blueprint’s oddly misdirected second salvo – mammoth // building nothing out of something

blueprint’s oddly misdirected second salvo

Not content with Tim Abrahams’ misdirected broadside against architecture blogs last spring — which badly missed its target by calling out the explicitly curatorial Things Magazine for failing the project of architecture criticism — Blueprint has now printed a similarly misdirected second salvo against various prominent architecture bloggers, again accusing them of not being sufficiently concerned with the thing — criticism of buildings — that they have never claimed to be particularly concerned with.

Helpfully, Geoff Manaugh has scanned that article, written by Peter Kelly and entitled “The New Establishment”, and you can read it here, along with his response, which argues that it is rather odd for Kelly to complain about a lack of “criticism of significant new buildings” on blogs which claim to do nothing of the sort.  (To read Kelly’s article, you’ll need to click on and enlarge the images that Geoff has provided.)

What really puzzles me about “The New Establishment” is that, above and beyond this misdirection of its critical aim, exceptionally well-established blogs like Archidose and sit down man, you’re a bloody tragedy (or even Christopher Hawthorne’s pieces for the LA Times‘ Culture Monster blog) — which do traffic in the criticism of buildings — are not mentioned.

I think that’s what makes the piece feel less like the non-antagonistic argument that Anonymous 7:09 describes in the comments of Geoff’s post (“[Kelly] is questioning why, in an age of digital media, there is not a blog, just as popular as BLDGBLOG, that feeds the desire of Kelly, me, you and lots of others for critical analysis of new architectural design”) and more like a specific attack on the legitimacy of blogging about architecture in more expansive or less building-centric ways.

(Which, by the way, hardly bothers me.  I’m a landscape architect.  Of course I don’t write about architecture like an architecture critic.)

I wrote about Abrahams’ complaint last spring here — note that, as misdirected as it was, I do think there is value in it, just as Geoff notes that there is value in Kelly’s call for more and better architectural criticism — and rounded up various responses to his complaint here.

Edit: Abrahams’ post does not appear to be available anymore, so the link at the top of this post is rather broken.

4 Responses to “blueprint’s oddly misdirected second salvo”

  1. ...maybe... says:

    when i was doing my masters one of my concern was that because there were people from diverse backgrounds, nations, histories etc having varied perspectives on space/design it was actually very difficult to evolve some ‘language’ of communication (in the absence of a common platform) leave alone a means of assessing good/bad/ugly work…the jury in master chef does a better job at critiquing something as subjective as taste…maybe the article seems to suggest this lack of ‘principles/scale’ and ‘language’ to assess design and how the internet amplifies this condition….

    • rob says:

      I think I can get the problem you are describing — at least in general terms — but can you explain in more detail how you think “the internet amplifies this condition”?

      • ...maybe... says:

        The internet, like globalisation has been a forced phenomenon more out of need than desire, so it has linked extremely diverse spaces and people. Now in such a scenario where there is a Vietnamese farmer, Chinese government official, Indian student, Korean prime minister’s son, Obama, you, me and etc, linked in together for you to be able critique something and someone else in the crowd to grasp it (assuming language in the literal sense is not an issue, but merely conceptually..) hinges completely on some sort of singular historic, socio-political narrative ie. modernism…post modernism…and if these narratives fall short of accounting for what was going on in the middle east, asia and africa then we are talking devoid of history and internet is reflective of exactly this space devoid of history…its space to me is like a sea and one’s ship has no anchor and different people take different directions, purely out of personal choice there is no right or wrong direction, everything is just subjective!!…
        …but look though the tone of all this is very confident it comes with lots of disclaimers and generous amounts of ‘maybe’s put in, i am just thinking aloud…

  2. [...] on criticism, kicked off by last week’s Blueprint article and the various comments and blog posts that have resulted. Online criticism is surprisingly nebulous, set free from the context of hard or [...]