Mas Context


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Thank you all for coming yesterday to the Chicago Design Museum, and attend the event ‘Envisioning New Spatial Organizations’, organized by Iker Gil, editor in Chief of Chicago Architecture & Culture Journal MAS Context, within the 2018 Spring Talk Series. It was great to speak side by side with Stewart Hicks, from Design With Company, and game developer William Chyr, whose work (both of them’s) I’ve been a big fan for a long time. Thanks also to the Chicago Design Museum for kindly hosting us. A transcription of the talks is coming soon, so keep an eye on MAS context’s website for this and future events.

Ok, leaving for Ann Arbor now. I’ll keep informing.

Update: MAS Context uploaded a transcription of the whole event (with images!) Click the image below to get there.


US Tour

Le Voyageur Luggage Trolley Bags (Not real merchandise, sorry)

So, after two short visits to Newcastle (thanks, Steve!), and Glasgow (Thanks, Jonathan!), tomorrow I start the US leg of my 2017-18 Tour, while I still ponder what I’ll do next year for Klaustoon’s 10th anniversary (where did all those years go?!).

For those interested, on February 14th, I’ll be in the Chicago Design Museum, together  with Stewart Hicks, from Design With Company, and game developer William Chyr, in the event ‘Envisioning New Spatial Organizations’, organized by editor Iker Hill for his MAS Context 2018 Spring Talk Series.

On February 15th and February 19th, I’ll be (in disguise) at Taubman College, in Michigan. And, finally, on the 21st, I’ll be lecturing in the School of Architecture of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, closing the Hyde Lecture Series 2017-18. 

So, don’t take it personally if I’m a little unresponsive these upcoming weeks.

Next stop: Mexico! (Coming soon).





Amazingly, it’s been almost 4 years since we put together our special issue of MAS Context: Narrative, mostly thanks to chief editor Iker Gil’s help and persistence. In it, we included a short interview with comic-book icon Joost Swarte, who kindly answered our questions about his Toneelschuur Theatre, built in collaboration with Mecanoo Architects. Paradoxically, I had never been to the building. A little detour to Haarlem in a recent trip to Delft helped me solve that. It didn’t disappoint.

Full text of “Swarte’s Mystery Theater” here.

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Shameless posing in Marina City

In this week and the following, I’ll be giving a couple of lectures in Chicago. The first one will be a short presentation in the third edition of MAS Context : Analog, a one-day event of talks, exhibitions, and an onsite pop-up bookstore. The event, which will take place on Saturday, June 4, 2016,  is organized in collaboration with AIGA as part of Chicago Design Week and it will be hosted at Studio Gang Architects. You can find the full details on MAS Context’s website here. There will also be a limited edition of prints, signed and numbered, available for purchase.

The other event will be a longer lecture, titled Architectural Narratives / Building Stories and hosted by the Graham Foundation, which will take place on June 7, 2016. Full details here. This lecture is also presented in partnership with MAS Context, a quarterly journal that addresses issues that affect the urban context.


Click to enlarge. Copyright David Schalliol

So, after last year’s relative silence, 2015 is featuring an also relative back to business in terms of exhibition-related events, with a couple of cameos in bigger exhibitions, and maybe something else a little later. -Of course, all of them happen because there are extremely kind people out there who decide to take the time and effort necessary to put these things together. If it depended on me, then it would have been total silence all these years.


The first of these events is taking place within the Chatter: Architecture Talks Back exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. Curated by Karen Kice, the exhibition states that ‘Architecture is a perpetual conversation between the present and the past, knowing full well that the future is listening. So what happens when this dialogue is influenced by contemporary modes of communication such as texting, Twitter, and Instagram? Chatter happens: ideas are developed, produced, and presented as open-ended or fragmented conversations and cohere through the aggregation of materials. Chatter:’ Thus, Architecture Talks Back ‘looks at the diverse contemporary methods and approaches wielded by five emerging architects: Bureau Spectacular, Erin Besler, Fake Industries Architectural Agonism, Formlessfinder, and John Szot Studio.


