Remaking the Public: CCTV, the Hyperbuilding and the Image of Labour

by ytheory

                                                             CCTV under construction in 2008, photograph by Ana Abram
At the kind invitation of Pier Vittorio Aureli, I am speaking at the Berlage, Rotterdam, to the City as a Project PhD programme. I’m presenting material related to the third chapter of my PhD where I produce a critique of OMA’s turn from Bigness to the Hyperbuilding, and relate this to the context of an emergent model of neoliberal governmentality in China today. This should be timely as OMA are doing a workshop at the Berlage the week before. Details below. Photos of CCTV kindly supplied by students of the AA’s Landscape Urbanism programme: Ana Abram, Daniel Portilla and Jaime Traspaderne.

The Project: the Rise and Fall of a Political and Artistic Paradigm
Friday April 27th from 16.00 to 19.00 – J.J.P. Oud room
Fifth Seminar with Douglas Spencer

Remaking the Public: CCTV, the Hyperbuilding and the Image of Labour

OMA’s CCTV headquarters in Beijing is considered here as emblematic of a reversal of the tenets of Bigness towards a new (proto)typology of the ‘hyperbuilding’. In this reversal the objective of a ‘metropolitan architecture’ is replaced with that of an infrastructural urbanism. This turn, I argue, has significant implications in regard to the production of new urban subjectivities, whilst also bringing Koolhaas remarkably close to what I have termed, elsewhere, ‘architectural Deleuzism’ in both his architectural and his discursive strategies. In order to challenge Koolhaas’s claims to be revisiting in the CCTV project his early interests in communism and communist architecture, I turn to elucidate a number of accounts of the relationship between post-reform China, neoliberalism, and neoliberal governmentality. From this analysis emerges the significance of imperatives within the People’s Republic of China for social ‘stabilisation’, the ‘reengineering’ of the worker, and the ‘remaking’ of the public, as well as the place of the media, and CCTV specifically, within these processes. These imperatives are then used as the optics through which to understand the organisational and semantic operation of the CCTV headquarters, focusing particularly upon its zoned departmental organisation, its use of stacked ‘generic’ floor plates, and the function of the ‘Visitors Loop’ as an instrument of social induction.

                                                                                         CCTV, photograph by Daniel Portilla, 2011
                                                                                  CCTV, photograph by Jaime Traspaderne, 2011