A clinic for the exhausted by Michael Spooner

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Abstract

This PhD will examine a method of inventing in the present a practice concomitant to the realisation of an architecture grounded in an immutable unknown; an architecture that departs from the finite architectural object, the imposition of an architect or the illusory status of a fictional community.

This PhD argues that by fostering an architecture without foreclosure and of unforeseeable effect, a community in the present could minister to the practices of an unknowable constituent entrusting the unknowable with a share in our contemporary condition, without appropriating the practices with which an unknowable life might imagine its own life, or indeed the lives’ of others. By asking after a community that is dispossessed of a presence that is accountable, this research attempts to ascertain the degree to which one can act on behalf of the unknowable. In establishing the ethical dimensions that the fundamental question of an unaccountable life proposes, this research engages with an aoristical sense of the question of a life in the univocity of a propositional space that assumes the surfeit of excess: exhaustion. The difficulty posed by a community without omission appeals to the indelible space of the Clinic, a space that confronts in excess of any particular place or any particular person, the no-where that is particular to no-one. The research submits that the task of those who claim the specularity of the Clinic, that is an audience from whom no-one is exempt, lies in extending the practice and the procedures that the irreducible question of a life harbors. Thus, the realisation of an architecture that claims the question of a life must also claim the dimensions of the Clinic, a scale that cannot overlook the unevidenced.

The PhD will propagate the momentum of a single encounter between two architects – a letter from Howard Raggatt to Peter Corrigan – displacing the field of thought that gave rise to it in such a way that the interminable persistence of an unevidenced event – a building that takes flight in the image of an ocean liner – can never be held to account. Typifying this attempt to admit the unknowable will be an arsenal of lucid moves, uncanny conjunctions and casual assertions that will continuously avow the effusiveness by which the research sets out to meet the unmeetable. This method offers more than an alleged impractical epistemic impasse, a claim which would fail to realise that the very suggestion of unassailable proof; a demand to explain, excuse or account for instances of interpretive indecipherability remains untenable and is conditional on withdrawing from the question of a life. It is via the felicitous incisiveness of the prose, drawings and images that compose this research that an atemporal experience of an unaccountable experience will be perpetuated.

A Clinic for the Exhausted is offered as an exemplary architecture amidst the mass of existence, an enveloping reticence that evokes the relations of those who remain nameless.

Year: 2011
Examiners: Professor William Fox, A/Professor Chris Smith, Dr Linda Marie Walker  Supervisors: Dr Helene Frichot

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