Architecture for Life
Potlatch #15 (22 December 1954)
Translated by Gerardo Denís
We are publishing in this issue various excerpts from Asger Jorn's book "Image and Form," which concerns architecture and its future, an issue that we have repeatedly raised in these pages. (See particularly "Next Planet" in issue #4 and "Skyscrapers by the roots" in issue #5 of Potlatch).
We have translated the recent Italian edition sent to us by Asger Jorn, itself a translation from Danish.
Utility and function will always be the starting point for any formal criticism; it is simply a question of transforming Functionalism's program.
. . . Functionalists ignore the psychological function of surroundings . . . The appearances of the buildings and of the objects that we use and that form our environment have a function that is separate from their practical use.
. . . because of their concepts of standardization, Functionalist Rationalists believed that it was possible to attain ideal, definitive forms of the different objects useful to people. Developments to date have shown that this static conception was mistaken. We must arrive at a dynamic conception of forms, we must face the fact that all human forms are in a constant state of transformation; where the Rationalists went wrong was in not understanding that the only way of avoiding the anarchy of change is to become aware of the laws governing transformation and to put them to use.
. . . It is important to understand that this conservatism of forms is thoroughly illogical because it is not the result of not knowing what an object's definitive form is, but rather of the fact that people are upset when they do not find some element of deja vu in an unfamiliar phenomenon . . . The radicalism of forms is a result of the fact that people are saddened when they do not find some unexpected element in the known. One might find this radicalism illogical, as do the advocates of standardization, but we must not lose sight of the fact that discovery is only made possible by this need of man's.
Architecture is always the ultimate achievement of intellectual and artistic evolution, the materialization of an economic stage. Architecture is the final point in the achievement of any artistic endeavor because the creation of architecture implies the construction of an environment and the establishment of a way of life.