Publication Details

Turpin, E. (2012). Unintentional aesthetics of the Anthropocene: a textual-photographic précis. Horizonte: Zeitschrift für Architekturdiskurs, 5 1-10.


Our major cultural artefacts, or at least those endorsed by dominant culture, such as museums, monuments, statues and the like, suggest through their passive advocacy of stainlessness a paradoxical commitment to both permanence and progress. Not unlike their iron predecessors in the late-nineteenth century, whose Jugendstil organicism created a metallic imaginary that provided Baudelaire with the title for his most well known collection of verse, Les Fleurs du Mal, the evils of our shiny, contemporary wish images remain obscure, not least because their capacity to reflect cultural values is necessarily distorted. Whether one is pacing the promenade leading to Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Music Hall in Los Angeles, cautiously approaching Ned Kahn's undulating kinetic façade that skins the Technorama Science Centre in Zurich, or finding one's bearings among the gluttonous consumption of Michigan Avenue beneath Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate in Chicago's Millennium Park, we witness how our current epoch reiterates a pernicious but pervasive value: metallic surfaces are synonymous with progress. The more polished, refined, expansive and contiguous these metallic surfaces, the greater the representational carrying capacity for our most lauded but least considered civilizational fetish- stainlessness.