We have moved!

In Uncategorized on November 28, 2011 at 17:59

The Interstices website has been fully reconstructed and now hosts our blog, too.

Come and see us at the new website to check published issues, information for contributors and news and events.



Interstices Symposium: Registration and Final Program

In Uncategorized on October 26, 2011 at 16:39


DOWNLOAD FINAL PROGRAM: Interstices 2011 final program

DOWNLOAD ABSTRACTS: Interstices 2011 Abstracts 

Interstices Under Construction Symposium:

Technics, Memory and the Architecture of History

25-27 November 2011, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania

FINAL Program

Friday 25 November

Nualla O’Flaherty Theatre, The Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery

4pm – 4.15pm Opening Address
4.15pm – 5.45pm FRAME
Stuart KingLandscape and the Mnemotechnics of Tasmanian Architectural History; Nicole SullyDestruction of the Dialectics of Memory: Reimagining and Reremembering the Works of Minoru Yamasaki; Hannah Lewi: Deranging Oneself in Someone Else’s House
5.45pm – 6.15pm Interstices 12 Journal Launch and Cocktails
6.15pm – 7.30pm KEY SPEAKER 1
Alessandra Ponte: The Archives of the Planet: Cinema, Photography and Memory 1908–31

Saturday 26 November
School of Visual and Performing Arts, School of Architecture & Design

9am – 10.30am LANDSCAPE
School of Visual and Performing Arts Foyer
Gini LeeRe-enacting Stonescape: Territories Under Construction Brought to Presence; Linda Marie Walker: Untitled Procedures; Jacqueline Power + Marilyne Nicholls: Intertwined: Ring Trees in Wadi Wadi Country
10.30am – 11am MORNING TEA
School of Architecture & Design Foyer
11am – 12pm KEY SPEAKER 2
School of Architecture & Design Lecture Theatre
Jeff Malpas: Building Memory
12pm – 1pm LUNCH
School of Architecture & Design Foyer
1pm – 2.30pm SESSION 1: CINEMA
School of Architecture & Design Seminar Room Level 1
Michael Tawa: To Be Two. Interstice and Deconstitution in Cinema and Architecture; Jane Madsen: The Space of Collapse: A Two Part Terrain; Nikos Papastergiadis: TBC
1pm – 2.30pm SESSION 2: PSYCHE
School of Architecture & Design Seminar Room Level 2
Jen Brown: Projecting Brisbane: Lines of F/light in the 2011 Post-Flood Festival; Simon Bourke: Interstices and the Aerial Viewpoint: Reconstructing the Complexity of the ‘Normal’ Experience; John Roberts: The Ruins are Wonderful so Why Worry? Ruins as Historical ‘Image-Objects’ for Aalto and Utzon 
2.30pm – 3pm AFTERNOON TEA
School of Architecture & Design Foyer
3pm – 4.30pm SESSION 1: SPIRIT
School of Architecture & Design Seminar Room Level 1
Anuradha Chatterjee: Birth, Death and Rebirth: Reconstruction of Architecture in Ruskin’s Writings; Hayley Wright: Catastrophic Facadism: The Authentic Imitation; Fiona Gray: Paper and Fire – The Images and Ashes of Rudolf Steiner’s Architecture
3pm – 5.00pm SESSION 2: ICON
School of Architecture & Design Seminar Room Level 2
Iman Al-Attar: Between the ‘represented’ and ‘representing’: The crisis of Urban History and the Techniques of Historiography; Tania Davidge: Catastrophe and Memorialisation: Reflecting on the Architectural After-Effects of September 11; James Lewis: Understanding the Iconic Icon; Tanja Poppelreuter: Mneme of Space
5pm – 5.30pm DRINKS
School of Architecture & Design Foyer
5.30pm – 6.30pm KEY SPEAKER 3
School of Architecture & Design Lecture Theatre (videoconference link to London)
Peg Rawes: Spinoza’s Geometric Ecology
Northern Club, 61 Cameron Street, Launceston

Sunday 27 November
School of Visual and Performing Arts

9am – 10.30am DOMESTIC
Sean Pickersgill: A Memory of Entropy – Architecture in Tarkovsky’s StalkerSandra Löschke: Techniques of Display – On Constructing and Mediating Cultural and Aesthetic Values in Exhibition Environments; Kirsty Volz: The French Polisher and the Unsentimental Interior
10.30am – 11am MORNING TEA
School of Visual and Performing Arts
11am – 12pm KEY SPEAKER 4
Karen Burns: Signs, Symptoms and the Index: Depicting Past and Present at Purrumbete, 1901–02
12pm – 1pm LUNCH
School of Visual and Performing Arts
1pm – 2pm KEY SPEAKER 5
William Taylor: Architectural Typologies and the Mnemotechnics of Rebuilding in Recent Post-Disaster Scenarios


Update: Technics, Memory and the Architecture of History

In Uncategorized on October 3, 2011 at 13:42

Planning for the 2011 Interstices Under Construction Symposium is well underway. We have accepted twenty blind refereed abstracts, and are in the process of programming the event. We will be publishing the accepted abstracts and the preliminary schedule on this website in the next week or so.