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copyright Mas Context

Within this main exhibition, the rear gallery features an installation by Iker Gil, director –and longtime partner in crime– of Mas Context, journal ‘, which offers visitors a chance to explore the multitude of ways in which architecture can be communicated.’ Iker ‘conceived this section [as a way] to look at the active qualities of chatter-from being constant to satirical-to spark conversations about the field of architecture, our cities, and their citizens.

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copyright David Schalliol

Walking this section you will meet projects by Ecosistema Urbano; Over, Under and Pinkcomma; Mimi Zeiger and Neil Donnelly with the School of Visual Arts Summer Design Writing and Research Intensive; “Project_” with Sarah Hirschman; 300.000km/s with Àrea Metropolitana de Barcelona; Luis Urculo; and Christopher Baker, and a selection of cartoons by yours truly. All the works are exhibited under a series of labels: ‘Challenging’, ‘Collective’, ‘Diagnostic’, ‘Empowering’, ‘Interpretive’, ‘Constant’, ‘Revealing’, and -inevitably- ‘Satirical’.

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Along with the exhibition, several events have been organized within this space: Chatter Chat: Talking Back (April 11, 2015), a roundtable discussion moderated by Kelly Bair, Director, Central Standard Office of Design, Chatter Chat: Communication (May 16, 2015), moderated by Iker Gil, and a tour through the exhibition (Tuesday, June 16, 2015) led by Iker Gil and Karen Kice.


For more information about the exhibition, please visit the official website, MAS Context’s page, or the different reviews on the show that can be found online. For past exhibits on this very blog, click hereAs usual, a big thank you to Iker and the chief curator.

Klaus 01 copyOriginal photograph from The Cartoonist Project,

copyright Simone Florena

One of the highlights of 2013 -which has certainly been the busiest year in terms of Klaus-related events so far- was the unexpected invitation to participate in the 2013 Comicon in Naples, in late April. created in 1998, the Naples Comicon has evolved from a rather domestic celebration of comics culture into an event of Biblical proportions with concerts, hundreds of vendors, exhibitions, international artists, and hundreds of thousands of accumulated visitors (60,000 only in the 2013 event).

Since its third edition, in 2001, the Comicon also displayed a central theme that ran through the exhibitions, conferences  and guest artists. First, it dealt with comic book culture as developed in/by certain countries (the 2001 edition focused on Spain and Latin America). In 2007, the central theme changed to the more abstract field of color (starting with cyan, and ending with black in 2010), and in 2011 it moved towards the interactions between comics and the higher arts: Music (2011), Literature (2012), and, after being delayed for a couple of years, Architecture in 2013 (the 2014 Comicon will be focused on comics and cinema). Within this context, it’s difficult to start to explain how excited I was when Andrea Alberghini (author of the book Sequenze Urbane: la Metropoli nell Fumetto), who worked as a consultant in architectural-related issues for the organization, contacted me asking if I wanted to participate.

Other than giving me the chance to finally visit Pompei, the Comicon also presented the rather surreal opportunity to be sitting in a panel, “Building Comics”, along with two living legends I often write about, such as Joost Swarte and François Schuiten. The fact that both of them had a great role in shaping my interests in architecture just adds to the ‘over-the-top-ness’ of the experience.  Adding to this, a second panel, “Fumett(archi)tettando”, gave me the opportunity to rejoin Swarte, and meet architect-comic book artist Manuele Fior. The effects of all this can be seen in the special issue MAS Context: Narrative I was coediting at the time, which was already in the works, but certainly took a new turn after this (check the interview Swarte’s Mystery Theater’, ‘Images Come First’, a conversation between Andrea Alberghini and Manuele Fior, or Melanie Van der Hoorn’sSensing the Comics’ DNA: A Conversation with François Schuiten’).

01The Klaus Korner. Photograph by Cristina Cusani via Comics metropolis.

02_Building_Comics_IntroThe Klaus Korner. Photograph by Cristina Cusani via Comics metropolis.

