289 Technology Seminar, Winter 2013
Instructor: Assistant Professor Jason Payne
Your house frightens me, Mrs. Lutz.
- Father Calloway, The Amittyville Horror, 1979
All houses in the canon called "experimental" are strange in some way or another. Robie House, Farnsworth House, Villa Savoye, Villa Moller, Rietveld Schröder House, Schindler House, Neutra House, the Case Study Houses, and their like all exhibit certain
unsettling qualities that, originally at least, makes them challenging. On the fringes of this cohort, however, is a different breed of experimental house that never quite fits in but nevertheless insists in a most disruptive way on some form of canonical
reckoning. Geeks, perhaps, or nerds, with a goth chick in tow, this group of misfits is clearly a brilliant bunch yet seems not to care whether we get them or not. Ambivalent. Definitely peripheral to the canon but not outside of it either, historians and designers alike struggle to make sense of the messy heresies of this weird subculture. There is a limit, after all, to the measure of difficulty tolerable in any single object beyond which rational minds turn away in frustration. What divides these bright but eccentric stars from the high achievers lies at this threshold, where interpretive difficulty moves from the manageable to the unmanageable. This is what makes them strange.