The Manhattan Transcripts are theoretical propositions executed through drawing. Made between and for consecutive exhibitions, the four episodes transcribe imagined events in real New York locales: The Park uncovers a murder in Central Park; The Street Border Crossing chronicles the movement of a person drifting through violent and sexual events on Forty-second Street; The Tower The Fall depicts a vertiginous fall from a Manhattan skyscraper; and The Block illustrates five unlikely events occurring in separate courtyards within a city block. The event, in particular, is the figurative origin of architecture itself, through which Tschumi proposes an architecture of difference and opposition rather than synthesis and totality. Narrative techniques—be they pictorial or cinematic—evoke the ability of fiction to produce an alternative form of critique. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff. If you notice an error, please contact us at digital moma.

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They hang between reality and fantasy. Tschumi uses the transcripts to make sense of an architectural reality that incorporates sequences, movement and functionality. He focuses on using different mediums that portray different events and functions of a space, assessing unconventional strategies that occur in-between the standard conclusions of architectural survey. The non-coincedence between meaning and being, movement and space, man and object is the starting condition of the work.

Manhattan is a real place; the actions described are real actions. The Transcripts always presuppose a reality already in existence, a reality waiting to be desconstructed — and eventually transformed. He applies human physicality and actions as devices to interpret space. By going beyond the conventional definition of use, the Transcripts use their tentative format to explore unlikely confrontations.

There is an exploration between the standard expected functionalities of a space alongside sequences of an emotional capacity that becomes the functional reality. I found the overall logic a struggle to fully understand. I found most intrigue in exploring existent movement and events in order to understand a physical engagement with spaces, and the unconsidered uses of them.

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REVIEW: Bernard Tschumi; The Manhattan Transcripts

Throughout his theoretical and pedagogical career Tschumi argues against formalism reduction of architecture which is a form of knowledge to architecture as a knowledge of form. Here, architecture is a means of communication, defined by the movement as well as by the walls and an intertextual experience; it becomes a discourse of events and spaces. Architecture activates space through the movement of bodies. It is not a container. With Manhattan Transcripts, Tschumi is for the first time testing his philosophy of event and movement in architecture, a topic he will develop further throughout his writings and practice.


Event and Movement in Architecture

Architecture is not simply about space and form, but also about event , action, and what happens in space. The Manhattan Transcripts differ from most architectural drawings insofar as they are neither real projects nor mere fantasies. Developed in the late '70s, they proposed to transcribe an architectural interpretation of reality. To this aim, they employed a particular structure involving photographs that either direct or "witness" event s some would call them "functions," others " program s".


“The Set and the Script” in Architecture: The Manhattan Transcripts (1976-1981) by Bernard Tschumi

Architecture is not simply about space and form, but also about event , action, and what happens in space. The Transcripts aimed to offer a different reading of architecture in which space, movement, and events are independent, yet stand in a new relation to one another, so that the conventional components of architecture are broken down and rebuilt along different axes. Bernard Tschumi. Adam Achrati Landing Architecture.

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