Architectural Voices
Monday 13 June 2011

18.00 RMIT (Building 8, Level 9, Room 64 (8.9.64), 360 Swanston Street, Melbourne)
You must RSVP to confirm your attendance at the RMIT University venue (limited seating capacity):

Presented by the Bartlett School of Architecture and the Architecture+Philosophy research group, School of Architecture and Design, RMIT University.

New textures of voice are currently being explored in architectural history, theory, criticism and design. A morning PhD seminar hosted between the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL and the Architecture+Philosophy research group, School of Architecture and Design, RMIT University, followed by an evening public lecture at UCL by Dr Hélène Frichot (RMIT) and Prof Stephen Loo (University of Tasmania), will examine various modes of writing which cross the critical and the creative, the subjective and the objective, adopting different positionalities to construct new forms of architectural knowledge.

PhD seminar:
/ 09.00 UCL (Access Grid, Room 205, 66-72 Gower Street, London)
/ 18.00 RMIT (Building 8, Level 9, Room 64 (8.9.64), 360 Swanston Street, Melbourne)
/ 20.00 Massey University (Room 10A78, College of Creative Arts, Wellington).

Featuring work by Ema Cheatle, Julieanna Preston, Michael Spooner, and Popi Iacovou. Hosted by Prof Jane Rendell (Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL) and Dr Hélène Frichot (RMIT).

  • Public lecture: 18.00 UCL (Ricardo Lecture Theatre, Drayton House, 30 Gordon Street, London).
  • C’est la voix: A methodology of exhaustion and some notes on stupidity and boredom, Dr Hélène Frichot (RMIT) and Prof Stephen Loo (University of Tasmania).

This PhD seminar hosted by Prof Jane Rendell (Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL) and Dr Hélène Frichot (RMIT) will include presentations by four PhD candidates:


Sweeping and Mouthing Dust: Reconstructing overlooked aspects of the Maison de Verre
Emma Cheatle (Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL)

Entitled ‘Part-architecture: the Maison de Verre through the Large Glass’, my PhD proposes analytic and fictional methods of writing about the spaces in and between these built forms. Investigating imagined and real historical intersections between protagonists and events in 1935, I give an alternative spatial reading of female inhabitation in Paris between the wars. There are two methodical strands. The Sweeping of the title above is a material method which assembles ‘evidence’. Found snippets of ‘stories’, socio-historic ‘facts’ and archive material are rewritten as a text of fiction and analytic commentary. 1930s medical tools and devices associated with female sexual health, and dust, (collected by methodically sweeping the building), inform a visual practice of drawn and constructed projects. The Mouthing is a method which recreates short spoken-word narratives from the fictions. This presentation will present excerpts of these methods: with voice recordings laid over a sequence of still images of text and dust/instrument artefacts.
Biography: An experienced architect and teacher, I am in the final year of my PhD at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, sponsored by a full-time AHRC scholarship.

matter utters

Julieanna Preston (School of Architecture and Design, RMIT University)

This presentation develops a key proposition in inertia: matter, interiors, surface, a doctoral project approaching its final stages. In recent years I have been using affirmative feminist agency to emancipate seemingly inert finish materials typically found in interior environments from an oppression I attributed to industrial manufacturing processes, patriarchal paradigms and construction economies promulgating standardization and uniformity. Of late, I have reconsidered this practice; acts to liberate material have been refigured as actions realigning the terms of respectful engagement, an intellectual shift I credit to Luce Irigaray’s essay, i love to you. As a result, my intimate and tacit relationship with materials knows of latent forces emerging in our mutual exchange beyond hierarchical human/non-human, organic/synthetic, affective/effective modalities. These forces are mute voices circulating nonetheless amongst vast complex tangles of associations shaping things physically, politically and spatially, an idea that finds convergence between Francis Ponge’s poems of everyday objects (Taking the Side of Things and Soap) and Jane Bennett’s investment into material vitality (Vibrant Materials: A Political Ecology of Things). I continue to speculate on what interior surfaces can do, what they utter, in a spatial and performative practice that includes language, text and image as equally pliable and politically active matter.
Biography: I am a doctoral candidate at RMIT University pursuing a research project primarily through creative practice. This project builds on my transdisciplinary background as an artist, spatial/ interior designer, architect and educator. It extends embodied knowledge to the construction, craft and creation of performative material things informed by, and generative of, theoretical and philosophical inquiry.

