Zeynep Çelik Alexander, “Paper Beats Rock: The Imperial Institute’s Media”

Zeynep Çelik Alexander, “Paper Beats Rock: The Imperial Institute’s Media”

Ceylon Exhibition Gallery Opening of the Imperial Institute, London, May 1893.

Zeynep Çelik Alexander, “Paper Beats Rock: The Imperial Institute’s Media”
e-flux Architecture Lectures

Free admission

November 16, 2023, 7pm
172 Classon Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11205

e-flux Architecture presents “Paper Beats Rock: The Imperial Institute’s Media,” a lecture by Zeynep Çelik Alexander at e-flux on Thursday, November 16 at 7pm.

Merely six months after its pompous opening in 1893, the Imperial Institute in London was called a “white elephant” by the press. The giant complex had been constructed to help fulfill the British empire’s ambitions for “systematic colonization.” It was designed as a vast “database” that facilitated trade by collecting, storing, and disseminating information about colonial products. Yet, despite the ambitiousness of its architecture, its galleries remained empty and its mission was soon deemed unrealizable. This talk tries to make sense of this “failure” by considering the building as the last instance of a nineteenth-century project of spatializing information in space. The “paper” of print and film, it turns out, would beat the “rock” of architecture in structuring and circulating information in the twentieth century.

“Paper Beats Rock” is presented as part of e-flux Architecture Lectures, a monthly series inviting researchers and practitioners to discuss timely issues in contemporary architecture, theory, culture, and technology.

For more information, contact program@e-flux.com.

–Two flights of stairs lead up to the building’s front entrance at 172 Classon Avenue.         
–For elevator access, please RSVP to program@e-flux.com. The building has a freight elevator which leads into the e-flux office space. Entrance to the elevator is nearest to 180 Classon Ave (a garage door). We have a ramp for the steps within the space.                  
–e-flux has an ADA-compliant bathroom. There are no steps between the event space and this bathroom.

Architecture, Colonialism & Imperialism
United Kingdom, Media Critique

Zeynep Çelik Alexander is an architectural historian who teaches at Columbia University. She works on architectural modernity from the eighteenth century onwards. She is the author of Kinaesthetic Knowing: Aesthetics, Epistemology, Modern Design (2017), and a co-editor of Design Technics: Archaeologies of Architectural Practice (2020) and Writing Architectural History: Evidence and Narrative in the Twenty-First Century (2021). She is also an editor of the journal Grey Room, a member of Aggregate, and a co-director of Center for Comparative Media. She is currently at work on a book titled Imperial Data: An Architectural History.

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