TRANSCRIPT SIX

JACQUES DERRIDA, PETER EISENMAN, JEFFREY KIPNIS, THOMAS LEESER, RENATO RIZZI

NEW YORK, JANUARY 10, 1987

PE Let me see if I can review the materials and explain where we are. The wall is made of marble, though not the original one. The grounds of Paris are in Cor-ten steel, which is pre-rusted. The other wall is luminous, as if it were diaphanous, perhaps onyx. JD It's unreal! How thick is this wall? RR As thick as it is high. PE You would sense it as a battlement. JD And the material of the abattoir form is the same? PE Yes. In the summer, this place will radiate a tremendous amount of heat. JD Can the visitor enter? PE No, there is no penetration of the perimeter at the moment; the issue is wheth^' , s'.hould allow it. RR We would have a security and safety problem if we did. PE The problem is the holes, but I don't think the^a, i.s Jeep enough to requir^-, ,// JD It will have to be lit. PE If we were required to have a handrail, it would destroy everything by framing it into reality. An 3 tive would be to elevate the entire project off ground level so that the edge would form an embankment. JK It seems to me you are going to have several prob­lems realizing this. PE We could deny access. JD Then it would just be a spectacle to walk around. PE You could walk in the other sites, but not this one. JD It would then become a holy space. PE It looks like an outdoor amphitheater. It has a lot of features which

would invite people into it. JD It really is a crea§t. .'/space. So many things about it call for going in and under. PE What about let-

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ting them walk on the wall as a walkway? RR Therd would be safety problems for children. PE If the prohibition is total, we should make the railing. But let's use a railing from within the world of tht» ■xpct. Maybe we could use a moat? JD Could we organize just one crossing, one path, prescribe one way of going into it? PE ^/ould have to demarcate that path. There are too many holes. JK You could cover the holes with glass. PE They are not that deep, only three feet. I think aV ' 1 is a real possibility, but then you have to have a rail for the moat. JK If you have a moat, however, the rail becomes a passivlk jMent. The moat is like a curtain ris­ing to the scheme. PE We could have a moat and elevate the whole scheme within it. Then you would have a moat and a solid wall which would create a strong object presence. If we build a moat and create strong edge conditions by raising or lowering the scheme then a railing disappears. Without those conditions, the railing will appear as part of the project. JD I must say that I am very disturbed that you are talking about making this into an object. PE As soon as you prohibit access and create a barrier, the project becomes an object. JD Is there no possibility of allowing people to enter without danger? PE I have an idea. Can we take the grat­ing of the lyre form Jacques has created to cover the holes jr ■ e"-oduce a second datum? RR It cannot be anything which people could trip on. PE And a guard is no good either. Jacques dar !Jf ike the idea of keeping, -^nnle out. JK No, he doesn't like the idea of a prohibition acting to make the work an object, worse, a sacred object, PE I think wit - 3*'jld consider grills like the lyre over the holes. JK It would not be allowed. PE I don't know that I am convinced that it is any more'-S. less an object if you put a rail around it. It could be an unknown territory. We are not prohibiting people from going on it because it's a precious object, but because it's dangerous. JD You remember that we thought that people really should be able to enter to look at this wonderful object. PE You see it as a wonderful object, but we are not sure that they will. Jacques, we really need your position on this. For my part, it makes no difference whether they enter or-not What I don't want to have to do is fill in the holes. JD But in the preliminary contract this was supposed to be a space in whic/ [ ,'ople participated F?c 1 have it! Why not fill the holes with water? They were water in Venice. RR That makes it more dangerous. PE What about a duck A <e i a park? RR It's true. In the Luxembourg Gardens they have them. PE Nobody falls in. It relates to the Venice project and soiЈo_, li jr problem. RR I don't think the water helps with the security problem; they would worry about someone falling in. TL How about putting everything under water. JD That would be good. PE If we sub­merged the project, we could do so in such a way as to have some of the pieces emerging above water TL Like a large pool. PE A public pool doesn't reguire a railing, especially if it's not deep. TL We could raise the lip. PE Yes, a little lip — nothing you would notice. You could walk out on those few objects which were above water. JD Where would the water be? PE The water would be everywhere, very shallow, like a beach. Jacques, what do you think about the idea of the water? JD It's a good idea. TL Peter, if we

