Graham HarmanNov 4, 2022
Architecture and Objects
University of Minnesota Press 2022
Object-oriented ontology has become increasingly popular among architectural theorists and practitioners in recent years. Architecture and Objects (U Minnesota Press, 2022), the first book on architecture by the founder of object-oriented ontology (OOO), deepens the exchange between architecture and philosophy, providing a new roadmap to OOO’s influence on the language and practice of contemporary architecture and offering new conceptions of the relationship between form and function.
Graham Harman opens with a critique of Heidegger, Derrida, and Deleuze, the three philosophers whose ideas have left the deepest imprint on the field, highlighting the limits of their thinking for architecture. Instead, Harman contends, architecture can employ OOO to reconsider traditional notions of form and function that emphasize their relational characteristics—form with a building’s visual style, function with its stated purpose—and constrain architecture’s possibilities through literalism. Harman challenges these understandings by proposing de-relationalized versions of both (zero-form and zero-function) that together provide a convincing rejoinder to Immanuel Kant’s dismissal of architecture as “impure.”
Through critical engagement with the writings of Peter Eisenman and fresh assessments of buildings by Rem Koolhaas, Frank Gehry, and Zaha Hadid, Architecture and Objects forwards a bold vision of architecture. Overcoming the difficult task of “zeroing” function, Harman concludes, would place architecture at the forefront of a necessary revitalization of exhausted aesthetic paradigms.
Adam Bobeck is a PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Leipzig. His PhD is entitled “Object-Oriented Azadari: Shi’i Muslim Rituals and Ontology”. For more about his work, see www.adambobeck.com.