The Image is perhaps the most powerful thing in the world. In all it’s manifestations, it has the power to convince us that things happen (or do not happen), to initiate a war, trigger the exchange of capital, destroy consumer (or personal) confidence, underwrite false histories, provide for alternate futures, or put a man on the moon. Living on a globe, most of my relationships are not line-of-sight; they bounce off satellites, they are reflected down fiberoptic cables, or perhaps just imagined in my head. Even in the last ten years, the image (or it’s reproduction rate) has gained speed, gained agency on a near exponential level. Scopic regimes rely on producers of images, fiction-dealers, futurologists, and privilege those who can reproduce their own image, or otherwise have it reproduced for them. Indeed, as Jonathan Crary elaborates, even as early as the 19th Century “a new valuation of visual experience” was taking place, with “unprecedented mobility and exchangeability, abstracted from any founding site or referent.” He posits a kind of “observer-consumer”, where images are exchanged as sure as capital. Debord and Foucault both claim visuality as quintessential, even foundational, in their philosophy, but it is Crary that posits the emergence of ‘the observer’ as a visual subject, who participates in systems of image exchange as a kind of consumption of their own existence in the world, separate from any ‘reality’.
Image, here, is not only as pixels on a page or a screen, but as a wide set of political or socio-visual phenomena, a kind of visuality. But the image (a noun) seats those phenomenal traits of visuality and mass culture firmly within the world of materialization, the world of the architect. The project carries with it five types of image: the public image (celebrity and publicity), the self image (fashion and body composition), the cognitive image (fiction and visual history), the potential image (secrets and latencies), and the situational image (catastrophe and spectacle). Each type cares for the image in a different way.
This project is made of five constituent parts that describe the Institute of Futurology: an Apparatus for Future Communication, an Image Map of the Institute itself, A Uniform (a piece of "deep" clothing), A Fiction (written), and A Situation (a set of catastrophic conditions). These five are descriptions of an Institution that, in the 21st Century is increasingly difficult to render. To produce moments of coherency in the architecture of the Institute, this project produces its "lesser" architectures.