«. , ,,inject two feet from the edge and then fill it with water, no one could gain access. pe No, that makes an object of it; it jk People could walk out a little bit onto the pieces to see the submerged aspects of the project. rr Or we could ,.. cess level beneath, and prohibit entry onto the surface above. jk But how do you stop people from entering onto the • ■ -out creating an object of it? pe Renato is suggesting an interesting possibility. He is saying that we can prohibit entry to out allow the public to enter the underneath, where you would see the inverse of everything: the surface as a ceiling articulations, the solids and voids of the surface, in inverse. jk You could then use a railing or something to prohibit x surface without the object problem, since you do allow access into the project. pe It also echoes the chora idea of the ■ o can only have access to the imprint, not to th|y»fll object — there is no "real" object. It's a wonderful idea, the reverse is to be the positive. jd Yes, it's a wonclerfuhWBPE It's better than submerging. There are some problems, of course ., ,ng height, the rna'jgMK- we could use glass sPPHr-you could see some of the surface elements from within. It would be u , <u •nto the catacomt    a certain passage would permit movement below, the rest would be unexcavated or too low. jk

; o. :n see the ceiling as well as the park and people outside through the excavations and other penetrations in the surface. pe _ ,\.;j:d not be able to enter some of the features below, but they would be illuminated through glass by the sun or lights. The . ihe holes would be glass to let light in. jk Wherever there is a negative form, you would be able to see it, lit either with sun- r * or official light. All of the negatives of the surface are positive beneath, c»*Lice versa. pe Jacques, it's just what you have . o.lk.ng about — and we got it by accident! jd Is it possible technically? pe Technically, it's no problem. jd How wide would ...- pooo be9 pe Maybe two meters. jd They would see thC'^Mfltie of the negative forms, and through the transparency, the sur- pi- They would see the equivalent of a plastic mold of t^lBMece, the reverse of what was above. We will have to work on the - ,ooor'' structure so that it is cor     with the scheme. jd Positive/negative; vice versa. pe I think it's terrific; I think it works. Now,

