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The “programmatic experimentation” in the work of Gordon Matta-Clark

Beşlioğlu, Bahar
This study is a critical inquiry into the changes of the conceptualisations of the term “program” in architectural discourse, particularly after the 1960s and early 1970s. The aim of this thesis is to benefit from the difficulty of defining “program” in architecture as a fruitful, pragmatic and intellectual source. Although several terms, such as “function,” “use,” “occupation,” “activity,” and “event” fulfil some aspects, none of them suggest an exact definition of the term “program” in architecture. Neither does the introduction of the existence of the terms “temporary activities,” “spontaneity,” “coincidence,” “hybridisation,” and “interface spaces,” which consider the emergence of “temporality” as a more considerable variable in contemporary architecture, provides an adequate definition for the term. Therefore, in this research “program” in architecture is problematized as a “weakly” defined phenomenon. This study introduces the idea of “programmatic experimentation” by exploring and re-reading the work of Gordon Matta-Clark, in which “experimentation” led to the evaluation of “program” as “concept.” “Program” is re-conceptualised under two theoretical statements defining the general framework of this study: “Concept” and “Experimentation”. “Concept,” as introduced by the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, produces a direction towards thinking to allow a new understanding by constructing multiple situations rather than constricting program’s definition with specific terms. “Experimentation” suggests that the consequences of the experimental attempts of the 1960s and early 1970s are more than just technological possibilities inserted into architecture, revealing a shift in architectural “program.” In the end, the implementation of the constructed togetherness of the two terms is traced through the work of Matta-Clark as a radical criticism of the established conventions of architectural discourse.