A Clinic for the Exhausted

Michael Spooner (School of Architecture and Design, RMIT University)

Commissioned in 1990 by RMIT University, and designed by the Australian Architects Edmond and Corrigan, Building Eight derives much of its impulse from is difficult mode of citation. In my PhD by project A Clinic for the Exhausted, an architectural imaginary emerges that conflates Building Eight with an ocean-liner. The plausibility of this proposition is discovered in a letter addressed to Peter Corrigan from the architect Howard Raggatt. Raggatt, who admits in the letter of the influence of alcohol, offers, on taking note of Building Eight’s illuminated interior, the image of Building Eight as it “began to lift off as though released from its anchors, or set free from its foundations, now departing like a P&O liner.” (1996)

A Clinic for the Exhausted draws on the protean transfiguration of the detritus on the horizon, the remains of all that is left from the sudden collision of Building Eight and ocean-liner, establishing Raggatt’s letter as a sort-of-instruction and his vision as a sort-of-evidence of an intoxicating malady that in turn keeps this narrative afloat. The presentation will continue across the unfettered contours of Raggatt’s inebriation and tangle up everything and everyone in the same improvisation, bearing you aloft only to throw you back into the tumult of that night. It is a voice compelled to turn the audience out onto the street as giddy conspirators in an unfathomable act.
Biography: Michael is currently a full-time PhD candidate in the School of Architecture + Design, RMIT University, where he is also a sessional tutor in the Program of Architecture, teaching in upper pool design studios and supervising final year thesis projects. In 2010 he participated with Peter Corrigan on A City of Hope for inclusion in the Australian Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

Performing Casa Malaparte
Popi Iacovou (Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL)

My research focuses on the interrelations between performance and architecture through an investigation of a building; the Casa Malaparte, the house of the Italian writer Curzio Malaparte (1898-1957). Malaparte stated many times that he considered his house the best portrait of himself and he called the Casa Malaparte ‘A House Like Me’. Driven by this statement and by findings through my stay at the house, the Casa Malaparte is interpreted as an autobiographical performance. The thesis asks how architecture performs autobiography and aims at opening up a discourse where architecture is understood as a performative act, both in its making as well as in its inhabitation.

The thesis follows a twofold method: text and design. The writing aims at reflecting the telling organisation of the house whereas the design aims at bringing the writing of my own filmic voice.
Biography: Popi Iacovou is an architect that uses video installation as a choreographic spatial practice to read, interpret and reconstruct place, whether a building or a site. She is currently a PhD candidate at the Bartlett (UCL) and Associate Lecturer at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.

Public lecture
18.00–19.30 (London) – Ricardo Lecture Theatre, Drayton House, 30 Gordon Street, UCL, WC1H 0BE.
Followed by drinks at the Bartlett School of Architecture Lobby, 22 Gordon Street, UCL, WC1H 0BE.

C’est la voix: A methodology of exhaustion and some notes on stupidity and boredom
Dr Hélène Frichot (RMIT University) and Prof Stephen Loo (University of Tasmania)

In The Exhausted, Gilles Deleuze’s essay on the playwright Samuel Beckett, the philosopher points out that exhaustion is not just about being tired. He remarks that there are at least four ways of exhausting the possible, and we would add that this list should not be taken as exhaustive. We will argue that the four approaches describe a methodology of exhaustion that can be usefully applied to critical creative practice. These approaches include: 1) the formation of exhaustive series; 2) the drying up or exhausting of the flow of voices; 3) the extenuation of the potentialities of space; 4) the dissipation of the power of the image; a list to which we would add a further item, and that is the breakdown of the organic body.

To Deleuze, the exhausted person renounces all need, preference, goal or signification and is therefore “sufficiently disinterested” and we would add, suffers from a kind of boredom. Exhaustion presents a comportment that is wordless, indeterminate and generic. Exhaustion may stupefy us, but it is precisely in the voidal nature of the comportment that new unanticipatable modes of expression are made possible.

The voice of exhaustion is breathless. Not meager and unequivocal and therefore secondary to writing, the voice has no equivalence to writing-sense. As Hélène Cixous says, the metaphysical sense of writing must be destroyed so the soufflé – the undifferentiated, non-articulated cry of the divine – can be voiced. She says, “… I am at the mercy of their inspiration [insufflement]. They can fail me. I master nothing, I submit to the oracles. This risk is the condition of my creative energy and of my discoveries. It can happen that I run out of breath [souffle], that something loses steam [s'essouffle] … a word whispered/given by someone else, and a word stolen, whisked away.”

