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The Singular Objects of Architecture

2005
Authors:

Jean Baudrillard and Jean Nouvel
Translated by Robert Bononno
Foreword by K. Michael Hays

The Singular Objects of Architecture

A revelatory conversation between two major figures in visual culture

Singular objects—ideas, buildings, colors, sentiments, human beings. Each in turn comes under scrutiny in this exhilarating dialogue between two of the most interesting thinkers working in philosophy and architecture today. Jean Baudrillard and Jean Nouvel discuss fundamental problems of politics, identity, and aesthetics as their exchange becomes an imaginative exploration of the possibilities of modern architecture and the future of modern life.

In The Singular Objects this [political] ambivalence is brought once more to the surface, leaning this time to the side of love: the singular object of architecture regains a role which is both positive and politically productive.

Semiotic Review of Books

What is a singular object? An idea, a building, a color, a sentiment, a human being. Each in turn comes under scrutiny in this exhilarating dialogue between two of the most interesting thinkers working in philosophy and architecture today. From such singular objects, Jean Baudrillard and Jean Nouvel move on to fundamental problems of politics, identity, and aesthetics as their exchange becomes an imaginative exploration of the possibilities of modern architecture and the future of modern life.

Among the topics the two speakers take up are the city of tomorrow and the ideal of transparency, the gentrification of New York City and Frank Gehry’s surprising Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. As Nouvel prompts Baudrillard to reflect on some of his signature concepts (the virtual, transparency, fatal strategies, oblivion, and seduction, among others), the confrontation between such philosophical concerns and the specificity of architecture gives rise to novel and striking formulations—and a new way of establishing and understanding the connections between the practitioner and the philosopher, the object and the idea.

This wide-ranging conversation builds a bridge between the fields of architecture and philosophy. At the same time it offers readers an intimate view of the meeting of objects and ideas in which the imagined, constructed, and inhabited environment is endlessly changing, forever evolving.


The Singular Objects of Architecture

Jean Baudrillard is one of the most influential thinkers of his generation and author of The Vital Illusion (2001).

Jean Nouvel has designed buildings throughout the world, including the new Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, and is a recipient of France’s Grand Prix d’Architecture.

Robert Bononno, a translator and teacher, lives in New York City.

The Singular Objects of Architecture

In The Singular Objects this [political] ambivalence is brought once more to the surface, leaning this time to the side of love: the singular object of architecture regains a role which is both positive and politically productive.

Semiotic Review of Books

Enormously suggestive. [The interviews] will leave those willing to wrestle with what is said here with a deeper understanding of the world we live in.

modernism/modernity