Jos de Mul. Database Architecture: Anthropological Reflections on the Art of the Possible. The Journal of Asian Arts & Aesthetics. Vol.3, no.2 (2009), 1-14.
Abstract: In 1956, the Dutch artist Constant Nieuwenhuys started working on a visionary architectural proposal for a future global society; he didn't stop for almost twenty years. New Babylon was elaborated in an endless series of models, sketches, etchings, lithographs, collages, architectural drawings, and photo collages, as well as in manifestos, essays, lectures, and films. New Babylon envisages a global society of total automation in which the need to work is replaced with a nomadic life of creative play, in which traditional architecture has disintegrated along with the social institutions that it propped up. Unlike most other representatives of the counter culture of the 1950s and 1960s Constant fully embraced technological progress: "Technology is the indispensable tool for realizing an experimental collectivism. To seek to dominate nature without the help of technique is pure fiction, as is collective creation without the appropriate means of communication. A renewed, reinvented audiovisual media is an indispensable aid. In a fluctuating community, without a fixed base, contacts can only be maintained by intensive telecommunications" (Constant, 1974).
However, it is not only because of the use of "intensive telecommunications" and computers that New Babylon prefigures the world of cyberspace. It is also, and more profoundly, the flexible database-like structure of New Babylon. The dynamic, endless recombination of architectonical elements that characterize New Babylon expresses the database ontology that rules our present world. It will be argued that "database architecture" of New Babylon foreshadows the ambiguous qualities of "recombinant global urbanism."
Key words: Architecture, Database, Ontology, Constant, Recombinant Urbanism
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