•• .,-• raiing doesn't matter. rr YoulpH» not be able to see some of the things beneath because of the gradient. pe That's right, you ooule see only parts. It would be labyrinthine. tl How do you imagine the park authorities will react? pe I don't think that's a prob- opo jo We will say this or nothing, Okay? pe Yes, this or nothing. rr This is potentially expensive. pe The extra costs are only the .-oiurnns. jk No, the interior finishing and detail will add expense; it will have to be air-conditioned. jd We will need another model, oji are we not changing anything on the surface? tl There is a lot more work to do. pe Yes, but it's much better jd Much better. pe -eems we finally get to the theme of chora, the impression, by ggjjig to the underside. It is very interesting how in the end, and inmost accidentally, we return to your text, Jacques. jd It is the nVHage. pe That's the difference between architecture and phi­losophy. We couldn't have thought th ^ggtrom the beginning. jT-^PPpractical problem stimulated the philosophic solution. pe It is also the difference between a tiaditu ■Hbhltecture and a textual architecture. Traditionally, the question at this stage would have been how to build, not how to avoid 0D'fiutnc)0d. That is very important. [Frank Gehry arrives, Peter Eisenman introduces.] pe Jeff, explain the project to Frank. jk Bernard Tschumi invited Peter and Jacques to collaborate on one of the gardens of his scheme for La Villette. As you know, Peter has long been interested in many of the themes of Derrida's work, which is how we got together. pe Mainly his deconstruction of origins, and of the relationships between objects and man. jk While at Harvard, Peter and I began pre­liminary work on textual processes for architecture based on some of these ideas. He and Thomyjnthen went on to elaborate these into a process called scaling. After Bernard's invitation, Jacgues, Peter agjU^ot together for a pi? »binary meeting to lay the ground­work. Jacques then sent a text on which he was working concerning «Huely problematic concept in Plato's oeuvre found in his Timaeus. The concept, chora, is the one non-Platonic element in all of ?lilxs works. It deals with the place that receives the world as made by the Demiurge, in which the Platonic division between the sensible and the intelligible becomes absolute. jd It is a place without space, before space and time. The Demiurge, looking at the Ideas, copies them and inscribes those copies into chora, thus making the world. Plato says that chora is unthinkable, that it can only be conceived of as if in a dream. Chora receives everything while always remaining virgin. It is very difficult. jk So, chora became a kind of theoretical program which Peter, Thomas and Renato used to motivate a scaling exercise. As they proceeded, they stayed in frequent communication with Jacques, who criticized vari­ous ideas, made suggestions and eventually even contributed this form, which is roughly a lyre and is derived from chora, to break the inexorable scaling logic which Peter had constructed. Thomas then incorporated that form into the scaling logic, so that it wa: at the same time consistent, but breaking. In brief, the scaling logic was constructed around the relationships between Paris anu Tschumi's La Villette project and Venice and Peter's Cannaregio project, which provided the source materia! for the analogic exer­cise. Among the Derridean themes, chora notwithstanding, that they strove for was a subversion of authorship, time and place. PE You have to understand that, because of some formal similarities, particularly in the grid, Tschumi's La Villette project and my Cannaregio project are very analogous. We were therefore thinking to cross-play the Plato/Derrida relationship with the Tschumi/Eisenman one. So we inscribed my project into Bernard's in +ho oast, present and future so as to create an analogy with the relationship between Derrida and Plato. Jacques was worried thajr s'-.ircular logic of scaling was too closed, so he suggested that we somehow break it. So we asked him to conceive of and contriciWc iat break. JD I drew a , ./■' ich is also a sieve. In Plato's text, chora is compared to a sieve which separates things into the world of the sensible and intelli^r v 9 3o this is both sieve and lyre, for what we did together was like a musical event. We call it choral work — music. JK Then Thomas realized that Jacques' drawing was very close to the shape of the site, so the form could be incorporated and its placement not be merely arbitrary, though it breaks the logic because it is not contained in the Tschumi-Paris/Eisenman-Venice source material. JD So, in brief, that is how we got to this object. JK Yes, that gets us to today. Now, f,, ./aced the following problem: the project as it stands in the model might be phys­ically dangerous to the visitor. However, if you appeal to the usual architectural solutions to problems of prohibiting access, such as a railing, you engage a philosophical problem, because you turn* ^,on-object solution into an object, a precious object, by fram­ing it. JD You create a spectacle, instead of a space in which to^- E Which is exactly contradictory to the spirit of the concept of chora. JK So, today we have been engaged in a series of gyrations. Do we maintain the jfc jphy at the expense of safety, or achieve safety at the expense of the philosophy? After many considerations, Renato had it% >'a, the bold insight, I think, to pro­hibit access to the surface but allow penetration underneath. Essentially, he conceived of a basement condition in which all of the positive features of the surface would be negative, and vice versa. In this we can guarantee safety while being consistent with the philosophy. Now the amazing thing is that not only does it solve the immediate problem, but it also re-engages the poetics of Plato's chora by creating a condition of imprinting by being the negative of itself in itself. "It" is neither the positive nor the negative, yet at the same time both. JD Printing it is more of a struggle now „ . . with this hypothesis. JK So in solving without compromise an archi­tectural problem created by the philosophical consideration^ e' enrich both the philosophy and the architecture. It is important to note that this only happened because traditional architectural u^utions were of necess^ adequate. PE You know, Jacques, Jeff has an interesting feeling about us. He wouldn't say this to you; for some reason, he trefY-' - 3'j as a sacred object. Jeff says that you and I have failed in this discourse because we retained our boundaries, rather than allowing the difference to intrude into the dis­course; we both stayed on our own turf. You wrote the program, chora, and I stood there. I worked on the design, we talked togeth­er, but somehow we didn't transcend. I didn't work philosophically, nor you architecturally, until that point at which 1 said you had got to make some formal contribution. JK What happened was that the contractual condition between architecture and philosophy remained intact, even though yo ^oth are the people most interested in breaking it. It speaks, I believe, to an important aspect of the relationship between the two u ciplines, JD On the.hand I agree, on the other PE It's partly an aspect of personality as well. JD I'm the philosopher, you're the architect; thai* problem. PE Our boundaries remained more or less intact. JD Our boundaries within ourselves, yes. PE You write about fne d.ts. I liked your essay on maintenance, for example. I didn't think your essay on Tschumi was that enlightening: it was as if by someone who remains outside of architecture, not from within. I hope that when you write about this work, it will be more from within. Jeff always says I read these books, but I misread them. He said this morning that I'm not a Derridean — I do not apply your work to architecture. My work has nothing to do with deconstruction per se. Your work is like a stimulus for me, but not a doctrine for application. If anything, I misinterpret your work as an unconscious pro­tection. Jeff would have been happier had I operated less unconsciously in our relationship, 1 think. JK No, I would not. It is true, I

