“Images of Desire” is a PhD symposium hosted by the KTH School of Architecture and supported by the Swedish School of Architectural Research, ResArc.
Architecture’s relation to the image has shifted radically in recent years. Under present modes of “distributed,” “cognitive,” “neoliberal,” or “late” capitalism, architecture has become just one part of a real-estate infrastructure that is largely regulated by the internal procurement protocols of large-scale construction firms and the desire-inducing strategies of marketing agencies. Much of the traditional graphic communication associated with architectural labor has been turned into marketing material: plans are reproduced in coffee-table books, photographs of architects at work are used in advertisements. The rendered image of a building now actively manages both the design process and occupancy: as the primary product sold to the consumer buying “off the plan,” space is experienced through images, before and even after occupancy, as residents scramble to bring gentrified fictions to life via their daily routines and presentation of self.
The increasing importance of the architectural image has enormous ethical, practical and political implications for the architectural discipline, which need to be addressed by architectural theory, history, criticism and design research. How can practices of image production in architecture (rendered, montaged, or other) be retooled to produce progressive, emancipatory or critical change? How can we use the architectural image to strengthen architecture’s relation to “the social”? What can we learn from studies of civil imagination, image culture, alternate practices of image production, and postcapitalist aesthetics undertaken in other fields?