“Do not let us talk then of restoration. The thing is a Lie from beginning to end. You may make a model of a building as you may of a corpse, and your model may have the shell of the old walls within it as your cast might have the skeleton, with what advantage I neither see nor care: but the old building is destroyed, and that more totally and mercilessly than if it had sunk into a heap of dust.”
John Ruskin, 1880, The Lamp of Memory
“We are living in an incredibly exciting and slightly absurd moment, namely that preservation is overtaking us. Maybe we can be the first to actually experience the moment that preservation is no longer a retroactive activity but becomes a prospective activity.”
Rem Koolhaas, 2014, Preservation is Overtaking Us
This studio is interested in the continued life of objects, after their moment of creation. We will look specifically at works of architecture, art, design and what we might loosely term cultural objects, and ask at what point an object is ‘finished’. There will also be a consideration of the multiple agencies that continue to maintain or communicate objects and the changes in form, meaning and authorship that arise as an object continues its existence through time.
Debates about change and preservation have been long running in the field of architecture. You will take these as an introduction to thinking about ideas including authenticity, cultural value and the ways that works are maintained, challenged and compromised. We will follow these discussions into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, where you'll find contrasting practices of reproduction and conservation by digital data. These conversations will become troubled by emerging drives to preserve ephemeral artworks, and you'll learn of the Tate’s innovative research into the preservation and re-enactment of event-based art.
Dissertation projects might engage in a particular critical debate, explore a historical precedent, contest the history of a particular object, or propose a speculative plan for the future of a selected work or works – but you are in no way limited to these examples. To further your research you will be supported to make contact with specialists and experts in your chosen area of study.
This studio is open to all subject areas in The Cass but will be of particular relevance to students from architecture, fine art, interiors and 3D. Together, we'll combine practices and philosophies from the different disciplines, and find out what new thinking lands before us.
Outline of the first six taught weeks of study
We will mainly work as a discussion group with the occasional group trip. Workshops in writing and research skills will help you to develop your work and explore creative methods appropriate to your project.
- Week 1: Introduction: histories and practices of conservation.
- Week 2: To Do It Again: re-production, re-enactment, and digital afterlives.
- Week 3: Group trip.
- Week 4: Where is the Object? In place, in time, in representation (research skills workshop).
- Week 5: Writing about things (writing workshop).
- Week 6: Show and Tell: sharing of initial project ideas.
The initial suggested reading will introduce you to practices and debates from a range of perspectives and historical moments. Further to this, core reading will be set for each week, along with a range of projects and case studies for you to look at to help you apply your thinking.
- Koolhass, R, Otero-Pailos, J, Wigley, M. (2014) Preservation is Overtaking Us, New York: Columbia University Press
- Institute of Conservation (2016) Can objects die and if so who decides?
- Steyerl D, (2016) ‘A Tank on a Pedestal: Museums in an Age of Planetary Civil War’, e-flux Journal 70
- Benjamin, W (1936) ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ in Harrison, C, and Wood, P (Eds.) (1992) Art and Theory 1900-2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas, Oxford: Blackwell, pp 520-527
- Scott, F (2008) On Altering Architecture, London: Routledge
- Ruskin, J (1880) ‘The Lamp of Memory’ in The Seven Lamps of Architecture, Reprint, New York: Dover, 1989, pp 176-198
- Arrhenius, T (2012) The Fragile Monument: On Conservation and Modernity, London: Artifice
You might also want to explore the following:
Danielle Hewitt studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths College and received an MA in Architectural History from the Bartlett, University College London (UCL). She teaches on Critical and Contextual Studies (CCS) Architecture Year 2 and teaches a postgraduate architectural design studio at Oxford Brookes University.
Studio 1: Another India
Studio 1: Another India will examine, reflect upon and critique the historic use of "exotic" motifs in design.
Studio 3: Music is the Weapon: Performance, Culture and the Music Industry
Studio 3: Music is the Weapon: Performance, Culture and the Music Industry is an exploration of race, gender, class and more in music.
Studio 4: What Not to Wear?
Studio 4: What Not to Wear? will investigate the roles that dress and fashion play in our workplaces.
Studio 5: Imperfect Theories
Studio 5: Imperfect Theories allows you to critically examine any work that can be seen as theory or presents an interesting relationship with theory.
Studio 6: Curating Contemporary Art: From the Wunderkammer to Installation art
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Studio 6: Curating Contemporary Art examines the impact of curatorial practice on art.
Studio 7: Fashioning culture: clothing and the shaping of identity
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Studio 7: Fashioning culture will examine critically the links between fashion, clothing and identity.
Studio 8: Pleasure, Excess and Dirt
Studio 8 explores ideas of category, definition, identification and belonging through the examination of a series of objects and behaviours that appear to be in the wrong place instead of the right place.
Studio 9: The Continuing Lives of Objects
Studio 9: The Continuing Lives of Objects uses debates about change and preservation explore ideas within architecture.
Studio 10: Critical Theory and Critical Design. Artefacts, Images, Sites, Processes in Graphics and Illustration
Dipti Bhagat with Christopher Emmett
Studio 10 requires deep commitment and completion of critical theory and design for graphic design and illustration.
Studio 12: London Walking
Studio 12: London Walking looks at walking as a mode of creatively appropriating the city, with particular attention to our own city, London.
Studio 14: All in the best possible Taste
Dr John Cross
Studio 14: 'All in the best possible Taste' examines the historical influencers of taste, style and fashion.
Studio 15: Music, Technology and Ideas
Studio 15: Music, Technology and Ideas encourages you to explore how and why we make music, including its origin, relationship to technology and more.
Studio 16: Narrative and Storytelling
Studio 16: Narrative and Storytelling will see you produce storygraphs, storyboards and various forms of narrative analysis in the seminars.
Studio 17: Knowing Audiences
Studio 17: Knowing Audiences will encourage you to study an audience group using qualitative research methods in your investigations.
Studio 19: Material in Motion
Studio 19: Material in Motion will explore why an audience will put time, money and thought into acquiring an object.
Studio 20: Image ethics: Form, meaning and context
Dr Nick Haeffner
Studio 20: Image ethics: Form, meaning and context explores the aesthetics of the image and its role within fantasy, desire and social memory.
Studio 21: The Nonsensical Realm III
Studio 21: The Nonsensical Realm is a cross-disciplinary studio. This year it will engage with the idea of metaphor in art, architecture, design and music.
Studio 22: Meaningful work
Studio 22: Meaningful work explores the value of making and the idea of craft as meaningful work.
Studio 23: A Common Thread
Studio 23: A Common Thread examines the relationship between textiles and everyday life, including its design, trade, sustainability and more.