Design as a Counter-Subjectivity [Re-Subjectivity] Practice


Ovacık Çoruh D. , Uluoğlu B.

Erciyes Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Dergisi, vol.32, no.44, pp.163-193, 2018 (International Refereed University Journal)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 32 Issue: 44
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Title of Journal : Erciyes Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Dergisi
  • Page Numbers: pp.163-193

Abstract

Design is understood as a productive activity related to space and objects as the subjects of architecture and as the process of engaging in this activity. Therefore, design practice is discussed as problematizations of objects. However, the spatial construction of cities as the milieu of modern people is created not as an external intervention, but by the individual or social practices of subjects. Therefore, questions about the object cause questions about the subject, so it is necessary to evaluate the relationship between the subject and the city. The problematic of this article, which is an attempt to determine the possibility/impossibility of the production of a “new” experience is related to the subject in modern urban conditions. How can individuals who can have very different attitudes depending on value systems reproduce a spatial set of tendencies repeatedly? In this context, the aim of the article is to approach creative design as a critical practice by focusing on subject and object/urban relationality in opposition to practices acting as norm[al]. The article is based on Michel Foucault's theory of modern subjectification related to the question “how?” Design, approached as an experience within the context of subjectification, is associated with the production of a special kind of existence along with “critical attitude” defined as a practice for historical boundaries by Foucault. In this framework, design is considered as the practice in which this critique becomes reality. This critical practice is conceptualized as “counter-subjectivity”.

In this article, “counter-subjectivity” meets a critical practice related to historical normative boundaries. In order to demonstrate the possibility of feasibility of this practice, it is initially necessary to develop ideas about the production of historical normative boundaries. In this framework, modernity is considered a paradox[1] in which it is at the center of the subject that the article has progressed gradually through two axes of “subjectification” theory: subjectification (the production of boundaries) and subjectivity (the criticism of boundaries).

First, the determination of subjective experience historically includes the production of normative boundaries and their penetration into human life and value systems, which is related to Foucault's analysis of “governmentality” and “power relations.” In the article, the concept of power is a totality of relationships, including the correlative relationship between people and object/space. In this context, the urban milieu is revealed as the space of manipulation for subjectification, and the relation between the modern subject and the city is evaluated to approach the answer to the question “how?” In his theory of subjectification, Foucault reveals the relationship between “self-practices,” namely, between our forms of being and behaving, and historical determination systems of power and knowledge, but at the same time, he analyzes the fact that individuals create themselves as the subject of experience in the practices of recognition and rejection. In other words, historical establishment of the experience reveals that objectivization and subjectification occur in some practices in urban milieu. On the other hand, it also reveals that historical normative boundaries are not ultimate. In the article, the possibility of the production of a “new” experience arises in this context. At the point where it eliminates the categorical distinction between the subject and the urban and reveals that historical fact is contingent, this analysis is not an end, but is evaluated as the possibility of other forms of relations we have established with ourselves.

In the second stage, “subjectivity” is approached in relation to “the practices of self.” In the framework of Foucault’s historical criticism conceptualized as “critical attitude”, this article focuses on his late texts about the production of different subjectivity such as “the care of the self” (epimeleia heautou), “the aesthetics of existence,” “the art of living” (tekhnê tou biou),  “counter-conduct” (contre-conduite). Using the framework of these texts, in this article, subjectivity is used to emphasize special characteristics of the acting person. Therefore, the subject is related to its position and only reveals itself in the production of a practice. Design is dealt with as a concrete practice in which subjectivity can be seen with the naked eye. This context requires an effective subject that produces design practice as a responsibility to subjects.