02_Building_Comics_IntroSome of the works exhibited in the ‘Building Comics’ area. Photograph by Cristina Cusani via Comics metropolis.

Also, I have to thank Alino, Claudio Curcio and the rest of the organization for building an area dedicated to my work within the big exhibition “Building Comics”, where I was in the company of original artwork by Winsor McCay, François Schuiten, Joost Swarte, George McManus, Chris Ware, or George Herrimann. An experience both flattering and embarrassing. Thanks!

More info on the Naples Comicon, both past and present, on their website (in Italian).


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So… finally! After more than a year in the works, the 20th issue of MAS Context, a special issue under the motto “Narrative”, is out. Talks about this issue started on October 2012, amidst the MAS Context: Analog event in Chicago that also featured the “Architectural Narratives” exhibition, originally intended to be called “Building Stories”, after Chris Ware’s eponymous magna opus –that is, until we found that Mr. Ware was opening an exhibition himself in the same city, on the same dates, and under the same title! In any case, the exhibition, which featured some works by Jimenez Lai and yours truly was accompanied by a text, also entitled “Architectural Narratives”, which dealt with the varying relationships that architecture and graphic narratives have maintained throughout the years. Happy with our previous collaborations in Ownership and Communication, Iker Gil, chief editor of MAS Context, suggested the possibility of expanding it into a whole issue of the magazine, and, after some hesitation (a whole two minutes), the ball was set rolling.

MAS_Context_Issue20_v 00 2As the editor’s note points out (and I’m not going to put it in between quotation marks because I wrote it myself), Architecture and narrative, as Victor Hugo nostalgically pointed out, have walked hand in hand through history, crossing paths without really risking the extinction that the archdeacon of Notre-Dame gloomily predicted. Moreover, today, in a moment where the conjunction of the crisis and the entrance into a new stage in the communication era impulse the discipline into new, multiple directions, the narrative aspects of architecture come to the front, and comics are not alien to this. The last few years have seen an increasing enthusiasm within architecture on the possibilities of graphic narrative, both from a historical point of view, with a blossoming of either academic or informal studies on the exchanges between both disciplines, and from architectural practitioners. Even in a moment of digital explosion such as the one we are living, comics and graphic narrative are the new ‘cool’ in architectural schools (sorry), making it into architectural design courses, and showing up as a new fashion in architectural representation/communication. There we have, most notoriously, starchitecture’s enfant terrible Bjarke Ingels and his excessive (but still pretty well crafted) Yes Is More, which we discussed some time ago, but also Herzog&De Meuron’s MetroBasel, Wes Jones’ Beyond Dubai, Jean Nouvel’s Louisiana Manifesto, Neutelings&Robdeen’ European Patent Office at Leidschendam, Olivier Kugler & Fletcher Priest’s Freethinking, and a long etcetera. Even more interesting are those instances where the comic book form is used as a parallel research environment, prominently presented in the work of Jimenez Lai in Bureau Spectacular, but also by Studio CEBRA’s toons, or Leopold Lambert’s Lost in the Line.

MAS_Context_Issue20_v 00 3Thus, MAS Context: Narrative(s) was set to offer just a glimpse of the phenomenon with no aim to exhaust the topic—even if some of the authors of the essays have built some rather encyclopedic works on it themselves- but wanting to offer a taste of the different faces that this interaction between architecture and graphic narrative presents. Within its overall theme, NARRATIVE tries to explore this issue from both sides of the of the line that separates these two disciplines, and is roughly divided into three big sections: the first one deals with the presence of graphic narrative in disciplinary architecture, both past and present, and includes the works of some architects who have used graphic narrative in their work, in one way or another. The other side would be covered, in the second section, by those comic book artists who have also crossed the border between disciplines, making forays into the built world. Finally, the third one, an addendum entitled in our drafts “Beyond the (Comic) page”, moves conceptually towards both sides of the spectrum, briefly covering the tangents with (implied) written narratives and emerging animation practices in architecture.

