01 Gearbox (2013)

Module 01 

(15, 16 and 17 October 2013)
Cultural Production’s Gearbox

With Els Kuijpers and Roemer van Toorn

Working, as cultural producers do, in the tension between thinking and making, between theory and practice, between presentation and representation, presupposes linguistic awareness and requires a deliberate staging of the message. Focusing on narrative strategies and methods, media and language uses of critical sense making from different cultural fields – literature, fine art, architecture, communication design, and film. Els Kuijpers will sketch a history of mentalities in which attitude becomes form under changing socio-economic conditions. Roemer van Toorn will outline how architectural thought developed over time and through which formats it emerged. His lecture will include a critical comparative analysis of different architecture publications such as architecture monographs, theory, photo and research publications. PhD research is a rather recent development in architecture, what to think of research as dissertation, examples how it can be done, and what kind of formats of thinking influences the practice (what are canonical examples, what are its channels of broadcasting, and where do we stand as academia (examples).

Els Kuijpers is publicist, educator and curator design and visual culture, and teaches design history and theory the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, NL, and exhibition design theory at Artez, Institute of the Arts, Zwolle. Publications i.e.: Ootje Oxenaar, designer + commissioner, 010 Publishers, Rotterdam.

Roemer van Toorn is the Architectural Theory Professor at the Umeå School of Architecture. He is a writer, educator, curator and photographer in the field of architecture and cultural studies. From 1993 till 2010 he has been in charge of the History and Theory program and was Head of publications at the Berlage Institute. He has written extensively about architecture and has been the editor of several magazines and publications. Currently he is finishing the forthcoming text and photo book the Society of The And with a grant from Architecture In Effect (Formas) research fund.

Recorded lectures and ResArc Communication introduction
Link to recorded public lecture by guest professor Els Kuijpers:
Staging the Message: A dialectical History of Mentalities in Communication.

Link to recorded 2nd lecture by guest professor Els Kuijpers:
Staging the Message: Strategies, Meaning Production and Visualisation.

Link to recorded introduction of the Communication Course and different examples by Roemer van Toorn:
Staging the message. The Architecture of Communication.

PhD reseachers
The 15 participating researchers mentioned below will be present at UMA School of architecture.

  1. Maria Rasmussen (Lund)
  2. Eva Minoura (KTH)
  3. Eunyoung Chi (KTH)
  4. Janek Ozmin (UMA)
  5. Alberto Altes Arlandis (UMA)
  6. Sepideh Karami (UMA)
  7. Erik Sigge (KTH)
  8. Brady Burroughs (KTH)
  9. Helen Runting (KTH)
  10. Chotima ag-ukrikul (Chalmers)
  11. Fredrik Torisson (Lund)
  12. Katja Hogenboom (UMA)
  13. Ingrid Allard (UMA, technical department)
  14. Thierry Berlemont (Chalmers, St Lucas)
  15. Olga Bannova (Chalmers) (will follow livestreams)
Activity 01, Day 01, 15 October

Critical Comparative Analysis. Group workshop (15 October)
After Roemer van Toorn’s Tuesday morning lecture, 5 groups (of around 3 to 4 people each) will be formed that will critically analyze and later present what they think about the different publications we have made available (original copies) at UMA and listed below for further analysis. All the books will be present for further analysis, but can of course also be studied in advance if you wish to do so. This list (of just a few) examples (see below) can also inspire and help you to prepare your own work (which you have to uploaded in advance to the blog) and we will discuss and elaborate together in the editorial sessions the 2nd and 3rd day of the seminar.

Architecture Research Publications:
–      Learning from Las Vegas, Denise Scott Brown, Robert Venturi, Steven Izenour, 1972.
–      The Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping, Chuihua Chung, jeffrey Inaba, Rem Koolhaas, 2002
–      Content, AMOMA, Rem Koolhaas, 2004

Architecture Yearbooks:
–      Architecture Yearbook, Belgium, Vai publishers
–      Architecture yearbook, The Netherlands, Nai Publishers.
–      Architecture yearbook, Austria, Andreas Ruby, Ruby press.