We have also confirmed our five key anchor papers:

The Archives of the Planet: Cinema, Photography and Memory, 1908-1931

Prof Alessandra Ponte, Université de Montréal

The example of “Archives of the Planet”, perhaps the most significant legacy of the lifework of the French Jewish banker of Albert Kahn (1860-1940), provides an extraordinary entry point for the study of one of the key moments in the history of representation when the introduction of new technologies of mechanical reproduction induced a radical transformation in the thinking about memory, perception and knowledge. Inspired by the philosophy of Henri Bergson, lifelong friend and tutor of Albert Kahn, and functioning under the scientific direction of the human geographer Jean Brunhes, the Archives de la Planète operated between 1908 and 1931. Completely funded by Kahn, eleven independent photographers and cameramen – including the biologist Jean Comandon, a pioneer in the fields of micro-photography and scientific cinema –collected an immense ethno-geographic visual catalogue of the planet composed of 72,000 colour autochrome photographs, 4,000 stereographic images, and nearly 100 hours of mostly black and white documentary films. In two decades, the teams of the Archives of the Planet visited more than 40 countries to fulfill the mission defined by Albert Kahn in one of his rare written pronouncements, i.e. to record the traditional costumes, modes of production and ways of life that rapid processes of modernisation were erasing all over the globe. Beyond the opportunity of reconnoitring the redefinition of memory prompted by new technologies, the case of Kahn’s collections offers therefore an opening to explore and scrutinise a crucial phase in the history of the twentieth century re-foundation of the notions of archive, milieu and habitat.

Alessandra Ponte is full professor at the École d’architecture, Université de Montréal. She has taught history and theory of architecture and landscape at Pratt Institute (New York), Princeton University, Cornell University, Instituto Universitario di Architettura (Venice), and ETH (Zurich). She has written articles and essays in numerous international publications, published a volume on Richard Payne Knight and the Eighteenth-Century Picturesque (Paris, 2000) and co-edited, with Antoine Picon, a collection of papers on architecture and the sciences (New York 2003). For the last four years she has been responsible for the conception and organisation of the Phyllis Lambert Seminar, a series colloquia on contemporary architectural topics. She has recently organised the exhibition Total Environment: Montreal 1965-1975 (Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal, March- August 2009).  She is currently completing a series of investigations about the North American landscapes and preparing a show and catalogue on François Dallegret (AA School, London, Fall 2011).

Architectural typologies and the mnemotechnics of rebuilding in recent post-disaster scenarios

Prof William Taylor, University of Western Australia

Reconstruction discourse for a number of post-disaster settings and scenarios has led to a renewal of typological studies. This has commonly involved a turn to architectural history and analyses of vernacular architecture in the effort to propose novel building types more likely to protect communities against loss of life and property. Varied arguments for the adaption and ‘improvement’ of traditional Southeast Asian village architecture, the New Orleans raised cottage or Queenslander (to name a few cases) prompt a number of questions relating to conference themes. How does the appropriation of historical building forms engage different pasts in order to predict and forestall future catastrophe? What building types are chosen, how are they adapted and how does this process elicit understandings of memory and architectural heritage? How are communities defined as socio-logical and psychological entities by the selection of building forms that aim not only to resist cyclonic winds, floods and earthquakes, but also to provide for community recuperation and emotional catharsis following a catastrophic event? How can culture and politics enter the picture?

William M. Taylor is Professor of Architecture at the University of Western Australia where he teaches architectural design and history and theory of the built environment. Recent publications include The Vital Landscape, Nature and the Built Environment in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Ashgate 2004) and a co-edited collection of essays An Everyday Transience: The Urban Imaginary of Goldfields Photographer John Joseph Dwyer (UWA Publishing 2010). A co-authored book Prospects for An Ethics of Architecture (Routledge 2011) results from his collaboration with Professor Michael Levine (Philosophy UWA). He is currently researching the subject of architecture and transience.

