Lebbeus Woods: From Objects to Fields

Princeton Architectural Press has just released a new book by Lebbeus Woods — The Storm and the Fall. The book, among other things, documents and provides a context for two installations by Woods, one at the Cooper Union gallery in NYC and the other at the Cartier Foundation in Paris, both in 2002.

In the text and at the lecture on Monday evening at the Center for Architecture in Manhattan, Woods has described his recent work as embodying a primary concern with the field rather than the object. This constitutes a shift in focus consistent with one of the defining features of his practice as an artist and architect, i.e. to experiment against the grain of established conventions in ways that open up a critical reconsideration of, and response to, the existing conditions for living.

The shift of focus I have made from objects to fields has not been made simply as a rejection of the politics of identity that buildings inevitably work to sustain; nor simply as a rejection of the illusions of authority conjured by buildings — especially innovative buildings, designed and built in the service of private or institutional power. It is a shift I have made in order to liberate, in the first case, myself. If I cannot free myself from the reassurance of the habitual, how can I speak of the experimental, which is nothing if not real risk, even loss? [The Storm and the Fall, 37]

In both installations, Lebbeus Woods has created fields of sensation that take one to a more basic and preconceptual apprehension of the event of “the storm” and “the fall”. And as a thinker he has made yet another contribution to what should be on ongoing debate about the very nature of architecture and its role in social action.