MAS_Context_Issue20_v 22Factory Fifteen

We have been so lucky as to being able to feature an impressive team of contributors, which includes legendary names both from the comic book and the architectural field, who have contributed with their works and their words: Originally entitled Narrative(s) or Narratives (although finally simplified for the sake of clarity) the issue features a combination of essays and, primarily, interviews, where these creators explain their works in their own words, therefore providing the readers with different narratives on the issue of (graphic) narrative. Thus, illustrating the role of comic book artists as architectural performers, we are proud to include interviews with comic legends François Schuiten, acclaimed author of the series Les Cités Obscures (along with co-writer Benoît Peeters), Joost Swarte, Dutch creator of the ligne claire (also in a literal sense), Marc-Antoine Mathieu, author the of mesmerizing series Julius Corentin Acquefacques, and two architects who crossed to the other side and stayed there: Italian architect-turned-comic book artist Manuele Fior, and Tom Kaczynski, artist and chief editor of independent publishing house Uncivilized Books.

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François Schuiten

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Joost Swarte

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Marc-Antoine Mathieu

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Manuele Fior

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Tom Kaczynski

On the other side of the spectrum, the magazine features an interview with Sir Peter Cook, who graciously answered our questions in his London office, on the making of ‘Amazing Archigram 4’ (the Zoom issue), as well as three stories by Wes Jones&Partners, Jimenez Lai, and Léopold Lambert (aka The Funambulist). And, in its last part, the issue closes with a conversation with Jonathan Gales, who sheds some light on the work of London-based office Factory Fifteen. Many thanks to all of them for their kindly collaboration, and also to the conductors of the interviews: Clara Olóriz, from the AA, who also made all arrangements to meet Mr. Cook, Léopold Lambert, who provided his knowledge of Borges, Kafka, and the French language, in the interview with Mr. Mathieu, Andrea Alberghini, author of Sequenze Urbane, La Metropoli nell Fumetto, who contributed his mastering of Italian and of Manuele Fior’s work, and both members of Barcelona-based publishing House DPR, Ethel Baraona Pohl, and Cesar Reyes Nájera, who took some time off their extremely busy schedule to interview the equally busy members of Factory Fifteen. A very special thanks must go to cultural anthropologist Mélanie van der Hoorn, author of the monumental “Bricks and Balloons – Architecture in Comic Strip Form”, who shared with us her extensive research in the form of not just one, but three articles. Last, but not least, we have to thank Chris Ware for putting the icing on the cake by sending us a drawing from his seminal Building Stories for the cover of the issue, masterfully designed by Renata Graw, from Plural -thus replacing my own rather banal design, which you can enjoy (irony, yes) below.

MAS_Context_Issue20_v 01Peter Cook

MAS_Context_Issue20_v 05Jimenez Lai

MAS_Context_Issue20_v 03Léopold Lambert

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Jones and Partners

MAS_Context_Issue20_v 07Author Unknown

Also below you can check the table of contents of the issue, which are fully accessible via MAS Context’s Page, or downloadable in .pdf. Also, MAS Context will be printing a limited edition of the magazine, so if you want a hard copy of it, you’d better be fast in contacting them.

1. Introduction: Architectural Narratives. Issue statement by Iker Gil,editor in chief of MAS Context.

2. Building Stories: Drawings by Chris Ware. Text by Klaus.

3. Comics and Architecture, Comics in Architecture. Essay by Koldo Lus Arana.

4. Buildings and Their Representations Collapsing Upon One Another. Architecture in comic strip form. Essay by Mélanie van der Hoorn.

5. Amazing Archigram! Clara Olóriz and Koldo Lus Arana interview architect Sir Peter Cook.

6. Lost in the Line. Graphic Novel by Léopold Lambert.

7. Out of Water. Graphic Novel by Jimenez Lai.

8. Kartun: The View! Graphic Novel by Jones, Partners: Architecture, Mark Simmons, and The Southern California Institute of Architecture.

