Founded in 2003, Log is an independent journal on architecture and the contemporary city that presents criticism and commentary in a literary format designed to resist the seductive power of the image in media while identifying and elaborating the central concerns of architectural thinking and production today. A carefully crafted compendium of essays, interviews, and brief "observations," Log provides an ongoing international platform for the exchange of ideas, both bearing on and emanating from architecture and the city, among a curious audience of readers, including architects, designers, students, scholars, and artists. Published three times a year, general "open" issues are punctuated by occasional thematic issues on prescient topics. Submissions are currently being invited for the following issues:
Log 41, Fall 2017.
Log 41 is an open issue of observations on architecture and the contemporary city. It will feature a special section, “Queering Architecture,” edited by Jaffer Kolb. 1 General submissions, as well as those responding to the special section prompt, are welcome. All submissions must be received by the deadline.
Since the 1990s, discussions of queerness in architecture have been attached to the idea of queer space – a site both real and imaginary realized through the politics of identity, sexuality, and liminality. Such conversations – led by Joel Sanders and Aaron Betsky, among others – were rich, but they relegated queerness to a certain part of the design process by privileging spatial politics, formal configurations, and consciously abject inhabitations. Recent discussions in the discipline reveal new sites where we might locate queerness deeper within practice – as a relational phenomenon that perverts referents, that disturbs form, that upends received histories – to inflect not just what we design but how we design.
Already we see an emerging generation of designers, writers, and curators whose work demonstrates, consciously or not, long-held tactics of queer culture drawn from subverting rules governing dress, sex, desire, and corporeal stability: subtle dysmorphia, playful misquotation, transgressive materialism, camp exaggeration, critical banality. Such tactics help frame recent trends toward the resurgence of the familiar, described sometimes as a revitalization of postmodernism, as a redisciplining of the profession, as a manipulation of platonic and elemental geometries, and so on.
While the current political climate suggests that the reassertion of traditional values risks eschewing critical thought, aligning these practices with queerness alleviates their potential to register as regressive. If architecture has refocused on the object, then how can we revisit the object with new tools to call attention to its structures and absurdities? Even our theoretical metaphors reflect this shift: the rhizome, dominant throughout the ’90s, has been replaced by the bubble, whose structure is both dumb and complex, suggesting a multivalent richness in our imagining of objects. By looking at method – that is, the act of queering architecture and not the fact of queer architecture – we can give renewed primacy to the canon while filtering it through the logics of queer identity and queer desire.
But how close must we stay to the familiar? Are slippages produced by the uncanny, the iterated, the altered examples of queer practice? What is a queer form, material, or representation? Is there such a thing as queer infrastructure or technology? By beginning with the codes and rules associated with architecture and infrastructure, we can find a litany of sites for deliberate acts of manipulation and misprision that enable us to restructure the components of the discipline, and hopefully by extension the discipline itself. By treating historical material and the built environment as instigators for new kinds of responsive distortion, we might escape the oppression of legacy while preserving its comforts, queering architecture into something both known and strange, multivalent and informed.
Log 42, Winter 2018.
Log 42 is a special issue, titled “Phenomenology against Architectural Phenomenology,” guest edited by Bryan E. Norwood.2. To be considered for publication, submissions for Log 42 must address the theme.
We begin with a proposition: the dominant take on phenomenology in architectural theory has been as an approach that grounds architecture in a unified conception of human subjectivity. The lifeblood of architectural phenomenology (and we mean this as distinct from the philosophical program of phenomenology) has not been a consistent methodology but rather an ethical project that aims – in the name of recovering something lost, reunifying something fragmented, or attending to something missed – to stabilize and even sanctify particular forms of subjectivity. That is, architectural phenomenology has been a project of saying what humans should strive to be.
The language of architectural phenomenology that developed in the second half of the 20th century is by now familiar: the critique of the inhumanity of modern technology, the need to attend to authentic “primary experiences” of embodiment and the “magic of the real,” and the crucial task of “wresting place from space.” In an introduction to Steven Holl’s Intertwinings (1996), Alberto Pérez-Gómez lays bare the essentializing ethic behind this project, suggesting that a phenomenological approach can produce architecture that “allow[s] the inhabitant to recognize a potential wholeness through experience.” Dwelling functions as a normative description of the fundamental poetics of being human, and the ideal architect is positioned as an artist-philosopher making place for the explicit experience of this mode of existence. Whether one ultimately classifies architectural phenomenology as a school, an ethic, or simply an attitude, there has been little slowdown in the amount of writing in this vein.
But equally familiar today is the language of the critique and dismissal of architectural phenomenology: that it is grounded in a nostalgia for a mythical premodern condition, its interpretations of technology are clichéd, and ultimately it is a return to absolutes in the guise of the individualized language of place and personal experience. These critiques initially emerged from an all-too-simple binary in architectural discourse between phenomenology and structuralism, between foundationalism and the thought of difference. Recently, they have been developed in the more sophisticated forms of critical historiography – perhaps most notably by Jorge Otero-Pailos in his Architecture’s Historical Turn (2010) – that bring out the peculiarly furtive universalizing desires of architectural phenomenology and its partial and piecemeal relationship to the philosophical project of the same name.
It is the dialectic of the acceptance and rejection of phenomenology that this issue of Log aims to thwart. By critiquing not phenomenology but rather the assumed ethical project at the heart of its architectural appropriations, the aim is to think phenomenologically against architectural phenomenology. One recent way of turning against the stabilizing humanism deeply inscribed in architectural discourse has been to graft in actor-network and objectoriented theories that give agency to the nonhuman. While acknowledging the possibilities afforded by these approaches, here we intend to rethink the conception of the human itself. Rather than proliferate phenomenological accounts to the nonhuman, we aim to do phenomenology that avoids treating the human as a single fixed subjectivity. That is, if one of the main tasks of phenomenology is to destroy clichés, why not start with the one that assumes the character of the experiencing subject? ... Log 42 calls for writing that considers the way in which architecture produces and is produced by humanness, for phenomenologies that consider the varieties and differences of human embodiment rather than allowing the terrain to be prepared in advance. Reconsiderations of the possibilities of architectural phenomenology through the work of thinkers underutilized in architecture, such as Fanon, Butler, Young, and Édouard Glissant, or through creative readings of established figures such as Merleau-Ponty and Edmund Husserl are particularly welcome, as is work related to the spatial turn in the humanities and to fields such as disability studies and gender studies that provides alternate routes into phenomenological considerations of bodies in built space.