How to Read (With) Benjamin: From Cultural History of Materialism to Materialist History of Culture
Footprint 18 investigates the following issues: what Benjamin understands by the ‘constellation of awakening’, how he conceptualises ‘dialectical images’, his deployment of montage, his refusal of a conception of either progress or decline, and his undertaking to show that the images belong not only to a particular time but attain legibility only at a particular time. Famously, according to Benjamin, image is that wherein what has been comes together in a flash with the now to form a constellation. With regard to the architectural theory Benjamin engaged directly with the tectonic tradition, especially the work of Bötticher. He posited the tectonic unconscious and the deployment of optical instruments as crucial for understanding the development which architecture carried from the luxus capitalist forms of commodity. In light of technical innovations in iron and glass, it expressed a form of projective dream work of the architectural around material realisations as products of the industrial revolution, with long consequences for the future.
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