9. Cartooning Architecture and Other Issues. Iker Gil interviews graphic artist Klaus.

10. Starchitecture Redux. Cartoons by Klaus.

11. Sensing the Comic’s DNA: Excerpts of a conversation with François Schuiten. Mélanie van der Hoorn in conversation with François Schuiten.

12. Swarte’s Mystery Theater. Koldo Lus Arana in conversation with Joost Swarte.

13. Labyrinths and Metaphysical Constructions: An Interview with Marc-Antonie Mathieu. Léopold Lambert interviews graphic novelist Marc-Antoine Mathieu.

14. Images Come First. Andrea Alberghini interviews Manuele Fior.

15. Beta Testing Architecture: Yearning for Space with Tom Kaczynski. Koldo Lus Arana interviews Tom Kaczynski.

16. Archiporn or Storylines? Creative Architectural commercials as challenges to the communication and marketing of architecture. Essay by Mélanie van der Hoorn.

17. Beyond Built Architecture. Ethel Baraona Pohl and César Reyes from dpr-barcelona interview Jonathan Gales, founding member of Factory Fifteen.

MAS Context: Narrative, Winter 2013, with contributions by Andrea Alberghini, Ethel Baraona Pohl, Sir Peter Cook, Manuele Fior, Factory Fifteen, Iker Gil, Jones, Partners: Architecture, Tom Kaczynski, Jimenez Lai, Klaus, Léopold Lambert, Luis Miguel (Koldo) Lus Arana, Marc-Antoine Mathieu, Clara Olóriz Sanjuán, Cesar Reyes Nájera, François Schuiten, Joost Swarte, Mélanie van der Hoorn, and Chris Ware.

Edited by Iker Gil (Chief editor). Guest editors: Luis Miguel (Koldo) Lus Arana, Klaus.

Cover 02 sm 01

MAS_Context_Analog_2012_Iker_Gil_04Photograph by Matthew Messner

The lapse from 2012 to 2013 and the months that followed have been a particularly busy period, both regarding my work as Klaus and my scholarly life, so almost a year has gone by without my posting a single word about the ARCHITECTURAL NARRATIVES Exhibition in the MAS Context: analog event in Chicago, last October.

Following an urge to give credit to all those people who insist in organizing those things for me (since none of this would happen if we had to wait for myself to take the initiative), I would like to thank Iker Gil, from MAS Studio, for insisting in putting this together. As in previous occasions, MAS Context: Analog was organized as a one-day event gathering emerging and established practitioners within the field of design who discussed their work. This time, the event included presentations by Sean Lally, David Brown, David Rueter, John Pobojewski, Sara C. Aye & George Aye, and many more. The event took place in Saturday, October 13 2012, and it was housed by NEW PROJECTS, an urban design studio, research center, and exhibition space in Chicago directed by Marshall Brown and Stephanie Smith located at 3621 South State Street in Chicago.

MAS_Context_Analog_2012_Iker_Gil_08Photograph by Iker Gil

This time the event also opened the exhibition “Architectural Narratives”, which was available for viewing for the whole next month, and featured a number of works by Jimenez Lai and yours truly. The original plan had been to entitle the exhibition “Building Stories”, after Chris Ware’s eponymous magna opus, but, as it happened, Mr Ware himself was having his own exhibition entitled that way in the Adam Baumgold Gallery and Carl Hammer Gallery (Chicago) in those very days (serendipity). Still, the exhibition looked really nice, and worked as the basis for a bigger (and exhausting) collaboration with MAS Context that will show its results before the end of the year.

Scroll down for some images of the event or go to the entry on the event at  MAS Context’s website.

