Clark/Oakley Humanities Fellow Timothy Hyde presents “Indifferent Objects: The Architectural Remains of Modernity.”
The architectural remains of modernity—the remains of those expansive processes of economic exploitation, scientific research, and cultural circulation—comprise a vast inventory of objects. The architectural objects that directly constituted the technological realities of modernity (skyscrapers, train stations, dams, schools) have received ample scrutiny, while those that formed the social realities of modernity have been elevated into privileged view as instances of diverse vernaculars. But many other architectural remains, though vital participants in networks of exchange or circulation, lie on the periphery of aesthetic interest or historical attention, characterized not by their presence but by their indifference. It is a complex indifference that consists of unremarkable appearance but also a resistance to the conventional inquiries of architectural histories and an unsettling unconcern for the bodies that built and occupied them.
Timothy Hyde is associate professor of architectural history and theory at MIT. His most recent book, Ugliness and Judgment: On Architecture in the Public Eye, examines the entanglements of aesthetic judgment with instruments of judgment in law, science, religion, and political economy. He is also the author of Constitutional Modernism: Architecture and Civil Society in Cuba and articles on the legal and material registers of modern architecture. As the Clark/Oakley Fellow, Hyde will work on an architectural history of environmentally contingent networks of modernity, examining building sites that range from Antarctic expedition huts to Caribbean sugar warehouses.
This a prerecorded lecture is publicly available March 5 through June 15.
Image: Fragments of Henry David Thoreau’s House at Walden, collected in a bedroom of a home in Concord.