s felt that, sophisticated as you are, Jacques, in your interpretation of the notion of text, there has always been a naпvetй ature of the "real object," in particular the architectural object. For instance, it is evident in the choice of the sieve or lyre itative symbol for your formal contribution to this project. I have a similar complaint about Peter, as he well knows. As -.-,;ed as he is in his understanding of man's relationship with the architectural object and as devoted as he is to under- implications of "decentering" for that object and that relationship, he is still quite given to a nostalgia for traditional form. ■, ,he possibility of your two working together arose, I thought, they are really going to have to confront each other for this to ... jp <-\nd, instead, we alluded to each other. JK What you did was to respect and accommodate one another. The important ... , - , •(;(? is that it is not a question of failure, but a QU^^M0^ an occurrence with a motive not so much related to you and Peter ; -, ; ,;.iiy. though that is important, but to the                                                                                       philosophy and architecture, text and object. JD Well, of course,

. ., .i • I'm not a philosopf- winifllri Peter is not an architelпPPE First of all, Jacques, I am too much in awe of you. Frank Gehry and ... -'ipagues; he is an ar                                          for whom I hold enormous respect, but we can work together because we are not afraid to rap

. -.,; i. Tther. But in our collaboration I am in such awe of you that it was very hard for me to confront you. JD It is really a problem • ,,cal competency. PE No, I do not think so. JD But at least that is a contributing factor. JK I believe that the more that each focuses on decentering your respective fields, the more nostalgic and sensitive you become to the metaphysic of the center. i:?i o question of your respective competence; rather, each of you has san^^nething like "my discipline fails because of the ,\ay i sets up its own boundary conditions." I'm speaking of the definition of Architecture and of Philosophy, both with capital let­ters. You have both argued wonderfully that there are phi lose.•«■■Implications to the margins of Philosophy and architectural impli­cations to the non-Architectural. Yetjщe economy of those bTVHmes has operated strongly in this project. So it is fascinating for <ts content, its announcements,           > for its silences. JD Can you speak to those silences, to what you think we avoided? PE I

would agree, Jacques, that there''JPPieen a certain avoidance. You have to understand that. I am always putting myself in some lesser position. Jeff finds it difficult when I am putting myself down. JK That's what architects always do. PE It is how the architect deals with someone he thinks might be more intelligent. JK On the same note, however, you hear Jacques saying, "Well, I don't have technical competency, I don't know much about architecture." You both vie for opportunities to belittle yourselves in relationship to the other discipline, and in doing so, claim your own territory of expertise. Not only do you say, "I'm not part of your discipline," but in that gesture you are also saying, "You're not part of mine." Yet you two have independently come to recognize that that gesture has been to the detriment of your respective disciplines and has                                                                                                                                  motivated exclusions. This project participates in that, even

