Post-truth architecture | Thinkpiece | Architectural Review
Buildings may be constructed on the building site, but architecture is constructed in the discourse
It’s official: ‘post-truth’ is the word of 2016. Oxford Dictionaries, which decides the annual accolade, defines it as ‘denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’. It adds that the term was first used in 1992 of the Iran-Contra scandal, however it is only in the context of this year’s Brexit and Trump campaigns that it has become common parlance.
It could be argued that the media themselves are responsible for the rise of post-truth with their portrayal of fabricated, unachievable images and worlds. In 1991, Jean Baudrillard famously claimed that the Gulf War did not take place – that its media representation supplanted the horrors of the reality on the ground. And since then, increasing computer power has allowed three things to happen: first, images can be created that look not only convincingly real, but in the words of Bono, ‘even better than the real thing’ (take, for example, the incredible images of Filip Dujardin); second, near-instant manipulation and communication of those images is possible, as with the faked fireworks broadcast live during the 2008 Beijing Olympics – Instagram has replaced Archigram; third, our constant connection to screens means that we tend to actually prefer inhabiting representations of the world. What place does criticism have in an era populated by post-humans with Social Media Behaviour Disorders? Perhaps we need a new type of criticism to fit our current situation. Reliable, trustworthy, honest critique is more vital than ever, and islands – maybe even archipelagos – of authority can still be found upon which to establish a reasoned debate that is accountable and challengeable.