Actar, ISBN-13: 978-8415391029, 363 pages, 2013, English, UK
When a luxury architecture magazine dedicates some space to “software”, it’s usually expected to fill pages with a lot of 3D rendered structures and mobile-related experiments, missing many crucial questions about technologies and society. But this is not the case here. In fact, this issue of Bracket (an annual almanac that defines itself as at “the junction of architecture, environment and digital culture”) is dedicated to the concept of “soft”, as it refers to politics, spaces, power and, of course, software. So a huge number of temporary “soft” systems on various levels have been collected and illustrated, including different hints from the past; for example, Negroponte’s idea in his 1975 book “Soft Architecture Machine” about a software application that facilitates user participation in design, reconsidering the notion of sole authorship – or the Jon Cummings essay about the different design experiments at the end of sixties in Vienna, such as those undertaken by Hans Hollein (“Mobile Office”), Walter Pichler (“TV-Helmet”) or Haus-Rucker-Co (“Mind Expander”). More recent projects are also considered, including relaxing platforms simulating gulf stream temperature levels (“Digestible Gulf Stream” by Peter Philippe Rahm), or Fabric|ch’s installation “Arctic Opening”, which uses hundreds of light emitting diodes to remotely reproduce the light of the Arctic Circle. An influential selection of ideas, formulated on various levels and happily transdisciplinary – something contemporary art would do well to learn from.