Snapshots from a series of Manifest Paratours that took place in multiple locations in Chicago, New Jersey and New York, led by Pedro Ignasio Alonso, Andrew Kovacs, Ian Quate and Colleen Tuite, Ang Li and Jaffer Kolb, and Dan Handel.
CALL FOR PAPERS, MANIFEST #3: BIGGER THAN BIG
“Spatial immensity beggars designation. Immensity itself fails, vastness and other common terms fail... Five hundred years into the settlement of…America by Europeans and Africans, intellectuals, and designers especially, lack words for bigger than big. An unwholesome, stubborn refusal to confront the immensities of the continent, indeed the immensity of the continent itself...” –John R. Stilgoe, “Wuthering Immensity”
The above excerpt from our inaugural issue touches upon a fundamental problem of American space, namely, how to absorb, understand, and describe the awe-inspiring, blunt physicality of the continent in the face of which all rationalization fails.
In the fields of architecture, urbanism, and even landscape design, this physicality remains an under-explored agent. While specific narratives of city-building across the Americas have been told, the role of the “bigger than big” or the out-of-scale so ubiquitous in many of the exploratory accounts of the territory has often taken a back seat to discourses focusing exclusively on questions of style, performance, or networks of transaction. The experience found, say, in Alexis de Tocqueville’s notes on the geography of Mississippi is often lost on designers who are frightened back by the “wuthering giant,” as Stilgoe puts it, “…to urban and other small scales.”
Likewise, the art historian James Elkins has recently argued that scholars have a “fear of materiality,” embracing it only up to the “point where writing becomes difficult.” Unable to fully engage with the glacial slowness demanded by a serious attention to physicality, the historian in Elkins’ estimation tends to place it beyond interpretation or assigns it to the realm of “making” and “production,” so as to shoehorn it into familiar conversations. One might argue that design writing takes a similar tack.
When the subject has been taken up in architecture—as in the brash, rustic experiments of H. H. Richardson, the “parkitecture” of Mary Colter, the campus landscape of UNAM’s Ciudad Universitaria, the muscular display cabinet Lina Bo Bardi conceived in MASP, or in texts such as Nathaniel Owings’ overture toward Rachel Carson’s “long vistas of history” in The American Aesthetic (1969), and most notably in Reyner Banham’s Scenes in America Deserta (1989)—the results are decidedly singular offerings that merge realist rhetoric with a poetics of ecology.
If today’s symbolic landscapes are decidedly more urban and characterized by their managerial and aspirational metrics—walkability, sustainability, density, intelligence, etc.—at issue here is the stubborn persistence of physical and spatial immensity as animating and potentially humbling actors in the urban imaginaries of the Americas. By way of recasting or returning to these urgent, familiar discourses with a new eye and a new tongue alike, or jettisoning them for altogether unfamiliar conversations, we can address the more deceptively simple or direct challenges of description demanded by the often overwhelming physical and material conditions of the “new world”—challenges which have long prompted a profusion of terms, analogies, and frameworks geared toward understanding the site and sights of our designs.
For our third issue, we aim to highlight propositions that have taken seriously the “bigger than big”—design and representational experiments aimed at narrating, framing, or enacting the American continent and the forms and ideas which it animates. Three categories will constitute the issue’s conceptual framework: matter, scale, and description. Taken together, these complementary avenues into our expansive subject will offer alternative readings into contemporary questions of cultural imaginaries and histories in relation to the deep time of geological formation, and will examine the continuing agency of physical matter in a moment dominated by the data sublime of virtual landscapes and smart cities, tracing back the impacts and multi-layered resonance of immensity in American design.
