In “Between the Nest and the Archive: is Architecture at Risk?” Mimi Zeiger and Enrique Ramirez reflect on the aesthetics—or lack thereof—in contemporary representation technics. Find below an extract of their conversation featured in NESS 1 titled “Between Cozy History & Homey Technics.”
Enrique Ramirez– Shall we begin with ‘Homey Technics’ or ‘Cozy History’?
Mimi Zeiger– We get to choose. We can start with either.
ER– My question is: what is the difference? [Both laugh] As a historian, I am conditioned to look at technics as an alternative to aesthetics, trying to find a way of understanding the culture of architecture beyond images. But, then again, the question of coziness and hominess requires going back to the culture of images, because they are comfortable, that is, homey and cozy.
MZ– Oh, it’s cozy, right? When you put a search filter on it, you know what you are going to get out of it.
ER– Exactly. Instagram is a refuge. Call it a space of refuge.
MZ– Yeah. It is a cozy technic, right? I believe that when we exchange images these days, it isn’t about shooting off a roll of film and then disposing of all the bad ones and picking only the good ones. We’re only after the good. That’s why filters are interesting: they allow us to take something and manipulate it rather than having to sift through pictures that are fuzzy or wobbly. […]
ER– Being homey or cozy is a kind of relinquishing of control, the technics of comfort and security. For example, do you remember James Bridle and “The New Aesthetic”? If we valorize the glitch, then we don’t have to worry about a lot of thinking that may require us to ask why the glitch happened in the first place. You know what I’m talking about?
MZ– Yes. I totally know what you’re talking about.
ER– So about being a historian. I confess that I have an archive allergy. Not because I don’t find them useful but rather because visiting an archive can be like being inside a sanitized environment or sensory deprivation tank. This too is both homey and cozy, because it’s easy to portray the hard work of history as ‘finding’ something. Finding something becomes the end, not questioning why it’s there in the first place or the parameters or provenances of the actual archive. Sometimes we go to the archives because we want something else to do the thinking for us, not because we are really interested how something happened. We accept the evidence as it is and move forward. The same applies to the glitch. “Oh, the glitch!” “Look at this glitchy drone footage, isn’t it cool?”
MZ– But the glitch doesn’t qualify as a new mode of representation, and yet it is accepted as novel. Same applies to the way Instagram feeds from architecture school have so many projects rendered in pastels and relying on isometric or axonometric projections. What was once a critical mode is now a kind of filter, a tool to make images, and it is no longer beholden to any spatial consequence. Thinking more about cozy history reminds me of the nesting that was happening after 9/11. There was a rise in craft, in D.I.Y. making, in home cooking after the fall of the Twin Towers. Nesting was an inward turn, one that focused mainly on the individual. We can say that something similar happens with the archive, no? In other words, we won’t get anything more out of it other than what we’ve already put into it, right? In that way, it’s kind of like the technical, data in-data out, but you are looking in both cases for the reflection of yourself through a sort of pre-authored thesis.