We will present this methodology of exhaustion in relation to exemplary practices located in the transdisciplinary terrain marked out between architecture, art and philosophy, which allow us to expand what a methodology of exhaustion can be. This work, in two voices, will include re-voicing the work of Emma Cheatle, Julieanna Preston, Michael Spooner, and Popi Iacovou. Hélène will also touch on the work of Michelle Hamer and Bridie Luney, and Stephen will speak on voice (voix), speed (vitesse) and life (vie) in the work of the recently late John Barbour, and his own work K2-02 (with Michael Yuen) that includes sweeping the gallery floor exhaustively.

In conclusion, when exhausted, and in relation to exhaustion, we will make a few remarks on the perplexing power of stupidity and boredom, not as a derogatory marker of ineptitude, but rather as the cry or warning that alerts us to the danger of claiming we know more than we do.

Biographies: Dr Hélène Frichot is a senior lecturer in the Program of Architecture, School of Architecture and Design, RMIT University. While her first discipline is architecture, she also holds a PhD in philosophy from the University of Sydney. Hélène is co-curator (with Esther Anatolitis) of Architecture+Philosophy, a public lecture series and forum that commenced in 2005. Recent publications include: “Following Hélène Cixous’s Steps Towards a Writing Architecture” in Naomi Stead and Lee Stickells guest editors, ATR (Architecture Theory Review), 15:3 (2010); “On Finding Oneself Spinozist: Refuge, Beatitude and the Any-Space-Whatever”, in Charles J. Stivale, Eugene W. Holland, Daniel W. Smith eds., Gilles Deleuze: Image and Text (Continuum Press, 2009); “Olafur Eliasson and the Circulation of Affects and Percepts: In Conversation”, in Julianna Preston, guest ed., Interior Atmospheres: Architectural Design, vol. 78, no. 3, (London: John Wiley and Sons: May/June 2008). She also writes regularly for Artichoke, Architecture Australia, and similar art and design journals.

Dr Stephen Loo is Professor of Architecture at the School of Architecture & Design, University of Tasmania. He has published widely on the spatiality of language, affect and the biophilosophy of the contemporary subject, which includes ethico-aesthetic models for human action, posthumanist ethics and experimental digital thinking. His current research book project (with Dr Undine Sellbach) concerns the connections between ethics, psychoanalysis and the space of the entomological imagination with forthcoming publications in Angelaki, Parallax and Deleuze Studies. He is on the Editorial Board member of several journals including Interstices: A Journal of Architecture and Related Arts and is curating its 2011 symposium on Technics, Memory and the Architecture of History. Stephen is a practicing architect and Founding Partner of architectural, design and interpretation practice Mulloway Studio. His recent artworks include Longing for the Field, LARC Gallery, Launceston (2010), and K2-02 (with Michael Yuen), SASA Gallery, Adelaide (2009).


4 March Gilbert Rochcouste: Architecture and Placemaking
25 March Yoland Wadsworth: What shape are we in?
9 April: The Right to the City symposium featuring Dr Hélène Frichot
12 April Jonathan Mosley: Beyond Utopia LUNCHTIME TALK
15 April Prof Kim Dovey: Assembling architecture
May 26-31: Emerging Writers' Festival featuring Esther Anatolitis
27 May Teresa Stoppani
13 June At the Bartlett, London: Architectural Voices
17 June Anthony Magen: Deafness in landscape architecture
July 20-31: State of Design Festival
15 July Martin Butcher: Participatory development
22 July Moving image, mobile architectures
State of Design Festival "Design that moves" co-presentation
Featuring artist Joel Zika: The Dark Ride
19 August Simon Sellars: Stereoscopic Urbanism
16 September Sustainability panel
Roberta Esbitt: French Island
Peter Cowman: Living Architecture
September 21 - October 9: Melbourne Fringe Festival
14 October Stanislav Roudavski: Pattern Events



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ARCHITECTURE+PHILOSOPHY provides a unique opportunity for a space of exchange between the two disciplines. While what we provide is a local space – Melbourne practitioners on Melbourne issues – Architecture+Philosophy welcomes speakers from any discipline to engage with questions of contemporary urbanism, planning, technology, space, system, design, distribution and other issues in the productive overlap between the two disciplines. We curate a diverse range of presentations, from research students and established academics to architecture and planning practitioners, policy makers, public artists and those working in the world between theory, buildings and the city.

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