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Architecture Against Death

Arakawa and Gins launch a revisionist re-definition of man in his post-human(istic) state under the philosophical rubric of "architecture."


Fields of Knowledge
  • Curatorial practice
  • Design

Organizing Institutions

,architectural body research foundation,slought foundation,

Contributing Institutions

,interface journal,


,aaron levy,jean-michel rabate,


,slought foundation,

Opens to public


  • Architecture
  • Mortality
  • Post-humanism

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."

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 avantgarde 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. Online at:

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In the World
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In the Cloud
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In Philadelphia
Begins Oct 03, 2007

Architecture Dejeuner, a series of seminars exploring spatial politics and research as a form of production, frequently (but not necessarily) during lunch.