Judgement of Critique
Saw this video the other day and it got me a little riled. (Two architecture posts in a row! I promise not to make a habit of this.)
When I first started architecture school, early Eisenman writings in Oppositions really inspired me. Now he (and the rest of these old men) aren’t so cool. Beyond the fact that the person they are talking about is standing right there, Eisenman says a few key things that I think might represent a bit of a schism in architecture. (And because this is essentially what my thesis was about: judgement.)
Peter says he “has nothing to say” and doesn’t know how to judge this work because the student doesn’t know the difference between Palladio and Borromini. (This from a guy who said of his extensive personal library:– and I quote from my secret source!– “I’ve read the introduction to most of these books.”) Now the work may indeed be awful, but the tragedy isn’t the work, it’s Peter’s and the other critics inability to critique the work at all, to give any sort of judgement.
I contend that all you have as a designer (or a critic) is judgement, and once you abdicate that responsibility, you can slip quietly into irrelevance… where Eisenman has been headed for many years anyway.
Instead they talk about pedagogy, a topic that comes up in any review in which the reviewers don’t have anything to say about the work (again, this could also be because the work is, in fact, boring… but they should just say that and get on with it). In school, critique culture exists to give students access to the judgement of more experienced architects, as soon as that has evaporated from the learning experience, students will look elsewhere for inspiration and for meaningful criticism.
Finally, the reason I think Peter and the rest find themselves in this awkward situation of having no tools or faculties to accommodate new work is that they’ve let their judgement be a static object instead of a living thing. What was once good might be bad and vice versa. Updates are ready for download.