Becoming Digital Conference Keynote: Mark Jarzombek, "DIGITAL POST-ONTOLOGY"
This paper will try to navigate through the strange historical and theoretical landscape in which we currently live and which is often called The Digital Age. It explores the ambiguities of knowing what is meant by ontology in a world that has less and less to do with technology, still mythologized as essential aspect of the Digital, than with a new type of hallucinogenic environment – a slippery zone where mortals and corporate deities – environmentalized through clickbaits, ransomwares, hackers and data-patches - can speak to each other in zones of obsequious anxiety. On the one hand, it is a world where we are more human than human. On the other hand, we are all invested – globally - in our own inhumanity, the duality between human and inhuman now lost in the fog of the algorithmic heuristic.
Jarzombek is currently working on a book that interrogates the digital/global imaginaries that shape our lives. A chapter from that book has recently been published. Digital Stockholm Syndrome in the Post-Ontological Age (University of Minnesota Press, 2016).
Mark Jarzombek works on a wide range of topics – both historical and theoretical - from the 12th century to the modern era. He is one of the country’s leading advocates for global history and has published several books and articles on that topic, including the ground-breaking textbook entitled A Global History of Architecture (Wiley Press, 2006) with co-author Vikramaditya Prakash and with the noted illustrator Francis D.K. Ching. He is the sole author of Architecture of First Societies: A Global Perspective (Wiley Press, 2013), which is a sensitive synthesis of first society architecture through time and includes custom-made drawings, maps and photographs. The book builds on the latest research in archeological and anthropological knowledge while at the same time challenging some of their received perspectives.
Jarzombek’s ground-breaking work on global architecture history was highlighted by a 2.5 million dollar grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that Jarzombek received with co-PI, Vikramaditya Prakash (University of Washington, Seattle), to create a new scholarly entity called Global Architecture History Teaching Collaborative (GAHTC). Promoting the development and exchange of teaching materials for architectural history education across the globe, the collaborative provides awards to members and their teams to develop new lecture material from global perspectives.
Through EdX, Jarzombek taught the first ever MOOC (mass open online course) on the history of architecture with thousands of participants, world-wid. It is based on the undergraduate course that he teaches 4.605: A Global History of Architecture.
Jarzombek's and Prakash's other joint venture is the Architecture (Un)certainty Lab [A(U)L], which is dedicated to challenging architecture's epistemological and design capacities and bring the conversation back into a world of immersive ambiguities. A(U)L is the pedagogical wing of O(U)R, [Office for (Un)certainty Research] the project-oriented studio that is also run by Jarzombek and Prakash.
Urban destruction in the modern era is another focus of Jarzombek's work. His Urban Heterology: Dresden and the Dialectics of Post-Traumatic History takes on the issue of how erasure and rebuilding in Dresden force us to rethink the conventions of urban history. The issue is also at the core of the book about Krzysztof Wodiczko, City of Refuge: A 9/11 Memorial, which Jarzombek edited with Mechtild Widrich. He is currently working on a book called Architecture Modernity Enlightenment that reassesses contemporary architecture from the perspective of Enlightenment philosophers. His most recent book is Digital Stockholm Syndrome in the Post-Ontological Age .
He was a CASVA fellow (1985), Post-doctoral Resident Fellow at the J. Paul Getty Center for the History of Humanities and Art, Santa Monica, California (1986), a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ (1993), at the Canadian Center for Architecture (2001) and at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (2005). He serves on the board of several journals and academic institutions including the SSRC and the Buell Foundation, and was a member of the 2011 Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) "Excellence Initiative."
Jarzombek has organized several major international conferences on topics such as Holocaust Memorials, Architecture and Cultural Studies, and East European Architecture. He was the founding faculty editor of Thresholds, an annual peer-reviewed journal produced by the Department of Architecture. The content of which features leading scholars and practitioners from the fields of architecture, art, and cultural studies.