Author(s): Simone Brott
Digital Monuments radically explodes "iconic architecture" of the new millennium and its hijacking of the public imagination via the digital image. Hallucinatory constructions such as Rem Koolhaas's CCTV headquarters in Beijing, Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and Zaha Hadid's Performing Arts Centre in Abu Dhabi are all introduced to the world by immortal digital imagery that floods the internet--yet comes to haunt the actualised buildings. Like holograms, these "digital monuments," which violently push physics and engineering to their limits, flicker eerily between the real and the unreal--invoking fantasies of omnipotence, immortality and utopian cities. But this experience of iconic architecture as a digital dream on the ground conceals from the urban spectator the social reality of the buildings and the rigidity of their ideology. In 18 micro-essays, Digital Monuments exposes the stereotypes of iconic architecture while depicting the savagery of the industry, from the Greek and Spanish crises triggered by financialised iconic development to mass labour-deaths on construction sites in the UAE.