Zaera: The Case for The Paranoid Critic Method and Surrealism
Delirious New York, OMA
Zaera says that Koolhaas in Delirious New York explicitly accepts the Paranoic-Critical Method, an alternative epistemology developed by the surrealists in the 1930s which rejects the existence of objective logic. Here, this does not indicate any specific logic, rather the Paranoic-Critic reality is a construct not of objective a priori laws, but rather, a construct of desires, which would imply that in the object, the thing normally accepted to be outside the subject, there is always mingled there the subject. More importantly this means for PCM it’s not possible to separate a reality from a perspective, one subject’s knowledge from their tools and methods of analysis.
From this point Zaera goes on to say that the recent work of OMA is based on developing a set of tools for both the analysis and construction of reality, much like PCM was pioneered by Dali both to critique work and set up the world for the work to exist. In particular for OMA, Koolhaas is interested in critiquing the experience of the city as it’s predicated by the city’s quality of short circuitry, which extends through this post-capitalist territory to affects one’s lived experience. In the PCM system the short circuit quality of the city is that which exists for the subject a priori when they go about activities in the city. For Koolhaas the city is New York.
Rem wants to critique the experience of space time through the notion of a shortcut, hence the short-circuit. Therefore he puts it in terms of warping space time through the establishment of a multitude of speeds within New York and through the opportunity to take different routes between two places. Such examples would be found in the circulation of the design for La Villete or the spatial juxtapositions of systems of movement like access ramps for vehicle traffic or escalators and elevators. All of these moves question the validity of the uniform linear concept of space and time within the new artificial environment of the city.
Zaera also points out that none of this would be possible of course without cosmetic mechanical implementation. The scale of the human in the city ceases to be applicable to a topography implemented mechanically by technology, he explains. The human body and the way in which one normally thinks of themselves with relation to their surroundings, how long it will take to get from one place to another by foot, how much energy it will take, and so on, looses power in such a constructed augmented space.
Kant in The Critique of Pure Reason maintains space-time as the a priori system for the world. Koolhaas seeks to undermine this by unmodeulating time for instance in terms of seconds minutes and hours, time being broken down in this case into individual units which can be measured, and instead sees them in terms of duration, which is more elastic, fluid, still quantifiable, but warped. In any case, the point is that OMA’s work tries to shake the accepted assumptions about reality, in the case here with time and space.
An important note regarding Koolhaas and PCM with relation to the thesis is that the work of Koolhaas refuses to accept the world for how it seems and asks of architecture to explore new opportunities for disturbance. In a culture with a deluge of misinformation, this is an important point. A piece of information being true or false usually relies on it being vetted by an outside source to confirm its validity. This implies that truth comes from some mysterious place outside human subjectivity. Of course.
Koolhaas and PCM disagree: human perception of the objects determines the truthiness of that object for the subject and the phenomenon of vetting facts or that space time is perfectly quantifiable in the city is outdated. It’s time to explore new coherencies, or perhaps uncover the incoherences, between subject, object and authenticity.