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Photographs by Iker Gil

V36 Cover

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So, slowly (very, very slowly, this last year), this blog arrived at its 100th post at some point during its fourth year of existence. It’s a rather paradoxical celebration, then, since this sort-of private milestone comes at a moment when the blog has been neglected for quite a few months. It’s also rather paradoxical that this lack of activity happens at a moment where I’m rather busy in my Klaus-related production. Adding to my ongoing collaboration with uncube magazine, which started last February, this year I traveled to Naples, where I was invited to participate in the 2013 Comicon, focusing on comics and architecture, along with European comic book legends François Schuiten and Joost Swarte. These upcoming months will also feature a few collaborations with Clog (in Clog: Sci-Fi), Praxis (In their special issue The Return to Narrative), Spanish blog La Viga en El Ojo, edited by architectural critic Fredy Massad, and I also got into some major trouble by accepting MAS Context’s invitation to guest-edit a special issue of the magazine which will be published (fingers crossed) by the end of the year.

This also speaks a lot about internet presence and online activity in professionals’ blogs. Somewhere else I’ve said that the extent of the current economic and professional crisis can be measured by digital activity, and the number of contact requests you have in LinkedIn. In my case, I guess it reflects in my number of twitter followers.

On top of all this, a few months ago I was also pleasantly surprised by an invitation from Brendan Cormier, managing editor of Volume, to join in a three-way conversation with him and Jimenez Lai. The conversation, chritened “Caricature, Hyperbole, and the Politics of the Cartoon” by Jimenez, has been featured in Volume #36: Ways To Be Critical, the 144 page Summer issue of the magazine, with contributions by Javier Arbona, Amelia Borg, Michèle Champagne, Justine Clark, Bernard Colenbrander, Demilit, Rob Dettingmeijer, Sergio Miguel Figueiredo, Bryan Finoki, Nathalie Frankowski,  Françoise Fromonot, Cruz García, Owen Hatherley, Charles Holland, Justin McGuirk, Markus Miessen, Luca Molinari, Timothy Moore, Douglas Murphy, Urtė Rimšaitė, Arjen Oosterman, Steve Parnell, Colin Ripley, Fred Scharmen, Nick Sowers, Naomi Stead, Michael Stanton, Jan Van Grunsven, Fabrizia Vecchione, WAI Think Tank, Paul Walker, Justine Yan, or Mimi Zeiger. A 34-page preview can be read here.

Since I don’t usually speak that much for/about myself, I thought this conversation with Brendan and Jimenez would be a good way to celebrate that ego-trip that hides behind Klaustoon’s blog. I also have to do it now, because in a few months’ time (caused by sheer serendipity) there will be a couple more of those around, so I’ll take the chance now that oversaturation hasn’t come yet. If you’re curious of what Jimenez and I say there, you can read a few excerpts below, or click on the images from the magazine.


Brendan Cormier:     I’d like to start with a sort of introductory question. You two have come to represent a rather specific area within current ‘fringe’ architectural trends, using cartoons and comics as a tool to generate critical discourses. What draws you to cartooning as method of architectural expression, and to what degree would you consider it a form of criticism?

Jimenez Lai:     If ‘caricature’ is a form of referencing known characters but spoken with hyperbole, I think cartoon can be a very generative form of criticism. I see cartoon as a sophisticated means to conflate representation, criticism, theory, historicism, and even design – while I have a lot of fun embedding cryptic references that close readers may pick up, the more important aspect I want to explore is for cartoons to become projective. So yes, I would agree with Klaus’ reading of ‘Sociopaths’ – for me, that story was a very satisfying moment in my cartooning career as I felt that I layered my references well, while designing three houses in a single effort. ‘Generative’ is also one of my interests in Klaus’ work, whether or not he sees it that way – when he creates the political caricatures, he speaks in hyperbole. Klaus’ work is not so straightforward to me because he relies on the exaggeration of identifiable qualities we generally know – ranging from people’s facial and physical features to architectural targets. For example, in his parody of MOS’s PS1 project, Klaus exaggerated the curvature on the profile of the piece to be more filleted to establish effects of suggestive motion and liveliness. This, to me, is a moment that sends the caricature off to becoming a new architecture of its own. Saturday Night Live’s President Obama vs Mad TV’s are very different, and I would say that we have three President Obamas each performing our idea of him. Can we even consider caricature-making to be cultural contextualism?

