The Architecture of Creative Miscegenation
Marshall Brown examines the sources of architectural ideas, suggesting that every architecture is infected with references from history. His project illustrates the contemporary crisis of copyright as one in which digital software and the internet have made the concept of origins—which once secured the singular value of works of art—both highly unstable and indeterminate. While, on the one hand, originality is increasingly difficult to claim; on the other hand, our procedures for making work mean that influences are far easier to trace. The works are grounded in what Brown calls a theorem of creative miscegenation. Miscegenation is an archaic term typically associated with racist laws in the United States that forbade mixed marriages and inter-breeding. In this context, it serves as an adequately subversive name for Brown’s sublime world of architectural half-breeds. Brown’s images are created with cutting, tearing, and dissection; they result in constructive acts of world-making. These acts echo the image history of collage: from the shocking juxtapositions of the Dadaists and constructivists that represented the disruptive forces of modernization in the early 20th century, to the postmodern architects who used collage to create history. Focused on neither juxtaposition nor quotation, creative miscegenation is architectonic—an art of joining. These collage works make new history by forming surprising alignments between diverse architectural legacies. Even if the samples in the collages are sometimes identifiable, all parts are synthesized within new architectural bodies.
Marshall Brown is a licensed architect, principal of Marshall Brown Projects, and an associate professor at the IIT College of Architecture. Brown is a Graham Foundation grantee and recently exhibited at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. He has also exhibited at the Arts Club of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, and Western Exhibitions. In 2016, he appeared in the PBS documentary Ten Towns that Changed America. His projects and essays have appeared in several books and journals including Metropolis, Crain’s, Architectural Record, The New York Daily News, Art Papers, and The Believer. Brown has lectured at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, University of Michigan, Northwestern University, Harvard, the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, and, most recently, at Princeton University with a lecture titled “The Architecture of Creative Miscegenation.”