Architecture Against Death

Arakawa and Gins propose a revisionist re-definition of man in his post-human(istic) state


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Curatorial practice
  • Design
  • Philosophy / Theory

Organizing Institutions



Aaron Levy, Jean-Michel Rabate


Architectural Body Research Foundation, Interfaces Journal

Opens to public



4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104


25% Formal - 75% Informal

  • Arakawa gins

Slought is pleased to announce "Architecture Against Death," an installation by Arakawa + Gins from November 20, 2004 to January 31, 2005. This exhibition features texts and architectural renderings by Arakawa + Gins, including "Architecture Against Death," a manifesto by Arakawa + Gins, and "The Tense of Architecture," by philosopher Jean-Jacques Lecercle. "Architecture Against Death" provides directions for architectural procedure invention and assembly, and encourages, in the words of Arakawa + Gins, the re-arrangement of landing sites so as to cultivate architectural bodies and the transhuman.

This installation has been organized in conjunction with a special double issue of the journal Interfaces devoted to their work (June 2004, Issues #21 and #22), edited by Jean-Michel Rabaté. Arakawa + Gins recently contributed "Living Body Museumeum," an architectural proposal and manifesto, to Cities Without Citizens, co-published by Slought and the Rosenbach Museum and Library, and edited by Eduardo Cadava and Aaron Levy.

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Since 1963, artists-architects-poets Arakawa and Madeline Gins have worked in collaboration to produce visionary, boundary-defying art and architecture. Their seminal work, The Mechanism of Meaning, has been exhibited widely throughout the world. A sequel to that, To Not To Die, appeared in 1987. Gins and Arakawa have exhibited jointly throughout Europe, Japan, and the United States. Their exhibition, "Site of Reversible Destiny," was on view at the Guggenheim Museum Soho in December 1997 and won the College Art Association's Exhibition of the Year award.

Arakawa's large-scale paintings are in the permanent collections of museums throughout the world. Gins's published works include the avant-garde classic, What the President Will Say or Do!!, and an innovative arthistorical novel, Helen Keller or Arakawa.

In 1987, as a means of financing the design and construction of works of procedural architecture that draw on The Mechanism of Meaning, extending its theoretical implications into the environment, Arakawa and Gins founded the Architectural Body Research Foundation. The Foundation actively collaborates with leading practitioners in a wide-range of disciplines including, but not limited to, experimental biology, neuroscience, quantum physics, experimental phenomenology, and medicine. Architectural projects have included residences (Reversible Destiny Houses, Bioscleave House, Shidami Resource Recycling Model House), parks (Site of Reversible Destiny-Yoro) and plans for housing complexes and neighborhoods (Isle of Reversible Destiny-Venice and Isle of Reversible Destiny-Fukuoka, Sensorium City, Tokyo).

Opened in October 1995, the Site of Reversible Destiny-Yoro Park is an "experience park" conceived on the theme of encountering the unexpected. By guiding visitors through various unexpected experiences as they walk through its component areas, the Site offers them opportunities to rethink their physical and spiritual orientation to the world.

"When in 1966 Foucault published his philosophical survey of the origins of the modern age, the surprisingly best-selling book The Order of Things which concluded with a few ominous sentences announcing the "end of man," the apocalyptic tone of his final predictions was greeted with incomprehension and dismay. Almost half a century later, and in the context of Arakawa's and Gin's strenuous effort to rethink concretely and dynamically the foundations of what makes us "human beings," Foucault's words have not lost their relevance. [...]

For fourty years, Arakawa and Gins have been investigating the conditions of possibility of a new episteme, following Foucault, that would take stock of the exhaustion of the old humanistic paradigm. This paradigm was defined by the promotion of "man" as an object of action and knowledge, man taken in the dimension of a mortal being whose authenticity was determined and conditioned by a singular relation to death. Since the beginning of Aristotelian logic, we have been taught to reason on the various ways in which we may be concerned by the fact that Socrates is mortal. Precisely by starting at the root and negating the "major" of such an apparent truism, Arakawa and Gins immediately launch a complex re-arrangement of knowledge that is capable of taking in technological advances that have marked our new century. Their revisionist re-definition of man in this post-human(istic) state is tantamount to launching a scientific revolution, if not a revolution tout court. [...] For Arakawa and Gins, the revolution that matters is a revolution in thought, and it will ineluctably be brought about by the creation of a new logic of sense and the senses."

--Jean-Michel Rabaté, Introduction to Interfaces

Related projects
Begins Apr 4, 2008

The second international conference/congress on architecture, philosophy, and the work of Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins

Begins Nov 29, 2007

A conversation with Arakawa + Gins, Arthur C. Danto and others on freedom, dying, and aging

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