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The Geologic Turn Symposium: Architecture's New Alliance

February 11, 2012 at 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Recent discourse in the fields of architecture, art, and philosophy suggest the increasing influence of geology with the design disciplines, visual arts, and theoretical humanities. The symposium A Geologic Turn: Architecture’s New Alliance, curated by Walter. B. Sanders Fellow Etienne Turpin as part of the research fellowship at the Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning, University of Michigan, aims to bring together researchers, scholars, and practitioners whose work is at the centre of this fecund transdisciplinary research trajectory. The objectives of the conference are: first, to allow new productive connections among current scholarship and practice, and second, to expose the students and faculty of the Taubman College to these new transdisciplanary ideas and projects.

In 2002, the chemist Paul Crutzen coyly suggested to a group of fellow scientists that our current geological epoch should be renamed the Anthropocene to reflect the decisive impact humans have on their environment, including its geological features. Following Crutzen’s comments and a paper published the same year in the journal Nature, the Anthropocene began to circulate within hydrospheric, biospheric, and pedospheric research and their attendant scientific publications. However, it was not until 2007, when the British stratigrapher, Jan Zalasiewicz, then serving as the chair man of the Geological Society of London’s Stratigraphy Commission, asked his colleagues about the merit of the term that it began to register as a formal geological question. While the International Commission on Stratigraphy and the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) continue to debate the relevant scientific merits of this synchronic shift, in the visual arts, theoretical humanities, and architecture and landscape architecture we have witnessed a turn to the geologic.

With publications such as smudgestudio’s Geologic City: a field guide to the GeoArchitecture of New York, and their forthcoming edited collection Making a Geologic Turn, as well as Stan Allen and Marc McQuade’s edited collection Landform Building: Architecture’s New Terrain, Sanford Kwinter’s forthcoming Soft Systems, and Peter Galison’s forthcoming Building Crashing Thinking, it is clear that a productive a new alliance among geological research, the visual arts, science and technology studies, and the design disciplines is under construction. The symposium aims to clarify three lines that inform this geological alliance: historical scholarship, theoretical inquiry, and contemporary practice. Of course, these three lines are sometimes quite productively tangled, and the symposium participants have all been invited for their unique abilities to entangle research, theory and practice, and thereby produce important hybrids models for contemporary scholarship.

In order to avoid the 0 claims of novelty, the relations among architecture, landscape, and geology will be discussed in their historical context (Jane Hutton, Seth Denizen, Amy Kulper). The theoretical component of current affinities between science and design research, and their potential relation to the Anthropocene, would comprise a second line of discussion (Edward Eigen, Paulo Tavares, D. Graham Burnett, Rania Ghosn). The third line of inquiry regarding contemporary practice would take up geologic commitments through a discussion of current practices in architecture and landscape architecture (Stan Allen, Marc McQuade, Rosalyne Shieh), the visual arts and cultural production (Elizabeth Ellsworth and Jamie Kruse of smudgestudio), and science and technology (Peter Galison).

Event: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

More information available at: http://anexact.org


February 11, 2012
10:00 am - 4:00 pm