Tag Archives: New Babylon

The activist drawing : retracing situationist architectures from Constant’s New Babylon to beyond

The activist drawing : retracing situationist architectures from Constant’s New Babylon to beyond / edited by Catherine de Zegher and Mark Wigley.

by Constant, 1920-2005Wigley, MarkZegher, M. Catherine de;

Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. ; MIT Press, [2001]Description: 152 pages : illustrations (some colour), maps, plans, portraits ; 27 cm.ISBN: 026204191X.

 Published in connection with the exhibition Another city for another life : Constant’s New Babylon, held at The Drawing Center, New York, 2 November – 30 December 1999, and its accompanying symposium The activist drawing : retracing situationist achitectures from NewBabylon to beyond, held on 30 October 1999. 

Dutch artist Constant Nieuwenhuys (b. 1920) developed his visionary architectural project New Babylon between 1956 and 1974. Emerging out of the remarkable activist group the Situationist International, the project was concerned with issues of “unitary urbanism” and the future of art in a technocratic society. It has had a major impact on subsequent generations of artists, architects, and urbanists. Exploring the intersection of drawing, utopianism, and activism in a multimedia era, The Activist Drawing not only traces this historical moment but reveals surprisingly contemporary issues about the relationship between a fully automated environment and human creativity.

Several decades before the current debate about architecture in the supposedly placeless electronic age, Constant conceived an urban and architectural model that literally envisaged the World Wide Web. The inhabitants of his New Babylon drift through huge labyrinthine interiors, perpetually reconstructing every aspect of the environment according to their latest desires. Walls, floors, lighting, sound, color, texture, and smell keep changing. This network of vast “sectors” can be seen as a physical embodiment of the Internet, where people configure their individual Web sites and wander from site to site without limits. With its parallels to our virtual world, New Babylon seems as radical today as when it was created.

The essays explore the relevance of Constant’s utopian work to that of his peers in the Situationist International and experimental architectural movements of the 1960s, as well as later generations of architects and artists. They use Constant’s revolutionary project as a springboard to reconsider the role of drawing in an electronic age.

Copublished with the Drawing Center, New York City.

Contributors :
Benjamin Buchloh, Constant Nieuwenhuys, Rosalyn Deutsche, Catherine de Zegher, Elizabeth Diller, Tom McDonough, Martha Rosler, Bernard Tschumi, Anthony Vidler, Mark Wigley.

Constant’s New Babylon : the hyper-architecture of desire.

Constant’s New Babylon : the hyper-architecture of desire. 

by Wigley, MarkWitte de With, centrum voor hedendaagse kunst.

Publisher: Rotterdam : Witte de With, center for contemporary art, 1998.Description: 253 pages : illustrations (some colour) ; 25x28cm.ISBN: 9064503435.Subject(s): Constant, 1920-2005Note: Published on the occasion of an exhibition held at Witte de With, center for contemporary art, Rotterdam, 21 November 1998 – 10 January 1999.

709.475 NIE

Constant: New Babylon: To us, Liberty

Constant: New Babylon, to us, liberty

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Hatje Cantz; 01 edition (15 Jun. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3775741348
  • ISBN-13: 978-3775741347

Constant’s Situationist utopia reimagined everyday life as an urban adventure

An open city without borders that is capable of flowing out in all directions to allow its residents to move freely and flexibly: this fascinating utopian conception of architectural and lifeworld growth formed the starting point for Constant’s Situationist project New Babylon. Between 1956 and 1974, the Dutch painter and cofounder of the avant-garde movements Cobra and the Situationist International worked on numerous models, paintings, drawings and collages for the purpose of depicting his vision of the nomadic city of the future.

This catalogue focuses not only on New Babylon’s architectural aspects but embraces them as an artist’s synthesis of the arts. Besides the models, drawings and collages, attention is also given to the designs in order to trace Constant’s artistic process. This not only provides extensive insight into utopian urban planning, but to a greater degree into a mode of thought and imagination. The book includes an interview with Rem Koolhaas on Constant’s pioneering project.

Constant Nieuwenhuys (1920-2005) was a Dutch painter, architect, sculptor, graphic artist, author and musician. His friendship with Danish painter Asger Jorn led to the founding of the Cobra group. After its dissolution, Constant became a founding member of the Situationist International movement along with Jorn and Guy Debord, and began work on his New Babylon project.

Theory as atmosphere

‘New Babylon is a huge atmosphere jukebox that can only be played by a completely revolutionized society.’

‘That the theory did not directly refer to the project continued the sense of theory as atmosphere —not simply conceptual atmosphere for physical design, as the design was meant to be all atmosphere; atmosphere for atmosphere itself. The polemic had to direct attention to that which by definition could not be addressed directly.’

Wigley, Mark. Constants New Babylon The Hyper-Architecture of Desire