White Papers, Black Marks
White Papers Black Marks: Architecture, Race, and Culture Lesley Naa Norle Lokko
-Historical analysis has generally supported the view that the role of the architect is to project on the ground the images of social institutions, translating the economic or political structure of society into buildings or groups of buildings. Hence architecture was, first and foremost, the adaptation of space to the existing socio-economic structure.- Bernard Tschumi, Architecture and Disjunction
White Papers, Black Marks is a comprehensive investigation into the intersection of architecture, race, and culture. Lokko'spublication presents the thefollowing questions to its contributors: What importance does 'race' have as any kind of category in the study of architecture and the shaping of the built environment? In making, using and studying architecture, does 'race' matter? Should it?
While structuring this investigation asa dynamic mapping of the relationship between race and architecture, White Paper, Black Marks explores unspoken ways in which "difference" results in the shaping of the built environment. Using vision and logic, contributors expose the positioning of racial subtexts within the language of architecture and the disconnect in working and understanding the spatial implications of “difference”.White Paper, Black Marks exposes the discreet, yet complex connection between the question of identity [community, race, culture] and architectural questions such as whose desires are sought after and satisfied, whose histories, experiences, and identities are represented versus those of the silenced. The terms of architectural design and study [space, site, form, architect, and user] are heavily investigated as an historical task of adapting space to an existing socioeconomic structure. White Paper, Black Marks investigates this issue byoperating within classifications structured by scale: from the scale of the urban (1:125,000) to the "middle" scale of 1:1,250 (exile, "in-between-ness") to 1:1, the scale of detail, the intimate, the personal. Within this publication we examine barriers not just as they relate to physical concrete (pun intended) mediations of space, but as the projection of identities as they relate to the viewer and the cast, so to speak. This projection, being the result of over-imposed media types and representations of marginalia, creates a boundary quite opposite of realtime barriers of infrastructure and other tangible devices.This media further perpetuates a psychological separation of the lived experiences of each,the viewer and the cast. In exposing the psychological barriers that exist, do we then begin to investigate the “other” as spectacle and desire. The authors, working from a wide variety of backgrounds, take up topics ranging from Victorian attitudes toward racial hierarchy to a reinterpretation of the Argentinean urbanscape through tango, from the disintegration along racial lines of the contemporary U.S. city to the
racially polarized profession of architecture in South Africa. Whether investigating issues of black spatial identity or tracing the visual-textual-material threading of race through an architectural project or even focusing on Europe in the 1400s or Australia today, their work reclaims a hidden cultural experience built into the walls the frame the spaces we live in today. Critique
Should the issueofofidentity race be[true problematized? the of injusticeshould due to deducing the representations or false] are While present in implications the built environment, the issue of space as it relates to race even be problematized? Do spatial solutions exists to solve the disconnect between race and its spatial implications? In investigating the history of race, it was a coined term in classifying “other” societies during periods of colonization. I wonder about the criticality that could be added the power of this publication in addressing the human agency of shelter, protection, and identity as it relates to space? I would also be interested in knowing the moment of departure from this primitive agency to the skewing of spatial representations of “other” communities. More important, I am interested to discover the point at which race took priority over basic human agency of survival. Can this issue of disproportionate representations of the “other” be quantified or qualified further justifying its invisible nature? What can be said the denial (nurtured alongside race the “American” mythopoesis independence andabout democracy) which has transformed into poverty, poverty intoof criminalization, through the reoccurring scientific pathologization of race (whether it be the comparing of skull sizes or graphing physiognomic variations) or through genetic or chemical decomposition? Through White Paper, Black Marks, a call for perceiving boundaries amongst other barriers are exposed outside of the physical, tangible realm Often we perceive the distance between the representations of communities [of marginalia] and those that perceive them as a quantifiable measurement grounded in metrics of distance and time. Within this publication, authors do examine the psychological distance between representations and perceptions perpetuated by mediums less engaged with factual lived experiences. Space is not only mediated between representations and perceptions, but also the way in which it is mediated. This mediation is the result of often endeavors in creating a utopia of for the perceivers. Using the prison as a“non-architectural” result of these endeavors, Daniels breaks down the idea of the prison as a sanction of housing the “other”. “Lexan dividers, chain link fences, handcuffs, barbed wire, attack dogs, penal codes, coffles, slave codes, brands, and cages” all serve as mediations within free space. Crime is the vehicle by which the hetero-topic of the “other” is objectified and spectacularized as this evening's media spectacle. It is also the justification for twentieth century enslavementof these suspicious “others” producing the illusion of a more secure utopia for the status quo. Although we know that utopia cannot exists in real space, is this the agency of the human condition in terms of polarizing race with architecture; utopia?