The Manhattan Transcripts Architecture is not simply about space and form, but also about event , action, and what happens in space. The Manhattan Transcripts differ from most architectural drawings insofar as they are neither real projects nor mere fantasies. To this aim, they employed a particular structure involving photographs that either direct or "witness" event s some would call them "functions," others " program s". At the same time, plans, sections, and diagrams outline spaces and indicate the movements of the different protagonists intruding into the architectural "stage set. Their implicit purpose had to do with the 20th-century city.
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Made between and for consecutive exhibitions, the four episodes transcribe imagined events in real New York locales: The Park uncovers a murder in Central Park; The Street Border Crossing chronicles the movement of a person drifting through violent and sexual events on Forty-second Street; The Tower The Fall depicts a vertiginous fall from a Manhattan skyscraper; and The Block illustrates five unlikely events occurring in separate courtyards within a city block.
The event, in particular, is the figurative origin of architecture itself, through which Tschumi proposes an architecture of difference and opposition rather than synthesis and totality. Narrative techniques—be they pictorial or cinematic—evoke the ability of fiction to produce an alternative form of critique.
However precise and generative they may have been, each implies a logical reduction of architectural thought to what can be shown…. They are caught in a sort of prison-house of architectural language, where the limits of my language are the limits of my world. Any attempt to go beyond such limits, to offer another reading of architecture, demanded the questioning of these conventions. Made between and for consecutive exhibitions, its four episodes transcribe imagined events in real New York locales: Episode 1: The Park uncovers a murder in Central Park; Episode 2: The Street Border Crossing chronicles the movement of a person drifting through violent and sexual events on 42nd Street; Episode 3: The Tower The Fall depicts a vertiginous fall from a Manhattan skyscraper; and Episode 4: The Block illustrates five unlikely events occurring in separate courtyards within a city block.
While Episode 1 isolates each device in discrete frames, Episode 4 integrates the architectural drawing with movement notation. The event has become the origin of the architectural image, and the figurative origin of architecture itself.
Using film techniques such as the jump cut and the tracking shot to go beyond architectural conventions of representation, Tschumi proposes an architecture of difference and opposition rather than of synthesis and totality. Meaning, no longer fixed, is produced through the subjective sequencing of isolated frames and of disjunctive, multitudinous events.
The Manhattan Transcripts
“The Set and the Script” in Architecture: The Manhattan Transcripts (1976-1981) by Bernard Tschumi
Bernard Tschumi On His Education, Work and Writings