The Future That Is Now – Essay by Stan Allen

This essay, as a history of contemporary architecture and its theoretical base by Stan Allen, is particularly interesting to me as I am currently reading William Gibson’s book of essays “Distrust that particular flavour” – Gibson, who has been one of my seminal influences, is relevant to the discussion of the recent past as his concepts of a futurity rooted in the present, ( “the futures already arrived, it’s just not evenly distributed yet”) is the inevitable fate of architectural and most built environment design which must fit into the current reality and by the time it is built, designed in the recent past yet its influence will be felt it the near and somewhat more remote future, as it is rather persistent in both its successes and its inevitable and much publicized failures, from this perspective its  “navel gazing”, theorizing,  of its recent past  seems laughable. From The Design Observer

Architecture studios at Harvard University, Princeton University and Cornell University. [Photos by Lou HuangShih-Min Hsu and Adam Kuban]

And it’s always interesting, I think, to see how the future, or rather the forward-looking form of any discipline, always carries within it the seeds of its own triteness.
— William Gibson [1]

Among the participants in the first ANY (Architecture New York) conference, organized by Peter Eisenman and Cynthia Davidson in 1991, was the novelist William Gibson, author of the cyberpunk classic Neuromancer. Published in 1984, Neuromancer captured the anxieties of a dystopian world in which technology has penetrated all aspects of everyday life. In Gibson’s early novels, unprecedented physical mobility and the fluidity of personal identity enabled by digital technologies reshape individual subjectivity and the physical space of the city alike — which is perhaps why the author found himself in Los Angeles at the beginning of the 1990s speaking to the group of architects, philosophers, literary critics and architectural theorists assembled by Eisenman and Davidson. Like the film Blade Runner two years earlier, Neuromancer had become an early touchstone for imaginative speculation on the urban and architectural consequences of digital culture.

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