Junkspace

Posted here (week 2367).

Rem Koolhaas’s 2001 Junkspace is very quotable diatribe, lamenting the state of architecture. It reads as a warning to anyone building “design systems”.

Here are some choice quips:

Architects could never explain space; Junkspace is our punishment for their mystifications.

Polarities have merged, there is nothing left between desolation and frenzy.

Earthlings now live in a kindergarten grotesque.

Regurgitation is the new creativity; instead of creation, we honor, cherish and embrace manipulation.

In Junkspace, the tables are turned: it is subsystems only, without superstructure, orphaned particles in search of framework or pattern.

Instead of development, it offers entropy.

The young instinctively avoid the Dantesque manipulations/containers to which Junkspace has condemned their elders in perpetuity.

In this war, graphic designers are the great turncoats: where once signage promised to deliver you to where you wanted to be, it now obfuscates and entangles you in a thicket of cuteness that forces you past unwanted detours, turns you back when you’re lost.

Half of mankind pollutes to produce, the other pollutes to consume.

Comfort is the new Justice. Entire miniature states now adopt Junkspace as political program, establish regimes of engineered disorientation, instigate a politics of systematic disarray. Not exactly ‘anything goes’; in fact, the secret of Junkspace is that it is both promiscuous and repressive: as the formless proliferates, the formal withers, and with it all rules, regulations, recourse.

The subject is stripped of privacy in return for access to a credit nirvana. You are complicit in the tracing of the fingerprints each of your transactions leaves; they know everything about you, except who you are.

A shortage of masters has not stopped a proliferation of masterpieces. ‘Masterpiece’ has become a definitive sanction, a semantic space that saves the object from criticism, leaves its qualities unproven, its performance untested, its motives unquestioned.

Minimum is the ultimate ornament, a self-righteous crime, the contemporary Baroque. It does not signify beauty, but guilt. Its demonstrative earnestness drives whole civilizations into the welcoming arms of camp and kitsch.

Narrative reflexes that have enabled us from the beginning of time to connect dots, fill in blanks, are now turned against us: we cannot stop noticing: no sequence too absurd, trivial, meaningless, insulting.