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Fame + Architecture. (Vanity, Vanity).

Edited by Julia Chance & Torsten Schmiedeknecht. London: Wiley Academy. 2002. [pound sterling]19.99-

Fame + Architecture purports to investigate the relationships between fame and architecture in a series of articles that include interviews with the famous and not so famous (but given the publicity of this volume probably soon to be more famous), and various apparently critical discourses on aspects of fame. We are told that fame is about marketing and media, about celebrity, identity and branding -- and possibly about architectural quality.

Although supposedly a discussion about fame, you will not find much in the way of analysis about the mechanics or politics of fame. Nor is there a discussion about how one becomes an arbiter of fame, and how such arbiters determine who is 'in' and who is 'out'. We are left in the dark about the foundation upon which fame is determined. There is also little about what the fame game actually brings to an architect or to architecture in general. Does, for example, fame actually bring commissions as it is imputed to do? From the discussion in this volume we would not know, except for one brief remark, that many important and successful practices neither play the fame game nor are they media darlings. The discussion is also silent about why so many architects achieve celebrity although they have neither contributed much to the larger intellectual discourse, nor produced much that has been built.

In essence, Fame + Architecture demonstrates what it purports to investigate: fame is about the condition of being talked or written about and the self-reinforcing relationship between media and architect. Between the few superficial critiques of fame that ironically reinforce the importance of the famous, we get self-congratulation, name dropping, and the very celebration of the famous that is criticized. All of this is in the name of deconstructing fame. For those interested in playing the game, Fame + Architecture might be of interest. For those trying to understand its rules and results, it will just be another example of depressing shallowness.
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Article Details
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Author:Robbins, Edward
Publication:The Architectural Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2002
Previous Article:Cricursa. (Product Review).
Next Article:The New Eco-Architecture alternatives from the Modern Movement. (Vers Une Architecture Verte).

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