"Spatial Equivalents in the World System," in Postmodernism, or the Cultural
Logic of Late Capitalism. (Duke, 1991).
This chapter, from
Jameson's well-known 1991 book, concerns the role of architecture in late capitalism.
Closely related to other discussions of the issue by Jameson, especially "Is
Space Political," (in Rethinking Architecture, 1997), he is concerned
with the difficulty of subjects to locate themselves in postmodernity, when
confusion over time and space are so prevalent. Looking for ways in which
we might begin to think about space differently, Jameson examines the Santa
Monica home of architect Frank Gehry, which answers the question for him of
whether or not space can be political. The home, a complex amalgam of
"residual" and "emergent" architectural forms poses a particular spatial question
for the subject; it "thinks a material thought." By exposing the dilemmas of
late capitalism through its liminal space between old and new, the Gehry house
reconstructs "the binary scaffolding of the modern aesthetic," by which something
negative (e.g., the alienating industrial world) was to be fragmented by a mode
of perception by the subject when viewing art form. In postmodernity,
as exemplified by the house, this "negative term" is reconstituted as simply
another way of seeing, another sign system, here between human perception and
photographic perception. Jameson concludes by offering a somewhat disappointing
"reading" of the space of the house, but the important point here is not his
reading, as he himself would argue, but the idea that space can act as a way
of thinking through material problems -- that it can, in fact, be political.