Spinoza’s geometric ecology

Dr Peg Rawes, Bartlett School of Architecture UCL


This paper explores the construction of a radical and ‘technical’ expression of Nature/Substance in Spinoza’s geometric text, The Ethics (1677). It suggests that Spinoza’s seventeenth-century geometric analysis of subjectivity provides a fascinating historical technicity in discussions of aesthetics, matter and subjectivity, which engages with contemporary ecological politics and agency in the production of the built environment.

Spinoza’s geometric method is driven by his powerful theory of Substance through which he locates a complex biodiversity of life. Substance constitutes a kind of proto-materialist theory insofar as it is the primary univocal ‘cause’ of all realities, the immanent ‘life-force’ in all things, including architectural design practice and geometric thinking. Ecologists and philosophers (e.g. Arne Naess and Eccy de Jong) have discussed the ‘deep ecology’ of Spinoza’s metaphysics of substance or nature. However, this paper considers Spinoza’s invention of these ethical ecological relations through a geometrical technicity in which a plenitude of geometric figures and human, living and natural subjects are constructed. This genetic method therefore opens up the space to discuss geometric thinking, not just as a reductive technical operation of form-making, but as an exemplary mode of biological and material diversification.

An ethical technicity of human emotions or affects is also developed through his psychophysical understanding of geometric relations, constituting a radical critique of subjectivity and ecological relations. As such, Spinoza’s thinking resonates with contemporary visual arts and spatial practices, including, Agnes Denes’ Wheatfield: A Confrontation, 1982, which re-purposed New York’s Battery Park into urban agriculture and which was reconstructed in London in 2009 as part of the Radical Nature exhibition at the Barbican. Under these terms, Denes’ critical and aesthetic (that is, sense-based) spatial intervention recalls Spinoza’s promotion of radical geometric ecologies. Each demonstrates the capacity for a ‘natural’ geometric technicity to generate new figure-subjects and critical spatiotemporal relations and, consequently, to contribute more productively towards contemporary discussions about the wellbeing of diverse modern subjectivities and societies.  In addition, considering Spinoza’s own formidable technical and aesthetic labour in geometric thinking (which Bergson identified with the force of a ‘dreadnought’ and an immaterial ‘lightness’ of thought) we might wish to explore the value of his radical aesthetic technicity for generating critical geometric ecologies for contemporary visual arts practices.

Might Spinoza’s ‘natural geometry’ enable debates about the need to design for the diverse social and environmental needs, for example, by contributing to contemporary critiques of agency, or for developing diverse cultures of dwelling? Might his ethical thinking about nature and geometry also help to rethink the commercially-driven fascination in formal geometric production that continues to dominate the discipline (trends which still operate on the basis of understanding geometry as an abstract disembodied set of functions)? In the face of these, and other pressing questions of human difference and well-being, together with the need to protect ecological difference, this paper suggests that Spinoza’s philosophy may provide opportunities through which architecture, and the visual arts, can rethink and value human and environmental biodiversity in the built environment.

Peg Rawes is Director of Architectural Research and Coordinator History and Theory, MArch Architecture (RIBA Part 2), at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. Her teaching and research in architectural theory and criticism focus on interdisciplinary links between architectural design, philosophy, technology and the visual arts, which has been developed into publications that examine: spatiotemporality and embodiment; ‘minor’ traditions in geometric and spatial thinking; new aesthetic and material practices; relational architectural ecologies. Her research activities and publications include: Relational Architectural Ecologies (forthcoming, 2012); Space, Geometry and Aesthetics (2008); ‘Spatial Imagination’, Designing for the 21st Century (2008); ‘Sonic Envelopes’, Senses and Society, Vol 3, No 1 (2008); Irigaray for Architects (2007); ‘Second-order Cybernetics, Architectural Drawing and Monadic Thinking’, Kybernetes, Vol 38, no 9/10 (2007), and ‘Plenums’, in K. Lloyd Thomas, ed., Material Matters (2006).

Signs, symptoms and the index: depicting past and present at Purrumbete, 1901-02

Dr Karen Burns, Monash University

This paper examines the wall mural, a traditional medium for constructing spatial exchanges between architecture and images. I focus on an unusual 1901-02 mural cycle designed by Walter Withers for the Manifold family at Purrumbete in Victoria’s Western District. The cycle was commissioned as part of an extensive rebuilding of the late Victorian homestead, culminating in a set of public reception rooms decorated with imagery of the pastoral frontier.