KL:     Well, caricature is certainly contextual, and that is particularly vivid in political cartoons (as in any sort of commentary of contemporary issues), whose validity is really ephemeral: As soon as the events and idiosyncrasies that generated them become past, they become totally extraneous to the reader. Even if that same reader actually engaged with them when they first appeared. It’s extremely context-sensitive material.

However, the part I’m most interested in, is the way in which context is dealt with. Cartooning relies, using one of my favorite expressions of Vivian Sobchack’s, on an interplay between familiarity and processes of defamiliarization which deal with hyperbolic distortion but not only. And this distortion becomes a design force itself, which is what you’re pointing at, and something which we both agree on, as we have discussed it before. That is: The interest on copying (the non-spurious interest, let’s say) is that if you copy something badly enough, then it becomes something different, something new. And this is very obviously present in caricature, moreover in architectural caricature: when you take an existing building and twist it, distort it, denaturalize it by contaminating it with other stuff that’s alien to it outside the specific environment, the suspended reality of the cartoon, it mutates. It moves on in a different direction (or directions). So cartooning becomes a tool to unleash architectural imagination. Of course, one could argue that this is true of any form of doodling and sketching, but to me, there’s an openness in sketching that also limits its usefulness. Meanwhile in cartooning, where there’s a certain narrative that one has to adapt to, this very limitation of the possibilities fosters the appearance of specific, productive design strategies. And this addresses the ‘not only’ part of my argument, which we can discuss later. <Monologue mode OFF>

JL:     In my opinion, abstraction is an active form of criticism. The cave paintings we discover today attempted verisimilitude, but they were unable to copy figurations exactly right. But because of the inability to repeat exact copies, only the intended elements are retained. With that, I’d like to maintain a focus on this question “just exactly what is criticism?” Building upon Klaus’s fascination with copies and defamiliarization, I think of abstraction as the retention of critical matters and a thickening of its aboutness. As a process of gradual mutations, abstraction between copies produces language, form, and reflects the zeitgeist of every era. This is doubly why I think representation is critical in the transference between generations, and that criticism simply isn’t just the business of wrist-slapping poorly behaved actions.

BC:     There’s also a distinction to be made here between fast and slow critique. Klaus, you hinted at this already by associating your work with the word ‘editorial’, it’s a quick response to very current happenings. You reference ephemera like Gagnam Style parodies, the buzz around Rem Koolhaas curating the upcoming Venice Architecture Biennale, even a relatively esoteric nod to Ethel Baraona-Pohl’s prolific tweeting. So reading your work is like getting very precise snapshots of a day and a time. This is also reflected in how you broadcast your work through fast platforms like your blog and the online architecture magazine Uncube. On the other hand Jimenez takes a slower introspective approach. You can read the general zeitgeist through some of the architectural questions he confronts, but it is much more implicit and usually involves architectural debates that have been drawn out over decades, such as designing via plan versus section. And in step with this slow critique, Jimenez publishes with slower platforms: books and journals. So two different strategies, with two different intents. Can you tell me what brought you both to these strategies?

KL:     It is true that much of the work I do is linked to a very specific timeframe, which adds to the indecipherability of the gags themselves for anyone not familiar with the referents. This does have to do with the medium they are designed for, which has a blog format, a very particular mixture between the syncopated, sequential – but also timeless – form of the diary, and the sequentially substitutive nature of the newspaper, where each new installment replaces the previous one. This ephemerality of periodical printed media is something that has been erased somehow by the internet, which has brought about an era where everything remains out there forever, establishing a rather interesting flattening of History where every moment – and every content attached – is equally accessible, cohabitating a sort of timeless ether where any former understanding of time as an ever-advancing line, gets diluted in the general matrix of hyperlinked data-events.

So, coming back from the heights: It is true that the blog format brought a change to my work. When I split my personality and created Klaus almost a decade ago, I used it to criticize the discipline in a less latest-news-sort of way, and it was when creating the blog that I started to feel the urge to reference current events as they happened. This is particularly true of my collaborations with Uncube, where the sort of ‘Good Morning America’ format brings the commentary aspect to the front. However, the timelessness of the net I’ve referred to has also prompted me to explore rather obscure corners of the discipline, and indulge into a lot of obscure image-producing which mixes referents at will, such as the ‘Latour in Urbicande’, ‘The Great Gizmo in the Sky’, ‘Eisenmania’, and others. Not surprisingly, those are the ones that make their way to architectural publications. 

