Publication

  • X-Ray Architecture
    Beatriz Colomina
    Author
    Lars Müller Publishers, 2017
  • GRANTEE
    Beatriz Colomina
    GRANT YEAR
    2016

Children during a heliotherapy session, 1937.

Modern architecture, launched by an international group of avant-garde architects in the 1920s, has usually been understood in terms of functional efficiency, new technologies of construction, and the machine aesthetic. In contrast, X-Ray Architecture proposes that the architecture of the early twentieth century was shaped by the dominant medical obsession of its time: tuberculosis and its primary diagnostic tool, the X-ray. If architectural discourse has from its beginning associated building and body, the body that it describes is the medical body, reconstructed by each new theory of health. Avant-garde architects of the early decades of the twentieth century presented thus their new architecture as a health inducing instrument, or a kind of medical equipment for protecting and enhancing the body, specifically designed to resist and even cure the deadly disease that was ravaging cities all over the globe. This publication will re-examine the way illness and a new kind of vision inverted the normal understanding of modern architecture.

Beatriz Colomina is founding director of the program in Media and Modernity at Princeton University and professor of history and theory in the School of Architecture. She has written extensively on questions of architecture, art, sexuality and media. Her books include Are We Human? Notes on an Archeology of Design (Lars Müller, 2016), The Century of the Bed (Verlag für Moderne Kunst, 2015), Manifesto Architecture: The Ghost of Mies (Sternberg, 2014), Clip/Stamp/Fold: The Radical Architecture of Little Magazines 196X-197X (Actar, 2010), Domesticity at War (MIT Press, 2007), Privacy and Publicity: Modern Architecture as Mass Media (MIT Press, 1994), and Sexuality and Space (Princeton Architectural Press, 1992). She has curated a number of exhibitions including Clip/Stamp/Fold (2006), Playboy Architecture (2012), and Radical Pedagogies (2014). She was curator with Mark Wigley of the third Istanbul Design Biennial (2016).