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Curve

Part 2 Dissertation 2004
James Wyman
Royal College of Art London UK
The recent surge of interest in the work of Frederick J. Kiesler (1890-1965) has largely been related to contemporary experiments in ‘blobitecture’. The extraction of Kiesler from his own historical context has concentrated primarily on the architect’s long-running project - the Endless House. Eminent historians and critics, such as Charles Jencks, cite Kiesler’s famous work as the ‘canonic beginning of a recent biomorphic history’. However, any analysis of Kiesler’s work outside the legitimate context of his own lifetime should be a cause for concern – particularly when no genuinely detailed historical appraisal of Kiesler’s career exists.

‘Curve’ attempts to address the current imbalance by examining Kiesler’s oeuvre in relation to his own lifetime. In the course of the subsequent research a compelling story emerged. Numerous ‘questions of plagiarism’ surrounding Kiesler’s work have, until now, been left unanswered. The official custodians of Kiesler’s legacy prefer to ignore rather than engage in the debate concerning issues such as source, collaboration or inspiration. In fact, Kiesler’s guardians are prepared to go one step further, and have censored various ‘unsuitable’ contributions to publications on his work. The conservative drive to avoid controversy has led to an air of suppression surrounding the available information on Kiesler. In this light, the seemingly innocent omission of a detailed account of Kiesler’s career begins to appear overtly wilful. Whilst some historians, such as Marc Dessauce, have chosen to publish their essays independently, it appears that without any form of institutional support their challenges are easily disregarded.

‘Curve’ aims to examine any unanswered ‘questions of plagiarism’ and to explore neglected aspects of Kiesler’s career. Only by addressing Kiesler’s work within the context of his own lifetime can a plausible and critical account of his achievements be established. Equally the contemporary context requires examination. Charles Jencks is keen to incorporate Kiesler into a historical narrative systematized by the Hegelian notion of the dialectic. However, Kiesler himself would have argued that the true language of continuity, or ‘endlessness’, was not the linear or teleological medium of time, but the infinite and ‘correlative’ continuum of space.

James Wyman

2004
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