Hybrids in Becoming
Master Thesis, Akbild Wien, 2020
Advisors: Wolfgang Tschapeller, Andreas Spiegl, Damjan MInovski
Institute for Art and Architecture, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (AT), 2019-20
"Hybrids in Becoming" deals with the disruption of social and physical boundaries in relation to body, environment and society. The project experiments a post-anthropocentric scenario, where hybrid urban landscapes are generated through the interaction of humans — as both individuals as collective —, nature and the built surroundings.
The Thesis consists, on the one hand, of a theoretical part dealing with architectural-philosophical theories of hybrid bodies and urban systems. On the other hand a short film — Sympoietic Bodies —, used as a medium of architectural narration and showing the continuous growth, transformation and decay of hybrid landscapes and with them of human and non-human bodies. Both body and city get destroyed in their pure definition, continuously constructing, disrupting and reconstructing each other in different forms and shapes, merging one with the other. Boundaries between urban infrastructures, bodies and natural ecosystems dissolve. Space and time are assumed as the main perception marks, both hybrid figures of a deconstructed and fragmented world.
The project takes on the one hand the experimental place, while on the other hand it deals with critical theories in relation to urban social development.
The understanding of our own boundaries as much more permeable surfaces than what we are used to think, brings us to the question of where does a body or an environment begin and where does it end. Our bodies are constantly composed by complex, intertwined relations with other living organisms. Microbes, bacteria and other millions of microorganisms live and reproduce themselves in and within our bodies through our whole life. We are hybrids since the beginning and our body represents just a little portion of multiple networks of entangled lives. How can architecture, therefore, respond to this new understanding of the self, the body and the environment?
“One is not born an organism. Organisms are made; they are constructs of a world-changing kind.”
Donna Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women. The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge, 1991), 208.
Architecture and spatial formations cannot be seen from a conventional eye anymore, leading to the disruption of the binary dualism applied to an urban context. This is the case of divisions as, for example, between inside-outside, urban-rural, natural-artificial, which do not take in consideration the fact that our cities, megalopolis or urban settlements are already the result of heterogeneous relationships and hybrid systems since the beginning. The perception of moving in our surroundings should not be centralized anymore as being inside or outside something, but rather of being in “within”. In this context, it is important to understand how architecture can be used as a tool for connecting instead of dividing, capable of creating hybrid participatory and heterogeneous configurations. Spatial and perceptive experiences, interactions and exchanges become the key elements from where social transformation can take place. Architecture loses the static feeling of continuity and firmness over time and space. Monumentality and staticity leave the place to an architecture composed of hybrid fragments, subject to growth, transformation and decay.
“Buildings are always machines, or - more accurately - parts of machines. In a great variety of ways, they connect with the wider world outside and beyond themselves, [ ...].”
Andrew Ballanthyne, Deleuze, "Architecture and Social Fabrication" in Deleuze and Architecture, ed. Hélène Frichot and Stephen Loo (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013), 182.
We are largely defined by the experiences we made in our lifetime. Places, experiences and interactions actively influence the development of our unconscious understanding of ourselves and our surroundings, so personal and collective at the same time. Fragments of a subjectivity always in becoming, in which our porous and mutable surroundings keep deterritorializing and reterritorializing our personal perception of time and space. Subject and object, body and architecture, natural and artificial, cannot be strictly divided anymore. Composing and decomposing each other, attaching and detaching.
“These 'in-between' spaces provide the terrain for elaborating strategies of selfhood — singular or communal — that initiate new signs of identity, and innovative sites of collaboration, and contestation, in the act of defining the idea of society itself.”
Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London and New York: Routledge, 1994), 1-2
© 2021 by Flavia Mazzanti. All Rights Reserved