by Kaz Yoneda and Gregory Serweta, AIA
Our society in the age of insatiable consumption can be indicted of neither producing nor consuming little of consequence. Just because energy is being encapsulated to produce something, does not mean that object is anything consequential. It is truly an object with all its realities withdrawn from our conventional litmus of values, morality, ethics, or knowledge. Like chewing gum, it is purely constituted by taste without sustenance. Bubble Gum Architecture emerges unbuildable, untenable, titillating, but in the end, calorically empty. The question that architects must ask is where to go from here, towards shifting the criteria of judgment in architecture. Perhaps the clues can be found in Hansel and Gretel breadcrumbs left behind by tracing where the encapsulated energy is going to.
Suspended from the normative datum of Western paradigm, Tokyo can be thought of as a giant black-hole. It is an endless pit of insatiable hunger into which images, and their encapsulated energies, are constantly being sucked in, condensed, and trapped. Only through occasional flares, when a corona shifts, is some energy allowed to be expelled; rare cases of novel works. It is a real-life, real-scale, real-time laboratory experiment unfolding before our eyes to test how much it can consume before self-implosion. Instead of being gloomy about this; rather, this can be seen as an overwhelmingly-exciting opportunity to tap into and unleash all that energy.
There will be a tipping point from the unbalance of consumption and production, counteracted by a powerful reaction that will try to restore a systemic equilibrium. The definition of production will shift from one legitimized by capitalism’s so-called laissez-faire free market objectivity towards the production of protocols to consume the right blend of encapsulated energy. Soon, images alone will no longer be enough to satiate the palate as the craving for the hallucinogens will only grow stronger and stronger until the real and the actual either collapse onto each other in a truly cybernetic universe, or become a singular and new seamless totality of consciousness. In either case, the increasing craving will force the production of stuff that cannot be evaluated by the system we are currently entrenched in. This posits a new premise for our relationships to any and all objects—to society, to architecture, to oneself, to each other—that is not based on transaction and consumption, but by how one peels away the bundle of superficies and touch upon the pure core of encapsulated energy. Then, and only then, can tempura become less about its addiction-inducing fatty-yet-fluffy skin, and more about a masterful inversion of inner ingredients’ effervescence permeating the vacuousness to reclaim its inherent taste. What, then, becomes paramount is the issue of taste. Like a chef, an architect is a kind of cultural agent who connects the raw product with the human consumer, to ensure that what is natural becomes cooked and undergoes a process of socialization. And like chefs, architects, from constraints inherent to ingredients, must produce novel ideas. To fulfill this role, architects need to position themselves as true producers and arbiters of taste, and shift energy towards producing ideas and building them, instead of flavorless images.