Architecture Monographs:
–      Natural History, herzog & Meuron, edited by Philip Ursprung, design Lars Müller, 2002.
–      Orban Space, Luc Deleu – T.O.P. office, editors Wouter Davidts, Guy Chatel, Stefaan Vervoort, design Metahaven, 2012.
–      Inside Outside, Petra Blaisse, edited by Kayoko Ota, design Irma Boom, 2007.
–      Scanning: the aberrant architecture of diller & scofidio, Whitney Museum, 2003.

Architecture’s Performance:
–      Reasons for Walling a House, 51n4e, edited by 51n4e, Ruby Press, 2012.
–      Post-Occupancy, by AMO/Rem Koolhaas, Domus d’autore, design Michael Rock, 2006.
–      Druot, Lacaton & Vassal, Tour Bois le Pêtre, edited by Ilka & Andreas Ruby, DAM, 2013.

Scientific Research Examples:
–      Histories of the Immediate Present, Anthony Vidler, 2008.
–      Architecture techno-utopia, Politics after Modernism, Felicity D. Scott, 2007.
–      One Million Acres & No Zoning, Lars Lerup, 2011.

Activity 02, day 2 & 3 (Presentations & Blog Post)

Editorial Board Meetings (16, 17 October)
After the first day critically comparing a selection of different canonical works (from the list above) we will have parallel sessions, on Wednesday and Thursday, in which you all will be members of an editorial board with editors-in-chief Els Kuijpers or Roemer van Toorn.

The purpose of these meetings is to introduce and to let the researcher experience what editing/staging the message is as a method that frames chosen social/communicative strategies, and to show the consequences it has for the structure and visualization of its message – according to a classical or activating mentality. During the seminar the researcher will be part of and participate in an editorial process in which subject + point of view (approach) + strategy (workings) results in a plot. A plot that will be the starting point for your (spatial, digital, textual, visual, etc) design.

Each individual PhD researcher prepares a short (power point, keynote or PDF) presentation – and has uploaded a more extensive format with own PhD work, and his/her point of view to the blog. The following two issues should be addressed in your presentation:

(1) What is your research question, what subject are you addressing?
(2) What is your take on the subject, why is it relevant according to you? (What is your point of view)?

An example can be the work of Scott-Brown, Venturi and Izenour Learning from Las Vegas. Not only do they see that architecture is changing under influence of the media and populism in the late 60ties in America, but they also say that when architecture still wants to play a relevant societal role it needs to adapt (change) its language, or better put; its style. Rem Koolhaas asks a similar question when he studies Shopping; how can architecture be relevant in such a condition? but his take is a very different one, not one of recuperating Style, but of substance. (see also accompanied articles and interviews in the mandatory literature). When you focus on style or substance this has far fetching consequences for the plot of the format of the book.

These two questions you have to explain with the help of visual material you have also uploaded to the blog. It can be unfinished material (a series of photos, films, video, expositions, publications, architecture projects), but also all kind of material that relates (and can explain) your topic and point of view (approach).

During the meetings we together will further develop each PhD proposal along the following three lines:
(3) Communicative Strategy
(4) Choice of medium
(5) Visualization/Design/Language use

At the end of the seminar each researcher should be able to clearly formulate his/her own thematic, strategy, medium and visualization that could serve as a basis for the format of the PhD as a whole.
At our editorial table we will have several architectural publications available to show and to discuss how plots are developed and visualized.


