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Modernity, if it has been at all, has been many things at once. Preeminently it has entailed the quasi-alchemical, and periodically violent, transformation of substance into money and then back again. Sometimes that substance is called architecture. Sometimes that architecture is built; sometimes it is just drawn, modeled, rendered or otherwise made visible. In these processes power is exercised, always. One of the central questions of our time is thus: How and when is it possible to resist that power, to limit, redirect or neutralize it, or at least not to be seduced by it?
This question cannot easily be asked by those who hold power within the relatively small field of architectural practice. Nor is it easy to ask within the elite, transnational cultural sphere in which architectural discourse takes its modest place. Which is not to say that oppositional discourses and practices do not exist; but it is to say that these can be rendered illegible simply by having been granted the curatorial privilege of sharing the international stage with what they oppose. In contrast, officially sanctioned architecture (urbanism likewise), in its unquestioning and cheerful complicity, affords well nigh unimpeded access to the logics of the world system — which access is invaluable to anyone who still thinks that cognitive maps of that system are required in order to transform it.