The Potential of the Territory Beyond

December 5, 2011

Issue statement by Iker Gil, editor in chief of MAS Context, and John Szot, guest editor of this issue.


Mas issue aberration cover opening

Aberration. That was the title chosen for this issue after much discussion between us. “Pathology” and “appropriation” were some of the other working titles that we bounced back and forth but we felt were too wide or too pointed, not capturing exactly what we were interested in exploring. Aberration was open enough to allow multiple interpretations but, at the same time, specific enough to target the qualities we sought: highly provocative projects and ideas that challenge orthodoxy in order to enhance our understanding of the built environment. We were not exactly sure how that would translate into the specific outcomes from the invited contributions or what we were expecting in the call for submissions. But that was really the position in which we wanted to be, precise about the idea but open to the result.

This conversation started over half a year ago, before the MAS Context team even started to work on the Speed issue. Initiated by the mutual interest in each other’s work, we decided to collaborate in an issue, not just by contributing specific projects or an essay but actually shaping the topic and content of the issue together. And that was a first time. Since the start of MAS Context almost three years ago, there has been a close collaboration with the authors (over 130 by now) in each one of the issues. In the last few months, MAS Context has incorporated another way of continuing that collaboration, inviting authors and readers to guest curate five posts from already published issues in the “In Context” section. It has provided a successful way of framing the work done under new topics, cross-referencing articles, issues and contributors. This has been the first time that a guest editor was brought in for an issue of MAS Context, and it has been an enriching experience.

The creative process is idealistic, and much of what we prize in the work of our designers and artists comes from the way in which their visions stand in stark contrast to our understanding of the world. However, there are moments in life where the ambitions of idealistic thinking block access to the profound reality lurking within the quotidian. The thirteen contributions featured in this issue each abandon idealistic convention in pursuit of ideas that embrace the irreverence of material reality. In the process, they often cross disciplines and blur platforms to bring clarity and precision to thoughts that are without precedent. Writer and architect Paul Shepheard begins the issue, introducing us to his vision for a moral standard that reconciles the opposition between idealism and corporeality. From there, we delve into a series of ruminations and proposals that bridge the fields of architecture, design, politics, and literature. Individually, they illustrate conditions of future cities, create icons from mundane elements, propose new relationships between space and material, and reconfigure the relationship between architecture and the society it keeps. Collectively, they brave new territory as they transcend the limitations of idealistic thinking and demonstrate that, when the conventions of a discipline are pushed aside and the imagination is not restricted by practical obligations, there is a rich path full of potential worth exploring. Or, as in the words of Spanish painter Goya mentioned by Emilio López-Galiacho in his contribution, “The sleep of reason produces monsters.”