The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - 10

authenticity within architecture is informed by this shift in understandings of heritage.
It may thus be of value to move beyond the idea that one could look at a building and
make a judgment as to its authentic nature based on its materiality alone.
Recognition of this complexity might begin with an affirmation of the idea that
authenticity is socially and culturally constructed. Some of the most significant sites
of architecture are museums. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Louvre Museum,
Tate Modern, British Museum, Centre Pompidou, State Hermitage Museum are some
of the most architecturally rich spaces in the world, but what makes their presence
of value to the debates about authenticity in architecture is the degree to which their
holdings - their works of art, culture, folklore, and history - remind us of the variability
and fluidity of humanity. The Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City, California,
while not an architecturally stunning space, holds a key to deconstructing staid notions
of authenticity. Walking into the museum, one immediately questions what she or he
is witnessing. Certain displays and dioramas appear to be historical representations
of actual events, yet others, including a reconstruction of a jungle bat teleporting
through solid matter, immediately provoke a sense of bewilderment in the visitor12
who may strain to understand if the apparition is real. This is the great value of this,
and all, museums. Questions that we may have about the authenticity or realness of
an object that we view on display remind us that the matter of authenticity is not a
simple surface or material phenomenon.
Beyond the material confines of museums, the world of historical re-enactment,
which uses the historical sites and events of the past as inspiration for contemporary
reinterpretation, reminds us that authenticity is not an "either-or" phenomenon. As
Gordon Jones has written in terms of Civil War re-enactment, the spaces of historical
re-enactment "need only be 'real' in the eye of most beholders. As seen in re-enacting
[...] what is 'real' is always contested, since each of us imagines and approaches the
past slightly differently."13 With such work in mind, we may imagine that authenticity
may be viewed as a continuum ranging from the more authentic to the less authentic,
such that we begin to appreciate the nuance that is present in architecture, space,
and our myriad activities, contexts, and states of being within them.14
Principles for the Future of Authenticity

Instead of viewing the question of authenticity and architecture as a contest to determine the value, originality, or genuine nature of a building, space, or material feature,
we might use the question as an opportunity to promote more critical insights into
the design, construction, and criticism of contemporary spaces. The following list of
principles suggest a value in reframing authenticity as a pedagogical consideration.
Conversation
Architecture has long fashioned itself as a discipline that is polyvocal and referential.
In a culture of remixing and remaking, popular architecture may prove that authenticity relates to the possibility of establishing dialogue in a contemporary world that
is marked by social, cultural, ethnic, and political divisions. The vestiges of cultural
heritage notions of authenticity - notably those that lead to tribalism, nationalism,
even warfare - may be reworked architecturally and spatially such that they reflect
a commitment to dialogue, conversation, and the possibilities of intercultural communication. The exteriors of historic buildings like the Tribune Tower in Chicago or
the public areas of Superkilen in Copenhagen, Denmark illustrate the bold possibility
of authentic architecture being an open, not closed, entity - a space of feedback,
intermixing, and transformation.15
Creativity
Regardless of whether they accept postmodern ideas about authenticity, many
architects and designers would argue that architecture must remain a theory and
practice that promotes creativity, experimentation, and transformation. The debates
about authenticity that we have considered in the realm of heritage suggest the possibility of reframing the understandings of authenticity while preserving the value of
material and ideational culture that is rooted in traditional notions of "great" buildings,
spaces, or works of art. One possibility for both retaining architecture's commitments
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The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019

Authenticity
Index to Advertisers
Locations
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - Intro
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - cover1
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - cover2
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - 3
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - 4
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - Authenticity
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - 6
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - 7
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - 8
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - 9
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - 10
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - 11
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - 12
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - Index to Advertisers
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - Locations
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - cover3
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - cover4
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