MANIFEST is interested in essays ranging from 1000-7500 words, projects, graphic narratives, photo essays, and interviews. For the call for proposals, we ask that authors submit an abstract of 300-500 words + relevant images along with a brief bio or CV. We encourage abstracts and proposals to provoke as much as describe and each should offer an insight into the narrative threads driving the work. Authorial tone can range from academic to irreverent, but all work should have a strong voice and display a high quality of writing. The subject matter is wholly up to the discretion of the authors. MANIFEST encourages the submission of pieces of historical interest alongside more projective tracts and speculative arguments. With the exception of built projects, work must be previously unpublished. Please submit all material in a single PDF (5MB maximum file size) to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, 1 February 2016. Authors of selected proposals will be notified by the end of February and the editors will work with authors to develop their pieces.
As part of the Manifest Paratours program, Manifest organized, in conjunction with the Chicago Architecture biennial, three special tours on Friday, Oct. 2nd, 10:30. RSVP on email@example.com
Enrique Ramirez, MAVERICK OR ICEMAN?
Meet up spot: Ultramoderne’s Chicago Horizon, across the street from Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S Lake Shore Dr
Chicago’s architecture interfaces with the air, outer space, and the universe beyond. Starting with this premise, this ParaTour will convene at Ultramoderne’s Chicago Horizon kiosk, the wing-like Lakefront Kiosk near the Shedd Aquarium. From there, the tour will visit the various plaques, statues, and sculptures surrounding the Adler Planetarium, and then moves on towards Northerly Island, a peninsula that was part of Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan of Chicago, as well as the Sky-Ride that enabled aerial views of the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition. Northerly Island was the site of the next point of interest—the tower and terminal belonging to Meigs Field, a small single-strip airport that was one the busiest private airports in the world before it was razed in 2003. Near here, we have the launching point for one of the most fantastically cosmic aerial views in architectural history: the heroic, otherworldly zooming out from Charles and Ray Eames’ Powers of Ten (1977). And for those die-hard nerds, coming to age in a pre-OSX, pre-Windows world, one where MS-DOS shells, Commodore-64’s, TRS-80’s, and Compaq Portables ruled the roost, Meigs Field was the point of origin for the first version of Microsoft Flight Simulator (1981). Flying out of Meigs, with your CRT screen as a windscreen, over which you glimpse a heavily pixelated network of line segments and solids that are “just” close enough to represent the Willis Sears Tower and John Hancock Center, you become one of the first explorers of a “virtual” Chicago. This history of the past, present, and future of Northerly Island and its surroundings may force a question, namely: will you take advantage of the opportunity, traverse the space and skies above the city, or will you just be okay looking at it through a screen or reading it on a page? In other words, and to invoke another aerial precedent—Tony Scott’s Top Gun (1986)—come to Northerly Island and find out whether you are a Maverick, forward-looking, adventurous, or an Iceman, casting this opportunity aside to the fleeting air, to be carried off on the slipstream? Folks, to use the language of physics, it is a question of action versus reaction, of aerodynamic lift versus induced drag, an architectural drama made manifest by dint of the various representations of Northerly Island on films and computer screens.
GRNASFCK (Colleen Tuite and Ian Quate), Future Not Found
Meet up spot: Chicago Board of Trade
"It's seductive to imagine that a force bigger than capitalism will finally sweep it away. But what if this thought were coming to us from within capitalism itself? What if capitalism itself relied on fantasies of apocalypse in order to keep reproducing and reinventing itself? What if, finally, Nature as such, the idea of a radical outside to the social system, was a capitalist fantasy, even precisely the capitalist fantasy?" Timothy Morton, The Ecological Thought
The Chicago Board of Trade is one of the world's oldest and largest futures and options exchange. "Futures" markets actively wager on crop performance, natural resource extraction, and climate events compared to a background of previous seasons. With increasing climate disruption more energy has entered into the market (in the form of atmospheric carbon) creating an economic engine now entirety automated, amplifying the toposphere with weather patterns projected onto a global economy.
In 2015 the Chicago Board of Trade announced they would be leaving The Earth and entering The Cloud; completing the transition from physical, open outcry floor trading to a purely electronic system.
Now, decades later, post-XXXX, when trading is algorithmic and currency digital, we return to the petrified temple of meteorological capitalism, as anthropologists looking for clues indicating why this artisan trading system evaporated what it means for the now-present future.
