THE WORLD IS FULL OF IMAGES
FKAA: The world is full of images, more or less interesting, we do not wish to add any more. Instead, we use other architect’s images. That is why we like to use appropriation, blueprints, camouflage, carbon copies, clones, confidence-men, cons, copies, counterfeits, couples, deceits, deceptions, decoys, delusions, détournement, disguises, doubles, doppelgängers, duplicates, duplicities, duets, emulation, facsimiles, fakes, falsifications, forgeries, frauds, generics, illusions, imitations, impersonations, likenesses, look-alikes, mash-ups, masks, masquerades, mirages, mirror images, mockumentaries, models, monkeys, montages, mystifications, objet-trouvé, palimpsests, para-fictions, parallels, parodies, parrots, pastiches, phonies, photocopies, re-appropriations, recycling, reenactments, remakes, remixes, replicas, reproductions, satire, shadow plays, Siamese twins, similarities, simulacra, smokescreens, subtitles, transcriptions, translations, tricks, twins, and voice-overs to produce architecture. We have been doing it for a while. Sometimes it works.
As any other creative discipline, architecture is subjected to a regime of originality. Yet, operations having in common the recourse of already produced images—well-known critical tools in a wide range of artistic production—remain mainly unabsorbed and often taboo. While imitation and reproduction are the obvious roots of the last ten—if not the last six hundred-years’ excess of architectural images, the field it is only beginning to openly embrace copies and realize its potential. To intentionally copy entails a reformulation of architectural imagination: it allows for a radical renunciation to image-making—since the image is defined apriori—to focus on architectural knowledge yet to be discovered.
After years using the images of other architects, we have elaborated a classification of ways of refusing to produce new images. Tested under uncontrolled conditions and with various degrees of success, the listed operations form a constellation as inconclusive as incomplete. Our only hope is that a conscious use of some of them can open paths of exploration negated by Architecture’s historical obsession with originality.
As a side effect, using other architects’ images has also allowed us to compile a folder of menacing emails from our peers. Often redacted using legal jargon and threatening legal litigation, the letters ask to remove images from internet sites, question the origin of project visualizations or disqualify competition panels on the basis of copyright issues. The compilation elucidates the status of intellectual property (IP) in architecture. Legally regulated but rarely enforced, architecture’s IP still holds a mountain range of untapped capital, especially when compared to other creative disciplines such as music or cinema. The pressure to mine it is mounting and images seem the perfect document to do so. Far less complex than buildings to be discussed as evidence in court, architectural images, and particularly their legal and economic value, define one latent stream of our upcoming research.
Fake Industries Architectural Agonism [FKAA] is an entity of variable boundaries and questionable taste that provides architectural tools to mediate between citizens, institutions, the public sphere and disciplinary knowledge. Created by Cristina Goberna and Urtzi Grau from their headquarters in New York, Sydney and Barcelona, FKAA bridges the professional world and the environments of architectural academia to reclaim the architect’s role as a public intellectual—that is, someone who earnestly risks his or her credibility to question hegemonic beliefs. It has been awarded with the AIA New York New Practices Award and the Architectural League Price, has been shortlisted for MoMA PS1, the Miami Design pavilion and the Guggenheim Helsinki Competition, and its work of the Indo-Pacific Region has been presented in the Chicago Architectural Biennial, the Istanbul Design Biennial and the Seoul Biennale. The office has recently completed the Superphosphates! Masterplan in Cáceres and the OE House in Barcelona.