This article attempts to evaluate the spatial practices of the construction of cities in the context of the production of the subject has shaped the basic approach and studies the design process in order to establish both the object, the city, and the intervening subject simultaneously and relationally. Along with this approach, the analysis of the question “how (?)” is related to types of doing that are considered normal and is transformed into the possibility of existence of other practices. At the same time, this is the possibility of the production of design practice, which is evaluated within the field of architecture. In this manner, architecture, as a modern field of knowledge and practice, is a force in the process of historically determining the normative boundaries of subjectification and subjective experience, but at the same time, architecture is evaluated as the field of creation that enables “critical attitude” and “counter-subjectification.” In this context, Michael Hays's “late avant-garde” discourse, the end of the twentieth century is discussed as a special historical moment when the criticism of boundaries emerges in the discipline of architecture. Subjective architectural approaches, evaluated as the results of this historical moment, and the conception and practice of design by Herzog & de Meuron and Tadao Ando specific to the article are treated as the concrete consequences of the attempt to shape and structure their lives and practices by making this the responsibility and effort of the object, which is presented as a “counter-subjectification” practice.

As a reverse reading of the text, particular design practices are a way of transforming our behaviors first and later on, the city and the boundaries of experience, once the relationality of subject and the city is considered. In the context of this establishing relationship, it is necessary to rethink the approach to and tools of the subject’s urban space. The possibilities and tools of the probability of design as historical critical practice are the tension and interaction between subjectivity and conditions of milieu. In this approach, a kind of becoming introverted or making the self a target means the simultaneous production of a constant subject position, and therefore, excluding conditions and probabilities. Yet, when urban conditions are considered not only spatial, but also temporal, autism or being mobile means withdrawal and becoming distant from both the milieu and subjectivity.

It is possible to practice “counter-subjectification,” which is separated from the normative structure imposed indirectly by “governmental” mechanisms, not by creating a new set of norms, but by a critical attitude. It can be argued that contemporary architecture is composed of the effects of performance and practices. Every quest that does not claim to be ideal architectural practice through the "how" question is a turning point in this sense. From this perspective, architecture is considered ontologically beyond the production of objects for need.

Modern kentsel koşullarda “yeni” bir deneyim üretiminin imkân[sızlığ]ını ortaya koymaya yönelik motivasyon, tasarım pratiğinin eyleyeni olarak özneye ilişkin temel bir soruya neden olmuştur: Nasıl oluyor da insan, mekâna ilişkin bir takım pratikleri yeniden ve yeniden üretebiliyor; “insan kimi deneyimlerin öznesi pozisyonuna nasıl geçiyor (?)” sorusu bu makalenin etrafında geliştiği sorunsaldır. Bu sorunsal bağlamında makalenin amacı tasarımı, özne ve nesne/kent ilişkiselliğine odaklanarak tarihsel eleştirel bir pratik biçiminde ele almaktır. Bu doğrultuda makalede Foucault’nun modern özneleştirme teorisi temel alınır: Özneleş[tir]me olarak ele alınan perspektif aracılığıyla bir taraftan özne ve nesne konumlarını belirlemeye yönelen tarihsel normatif sınırların üretimi, ama aynı zamanda bu sınırlara yönelik eleştirel bir pratiğin olabilirliğinin imkânı ortaya konulur. Foucault’nun “sınır-tutum” olarak kavramsallaştırdığı bu eleştirel tutum aracılığıyla tasarım pratiği, bir öznelliğin üretimiyle ilişkilendirilir ve “karşı-özneleşme” biçiminde karakterize edilir. Bu bağlamda bir tür deneyim olarak ele alınan tasarım öznelere düşen bir sorumluluk olarak ortaya çıkar. Makalede özel tasarım stratejileri bu sorumluluğa yönelik çabayı etik bir meseleye dönüştüren öznel varoluş biçimlerinin sonuçları olarak ele alınır. “Nasıl” sorusu aracılığıyla mimarlık pratikleri üzerine ideal olma amacı taşımayan her arayış, bu anlamda bir dönüş noktasıdır. Bu perspektifte mimarlık, gereksinime yönelik nesne üretiminin ötesinde, ontolojik olarak değerlendirilir.