Title

Fluorescent architecture, or, Dan Flavin at the supermarket

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2014

Abstract

The architecture of supermarkets. The history of fluorescent lighting. The art of Dan Flavin. When examined independently each tells a distinct story about post-Second World War America. When studied together, however, they reveal important historical relationships between aesthetics, architecture and suburbia. These relationships revolve around a sensibility that is shared by Minimalist art, suburban buildings and everyday technologies; a sensibility that is best described as the banal-spectacle.We tend to think of sensibilities and styles as either superficial or as the result of other cultural forces. They are what covers up or comes after the important stuff. But what if one reverses this sequence and hierarchy? What is to be gained by starting with sensibility and aesthetics when generating and analysing architectural artefacts? Can they provide a robust technique for creating desirable social effects? This essay uses the overlapping histories of the supermarket, fluorescent lighting and the work of Dan Flavin to examine these questions. In doing so it will argue for the efficacy of employing aesthetic practices and products better to understand, engage and fulfill architecture's social and environmental responsibilities.

Publication Name

Journal of Architecture

Volume Number

19

First Page

949

Last Page

974

Issue Number

6

DOI

10.1080/13602365.2014.987532

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