Monday, March 12, 2012


In the new issue of Frieze, Rem Koolhaas says something similar to what I'm saying in the "Out of Space: Nostalgia for Giant Steps and Final Frontiers" chapter of Retromania.

It's an interview between RK and Nick Currie (aka Momus), on the occasion of his book Project Japan: Metabolism Talks, about the visionary Japanese architecture group who launched with a 1960 Manifesto

NC: I was just watching your recent appearance on the talkshow Charlie Rose and I was interested in something you said about the Osaka Expo in 1970: that it was, in a sense the high point of humanity and that things have been going downhill ever since....

RK: I was referring more to the spirit of the world’s reaction to both the launch of Concorde and the Moon landing than to the Expo itself. But it’s not only about technical prowess: it’s more to do with what can be imagined and what dimension imagination has in serious life. An organization like NASA was, essentially, 4,000 people seriously entertaining fantasy: that scale of working on visionary elements is now incredibly reduced. At the moment we want to achieve goals that are very imminent, very realistic. Few organisations are able to define an unconventional aim and then to engineer its implementation, even over a period of ten or 12 years. These days, projects often have a maximum of only four years in which to be realized, as that’s the typical period that a politician is in power.

Currie then asks Koolhaas about the Metabolists, whon RK had elsewhere described as “the last movement with a manifesto”

RK: It's not so much the manifesto that fascinated me as the combination of imagination and government action, of architecture and bureaucracy. The public sector is the sector with vision, and I think this is something that, for whatever reason, we haven’t had for a very long time. Compare Archigram in the UK to the Metabolists in Japan:in Europe similar ideas were doomed to remain unrealized; in Asia those very ideas were implemented by an industrial culture that really believed in them.

Calling Ghost Box, paging the Caretaker...


and sticking with the Nostalgia for the Future theme, in that same issue of Frieze I have a piece on the reissue boom for outsider electronics focusing on the recent indispensable releases of work by frightfully English composers Daphne Oram and Frederick Judd. You can read it here - - but you don't get the pretty illustrations

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