The Indicator: On the Road Again

Architectural street gang and provocateurs, On the Road, named (I would like to think anyway) for Jack Kerouac’s novel of same name, and let’s just say that is the origin (since I happen to like that book), and the decentralized dérives of this Los Angeles crew remind me of Jack’s edit-as-you-go-or-do-not-edit-as-it-may-be writing style, if he even had a “style” (which is questionable), are at it again, or were just last month for their program, “West of LaBrea / 20131117 / 10-4pm” in which these rebellious, anti-establishment “architects” (some may not be licensed and therefore cannot actually go by the official title according to legal precedents in this here United States of America but you all know what I mean wink wink) once again find themselves out in the streets bombing the architectural establishment, which by the way is critical for the history of Los Angeles architecture, and by doing so have once again reminded us that architecture can be about play and a healthy dose of transgression, though no laws were broken during the making of #OtR3, as it is being called, that I can tell....

© Jaime Kowal

...and how harmful to society can a group of young “architects” (there’s that legal thing again wink wink) be when their campaign in the streets consists of delivering postcards, over which they labored tediously for days and days leading up to the event, a grand tour of some certifiably important houses in this fair city consisting of a 1940’s Mar Vista vernacular home, Frank Gehry’s Norton House in Venice, Schindler’s Kings Road House, Lorcan O’Herlihy’s Vertical House, an anonymous shotgun, and a psychic’s house, where the aforementioned postcards (actual handmade postcards) were collected by willing participants from letter boxes (actual handmade letter boxes) and collected along the route for the purpose of - well whatever purpose one may hope for - but also as a way of questioning architectural representation and the disjunction between the lived and the represented and also the logic of property, economic divides, how we experience architecture, how we get architecture, and just how willing people are to follow such a program from house to house, station to station, letterbox to letterbox for free postcards, which at this point are somewhat the stuff of legend and I’m wondering, who has any and are they selling them online and how many were actually collected and redistributed around the city or further afield, like does someone in Mongolia now have one or did they merely exist in the photodocumentation of the project, perhaps there never were any postcards and people just showed up to find empty letterboxes and were told they were out, and that wasn’t the case I’m told, but oh imagine if it were just some giant fabrication to get people out on a Sunday (I would go anyway), and this is the sort of getting out that architecture could use more of, getting out of its own way, getting on with something new, getting to the point, and most of all making room for the up-and-comers who must take it to the streets, the city becomes the museum and remains that for a time and what a shame it would be if the postcards eventually ended up framed in some rough Culver City cinder block gallery to be gawked at hopelessly and depressingly out of context (burn them instead please and make a video to post as evidence). 

© Jaime Kowal

Guy Horton is a writer based in Los Angeles. In addition to authoring "The Indicator", he is a frequent contributor to The Architect's Newspaper, Metropolis Magazine, The Atlantic Cities, and The Huffington Post. He has also written for Architectural Record, GOOD Magazine, and Architect Magazine. You can hear Guy on the radio and podcast as guest host for the show DnA: Design & Architecture on 89.9 FM KCRW out of Los Angeles. Follow Guy on Twitter @GuyHorton.

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Cite: Guy Horton. "The Indicator: On the Road Again" 27 Dec 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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