Architecture In Consumer Society by Antti Ahlava

By Antti Ahlava

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Baudrillard stated that commodity is not only an economic category, but also the heart of the semantic crisis that penetrates through our social system. Baudrillard argued that in order for the social system to be reproduced as it is, there must be not simply the reproduction of labour power but the continuous reproduction of the consumer’s code, the rules informing consumers what is possible and what is not. Thus, for the reproduction of the consumer society, the emerged phenomenon of mechanical reproduction cannot be considered as important as the possibility for the reproduction of values and ideas.

Code is the link between the principle of production (rational individualism), the “spatial struggle” and the “crisis of locality”. Actually, code is the reason for “struggle” becoming “crisis”. This code makes things (not only artefacts but lifestyles, too) seem objective in their natural appeal; still, it actually hides obligations. The code has a collective function as a moral. A commodity becomes useful and exploitable only within the range of the code. The difference between Lukács, the Werkbund and Baudrillard is that Baudrillard gives – in the spirit of the Frankfurt School – more weight to the technical imperatives and psychological projections of the consum63 In the interview Space, Knowledge and Power (1997, orig.

1976) 17-21, 77, 8990, 112-114. , 114. 45 rary phase. Not all contemporary architecture is simulation, either. However, I am now concentrating on the later phases of the simulacra in architecture. 74 Henceforth I shall refer to this phase simply as the “transmodern” stage and the new stage of simulacra as “hypersimulation”. In this phase, in the “irradiated stage of value”, there is an inflation of value, an “obesity” of value, an “epidemic of value”. 75 Baudrillard describes how in the new transmodernity of exaggeration, everything, even the most insignificant, the most marginal and the most obscene, enculturates itself, becomes “a museum piece” and aestheticises itself.

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