JL:        I have a reaction to the word ‘commentary’ – I don’t think anyone should make a ‘commentary’ about anything. When someone makes a commentary, there is a suggestion that that person is above it. If a designer or a student or even a critic says: ‘I’m just making a social commentary on the…’ I am imploding on the inside wondering to myself: ‘Are you above the society?’ This attitude alludes to pointless projects that evade the pressure of practicing in a forward-thinking way. Maybe in a more reductive way, I am interested in projects that clearly exemplify qualities of ‘productive criticism’. 

Now, onto the speed of critics – and sadly all of this is in real time, I am not only some GMT’s behind both of you but actually need time to think things through… it feels like a bloody chess game with clocks to slam on. In another recent conversation I’ve had with my friend Pieterjan Ginckles, speed and irreverence came up as an agreement between us. We live in a society of the nonchalant, and I simply want to embrace that. I love reddit and 4chan. I follow suckerpunch. I’m a friend of the Archive of Affinities. I believe in the idea that work has to be visually striking for anyone and everyone, but with enough depth to be mulled over. I call it ‘calibrated superficiality’. But I think another thing that I admire about Klaus is his immediacy: ‘I think this is important. Therefore, I will make it important by doing something about it right this minute.’[…]








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Tomorrow, Saturday, October 13 2012, Jimenez Lai (of Bureau Spectacular fame) and I will be presenting the joint exhibition (no, not a show about smoking drugs) ARCHITECTURAL NARATIVES, as part of  the second edition of MAS Context: Analog, a one-day event of presentations, exhibitions and an onsite bookstore in Chicago organized by MAS Studio in collaboration with NEW PROJECTS. Although the event is a one-day show, the exhibition itself will be available for seeing all week, and will feature large prints (yes, of course the Kunst-Haas series will be there), and some text on my side, and lots of Jimenez’s spectacular (no pun intended: it IS spectacular) work on the other.

MAS Context: Analog (first edition here) will gather a group of emerging and established practitioners within the field of design who will discuss their work based on proposed themes. The event will include presentations by artists, academics, architects, urban designers, graphic designers and industrial designers including Jimenez Lai, Sean Lally, David Brown, David Rueter, John Pobojewski, Sara C. Aye & George Aye, Andrew Clark, David Sieren & Sam Rosen, Ed Marszewski, Marc Fisher, Claire Warner & Sam Vinz, and Dieter Roelstraete. It will also feature an onsite bookstore by Half Letter Press, a publishing imprint and an experimental online store initiated by Temporary Services. The presentations will be followed by a closing party that will include a DJ set by Dieter Roelstraete.

The event is free and open to the general public, and it is an all-day event so feel free to stop by anytime or plan to stay all day, listen to the presentations, check the exhibition, buy publications, connect with other designers, make donations for the artists or play gymnastics in perfect replicant fashion. That’s up to you. Just come for a while.

The event will be housed by NEW PROJECTS, an urban design studio, research center, and exhibition space in Chicago directed by Marshall Brown and Stephanie Smith. You can find more information about NEW PROJECTS here. It is located at 3621 South State Street, close to the 35th-Bronzeville-IIT train stop (CTA Green Line), the Sox/35th train stop (CTA Red Line) and the 35th/’Lou’ Jones/Bronzeville train stop (Metra Rock Island District). The space is also accessible via the #29 (State) bus route. Use Google maps to find your route. We encourage the use of public transportation, bicycles, and walking. Street parking is limited in the area.

As usual, a big thank you to Iker Gil, editor of MAS Context and one of the most productive people I know, for taking the time to organize everything and pushing me to crawl out of my cave.

Check the schedule and more information of the event here.

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