Lists from prior to and during the summer school:
– Construction site materials
– Capacities for board and lodging
– Proof of Attendance of summer school participants
– Lecture programme
– List of regulations to be met during the summer school
– Agency Agency as a mode of operating lists
The video shows a project manager and a worker from the construction company Bunte going through all materials and tools ordered for the duration of the summer school. Let’s unfold the process of how these resources materialised on site. Alex Römer and Bernd Kniess started talking about a prototype building, which could be realised in the given situation and following the summer school’s motive. That process included laying out a) all pertinent permits and safety issues, b) experience, embodied skills and knowing-how in construction among participants and, of course, c) the summer school's duration of only 10 days. Alex proposed a support structure that would meet all regulations employing Anlage 2 HBauO – Verfahrensfreie Vorhaben nach § 60 and still give enough flexibility to encounter heterogeneous assemblages of uses during the summer school.
In addition to having an architecture degree, Alex is also a trained carpenter. Thinking about construction techniques fit for both professional and lay people, he estimated the necessary amount of wood, screws and tools for the construction process. Members of the research and teaching programme Urban Design calculated the concrete necessary to build the mini golf lanes. Together, this list of materials was sent to the general project manager for the project Ohlendieckshöhe at f & w fördern & wohnen AöR. He processed the order in house and asked for a meeting to learn about the planned production processes from UD. Both met on site to discussed materials, tools and production processes on the basis of the submitted lists. The discussion outlined the differences in the modes of realising the project community building in an open-build process vs. realising 21 houses/300+ dwelling units in a standardized building process for the project Ohlendieckshöhe. However, as the project manager from f & w fördern & wohnen AöR is managing both projects, his project thinking is pertinent for all efforts in the community building project. This is a relevant example of the necessity to at least partly learn and adopt already existing project worlds from pertinent stakeholders.
One mode of processing asymmetry of information is to transpose missing information into a process of knowledge production. The organization of a list of books concerning open-build and standard building techniques demonstrates such an effort. The list of books for the open-build library was comprised with the summer school’s motive and the project's building practices in mind. Fragments, or structural entities, of the books (pages and spreads) were extracted using the Xerox machine to create new lists according to aspects such as the structural approach to open-building (as seen on the wall; 3 basic types of beam, wall and cube and four materialities, namely wood, metal, concrete and miscellaneous). In these lists, the constellations of the fragments appeared as epistemic objects. Each fragment was subject to questioning of how it could function in relation to a specific aspect of building.
With the examples above we can see that the list implies an epistemological shift. The shift takes place from a description of phenomena or isolated facts (statements on reality) to a description of a structure of relationships between facts. This structure appears as a list of non-linear narratives about the makings of relationships. Here, every enumeration (Aufzählung) is also a narration (Erzählung) is illustrated by the example given above.
We can distinguish between two dimensions of the list: firstly, its functioning and secondly, its dimension of a theoretical technique. We can have a list of materials as indicated in the videos, but we can also have a list in order to theorize the work with lists. In this theory we refer to Bruno Latour and his book Science in Action. Here, Latour concentrates on what science does and describes it as a performative practice. This performativity is strongly connected to a specific mode of representation. One of the main epistemic factors of the work in the lab consists of the practice of writing, visualizing and inscribing scientific data. We see the making of knowledge as a process of translation into an inscription in the form of a list. The production of epistemic things is revealed as a material culture in which the epistemic object is produced in a symbolic as well as a material dimension in the form of a list. As the actors of the summer school are confronted with the indeterminacy of the setting on site, the scientist is confronted with a black box in the laboratory. There is no other way to start interacting with the things and actors of the situation in search for what Bruno Latour calls 'unknown actants' (1988, p. 88). The decisive point is that the knowledge-making process is not about unravelling an epistemic thing but about producing this thing through 'a list of constitutive actions' (1988, p. 88). Thinking in design terms, the shape of the epistemic object is nothing but its list. Thus an object cannot be traced through determining its essence, but by listing its characteristic features. The list is at the same time the production and the medium of the epistemic thing. The relation between things and lists is by no means accidental, as the research on the wall in the container shows. On the contrary, this relation allows for collecting and ordering heterogeneous actors and actants.
Finally, we need to mention that lists are representational spaces. Regarding the discipline of design lists are always a question of design. This is where design and knowledge conflate. For example the book Content by Rem Koolhaas (OMA/AMO) can be regarded as a simple strategic framework. It not only selects and files structures of the urban that it wants to show, but it also gives it a frame and an order. The thesis put forward in the book that the diagram is a way of seeing the world should therefore be complemented by the fact that the diagram of a book as a list and a frame is also a way of selecting what is seen in a diagrammatic fashion.
Using lists, photographs, plans, drawings, interviews, text, timelines, all this heterogeneous material in one book which has a list of pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and so on … mixing it with ads by Prada become a way of assembling heterogeneity and in that way put forward the production of knowledge in the way of an epistemic thing that comes about through listing heterogeneous actors and actants. You can also work on different scales. At the same time the book is a list, but also for example a timeline such as the one you can see here is a list in itself. So lists can appear – here you have a list, let’s see what kind of list it is, yes, a list as text – a collage that assembles a little bit of Peter Röhr, a collage of a serial repetition of photographs means that this framing itself is serialized: as a repetition to show what the take shows us, that the serial repetition is engrained in difference. Running through the serial repetition the difference is shown as a mode of production of knowledge. In this way the list becomes performative as a book.
Latour, B., 1988. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford u.a.: Oxford University Press, USA.
What constitutes a list?
A list is an administrative tool that allows to connect and order collected data in order a) to give the process a structure, b) to be able to re-assemble the data.