To assist and provoke you preparing your course assignment (activity 01 & 02), you read in advance the following articles, besides having a look at the additional readings. The articles below are available on the ArcResCommunication blog too:

PDF’s of your mandatory reading material are found on the password protected page; https://communicationsresarc.net/pdfs/

–      Beatriz Colomina in conversation with Rem Koolhaas, The Architecture of Publication, Rotterdam 2007, in AMOMA Rem Koolhaas II 1996- 2007, theory and practice, El Croquis 134/135, Barcelona 2007
–      Andreas Ruby, Of People and houses. Architecture from Styria. Architecture Graz Styria yearbook 2008/2009, Haus der Architektur Graz 2009
–      Michael Rock, Designer as Author, Multiple Signatures, New York 2013
–      Michael Rock in conversation with Michael Speaks, Any and All, Multiple Signatures, New York 2013
–      Michael Rock, Wired______is history, Context, Cologne 2004
–      Susan Buck-Morss, What is Political Art? Design Beyond Design, Maastricht 1997
–      Michael Rock, Mad Dutch Disease, Multiple Signatures, New York, 2013
–      Jan van Toorn, Design’s Delight, Rotterdam 2006
–      Els Kuijpers, One must talk to Communicate. That’s life! And/Or – extended, Rotterdam 2014
–      Interview with Denise Scott Brown & Robert Venturi, Re-learning from Las-Vegas, interview by Rem Koolhaas and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Content 2004
–      Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, Supercrit #2, Learning from Las Vegas, edited by Kester Rattenbury and Samantha Hardingham, Routledge, Abingdon, 2007

Additional readings
Readings that extensively address the relation between form and content can be found in the reading list below. Several of the issues addressed in these publications and articles will be referred too and addressed by the lecturers. For the 2nd course (November) and 3rd course (January) seminar specific readings will be provided as well.   Günther Kress, Theo van Leeuwen, Reading images. London 2006

  • Günther Kress, Theo van leeuwen, Reading Iages, London, 2006
  • Günther Kress, Multimodality. London 2009
  • Lev Manovich, The language of new media. Cambridge/London 2001
  • Gillian Rose, Visual methodologies – an introduction to researching with visual materials. London 2012.
  • John Berger, Ways of seeing. London 1972 also available on youtube
  • John Berger, Selected essays and article – the look of things. London 1972
  • Susan Buck-Morss, Dream world and catastrophe – the passing of mass utopia in east and west. Cambridge MA/London 2000
  • Barbara Maria Stafford, Good looking – essays on the virtue of images. Cambridge MA/London 1996.
  • Barbara Maria Stafford, Visual analogy – consciousness as the art of connecting. Cambridge MA/London 1999.
  • Jonathan Crary, Techniques of the observer. Cambridge MA 1990
  • Michel Foucault, The order of things. London 1970
  • Eilean Hooper-Greenhill, Museums and the shaping of knowledge. London/New York 1992
  • Naomi Klein, The shock doctrine – the rise of disaster capitalism. London 2007
  • Armand Mattelart, The invention of communication. London 1996
  • Peter van Wesemael, Architecture of instruction and delight. Rotterdam 2001
  • Victor Burgin (ed), Thinking photography. London 1983
  • Martin Parr and Garry Badger, The photo book – a history, vol 1 and 2. London 2004
  • Allan Trachtenberg (ed), Classic essays on photography. New Haven 1980
  • Guy Debord, Society of the spectacle. Detroit 1970
  • Terry Eagleton, The function of criticism. London 1984/2006
  • Terry Eagleton, The event of literature. Cambridge MA 2012
  • Umberto Eco, The open work. Cambridge MA 1989
  • Fredric Jameson, Brecht and method. London/New York 1998
  • W.J.T. Mitchell, Iconology – image, text, ideology. Chicago and London 1986
  • Franco Moretti, Signs taken for wonders. London 1983/2005
  • Jacques Rancière, The emancipated spectator. London 2009
  • Robert Stam, Reflexivity in film and literature. New York 1992
  • Robert Stam, Subversive pleasures. Baltimore/London 1989
  • Nader Vossoughian, Otto Neurath – the language of the global polis. Rotterdam 2007
  • Hal Foster, Design and crime (and other diatribes). London and New York 2002
  • Rem Koolhaas, Content, triumph of realization. Cologne 2004
  • Jan van Toorn (ed), Design beyond design – critical reflection and the practice of visual communication. Amsterdam/Maastricht 1998
  • Jacques Bertin, Graphics and graphic information processing. New York 1981
  • Charlotte and Peter Fiell, Graphic design for the 21 century. Cologne 2003
  • Richard Saul Wurman, Information architects. Zürich 1996
  • Cartes et figures de la terre, Jean-Loup Rivière (ed), catalogue Centre George Pompidou. Paris 1980
  • Michael Rock 2 x 4, Multiple Signatures, on designers, authors, readers and users, New York 2013

