(Student’s Full Name)
Peter Eisenman explains that modernism “‘changed the relationship between man and object away from an object whose primary purpose was to speak about man to one which was concerned with its own objecthood’” (qtd. in Eisenman 234). In addition, Eisenman indicates that the building, influenced by the principles of architecture, is able to communicate about its “‘objecthood’” through a system of symbols (qtd. in Eisenman 234). Hence, based on a critical assessment of the writings of Eisenman and Mario Gandelsonas it can be said that the idea of perceiving edifices as being similar to textual language and connecting semiotics to architecture helps to articulate the concept that the building does not necessarily have to represent humanity but it has its own systems of symbols that represents itself.
In explaining the importance of semiotics in architecture, Eisenman explains the concept of “‘cardboard architecture’” (qtd. in Eisenman 234). The writer mentions the fact that cardboard is “used to shift the focus from our existing conception of form in an aesthetic and functional context” to a one that emphasizes a “‘consideration of form as a marking or notational system’” (qtd. in Eisenman 234). In other words, Eisenman suggests that the edifice should not focus on function and aesthetics but it should instead emphasize a system of symbols that communicates “‘a message’” while simultaneously representing these symbols as “‘a message’” (qtd. in Eisenman 234).
Gandelsonas appears to agree with the ideas that are expressed by Eisenman as it pertains to semiotics in architecture and conceiving edifices as a form of textual language. Gadelsonas explains that semiotics in architecture is based on a “discourse built on a discourse” (119). The writer uses the example of a “‘house’” has a “constant meaning,” but the houses are “given different forms” (Gandelsonas 119). This is almost similar to how semiotics functions in literature, which can be “abstracted in a few pages” but is “stretched and sustained” by a “rhetorical discourse” (Gandelsonas 119). In other words, in architecture a “house is always a house” but the architect, through the medium of semiotics, is given the artistic medium to transform, distribute, combine, do and undo the “form of the house” (Gandelsonas 119). When this happens both the “functional” and the “rhetorical” meanings create “complimentary but contradictory discourses” (Gandelsonas 119). Gandelsonas argument appears to align itself with Eisenman who focuses on the “rhetorical mechanism” in architecture, which enables Eisenman to use a “numeric game” or the “movements of displacement and rotation” or “transformations” that allow a person to “pass from column to wall and from wall to volume” in constructing an edifice (119). Furthermore, Gandelsonas explains that this construction of a building in such a manner has “nothing to do with a use, structure, or aesthetic” (119). However, this edifice is communicating a message (through its system of symbols) that places emphasis on the object rather than anything outside of the object itself.
In conclusion, Gandelsonas and Eisenman explain that semiotics in architecture and conceiving buildings as a form of textual language operates in a manner that enables the building to communicate a message. Semiotics in architecture does this, through a system of symbols, which focuses on the object rather than on the individual and on a purpose or function. Furthermore, semiotics in architecture and conceiving buildings as a form of textual language allows the architect to communicate both “rhetorical” and “functional” meanings so that two discourses are being conveyed simultaneously (Gandelsonas 119).
Eisenman, Peter. “Post-Functionalism.” Architecture Theory since 1968. Ed. K. Michael Hays. Cambridge, Mass: MIT, 1998. Print.
Gandelsonas, Mario. “Linguistics in Architecture.” Architecture Theory since 1968. Ed. K. Michael Hays. Cambridge, Mass: MIT, 1998. Print.