Brutalist Architecture is dead. It is a ghost. Its image haunts us, reminding us of a future that never came to be. But what if Brutalism didn’t die? What if we could open up a channel of communication with it’s ghost? What secrets might it reveal?
This performative lecture and visual essay weaves together real and imagined histories by adopting the role of the cyber-flaneur to interrogate examples of Brutalist architecture in cyberspace, specifically the moment a buildings structure dissolves as one moves through Google Street View. As the buildings form collapses so does the idea that architecture is static or immobile. We are not moving, the buildings are. This lecture explores the implications of these movements on Brutalist architecture and how this alters our perception of fact and fiction. As the image mutates information is lost and new meanings are up for grabs. New histories can be understood and the ghosts of unfulfilled futures become visible.
The idea of our virtual and physical worlds being separate entities is becoming indistinct and the question of which space is more real increasingly blurred. This paper forms part of my current PhD research, exploring the virtual history of Brutalist architecture and the potential of piracy to generate new narratives. As files are compressed and downloaded in cyberspace they lose information, they move from their original context into new spaces that allow them to acquire alternative meanings. Through a Hauntological investigation of Brutalism (as experienced online) I hope to show that meaning is not inherent within the Brutalist architectural vocabulary and that cyberspace provides a territory in which to re- animate the ambition of past utopian gestures. The Internet providing a ready-made aesthetic to visually articulate the distortion of time and history, describing a world where ruins have become utopias and where archaeology and futurism merge.
Gareth is an artist and illustrator who’s multi-disciplinary practice investigates place, documenting landscapes and environments altered by human intervention. His work has been exhibited internationally including at Somerset House in London, The Moscow International Young Artist Biennale and Chulalongkorn University Museum in Bangkok. He is currently undertaking a practice-based PhD at the Royal Collage of Art where he is researching Brutalist architectures occupation of virtual territories. Alongside his personal practice Gareth is an Illustration Lecturer at Birmingham City University.