Last night I saw a light show at a nightclub that was highly architectural, if not architecture in and of itself. A ‘ceiling’ created by laser beams moved within the space of the dancehall, transforming in color and shifting in shape between folded planes and the curved geometry of ruled surfaces. Designed purely for entertainment and spectacle, it is evident that these tiny but dynamic laser beams can outdo any effort made with building materials. And yet this was not a ‘virtual’ or ‘augmented’ simulation either, as no screens were involved, but was in fact every bit as three-dimensionally ‘real’ as the building we were in. Maybe not as durable and sheltering, but then again, architecture these days is hardly about such practical and pedestrian concerns.
Constructed entirely of ‘beams’ of light supported by ‘columns’ of loudspeakers, all resting upon a ‘foundation’ of hedonism, this is the ultimate architecture for the zeitgeist of a sensation-based experience economy. Is there any way bricks and mortar, or even 3D-printed plastic that has been recycled 100% from that huge garbage island floating around the Pacific Ocean could ever compete with architecture as dynamic as this? Has new laser light-show technology suddenly made architecture irrelevant or obsolete?
No, of course not: we still need to be sheltered from the elements. Perhaps it just means that architecture can finally quit worrying about visual appearance über alles, and finally start to dedicate itself to some of the many other aspects that it encompasses.