Skip to Main Content

Sanford Kwinter & Marrikka Trotter (November 2, 2018)45:39

Sanford Kwinter proposes that the difference between his and Trotter’s approach could be summarized as the difference between accounting for dissonance and registering remote consonance. Trotter argues the importance of syntony, which she defines as fragile, shifting harmony with things that don’t exist. She argues it can be revealed in micro-scale glitches, errors, lags that connect existing modes with modes we can’t yet imagine, other modes of organization, outside the status quo.

Kwinter responds with questions including, Where is the status quo today? How can architectures of dissonance help connect us to the problem of nature? How can dissonance fight dissonance?

Kwinter proposes that the earlier – his – generation of theorists started with systems of thought that found illustration in architecture, whereas the new – Trotter’s – generation of theorists start with contemporary architectural production, and try to come up with theoretical accounts. Trotter responds that the role of theory is neither to illustrate, or create alibis, but seize on little moments, design decisions, that can radically insert difference in the world. She cites Gilbert Simondon’s idea of individuation as a process of things falling out of phase, out of step with themselves. Kwinter responds that these individual moments require a context, asserting that there is no ontology without ecology. He wonders about the scope of architectural imagination today, asking, What ever happened to cosmology?

Trotter asserts that the current situation is a crisis of imagination, in which architecture is perfectly situated at the intersection of so many systems, to disrupt the leveling fog of sameness. Kwinter proposes an analogy with Schoenberg’s belief that serial compositions will eventually expand the listening capacities of audiences so that they can discern the patterns and compositional unity. Totter argues that that kind of forward-looking optimism about creating a future we value is exactly what places like SCI-Arc are about.