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Scholarship of Design
What Is a Big Dumb Object?
Fred Scharmen
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To understand applications of Rem Koolhaas’s concept of “Bigness,” I place it alongside concepts from science fiction criticism and Gestalt perception theory. There are multiple connections between methods used by OMA and means employed in science fiction: collection of diverse programs within ambiguous figures, overwhelming of critical faculties with wonder and scale, extrapolation of complications from first order technological change, and the proliferation of new forms of independent existences in the world. The history of the use, in architecture of the figure-ground drawing, first popularized by Danish psychologist Edgar Rubin, and Danish architect Steen Eiler Rasmussen, provides a backstory for the political effects of both “Bigness” and the science fictional Big Dumb Object. I show that there is an isomorphism between the way OMA’s work is presented, in S,M,L,XL and subsequent books, and in the presentation and reception of the book itself. Read the full article at Taylor & Francis.