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Thresholds 40: Socio—

Thresholds 40: Socio—

20 USD
Thresholds is the Journal of the MIT Department of Architecture. Thresholds 40 was developed and designed to transform the journal from a biannual pamphlet to an annual book, published in a limited run, offset print edition with spot color. A great addition to the library of anyone interested in art, technology, and architecture, as well as a beautiful object for display on coffee tables and and shelves alike.

"Gone are the days of black and white and here is the time of grey. As social linkages have become wildly complex, the normative positions that might bring them order have evaporated. What if, for a moment, the rules were put on hold? What if you could stand up for what you believe in without losing your cool?

I opened the call for submissions for this issue of Thresholds by mentioning a certain set of “rules.” They are mostly unspoken and chiefly reside in architectural discourse, but they also rear their head in other forms of cultural practice. The rules say that you cannot really achieve social change through cultural media and to even talk about such a silly thing is tacky, taboo, toxic. A key strand of modernism operated with utopian aims and—particularly in the architectural realm—has been accused of failing spectacularly, ushering in a new era of postmodernism. What can form accomplish, anyway? This story, told by Charles Jenks and subsequently re-told so many times as to become a Truth, is itself ironic considering the supposed evacuation of “big truths” within postmodern thought. The smokescreen of cool inability, however, covers a more sinister fact: by denying the ability to operate on social terms, one is effectively indemnified from social responsibility at the onset. And so we happily went, right up until the economic crisis of the past few years, when most around the world realized that something had gone terribly wrong.

As the age of the icon evaporates, modes of cultural production have scrambled to re-discover ways to operate on terms other than form. Agency is both a conceptual construct through which one can unearth non-formal tools (or re-learn how to use form in political terms), as well as an oblique way of talking about cultural practice achieving social change. By interrogating what art and architecture can do, we hope to somehow expand our power in the world while simultaneously appearing objective, disinterested, and cool. If environmental determinism is out, well then we can at least figure out how far out it went. And this mode of operating is technically legal on the terms of postmodernity—despite an absence of Big Truths, cultural practice is still seen as capable of making little changes. So the quest for agency happily proceeds on decidedly small terms: performance, covert ops, and opportunism have become its buzzwords.

But what if, rather than lingering on agency, we broke the rules and approached the social head on? The authors in Socio— do so in a variety of ways, none of which are shy, tacky, or, most importantly, disinterested. If their motives have moved past a freedom from social responsibility, they have also moved beyond agency’s subtle discursive claim that it operates without personal gain. As we deal with the possibility of a socially conscious project, we do so with an understanding that society’s gain is our gain."

Reinhold Martin, Daniel A. Barber, Rania Ghosn, Nana Last, Simone Brott, Dana Cuff, Pamela Ritchot, Ronald Rael, Neeraj Bhatia and Alexander D'Hooghe, Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, interviewed by Casey Goodwin, Esen Gökçe Özdamar, Kenny Cupers and Markus Miessen, Mark Jarzombek, Gunnar Green and Bernhard Hopfengärtner, Dan Handel, Steve Kurtz, Christian Hedrick, Steven Beckly, with a response by Jonathan D. Katz, Interboro Partners, Zissis Kotionis, Amrita Mahindroo, Justin Fowler, Hannah Rose Mendoza, Joseph M. Watson, Daniel Daou, Department of Unusual Certainties, Jimenez Lai

Edition of 750 offset printed books with 1/1 and 2/2 spot color inked pages, and one 4/4 process color signature. Published March 1, 2012.

Editor: Jonathan Crisman
Designer: Donnie Luu
Printer: Puritan Press
Size: 6.5 x 9.5”
Pages: 288
ISSN: 1091-711X
ISBN: 978-0-9835082-1-2