This is the bigshow
by Thomas Wagner | Oct 19, 2015

In the digitally-revved 21st century, architects have noticed they have a problem quite generally: Building large houses simply takes too long, calls for too much patience, and is too complicated into the bargain. Whereas everything could be so simple: With a wave of the hand like God on the fifth or sixth day of Creation, or so our “Old Creator” would wish to turn what he has thought out into reality at the flick of a finger, and declare: My building, let it be!

“The(Un)RealShit” is the name of the Davide Tommaso Ferrando homepage. It’s an ongoing investigation on current practices of architecture marketing based on video communication, or so he says, critically examining the self-presentations and self-marketing effused by the free-floating architectural creativity of the star architects active worldwide. And he does so in a most original way.

Ferrando, critic and architectural theorist, editor-in-chief of webzine “OII+” and Professor of Urban Landscape Design at the Turin Polytechnic, doesn’t need text for this purpose; he simply takes the architects’ gestures and the super-slick images and renderings, in which their aseptic fantasies taken on digital form, and to the rhythm of suitable music lets them expose themselves for what they are. What we see is how architecture takes to the Web as images and ideology.

“Bigshow” is the name of the video where Ferrando succeeds best. The actors: Bjarke Ingels, maps, New York, high-rises and any number of models. In other words, all of them, especially the architect, act to the rhythm of “Go” by the Chemical Brothers – and brilliantly so! A single gesture by Bjarke Ingels and hey presto the architecture pops up out of nothing.

Ferrando himself suggests that what gets researched is a “locus amoenus” in this still young film genre: self-constructing architecture by the architect’s invisible hand. Thus, buildings grow upwards like so many fairytale trees, lines and models blending smoothly to form a product purely of the mind. The political, social, economic and ecological parameters of architecture – completely absent.

Another version, and possibly the logic al consequence of such self-constructing architecture: to be seen in the video “Building It Up”. Now, and no surprise here, all that is left is self-organizing material, with both architects and developers having disappeared. The components simply fall from the sky and magically form opulently glazed apartments that pile up like Lego blocks. What’s real about it: the fact that it’s unreal.