Antoine Picon: Architecture, Matter and Language in the Digital Age

W.M.Keck Lecture Hall

March 09, 2016 at 7:00pm

One of architecture's oldest obsessions is to animate matter, to make it expressive in ways that suggests that its creations are about to speak. But architecture cannot be reduced to discourse. It is probably more productive to consider it as the result of a permanent tension between matter and expression, matter and language. In order to make sense of this tension, the lecture will introduce and discuss the notion of materiality. It will then mobilize this concept to interpret some of the current architectural trends, trends linked to the rise of digital culture. What is taking place under our eyes is a dramatic reshaping of our understanding of materiality. This is what digital architecture is to a large extent about.

Trained as an engineer, architect and historian, Antoine Picon is the G. Ware Travelstead Professor of the History of Architecture and Technology at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the relations between science and technology, on the one hand, architecture and technology, on the other hand. Among his recent publications: Digital Culture in Architecture: An Introduction for the Design Professions (2010), Ornament: The Politics of Architecture and Subjectivity (2013), Smart Cities: A Spatialised Intelligence (2015).