 1920) developed his visionary architectural project New Babylon between 1956 and 1974. Emerging out of the remarkable activist group the Situationist International, the project was concerned with issues of "unitary urbanism" and the future of art in a technocratic society. It has had a major impact on subsequent generations of artists, architects, and urbanists. Exploring the intersection of drawing, utopianism, and activism in a multimedia era, The Activist Drawing not only traces this historical moment but reveals surprisingly contemporary issues about the relationship between a fully automated environment and human creativity.

    Several decades before the current debate about architecture in the supposedly placeless electronic age, Constant conceived an urban and architectural model that literally envisaged the World Wide Web. The inhabitants of his New Babylon drift through huge labyrinthine interiors, perpetually reconstructing every aspect of the environment according to their latest desires. Walls, floors, lighting, sound, color, texture, and smell keep changing. This network of vast "sectors" can be seen as a physical embodiment of the Internet, where people configure their individual Web sites and wander from site to site without limits. With its parallels to our virtual world, New Babylon seems as radical today as when it was created.

    The essays explore the relevance of Constant's utopian work to that of his peers in the Situationist International and experimental architectural movements of the 1960s, as well as later generations of architects and artists. They use Constant's revolutionary project as a springboard to reconsider the role of drawing in an electronic age.

    Copublished with the Drawing Center, New York City.

    Contributors Benjamin Buchloh, Constant Nieuwenhuys, Rosalyn Deutsche, Catherine de Zegher, Elizabeth Diller, Tom McDonough, Martha Rosler, Bernard Tschumi, Anthony Vidler, Mark Wigley

    • Hardcover $32.00
  • White Walls, Designer Dresses

    White Walls, Designer Dresses

    The Fashioning of Modern Architecture

    Mark Wigley

    In a daring revisionist history of modern architecture, Mark Wigley opens up a new understanding of the historical avant-garde. He explores the most obvious, but least discussed, feature of modern architecture: white walls. Although the white wall exemplifies the stripping away of the decorative masquerade costumes worn by nineteenth-century buildings, Wigley argues that modern buildings are not naked. The white wall is itself a form of clothing—the newly athletic body of the building, like that of its occupants, wears a new kind of garment and these garments are meant to match. Not only did almost all modern architects literally design dresses, Wigley points out, their arguments for a modern architecture were taken from the logic of clothing reform. Architecture was understood as a form of dress design.

    Wigley follows the trajectory of this key subtext by closely reading the statements and designs of most of the protagonists, demonstrating that it renders modern architecture's relationship with the psychosexual economy of fashion much more ambiguous than the architects' endlessly repeated rejections of fashion would suggest. Indeed, Wigley asserts, the very intensity of these rejections is a symptom of how deeply they are embedded in the world of clothing. By drawing on arguments about the relationship between clothing and architecture first formulated in the middle of the nineteenth century, modern architects in fact presented a sophisticated theory of the surface, modernizing architecture by transforming the status of the surface.

    White Walls, Designer Dresses shows how this seemingly incidental clothing logic actually organizes the detailed design of the modern building, dictating a system of polychromy, understood as a multicolored outfit. The familiar image of modern architecture as white turns out to be the effect of a historiographical tradition that has worked hard to suppress the color of the surfaces of the buildings that it describes. Wigley analyzes this suppression in terms of the sexual logic that invariably accompanies discussions of clothing and color, recovering those sensuously colored surfaces and the extraordinary arguments about clothing that were used to defend them.

    • Hardcover $87.50 £72.00
    • Paperback $49.95 £40.00
  • The Architecture of Deconstruction

    The Architecture of Deconstruction

    Derrida's Haunt

    Mark Wigley

    Nowhere, Mark Wigley asserts, are the stakes higher for deconstruction than in architecture—architecture is the Achilles' heel of deconstructive discourse, the point of vulnerability upon which all of its arguments depend. In this book Wigley redefines the question of deconstruction and architecture. By locating the architecture already hidden within deconstructive discourse, he opens up more radical possibilities for both architecture and deconstruction, offering a way of rethinking the institution of architecture while using architecture to rethink deconstructive discourse.

    Wigley relentlessly tracks the tacit argument about architecture embedded within Jacques Derrida's discourse, a curious line of argument that passes through each of the philosopher's texts. He argues that this seemingly tenuous thread actually binds those texts, acting as their source of strength but also their point of greatest weakness. Derrida's work is seen to render architecture at once more complex, uncanny, pervasive, unstable, brutal, enigmatic, and devious, if not insidious, while needing itself to be subjected to an architectural interrogation.

    Wigley provocatively turns Derrida's reading strategy back on his texts to expose the architectural dimension of their central notions like law, economy, writing, place, domestication, translation, vomit, spacing, laughter, and dance. Along the way he highlights new aspects of the relationship between Heidegger and Derrida, explores the structural role of ornament and the elusive architecture of haunting, while presenting a fascinating account of the institutional politics of architecture.

    • Hardcover $55.00 £45.00
    • Paperback $39.95 £32.00

Contributor

  • Design and Art

    Design and Art

    Alex Coles

    The first anthology to address the rise of the "design-art" phenomenon—the breakdown of boundaries between art and architectural, graphic, or product design begun in the Pop and Minimalist eras.

    This reader in Whitechapel's Documents of Contemporary Art series investigates the interchange between art and design. Since the the Pop and Minimalist eras—as the work of artists ranging from Andy Warhol to Dan Graham demonstrates—the traditional boundaries between art and architectural, graphic, and product design have dissolved in critically significant ways. Design and Art traces the rise of the "design-art" phenomenon through the writings of critics and practitioners active in both fields.The texts include writings by Paul Rand, Hal Foster, Miwon Kwon, and others that set the parameters of the debate; utopian visions, including those of architect Peter Cook and writer Douglas Coupland; project descriptions by artists (among them Tobias Rehberger and Jorge Pardo) juxtaposed with theoretical writings; surveys of group practices by such collectives as N55 and Superflex; and views of the artist as mediator—a role assumed in the past to be the province of the designer—as seen in work by Frederick Kiesler, Ed Ruscha, and others. Finally, a book that doesn't privilege either the art world or the design world but puts them in dialogue with each other.

    Contributors David Bourdon, Peter Cook/Archigram, Douglas Coupland, Kees Dorst, Charles Eames, Experimental Jetset, Vilém Flusser, Hal Foster, Liam Gillick, Dan Graham, Clement Greenberg, Richard Hamilton, Donald Judd, Frederick Kiesler, Miwon Kwon, Maria Lind, M/M, N55, George Nelson, Lucy Orta, Jorge Pardo, Norman Potter, Rick Poynor, Paul Rand, Tobias Rehberger, Ed Ruscha, Joe Scanlan, Mary Anne Staniszewski, Superflex, Manfredo Tafuri, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Paul Virilio, Joep van Lieshout, Andy Warhol, Benjamin Weil, Mark Wigley, Andrea Zittel

    Copublished with Whitechapel Art Gallery, London

    • Paperback $24.95