Saturday, June 8, 2013

15. H.C. Potter - Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House is a film directed by H.C. Potter, featuring Cary Grant, Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas. Based on a 1946 book by Eric Hodgins of the same name, the film's release in 1948 coincided with the beginnings of Levittown and what we have come to know as the post-World War II American suburban morphology. In returning to the research originally undertaken during my thesis, the democratization of suburban dwellings was originally implemented in the United States primarily for ideological, anti-communist, ends, with public programs such as "A Nation of Home-Owners" (1922), American Individualism (1922), and How to Own Your Home (1923). Within the great depression, industry recognized housing as a means to spur the economy, which was itself politically institutionalized in 1934 with the Federal Housing Administration.

Upon its release 73 replica "dream houses" were built across the country, made available for public viewing, and subsequently raffled to the public. The vast majority of these houses were equipped with high-end General Electric kitchens, which in following with General Electric's promotion of the FHA and pro-home ownership initiatives, leads me to believe the promotion, if not the movie itself, was promoted by said company.

GE Advertisement referencing Mr Blandings Builds his Dream House in LIFE Magazine, 28 June 1948

Friday, June 7, 2013

14.1. K. Michael Hays - Hannes Meyer and the radicalization of perception

In 1992 the book Modernism and the Posthumanist Subject was published by MIT Press, presenting the culmination of K. Michael Hays' Ph.D at MIT. It presents the work of two architects, Hannes Meyer and Ludwig Hilberseimer, as the largely overlooked tail-end of the early 20th century avant-garde. It would be fair to relate the type of insight that can be gleaned from these two architects if we reflect upon Bernard Tschumi's work, himself situated in (or as) its decline (as I have previously discussed on this blog here), providing a comprehensive synthetic discourse of the late avant-garde as a radically historical and contingent metaphysical force. Furthermore, these two architects have recently been gaining a great deal more theoretical attention, though moreso Hilberseimer than Meyer, through the discourse of Pier Vittorio Aureli. The two architects that are the subject of Hays' book are at the same time closely related and worlds apart in their ideology and methodology. It is important to note that both architects were closely involved with the purported 'decline' of the Bauhaus, Meyer as its second dean who hired Hilberseimer as the director of the school's newly created building department, a defining feature of Meyer's comprehensive pedagogical reformulation.

The book itself is divided into two separate parts with a single essay uniting the two, though it is evident throughout that it is impossible to situate the latter without the former. Hays makes his discursive form clear from the beginning, based the dialectical relation between subject/object or receiver/transmitter that is the chief methodology of the Frankfurt School and Lacanian psychoanalysis. While initially apprehensible, he uses this type of discourse to ultimately demonstrate how Meyer's work sought to overcome this exact dialectic itself, identified as one of the most basic structures of the humanist metaphysics that resisted the socialism-to-come.