Simone Brott is an architect and theorist, and Senior Lecturer in Architecture at Queensland University of Technology. Educated at Yale University and The University of Melbourne, she writes on the politics of the digital image in architectural production and contemporary cities. Her books include Architecture for a Free Subjectivity: Deleuze and Guattari at the Horizon of the Real (Routledge, 2011) and Architecture Post Mortem: The Diastolic Architecture of Decline, Dystopia, and Death (New editions, Routledge, 2016). Her writing has appeared in Log, AD Architectural Design, Thresholds, Architectural Theory Review, Journal of Public Space, and The Journal of Architecture and Urbanism. Brott has lectured at Yale University, Harvard University, Boston University, the University of Michigan, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Strathclyde University, Glasgow, and The University of Melbourne. She is currently working on a new project about the financialization of architectural images as a new asset class, like stocks or bonds.
Digital Monuments: The Dreams and Abuses of Iconic Architecture
Baudrillard’s brilliant text predicted the total substitution of reality by images that is our reality in 2020. Objects such as buildings today are really images, and reality must be artificial in order to have any validity. That is the essence of iconic architecture as a supreme form of simulation.
I feel that Adorno’s critique of the iconicity of Hollywood cinema—meaning its false immediacy and the indistinguishably of the screen from reality—was prescient, because iconic architecture today operates through the same loss of reality by the image that holds us, the global audience, in its thrall, hence the idea for my book Digital Monuments was born.
My book Digital Monuments book has a mirror structure, like David Lynch’s film Mulholland Drive. Its first half is Naomi Watts’ fantasy, she’s a famous star with a life perfect and slick. The second half is her real life, grim and unglamorous. Similarly, the first half of Digital Monuments unfolds the theory of iconic architecture, its dream-like fantasy nature, while the second half explores the grim reality on the ground, from the destruction of cities to mass deaths.