as much as it tries to break it down. P^Jggks go back over a couh'PPftiings. Do you remember, Thomas, when I first told you we were going to put this lyre thing in, yoi^^® out of your mind. He went crazy, Jeff. He said, "Are you crazy?" I remember, Thomas came back from a meeting with JacqufPand said, "I got this thing from Derrida, you're not going to put this in!" JD You know, I could anticipate this reaction. Not only from him, but from you. PE I said we were going to put it in, I never said we weren't. JK I asked you what you were going to do. You said, "Well, I am going to find a part of the project as it stands, and call it a lyre." PE Well, I did. The thing about lyre, is that there is a double meaning, the homophone — liar [laughter], I have developed a great affection for Jacques during this project. If we were to do another project, I am certain we could overcor^yhese boundaries. JK I think the problems I have discussed would get worse. JD We have external mie^jjЙlimits. There are mafllules, many constraints. JK Your affection could be described as an outcome of this work, but it's also t\       i that in a way prohibits. Had you engaged in the kind

of way of which I spoke earlier, the outcome, at least temporarily, woC^PIffuoably have been much less affectionate. There would have been a crisis of the ego, so to speak. One doesn't come out of such a crisis with affectionate feelings — you understand. I don't think the error made here was yours or Jacques'; the error was made by someone like myself expecting something to happen that cannot happen. Or hoping — for a dissertation on the exclusionary contract between architecture and philosophy. It's similar to the issue Valйry raises in the Eupalinos in which Socrates, in his youth, tries to decide between becoming an architect or a philosopher. Anyway, I never said that I thought you two weren't willing to be on the line. That was never a guestion. TL Peter is different now. PE

I am. I see now that I am doing my own work. JK The conversations I have with both of you, Peter in reality, Jacques in fantasy, are the same. They concern my feelings that you say you are doing one thing, but I see you as doing something else. PE That's the issue Jeff is always interested in. In a sense my project produces a monster. JK Likewise, in Jacques' Of Grammafology he says he is going to back up from the extreme implication of his own work. Elsewhere, in "White Mythology," I think, you say that you have poten­tially created a monster. Am I misquoting you7 In my thinking, the monster you have created is architecture. It is in architecture that the realization of your work becomes monstrous. JD Besides which, we cannot confirm that it is a monster, we cannot recognize it JK If that is the case, how is it that you have a sense of backing away and operating within the margins? You see, Peter does some­thing interesting in that regard. When he does a project, he systematic^'iv establishes conditions and goals which are impossible to meet. He thereby systematically ensures that, under his own terms, thfi- s'„ect will fail. In this way, he prevents critical access to the project, he determines and prescribes its critical reception, which ^s deflects attention fnЈ ,/. By interposing his failure of announced intentions, he defends his project from interpretation and response. PE Not by intent^ 5 < No, I understand. I believe it always operates unconsciously. PE I think Jacques has the same problem; people do not want to deal with the work. Someone like Richard Rorty can outwit Jacques by remaining at a certain level of Jacques' work which has nothing to do with the deeper lev­els where Jacques is operating. I feel very much a friendship and kinship to you, Jacgues, because your critics trivialize your work as do mine. You can't win with these critics. Th^,-.</ e going to get me no matter what. JK Jacques, once at a lecture, you said that beneath the self-evident one can expect to find a secret lurking. From the audience, I asked you what was the secret lurking behind the self evidence of your growing popularity. The way I am thinly bout that question currently concerns the difference between internalizing and externalizing knowledge. The disturbing imp Vl of both your work and Peter's is defended against by what might be called externalization, a process which includes, paradoxically, popularity; i so I at 10$ .ggrandizement. Consider the fact that today we can speak of a new category, called the "undecidable," which due to you blL y.-ty or so members. The disturbing implication is that by virtue of your work there can be no category of the undecidable; the defensive externalization is the formation of just such a category. JD It is a very important problem. We made a big step today. PE That is really very fortunate. I did not want this model go to France without your seeing it. Thomas, I am still not convinced that if we take what Jacques said about the sieve and the lyre that we have it right. It could be sand. It could be stainless steel and sand; maybe the goods are sand. See, that would be great. What I am sayin


 

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