Monday, March 28, 2016

Architecture Prior Art Post-Modernism Counterculture Presidential Elections & the Planned New Google and Apple Headquarters "Campuses" in Silicon Valley

Are Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders inevitable products of an era dominated by a cultural evolution that is labeled post-modernism?

Nikil Saval at the New York Times titles his article on the new headquarters "campuses" being planned by Google and Apple as Google and Apple: the High-Tech Hippies of Silicon Valley. Back to the future?

Make sure to view the slide show at that link for architectural design prior art.

The Google plan reminded this writer of the Eden Project in Cornwall, United Kingdom, with its biomes, its object of sustainability and its emphasis on the importance of transformation. Google is a digital Eden Project in our eyes.

Apple's 4-story building structure reflects circular designs that are historically ubiquitous - see "circular design in architecture" in Google image search. Indeed, we are reminded of the shen ring of the Pharaohs, symbol of eternity.

Both Google and Apple designs most certainly try to "escape" the limits placed on architecture by square-sided building geometry. Indeed, Frank Gehry's twisted buildings can be viewed as an attempt to do just the same. Squares are out. It is no wonder that Jeb Bush had no chance in the primaries.

Saval writes in his New York Times article about the future that:
"Like the rest of Silicon Valley, however, this future is in fact rooted in the past. It comes, transfigured, from the wrecked dreams of communal living, of back-to-the-land utopias, of expanding plastic spheres and geodesic domes that populated the landscape of Northern California around the time (and around the same place) that the first semiconductors were being perfected. This is the world of what a recent exhibit at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis has termed “Hippie Modernism.”"
As those of us know who grew up in the "flower power" age, especially in California in the late 1960's, the heroic status attached to alternative forms of living and lifestyles in the 60's seemed to disappear as quickly as the "flower power" movement came and went. But did the basic foundations of the "alternative culture" expressed at that time really disappear? Perhaps not.

One could argue that the late 1960's were a landmark in cultural evolution, an era marked by the breaking down of viz. questioning of many human customs and taboos that had existed for many generations, but that perhaps were no longer necessary or appropriate to the post-modern age. The weakest and most sensitive elements of society would have "felt" that particular change quite early.

That cultural evolution, referred to modernly now as "hippie modernism" at the Walker Art Center, is a term which we find to be too narrow, and we would suggest the perhaps more accurate term "future counterculture".

Indeed, one could argue that the counterculture evolution has actually been with us in a process of varied transformation the last nearly 50 years, visible, for example, in alter egos such as digital technology or in post-modernity in art and architecture, or in innumerable other aspects of human society, whether we talk about race, diversity, gender equality, abortion or even LGBT.

One need not agree with such developments -- to acknowledge they exist.

Indeed, even the emergence of disruptive political candidates such as Donald Trump in the Republican Party and Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Party in the currently ongoing Presidential primary elections may -- perhaps to everyone's astonishment -- well be inevitable expressions of that same "counterculture", as serious challenges to the existing but disappearing mainstream infrastructure, a modernistic edifice succumbing to post-modernity.

We read at the Wikipedia under Postmodernism [paragraphs added]:
"Postmodernism is a late-20th-century movement in the arts, architecture, and criticism that was a departure from modernism.

Postmodernism articulates that the world is in a state of perpetual incompleteness and permanent unresolve.

Postmodernism promotes the notion of pluralism; that there are many ways of knowing, and many truths to a fact.

From a postmodern perspective knowledge is articulated from local perspectives, with all its uncertainties, complexity and paradox.

Thus knowledge is relational and all realities are woven on local linguistic looms.

Postmodernism includes skeptical interpretations of culture, literature, art, philosophy, history, economics, architecture, fiction, and literary criticism.

It is often associated with deconstruction and post-structuralism because its usage as a term gained significant popularity at the same time as twentieth-century post-structural thought.

The term postmodernism has been applied to a host of movements, mainly in art, music, and literature, that reacted against tendencies in modernism, and are typically marked by revival of historical elements and techniques.
When one views the current world as a post-modern development in process, it becomes more understandable and we better comprehend the architectural style of the buildings being planned by Google and Apple.

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