Surface and Deep Histories: Critiques and Practices in Art, Architecture and Design
Surface in architecture has had a deeper and a more pervasive presence in the practice and theory of the discipline than is commonly supposed. Orientations to the surface emerge, collapse, and reappear, sustaining it as a legitimate theoretical and artefactual entity, despite the (twentieth-century) disciplinary definition of architecture as space, structure, and function. Even though surface is defended for its pervasiveness (Kurt Forster), its function as a theoretical motif with generative power (Andrew Benjamin), and in constituting the operative principles of modern architecture as a visual phenomenon (Mark Wigley), it occupies the interstice, or the space of the unconscious within architectural discourse, from where it defends its legitimacy as architecturally valuable or ‘functional,’ as opposed to merely visually pleasurable.
Surface and Deep Histories positions surface within the scholarship of critical theory and design-based approaches, and invites academics and designers, and art and architectural historians based in Australia to consider the uses, figurations, scales, and typologies of surfaces. The collection choreographs contributions that focus on a variety of topics, such as montage and construction of colonial modernity and visual culture (Molly Duggins); wallpaper, rational space, and femininity (Anna Daly); the inter-constituted nature of bodies, clothes, and cities (Stella North); the reconstruction of the urban surface through a true integration of information and topology (M Hank Haeusler); James Fergusson’s theory of ornament (Peter Kohane); traditional and new verandahs in Australia (Chris Brisbin); contradictory effects of surface in Green architecture debates (Flavia Marcello and Ian Woodcock); and the thickness of thin curtain walls in contemporary Australian architecture (Anuradha Chatterjee). Surface and Deep Histories shows that surface is not thin — spatially or conceptually. It demonstrates that the practice of surface is simultaneously superficial and pervasive, symbol and space, meaningful and functional, static and transitory, and object and envelope.
Dr Anuradha Chatterjee is a Lecturer at the Department of Architecture at Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University in China. She completed her doctoral dissertation, titled “The Troubled Surface of Architecture: John Ruskin, the Human Body, and External Walls,” at the University of New South Wales. She is the recipient of the Paul Mellon Research Support Grant, which she received in order to visit the Ruskin archives to develop a book manuscript.
"'Things are entirely what they appear to be- and behind them…there is nothing.' These essays on the architectural surface show us how buildings work as interfaces in a connected world. Hugely relevant to both practitioners and theorists."
Andrew Crompton Liverpool School of Architecture
"After a century of architecture being obsessed with space we return to surfaces; not to the flat, ironic surfaces of postmodernism, but to radiant and sentient ones. In this collection we encounter a notion of surface not limiting space, but generating it. Fabricated, landscaped, mediated surfaces that are continuously involved in evoking movement and feelings."
Lars Spuybroek Professor of Architecture, Georgia Institute of Technology.
"This volume marks a transformative turn in contemporary architectural theory; the shift from a concern with space, to a concern with surface. Through tracing patterns, edges, facades, ornamentations and technological mediations, the contributions provide striking accounts of ideologies, bodies, materials and energies coursing together in the reproduction of architectural life."
Mike Anusas Design, University of Strathclyde
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