17th November 2016. – Product or Work? 911 or Jazz?

‘The production of space’ by Henri Lefebvre is an interesting read, the most intriguing parts of the book for me are the questions, which are asked as a statement and in turn challenged to form a discussion. In short the concept is that neither ‘space’ nor ‘production’ are ideas defined sufficiently enough to respond to the book’s premise of how to produce space. Conceptually the ‘idea’ of the earth existing, leads to production of the world, the nature within said world creates the human being and that human in turn produces knowledge and self conscious which allows them to have the original idea of producing the world.

Now the Marxist alternative to the subject is somewhat more logic based, relating to ‘a product’ even if that product is, in this case, as large as the earth. A product cannot be defined by Marx theory until it has been established who produces it? What they have produced? And why it has been produced. If these parameters cannot be obtained than the product in question is more likely to be classified as a ‘work’. Now in modern life, a work could be a ‘work of art’ for example – unique, irreplaceable and having value as a result. The product label however more accurately reflects an item that has been made with measure and as such could be reproduced, even on an industrial scale if required. So which is the correct definition, our earth isn’t a product, is it?

“The rose is without why; it blooms simply because it blooms. It pays no attention to itself, nor does it ask whether anyone sees it.” – Angelus Silesius, 1649. The suggestion that Nature is sporadic, ever changing and whilst clinically impressive, ultimately just random in its success or demise, is one that has influenced poets, writers, philosophers, architects and to be honest, probably every profession at some point in history, it is this notion that renders interest in the subject.

So is nature a product or a work? ‘A work’, by my personal definition, is something that is created without a need, an expression of self consciousness maybe, whereas ‘a product’ could be a mundane object such as a car to travel from A to B.

Now to contradict that frankly ridiculous speculation I just made, let’s add a layer of complexity. A ‘Honda Jazz’ is a small family hatchback, statistically it is the most reliable car ever produced and has been proven so almost every year since its release in 2001, it favours value for money and basic, reliable specification over showmanship and technical upgrades; I must conclude therefore that it is indeed a product. However, if you were to ask me why for the past 14 years of my life I have craved a Porsche 911 (964) produced in 1990, I would have to start by describing the product in question – The engine alone is frankly a special triumph, an M64 flat six, which provides a modern punch of torque low down, while maintaining that classic throaty howling soundtrack that only a classic 911 on the upper reaches of the rev range can produce. I should not discuss the rework of the classic 911 body lines, the smooth, flared arches, the discreet, delicate bonnet louvres and automatic retracting rear spoiler for my words cannot do this beauty any justice at all. I will however conclude that the Porsche is indeed a work of art before it is a product and I dare say, the designers and manufacturers knew this.

Bringing us back to nature and architecture as a means of quantifying a response to this argument of ‘production of space’ or perhaps even ‘working of space’, I must conclude that nature, as architecture is indeed ‘a work’ or at least not ‘a product’. It cannot be defined, it cannot be created, a truly great piece of architecture is as stunning and dreamy on its opening day as a flower in the spring of each year. I guess a question for the industry is where to go next? Modular building, it seems simulates the production line, therefore producing buildings of product, that can scarcely be defined as architecture. Whereas parametric design, if AI design through a set of parameters were to be defined as random, could surely could be classed as a work of art, random yet potentially repeatable, this does indeed thoroughly blur the lines of my argument. As always however the possibilities from either classification are endless.

CLICK HERE: Retro TopGear review of Porsche 911.

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