Andrew Kovacs: The Leaning Tower
Meet up spot: The Leaning Tower in Niles, Illinois
In an effort to appreciate the prescient quality that it’s falling down is simultaneously and asset and liability, we will circumambulate about the Leaning Tower of Niles, Illinois.
Cities and architectures develop through the stories we tell ourselves, and others, about them. These narratives redefine the city as a statistical entity or an ecological habitat, as personal fiction or as collective myth. Manifesthas developed a series of real and para-fictional excursions that expose the real – and fictional – motivations behind fragments of the built environment. The Para-tours use buildings as well as rooms and pieces of infrastructure to ignite critical conversations about American cities, their infrastructures and surrounding hinterlands.
The paratours were developed in collaboration with the Princeton-Mellon Initiative, and will take place in Chicago on October 2nd and in the New York-New Jersey Metro area on October 3rd. Tour leaders include Enrique Ramirez, Ang Li and Jaffer Kolb, GRNASFCK, Andrew Kovacs, Pedro Ignacio Alonso, and Dan Handel. More here.
Manifest editors Justin Fowler and Dan Handel will be chairing the panel on the "Bigger than Big: American Matter out of Scale" at the Society of Architectural Historians 2015 conference.
The American continent(s) remains an underexplored agent in the fields of architectural and urban histories. As John R. Stilgoe writes, in the centuries since the settlement of the New World, we still “lack words for bigger than big” and are plagued by a “stubborn refusal to confront…the immensity of the continent itself.” While specific narratives of city-building across the Americas have been told, the role of the “bigger than big,” so persistent in many of the exploratory accounts of the territory—from those of Bernardino de Sahagún and Alexis de Tocqueville to John Muir and Isabella L. Bird—has, in the domains of architecture, urbanism, and even landscape, often taken a back seat to discourses focusing exclusively on questions of style, performance, or networks of transaction. When it has been taken up—as in Nathaniel Owings’ overture toward Rachel Carson’s “long vistas of history” in The American Aesthetic and most notably in Reyner Banham’s Scenes in America Deserta—the results are decidedly singular offerings that merge realist rhetoric with a poetics of ecology.
This session asks how we might write history differently by taking seriously the “bigger than big” or the out-of-scale as matter rather than prematurely consigning it to the realms of metaphor, alibi, or the pastoral. It asks, how do we delimit or write about that which is apparently outside of the scalar purview of language without necessarily having to tame our matter of study? The panel invites papers that contribute to our understanding of the blunt physicality of the American continent(s) and the forms, ideas, and histories, which it animates. It welcomes papers on method, demonstrations of applied method, and case studies of architectures and urbanisms that interrogate such matter.
MANIFEST is requesting text, project, and photographic proposals for its second issue entitled, “Kingdoms of God.”
Issue 2 of MANIFEST takes up the issue of architecture and religion in the Americas. How does one mark the other? What are the spatial results of the impulse toward congregation and the individual desire to find a direct link to something beyond one’s self? How do religious institutions impact the politics of the built environment? How does architecture give face or meaning to religion? How does religion, however we might understand it, shape the formation of American landscapes and push back against regimes of national sovereignty, neoliberal economics, and cultural secularism? What is its architecture?
MANIFEST is interested in essays ranging from 1000-7500 words, projects, graphic narratives, photo essays, and interviews. For the call for proposals, we ask that authors submit an abstract of 300-500 words + relevant images along with a brief bio or CV. We encourage abstracts and proposals to provoke as much as describe and each should offer an insight into the narrative threads driving the work. Authorial tone can range from academic to irreverent, but all work should have a strong voice and display a high quality of writing. The subject matter is wholly up to the discretion of the authors. MANIFEST encourages the submission of pieces of historical interest alongside more projective tracts and speculative arguments. With the exception of built projects, work must be previously unpublished. Please submit all material in a single PDF (5MB maximum file size) to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, 14 March 2014. Authors of selected proposals will be notified by the beginning of April and the editors will work with authors to develop their pieces.