In-situ murals were key forms of architectural decoration until the late twentieth century. Murals can narrate both the sited-ness and virtuality of architecture. Since the late Medieval period, western architecture’s window frames, doors and enfilade systems have framed the mural as a view, and later as a picture, making the mural’s otherness consonant with the logic of the interior. However murals can also have a powerful immersive quality, projecting the viewer into another world:  in media res. Another function was found for murals as the medium was reinvented towards the end of the nineteenth century when in-situ images were fashioned as external projections of interior psychic states. The Purrumbete murals reveal another function of the architecture/in-situ image intersection. In the Withers decorated reception room architectural systems of spatial articulation produce a powerful counter-weight to the image, constructing a cohesive interior that mitigates against the inconsistencies of the interior image world of the mural narrative, its ideology and viewing positions.

In his book Confronting Images (2009), Georges Didi Huberman argues against art history’s desire to discover legible, coherent narratives in the surface of images, to make the art image “identical to the work of symbolic reason” (Bryson, 1993). Norman Bryson reviewing Huberman’s text was rightly suspicious of any generalised claim for the failure of images to represent, but persuaded by Huberman’s endeavour to historicise “the text or image that builds representational failure into itself” (1993). Whilst Huberman rightly identifies the widespread failure to represent he also gives meaning and legibility to that failure. This paper seizes on two contradictory moments in the commissioning and work of the mural cycle as symptoms – “the suddenly manifested knot of associations or conflicted meaning” – of the mural cycle’s sudden aporias around settler activism in frontier violence and the racialised borders of the new Australian state. This paper examines the role of architecture at Purrumbete in framing the boundaries of past and present, in accommodating the mural cycle’s shifting viewing positions – from intimate witness to minority white Australian – and of the homestead as a powerful indexical referent constructing the meaning of the mural images as documentary site histories. The skilful architectural composition maintains and absorbs the mural cycle’s contradictions without having to resolve them. Ideology is the logic of the dream not analytical reason.

Karen Burns is a Senior Lecturer in architectural history and theory in the Department of Architecture at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. Her current research projects include a history of Anglophone feminist architectural theory, practice and research from 1974-2010, a study of fortified civilian architecture on the Port Phillip and Van Diemen’s Land pastoral frontiers and a book-length study of architects, commodities and the industrial marketplace: The Industrial Muse: Architects, Aesthetics and Manufacture in Britain, 1842-1862. Her essays have been published in Assemblage, AD, Transition, Architectural Theory Review and the Journal of Architectural Education (forthcoming and in the following books: Postcolonial Spaces, Desiring Practices and Intimus.

Building memory

Prof Jeff Malpas, University of Tasmania

Image: Leigh Woolley

Memory and place are inextricably linked. Moreover, memory stands in a special relation to built places – to corridors, rooms, buildings streets, neighbourhoods, towns, cities. Thus Bachelard explores memory as given in the house; Benjamin as present in the city and its streets. To understand both, one cannot treat memory as merely some subjective quality attached to the built. The built is formed from memory and memory from the built. Often overlooked in those forms of architectural practice given over to the technical and the representational, the intimate connection of building and memory nevertheless indicates the centrality of building in the formation of the fundamental fabric of human life. The weave of memory and of meaning is accomplished in the built form of house, street, and city, rather than in some inner sanctum of the mind.

Jeff Malpas is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Tasmania and Distinguished Visiting Professor at La Trobe University. He has written extensively on issues of place and space and his newest book, Heidegger and the Thinking of Place, will appear in January 2012 with MIT Press.

A link to the registration form for the symposium with payment details will be posted in the next few days. The registration fee is A$100 for participants (undergraduate and masters by coursework students free).

There is a range of accommodation nearby to the Inveresk Campus of the University of Tasmania which includes the following:

The Interstices Symposium will be appearing as a part of the inaugural Tasmanian Breath of Fresh Air (BOFA) Film Festival, which is occurring at the same time and in the same location. It is advisable to book accommodation early owing to BOFA. For information on BOFA, visit http://bofa.com.au/2011/

The Call for Papers for Technics, Memory and the Architecture of History (Interstices13) will be published here in early December 2011. Submissions will be due in by early March 2012 for publication in October 2012. Watch this space.

Notes for Contributors are available here. They are updated from time to time so please check for currency before submission.

For more permanent information (overview of previous issues and sample papers to download), please visit our website (www.interstices.auckland.ac.nz). To order online, please go to the MagMag website.

See you in November in Launceston, Tasmania!