The The Politics of the Plinth: Notes on a Latent Ocularcentrism in Aureli’s Theory of an Absolute Architecture
According to Pier Vittori Aureli, architectural form becomes political by being a clearly defined limit. These defining effects of architectural form are also what allow a civic and political space to exist. In contrast to the tradition of urbanism, Aureli praises Mies van der Rohe because of the architect’s use of form as an act of demarcation, where a reinterpreted classical plinth carries a glass-and-steel pavilion structure. While Aureli regards this Modernist plinth as a guarantor of absoluteness and independence from urbanism, this article conversely argues that the Miesian plinth is just as implicated in nineteenth-century urbanism as the gridded plans of Cerdà, since this model can be traced back, not to the Ancient Greek temple, but to a novel nineteenth-century visual culture which came into being under the spell of ocularcentrism and panopticism. Aureli’s theory is thus supplemented with its necessary counterpart to management: the representational component of urbanism.
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