On Wires; or, Metals and Modernity Reconsidered
John Harwood brings this special issue’s conversation about liquid intelligence directly into the wheelhouse of modern architectural history. Against heroic narratives whereby modernist architecture freed itself from the shackles of classical form by embracing the structural potentialities of industrial alloys and other new materials, Harwood unearths a repressed other. Metals, by this account, are less the armature of form than the media of communication, binding or (as Harwood shows via engagement with Adam Smith), pinning architectural things together. Tracing metals’ surprisingly belated appearance in architectural theory, Harwood mobilizes an appeal to science fiction found in Jeff Wall’s essay “Liquid Intelligence” to follow that counter-history of alloys and alliance through the work of Jules Verne.