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Call-and-response: group formation and agency enacted through an architectural magazine, its letters and editorials


Sawyer, Mark, Call-and-response: group formation and agency enacted through an architectural magazine, its letters and editorials, The 32nd annual conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand, 7-10 July, Sydney, Australia, pp. 548-557. ISBN 978 0 646 94298 8 (2015) [Refereed Conference Paper]


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Current scholarship is increasingly focusing on the productive alliances and relationships arising between late twentieth-century architects and theorists. As independent architectural periodicals are mined one-by-one for their historical value and used to narrate the permutations of the still recent past, the ‘little magazine’ is being broadly characterised as a node around which avant-garde groups have consolidated their identities and agendas. What is missing from current scholarship is an adequate explanation of the type of agency exhibited by architectural groups and the role that architectural publishing plays in enacting this agency. This paper is an investigation into the mechanics of architectural group formation and agency considering some important mechanisms by which groups, alliances, and their publications have participated in the development of an architectural culture.

This paper investigates the relationships that developed between a number of interrelated groups emerging out of Melbourne’s architectural milieu in the final decades of the twentieth century. Central amongst these are The Halftime Club and the independent periodical Transition – both founded in Melbourne in 1979. These groups were used to situate the practices of their members within the trajectory of Australian architecture and as vehicles to promote shifting sets of agendas. Who groups ‘were’ became as significant as who they ‘were not,’ and the pages of Transition afforded a public domain in which group membership could be defined and group agendas contested and reset. A close reading of the magazine’s editorial and letters sections reveals these texts as a discursive call-and-response mechanism. These texts are central to the argument developed in this paper which adopts sociologist Bruno Latour’s account of group formation as the rubric under which to consider the agency of some significant Australian architectural groups.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Conference Paper
Keywords:architectural magazines, visual communication,group agency, actor-network theory
Research Division:Built Environment and Design
Research Group:Architecture
Research Field:Architectural history, theory and criticism
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Communication
Objective Field:The media
UTAS Author:Sawyer, Mark (Dr Mark Sawyer)
ID Code:138368
Year Published:2015
Deposited By:Architecture and Design
Deposited On:2020-04-03
Last Modified:2020-05-21
Downloads:17 View Download Statistics

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