[printer friendly version ]

ISSN: 1705-6411

Volume 4, Number 3 (October, 2007).

Special Issue: Remembering Baudrillard

Leaving Las Vegas1


Owen Hatherley

(London, England, UK)

            When the
question of Baudrillard's Postmodernism comes up we should turn to urbanism and architecture for an answer – not to the amorphous American-academic construction of theory (Baudrillard wrote extensively about architecture in Utopie)2. In the mid-80s Hal Foster made a distinction between neoconservative postmodernism (centred on a revivalist and/or eclectic architecture – the key text being Charles Jencks' The Language of Postmodern Architecture) and poststructuralist postmodernism. The later group was represented by Lyotard and others who produced work which was not necessarily affirmative and non propagandist (the key text being Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition).
            Regardless of whether this dichotomy really holds, it points to the fundamental gulf that lies between Robert Venturi's Learning from Las Vegas and Baudrillard's America. Venturi saw in the chaos of signs, advertising and historical pile-ups of this city an authentic popular form, something worth affirming and imitating elsewhere. Baudrillard might have been fascinated, interested in, and obsessed with the cityscapes of late capitalism, but he never blandly affirmed them. Like J. G. Ballard, Baudrillard was involved in an autopsy – not a diagnosis.

© Owen Hatherley and nastybrutalistandshort.blogspot.com


1 A longer version of this remembrance originally appeared on March 8, 2007 at: http://nastybrutalistandshort.blogspot.com/2007/03/leaving-las-vegas.html


2 See Jean Baudrillard. Utopia Deferred. Edited by Sylvere Lotringer. MIT Press, 2006. See also Jean Baudrillard and Jean Nouvel. The Singular Objects of Architecture. University of Minnesota Press, 2001.

© International Journal of Baudrillard Studies (2007)

[Main Page]   [Contents]   [Editorial Board]   [Submissions]