Architecture & Computation

Keller Easterling and Erica Robles-Anderson

Friday, November 9th 2012 | 6:00-9:00pm | Great Room, 19 University Place | See Map

How does computation structure our physical world, and in what ways has the function of computational media been applied to the spaces we inhabit? This first event in our year-long lecture series explores the intersection of architecture and the logic of computation.

Keller Easterling (Yale University, Architecture)

Extrastatecraft: Global Infrastructure and Political Arts

Repeatable formulas and spatial products make most of the space in the world. Now, not only buildings but also entire cities have become spatial products that typically reproduce free zone world cities like Shenzhen or Dubai. Space has become a mobile, monetized, almost infrastructural, technology, where infrastructure is not only the urban substructure, but also the urban structure itself. Some of the most radical changes to the globalizing world are being written, not in the language of law and diplomacy, but rather in the language of this matrix space. Massive global infrastructure systems, administered by mixtures of public and private cohorts and driven by profound irrationalities, generate de facto, undeclared forms of polity faster than any even quasi-official forms of governance can legislate them—a wilder mongrel than any storied Leviathan for which we have studied political response. Infrastructure space is one crucible within which multiple fields of analysis encounter ample complexity, and it tutors special approaches to both form making and political arts.

Keller Easterling is is an architect, urbanist, writer, and Professor of Architecture at Yale University. Her latest project is titled Extrastatecraft.

Erica Robles-Anderson (New York University, MCC)

Mediated Congregation: The Crystal Cathedral and God’s Place in a Networked World

This talk focuses on an often-overlooked institution that has helped produce and legitimate transformations in 20th century social life: the church.  Through an analysis of the Crystal Cathedral Robles situates Protestant spatial production within a broader project of cultural re-formation whereby collective life became conducted via increasingly mediated, mobile, and distributed arrangements.  For more than half a century, this influential Southern California ministry helped reshape the style and material conditions for worship.  At its height, the Crystal Cathedral was perhaps the most visible Protestant church in the world.

Robles renders three distinctive and successive portraits of the church as a drive-in theater (1955-1957), an indoor-outdoor/television church (1962-1970), and then a globally-broadcast, glass and steel cathedral (1980 – 2012).  Each site was a re-imagining of the socio-technical conditions for communion.  Together, these portraits will trace a trajectory from the post-war to the present whereby the church helped determine technological and architectural meanings.  By designing for mediated congregation, ministries like the Crystal Cathedral inscribed the production of broadcast and then networked geographies with spiritual significance.  In so doing, they also translated Christian cosmology into a new technological regime.

Erica Robles-Anderson is an Assistant Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University.