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An Elegy for Content

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Content's Funeral

A few days ago, I was trying to explain to a friend how important it is for print media to capitalize on the object-ness of books and magazines.  Since it’s sometimes better to show than tell, I decided that I should use Rem Koolhaas’ Content (2004) as a prime example of what makes printed publications so great. Unfortunately, it is no longer in print and a new copy costs $120.00. It’s a shame that these books become commodities and rarities. They need to be available; they demonstrate the broad scope of architecture and invite individual experiences created by the reader. Unlike reading information on a screen, interacting with the book can be different for each person.

So I thought it fitting that I commemorate Content with this elegy.

On this day that we say goodbye to you, Content, I choose to remember not how your ambiguity (book or magazine?) confused the genre, but how you aptly captured the essence of the state of architecture of your short lifetime.  Though you walked in the shadow of your older sibling, S,M,L,XL you showed us that OMA could redefine the architecture book yet again. In a time when many designers created bloated “big-books,” you showed us that your capacity to deliver information was never hindered by your small stature.

You asked us to “go east,” to move away from the staleness of a post 9/11 United States and to follow you to the land of promise, Asia. You never sought to be timeless; instead, you are a beautiful reminder of the inadequacies of architecture, like the lag between commission, design and completion.  You took a snapshot of the moment; you never tried to tame it. You were a controversial marketing-tool, an attention whore. You tricked people into thinking you weren’t an architecture book. But that’s OK. You contextualized architecture for the architect, the student, and the masses. You made it pop. While others insisted on clarity, you laughed. Your pages were so chaotic and awash with information that at times I found you impossible to comprehend. But every time we met, I discovered something new and always appreciated the treasure hunt you imposed on me. Today, we bid you adieu. May you rest comfortably amidst the turmoil you propagated.


Written by beckyquintal

February 23, 2009 at 1:54 am

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