October 15, Tuesday, 2013

  • 10.00                Checking in, and coffee at Art Campus restaurant (map here
  • 10.30 – 12.00    Introduction to the course and lecture by Roemer van Toorn, Staging the Message, The Architecture of Communication.

Selection of books for the groups Critical Comparative Analysis analysis

  • 12.00 – 13.00    Lunch in PhD meeting room at UMA.
  • 13.00 – 14.45    Critical Comparative Analysis by the different groups
  • 14.45 – 15.00    Coffee at the Art Campus restaurant
  • 15.00 – 16.45    Presentations 5 groups of their Critical Comparative Analysis. 10 minutes presentation, 10 minutes discussion each group.
  • 17.00                 Public lecture by guest professor Els Kuijpers, Staging the Message: a Dialectic History of Mentalities in Communication
  • 19.00                 Dinner at Rex Bar & Grill. Adress: Rådhustorget. 903 26 Umeå. http://www.rexbar.com/ (map)

October 16, Wednesday, 2013

  • 09.00 – 10.30   Public lecture by guest professor Els Kuijpers: Staging the Message: Strategies, Meaning Production and Visualization.
  • 10.30 – 10.40     Coffe at the Art Campus restaurant
  • 10.40 – 12.00   Collective seminar with Els Kuijpers, moderated by Roemer van Toorn and others discussing the lectures, UMA auditorium.
  • 12.00 – 13.00    Lunch in PhD meeting room at UMA
  • 13.00 – 17.00    Parallel Editorial Session 1, PhD room, Discussing Individual work, with Els Kuijpers
  • 13.00 – 17.00    Parallel Editorial Session 1, Staff room Discussing Individual work, with Roemer van Toorn
  • 15.00                Coffee at the Art Campus restaurant
  • 19.00                Dinner at Socialize. Adress: Vasagatan 1, 90329 Umeå. http://www.clubsocialize.se/ (map)

October 17, Thursday, 2013

  • 09.00 – 12.00    Parallel Editorial Session 2, PhD room, Discussing Individual work, with Els Kuijpers
  • 09.00 – 12.00    Parallel Editorial Session 2, Staff room Discussing Individual work, with Roemer van Toorn
  • 10.30                  Coffee at the Art Campus restaurant
  • 12.00 – 13.00     Lunch at the Art Campus restaurant
  • 13.00 – 15.00     Parallel Editorial Session 3, PhD room, Discussing Individual work, with Els Kuijpers
  • 13.00 – 15.00     Parallel Editorial Session 3, Staff room Discussing Individual work, with Roemer van Toorn
  • 15.00                  Coffee at the Art Campus restaurant
  • 15.00 – 16.00      Concluding the seminar and departure

Module 01 Cultural Production’s Gearbox
October 15, 16 and 17, 2013, UMA School of Architecture, Umeå

From Umeå airport to hotel by taxi (when you like to take a taxi book in advance), or go by bus (for map and transport see also the website)

Maps: How to get to UMA from airport, Map of facilitiesMap to restaurantsMap to/from hotel

Address faculty:
UMA School of Architecture, Arts Campus
Östra Strandgatan 30 C
903 33 Umeå

Hotel address:
Hotell Aveny: (10 rooms)
Rådhusesplanaden 14
903 28 Umeå
090-13 41 00
Map to/from hotel

Restaurant addresses:
Rex Bar & Grill
Rådhustorget, 903 26 Umeå

Vasagatan 1, 90329 Umeå
Map to restaurants

More information at:

Contact persons:
Roemer van Toorn: roemer.vantoorn@arch.umu.se
Hanna Ivansson: haiv0002@student.umu.se


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