What is this?The Circle is a fluid collective of artists, makers, inventors, and designers, established to facilitate interdisciplinary exchange. They provide affordable studio space; a safe space for personal practice and access to community, tools, and new ideas.
As a collective, they develop projects like exhibitions or short film festivals, blurring the boundaries of age, genre and gender. Through this, they give visibility to people and their work in physical and digital spaces, while fostering a creative community in Aachen. On their site & IG they continuously share their work and process. It’s their our open studio, where you can see what’s going on.
What does Neo-Metabolism have to do with it?We supported the Circle with narrative and visual expressions to represent their fluid organisational form and member structure. We introduced the notion of Group Form as a conceptual cornerstone.
What is Group Form?Any effort in collective action necessarily brings with it the question of Group Identity. What is the role and relevance of the individual within the group? Is the group defined by its members, or do its members define themselves by association with the group? Is it the same answer for all members, or does each member have their own take? Assuming a complex and dynamic mesh of relationships within, what coherent entity can be represented to the outside, and how? This is the fundamental question of Group Form. In order to produce an agreeable answer to this question, let’s first establish some shared terminology.
Etymologically, the latin root of 'identity' is 'idem', which signifies 'same'. In the context of an individual, it refers to self-similarity (or sameness) over time, as in: the things about a person, which can be recognised consistently. We may imagine a shape that changes its outline over time, but maintains an immutable core area, or ‘gestalt’.
Examining Group Identity, the notion of consistency over time gets compounded by the question of what is 'same' – or shared – between the diverse members of the group. We could picture this as a central area of overlap, in a venn diagram with several individual circles.
This overlap can be one of shared questions, interests, values or intentions, it can be the shared wish for mutual reinforcement or augmentation (opportunism), or it can be about more literal dimensions of sameness, like ethnicity, gender, cultural or ideological orientation, to name a few. As the overall composition of the group, as well as the gestalt of its individual participants, changes over time, the area of overlap naturally oscillates to a certain extent. However, for any sense of Group Identity to prevail, a core area must also remain intact.
Following this thought, Group Fluidity (the rate of change within a group) can be understood as a counterpart to Group Identity (the degree of sameness within a group). If we operationalise this idea, we get a 'rule of fluidity': the more members there are, and the more fluid they are individually, the smaller and more generic the core area of overlap will be over time.
Understanding these specific relationships of individual, group, fluidity and identity is a requirement towards any adequate aesthetic and symbolic representation (or Visual Identity) of the group as a whole – which we could call Group Form.
When some Metabolists (a Japanese architectural avantgarde from the 60s) first used the term 'Group Form', they were conceptualising their ideal of a 'grown city', with its various historical layers, contrasting styles, diverse material textures, and the various patterns of life that would emerge from it, as an ad-hoc assemblage. They meant this as an internal critique, in deliberate juxtaposition to the Bauhaus-based idea of the 'planned city' with its 'total aesthetics', which some Metabolists had adopted and advanced towards the 'Megastructure'. In the minds of Fumihiko Maki and Masato Otaka, the imposition of a singular framework onto life, leads to unnatural homogeneity and stagnation (if not fascism, when taken to an extreme). In contrast, the reality of the contemporary city was observed to be "amazingly heterogenous" and rapidly self-transforming.
"In Group Form, each element has an organic interdependence; incompleteness, the bugbear of of modern masterplans, does not preclude a coherent overall image. Maki writes: 'Cities, towns and villages throughout the world do not lack in rich collections of collective form. Most of them have, however, simply evolved: they have not been designed."
– Project Japan: Metabolism Talks (Obrist/Koolhaas, 2011)
When was this released?
2021 05 23
2021 05 23