What is a singular object? An idea, a building, a color, a sentiment, a human being. Each in turn comes under scrutiny in this exhilarating dialogue between two of the most interesting thinkers working in philosophy and architecture today. From such singular objects, Jean Baudrillard and Jean Nouvel move on to fundamental problems of politics, identity, and aesthetics as their exchange becomes an imaginative exploration of the possibilities of modern architecture and the future of modern life.
Among the topics the two speakers take up are the city of tomorrow and the ideal of transparency, the gentrification of New York City and Frank Gehry's surprising Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. As Nouvel prompts Baudrillard to reflect on some of his signature concepts (the virtual, transparency, fatal strategies, oblivion, and seduction, among others), the confrontation between such philosophical concerns and the specificity of architecture gives rise to novel and striking formulations-and a new way of establishing and understanding the connections between the practitioner and the philosopher, the object and the idea.
This wide-ranging conversation builds a bridge between the fields of architecture and philosophy. At the same time it offers readers an intimate view of the meeting of objects and ideas in which the imagined, constructed, and inhabited environment is endlessly changing, forever evolving.
The philosopher and writer Jean Baudrillard is one of the most influential thinkers of his generation and has taught at several universities around the world. His best-known works in English are The Transparency of Evil (1993), Simulacra and Simulation (1994), The Gulf War Did Not Take Place (1995), and The Vital Illusion (2001). Jean Nouvel, an architect of international renown, designed the Arab World Institute in Paris and the Hotel Broadway, currently being constructed in New York City. He is recipient of France's highest architecture award, the Grand Prix d'Architecture, and is the author of Present and Futures: Architecture in Cities (1997).
Robert Bononno, a translator and teacher, lives in New York City. He received a National Endowment for the Arts grant for translating the forthcoming Isabelle Eberhardt: Letters and Journals.