Dominic Leong

The Game of Architecture

full essay at: leong-leong

If one is to take Francois Lyotard’s report
on postmodernity seriously, the value
of knowledge in today’s advanced societies is not evaluated on the basis of ideological
criteria but on criteria of “performativity,” or how useful it is. 2 In fact,
certain architecture circles have literally adopted the term “performance” as part of
a rationalizing rhetoric that can easily translate design proposals into quantifi able
effects that optimize the input/output ratios of business minded clients with tight
budgets. Or, the rhetoric of ”performance” is used as means to disarm the aesthetic
shock caused by the formal gymnastics of digitally generated geometries. In other
words, a way to make strange and unfamiliar shapes explainable in concrete and
quantifi able terms. Arguments for new forms can then be leveraged on the terms of
production costs and ‘bottom lines’ rather than matters of taste or the transcendent
genius of an artistic vision. In this regard, “performance” is merely a resurrection of
modernist functionalism re-qualifi ed according to the logic of late-capitalism.


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