Anthony Acciavatti and Justin Fowler to host a panel discussion on architecture and religion in the Americas hosted by the Harvard Graduate School of Design at 12:30pm on Monday, 10 February 2014. Participants include Ed Eigen, Erika Naginski, Jorge Silvetti, and John R. Stilgoe.
On October 8th, 2013, Manifest editors took part in a conversation about the magazine in Princeton university's Program in Media and Modernity.
On October 3rd, 2013, Manifest held its pre-launch at the Philip Johnson Glass House in New Canaan, CT. Twenty-five guests were invited to hors d'oeuvre followed by short statements and readings from the magazine by Henry Urbach, director of the Glass House, the editors of Manifest, graphic designer Neil Donnelly, architectural theorist Sanford Kwinter, and architect Jorge Silvetti.
MANIFEST, a new annual independent print journal on American architecture and urbanism, is requesting text, project, and photographic proposals for its first issue entitled, “Looking Inward.” Edited by Anthony Acciavatti, Justin Fowler, and Dan Handel, and supported in part by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, MANIFEST was founded to initiate a critical conversation about the state of American architecture, its cities, and its hinterland, tackling head-on what others have abandoned. While MANIFEST intends to question the assumptions behind singular constructions of America by tracing its origins and its global influence, the journal also strives to define the uniqueness of American forms of
city-building and the distinct set of material and political parameters through which these forms are shaped.
The theme of our first issue, “Looking Inward,” is broadly construed as an interrogation of a “New World” taken for granted. Rather than abandoning this new world for a newer world to the east or or circling the wagons here at home, this issue of MANIFEST speaks less to a continual rehearsal of the initial American experiment in favor of a prompt toward the active shaping of its evolution. “Looking Inward” asks how can we take the reigns of a process once deemed to be a function of destiny. Why does America merit scrutiny? Assuming America deserves scrutiny, what parts have been overlooked and are deserving of attention? Of the areas that have received attention, how can they be amended, broadened, or rendered new and unfamiliar? What are the projects of America? For this issue, MANIFEST encourages a range of narratives, from the panoramic to the miniature, so long as they recast our understanding of how America is artificial, peculiar, and intriguing.
While one measure of the issue will be to articulate the necessity of the American project (the “why”, “when”, “where”, and “why now?”), we also hope to jump right into the “how” by suggesting approaches through which to re-ignite the formal, political, economic, and perhaps even the poetic efficacy of the American built environment. The publication will act as a forum—though not a disinterested one—and in this effort, no ideological or methodological precept will be taken for granted. As withdrawal and engagement are never acceptable as ends in themselves, we ask that claims of autonomy, revolution, pragmatism, continuity, advocacy, and/or activism offer compelling narratives of the ends that inspire their means.
— For essays, please submit an abstract of 500–750 words + images, along with a brief bio or CV.
— For columns (op-eds or historical vignettes), please submit an abstract of 250–500 words + images, along with a brief bio or CV.
— For projects, speculations, graphic narratives, or photo essays, please submit relevant drawings and images, along with 250–500 words of text. Please also include a firm profile, bio, or CV.
— For reviews, please submit a 250–500 word description of the project, exhibition, or book under consideration and the critical approach to be explored. Please also include a bio or CV.
We encourage abstracts and proposals to provoke as much as describe and each should offer an insight into the narrative threads driving the work. Authorial tone can range from academic to irreverent and text lengths will vary (750–1500 words for columns and 3000–5000+ words for essays). The subject matter is wholly up to the discretion of the authors. MANIFEST encourages the submission of pieces of historical interest alongside more projective tracts and speculative arguments. Please submit all material in a single PDF (5MB maximum file size) to email@example.com by Friday, 14 December 2012. Authors of selected proposals will be notified by late December and the editors will work with authors to develop their pieces.
Manifest editor Dan Handel sat for an interview with Lev Bratishenko of the Candian Centre for Architecture, talking about starting a print journal in these perilous times and about the fascination with everything Canadian..