The exotic Hawklords tour programme and Rem Koolhaas’ Delirious New York
Photograph by the grace of Chris Gabrin
The following conversation was conducted in the Van Dieman’s Land of the comments dept. below, but is so central and interesting to the whole shebang of Barney’s work I thought to include it as an item. Enjoy. Nazar can be found here: Nazar Ali Khan
Nazar Ali Khan: The 1978 Hawklords tour programme makes interesting reading if you’ve read Delirious New York by Rem Koolhaas (published in 1978). The text, which still has HW fans scratching their heads, has been posted here –
David WIlls: You can read Rem Koolhaas at http://www.scribd.com/doc/202962/Delirious-New-York
Here’s the intro from the Hawklords tour programme:
“Strong in Hygienic Industry Founded in 1953, by a dream concurrent with space flight to the moon, Pan Transcendental Industries, together with macroscale investment from the state and corporate capital, found it possible to embark on a wholesale megastructural rehabilitation of the globe. A dream which soon became an enlightened reality and one from which the majority of the world’s population benefit today.”
And here a quote from ‘Delirious’ in which Koolhaas is describing aspects of Coney Island:
“SPHERE The sphere appears throughout Western architectural history, generally coinciding with revolutionary movements. To the European Enlightenment it was a simulacrum of the world, a secular counterpart of the world, a secular counterpart of the cathedral; typically, it was a monument and, in its entirety, hollow. It is the American genius of Samuel Friede, inventor of the Globe Tower, to exploit the Platonic solid in a series of pragmatic steps. For him the globe, ruthlessly divided into floors, is simply a source of unlimited square footage. The larger it is, the more immense these interior planes; since the Globe itself will need only a single, negligible point of contact with the earth, the smallest possible site will support the largest reclaimable territory. As revealed to investors, the tower’s blueprints show a gigantic steel planet that has crashed onto a replica of the Eiffel Tower, the whole ‘designed to be 700 feet high, the largest building in the world with enormous elevators carrying visitors to the different floors.’ ”
Personally I can’t see much stylish correlation between the two, I chose this quote because of the reference to the Globe Tower. I’m fairly sure that the Hawklord text was a Burroughs type ‘cut up’ generated text, and the Koolhaas text a rational exploration of architectural principles, but I do know that Barney was excited by Dutch (I think it was) architectural ideas. The globe on a spike reminds me of Barney’s idea for a block of concrete pierced by a Phantom jet described elsewhere in these posts.
Maybe Naz could explain why he thinks there’s a connection?
Nazar: Barney certainly had a copy of Delirious New York, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, and was enthusiastic about the book and its ideas. Delirious New York was introduced to me by my tutor when I was a second year student at college, almost as a last resort, as my interests in Constructivism and Suprematism were considered deeply unfashionable at the time! Koolhaas is one of the most famous architects in the world now. A former screenwriter, his theory of ‘Manhattanism”, drew together Coney Island, the Rockefeller Centre, Dali, the Constructivist idea of the social condenser, and the formal 3D abstractions of the Suprematists. In the appendix to the book, there are theoretical projects based on this theory.
Some ideas from the book are woven into the Hawklords story. For example, Koolhaas’s proposition that the elevator enabled the stacking of horizontal planes that incubated their own ideological programme is reflected in the “elevator principle” of the Hawklords text. There are similarities in the text too –
Rem Koolhaas: “At these moments the purpose of the Captive Globe, suspended at the center of the City, becomes apparent: all these institutes together form an enormous incubator of the World itself; they are breeding on the Globe.”
Hawklords: “Projects developing under ideal and identical conditions have the right to expand indefinitely toward heaven. Together these institutes form an enormous incubator of the World itself. They are breeding on the Globe.”
rebecca and mike: beautifully put nazar. you’re talking about deep content here; not just the froth on the top of a cappuccino. some people just hone in on the bondage pics and think that’s the lot when it comes to the hawklords booklet, so it’s great to read you turning this stuff over.
Wills: Looks like I chose the right quote, ‘Sphere’ from ‘Delirious.’ I can see there there certainly is a word-for-word connection. I was in Rem’s library in Seattle a couple of months ago, a very ‘cool house’ as they say up there. As you come down an elevator there’s a hole ‘broken’ in the wall where you can see all the internal wiring and insulation stuffing.
Hmm. I think I may have seen ‘Delirious’ at Barney’s studio, does it have pictures of Coney Island with drawings on top, narrow newsprint with squared-up half tones in space?
Later… Yes Barney definitely did show me Delirious New York, in ’83, handed it to me as I was sitting on a couch for me to look at while he went off someplace. I’d seen other art like it, maybe by Rem, but also at the Royal College of Art and in my ignorance thought it second hand. Asked what I thought, I indicated with eyebrows i was less than enthralled, Barney said as how it was funny how we could be so “turned on” by different things.
Maybe Hawklords was a cut-up of ‘Delirious’ with ad ons?