The Manhattan Transcripts are theoretical propositions executed through drawing. Made between and for consecutive exhibitions, the four episodes transcribe imagined events in real New York locales: The Park uncovers a murder in Central Park; The Street Border Crossing chronicles the movement of a person drifting through violent and sexual events on Forty-second Street; The Tower The Fall depicts a vertiginous fall from a Manhattan skyscraper; and The Block illustrates five unlikely events occurring in separate courtyards within a city block. The event, in particular, is the figurative origin of architecture itself, through which Tschumi proposes an architecture of difference and opposition rather than synthesis and totality. Narrative techniques—be they pictorial or cinematic—evoke the ability of fiction to produce an alternative form of critique. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.
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Throughout his theoretical and pedagogical career Tschumi argues against formalism reduction of architecture which is a form of knowledge to architecture as a knowledge of form. Here, architecture is a means of communication, defined by the movement as well as by the walls and an intertextual experience; it becomes a discourse of events and spaces.
Architecture activates space through the movement of bodies. It is not a container. With Manhattan Transcripts, Tschumi is for the first time testing his philosophy of event and movement in architecture, a topic he will develop further throughout his writings and practice. Seeking to reveal an internal logic underlying buildings and cities, he conducts playful drawing exercises, while at the same time working on the logic of a structure to represent and interpret space.
His focus on activities that are unnecessary luxury, wars, games, art, erotics is part of the attempt to overcome the paradox of architecture identified with the dualism of the pyramid and the labyrinth Hollier, The paradox is that architecture is at the same time both pyramid and labyrinth. In his later writings he claimed that space is created by an event taking place within it Tschumi, The work on Manhattan Transcripts was a notation experiment, with the intention to arrive at new tools and methods of representation.
Needing to go beyond methods usually used by architects plans, sections, elevations, etc Tschumi complements his work with photographs, schemes and collages combining axonometric projections, drawings, cut out photographs.
He develops the formula object-movement-event. The visual language Tschumi developed here is rich in linear drawings, showing plans and elevations of architectural spaces and schemes of movement.
Drawings are for Tshumi both; a key means and a limitation of architectural inquiries. Eager to represent the dynamic component of architecture, he uses notations of movement with dashed lines and arrows indicating a direction; he also uses dotted line to represent the underlying structures. Square almost stands for an equal of normality. Tschumi decided to give it another role. He acknowledges the square as healthy, conformist and predictable, regular and comforting, correct.
He then uses the square as a unit of event, a frame of experience, subverting this highly architectural symbol for the purpose of his theory. Even in the fully deconstructed pages that end MT4, the underlying square matrix is indicated with little crosses. It is only the first part of MT3 that escapes this normalising tool. In contrast to the healthy square are dark, black and white photographs used to describe the event in architecture. Their poor quality is partly a result of the source quality and the technique used for their manipulation gelatin silver photographs.
However it is also an agent of pluralism, opening the territory for multiple interpretations of the work. The work is partly dedicated to process, this process having no other result for a goal, but the process itself. The objective here is not to arrive at a building. It is rather a stylistic exercise. Tschumi is searching for an ideal architectural process, a process of design that is determined purely by design decisions. Any attempt at building would compromise his architecture.
Thus the way the transcripts are is closest to an aesthetic exercise, a play with shapes and volumes, recombining and changing meaning through the overlap of elements. Especially in the last two transcripts, volumes are the main protagonists of the city-saga. They are examined through the prism of other volumes, recombined and recomposed. Tschumi takes on a novel approach to architectural design, one that would recognise the dynamic activity architecture is supposed to become.
He is looking for a dynamic definition of architecture and experience of urban space. For him, the Manhattan Transcripts are a device for analysing the city. The Transcripts are a means of putting this experience on paper. He transcribes episodes of city experience using photographs and architectural drawings plans, diagrams, axonometric projections. The Manhattan Transcripts are a book of architecture and not about it. They are a quest for ideas underlying the built habitat with its own existence and logic.
Your email address will not be published. Selena Savic researcher, architect,theorist of infrastructures, designer of interactive objects. How can space carve movement, in turn? The Visual Language The visual language Tschumi developed here is rich in linear drawings, showing plans and elevations of architectural spaces and schemes of movement. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Supported by a grant from FCT.
REVIEW: Bernard Tschumi; The Manhattan Transcripts
They hang between reality and fantasy. Tschumi uses the transcripts to make sense of an architectural reality that incorporates sequences, movement and functionality. He focuses on using different mediums that portray different events and functions of a space, assessing unconventional strategies that occur in-between the standard conclusions of architectural survey. The non-coincedence between meaning and being, movement and space, man and object is the starting condition of the work. Manhattan is a real place; the actions described are real actions.
“The Set and the Script” in Architecture: The Manhattan Transcripts (1976-1981) by Bernard Tschumi
Throughout his theoretical and pedagogical career Tschumi argues against formalism reduction of architecture which is a form of knowledge to architecture as a knowledge of form. Here, architecture is a means of communication, defined by the movement as well as by the walls and an intertextual experience; it becomes a discourse of events and spaces. Architecture activates space through the movement of bodies. It is not a container.
Event and Movement in Architecture
Architecture is not simply about space and form, but also about event , action, and what happens in space. The Transcripts aimed to offer a different reading of architecture in which space, movement, and events are independent, yet stand in a new relation to one another, so that the conventional components of architecture are broken down and rebuilt along different axes. Bernard Tschumi. Adam Achrati Landing Architecture.