Igor Bragado and Miles Gertler: Dead Bodies in the Living Room

Man with microphone talking to audience with LCD screens in the background.
Department of Architecture Visiting Critic Jonathan Stitelman (right), comments during the Dead Bodies in the Living Room discussion on the wood floor in the L. P. Kwee Studios. William Staffeld / AAP
Woman seated with microphone.
Living Room student member Chi Ting (Coco) Tin (B.Arch. '19) introduces guest artists Igor Bragado and Miles Gertler. William Staffeld / AAP
Man seated and looking toward an LCD screen and gesturing with his left hand, with five other people.
Guest artist Igor Bragado gestures toward an LCD screen during Dead Bodies in the Living Room. William Staffeld / AAP
Two men smiling and seated in a room.
Guest artists Miles Gertler (left), with Igor Bragado during the fourth installment of the Living Room series. William Staffeld / AAP
Department of Architecture Visiting Critic Jonathan Stitelman (right), comments during the Dead Bodies in the Living Room discussion on the wood floor in the L. P. Kwee Studios. William Staffeld / AAP Living Room student member Chi Ting (Coco) Tin (B.Arch. '19) introduces guest artists Igor Bragado and Miles Gertler. William Staffeld / AAP Guest artist Igor Bragado gestures toward an LCD screen during Dead Bodies in the Living Room. William Staffeld / AAP Guest artists Miles Gertler (left), with Igor Bragado during the fourth installment of the Living Room series. William Staffeld / AAP

The Living Room Event Series

The Living Room is a student organization whose goal is to create a forum for critical discussion and debate about architecture today. Please join us for the fourth installment, "Dead Bodies in the Living Room," with Igor Bragado and Miles Gertler of Common Accounts, and Visiting Critic Jonathan Stitelman to discuss the role of death and healing in architecture today.

For Common Accounts, death is a plastic force. The human body is not only the site of design but also an instrument for the instant and reflexive design of its environments in material and virtual domains. The human is the agent between the body and the urban ecology. Who, or what designs the human? Within the sequence of birth, life, illness, healing, and death — a large chunk of which is now lived out online — what is architecture's response to the 21st-century digital nature of death?

In the past, designers have focused on the poetics of death as an overwhelmingly metaphorical concept. Predicted by Siegfried Gideon in 1948, "The greater the degree of mechanization, the further does contact with death become banished from life." Modern-day attitudes towards health and hygiene — abattoirs, hospitals, and sanatoriums — promote both psychological and spatial distance from death. In the face of exponentially rising ecological and financial costs of burial, new death technologies must be acknowledged. By confronting the material business of death closer to daily urban life, Common Accounts argues that the spectrum of death and healing is not only a generative tool for design but also a fertile paradigm for city building. What role does architecture play in death? What are the rituals of death, bodies, and waste within architecture?

Jonathan Stitelman is currently a visiting critic at Cornell AAP. He works across art, architecture, and urban design with projects ranging in scale from skyscrapers to schools, exhibitions to agricultural buildings, and furniture to hyperbolic regional scale infrastructure. His design research deals with refugee resettlement, issues of representation and craft, everyday urbanism, and transportation planning. He has taught undergraduate and graduate design studios in both architecture and urban design at Washington University in St. Louis, where he was a visiting assistant professor. In the summer of 2016, he led the Feast of Facades, a public art program of the group show Ellipsis at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, exploring architectural phenomenology, the limitations of representation, and modes of actively engaging the world. He is part of the St. Louis Alley Lovers, an artist collective dealing with material reuse and city identity.

Common Accounts was founded by Igor Bragado and Miles Gertler at Princeton University in 2015. Equipped with excellent data plans, the office operates over satellite, server, and fiber cable between Seoul, Toronto, and New York City. They exhibited a prototypical funeral home for the virtual afterlife at the Seoul International Biennale on Architecture and Urbanism 2017 and presented research on Gangnam's plastic surgery clinic urbanism at the Third Istanbul Design Biennial, Are We Human? in 2016. Common Accounts is preoccupied with plastic bodies, the infrastructures of K-Pop, part-time domesticity, and catchy slogans. Bragado and Gertler have lectured in Beijing, Toronto, Istanbul, Seoul, and at Columbia University in New York City, while recent work has appeared at the A+D Museum in Los Angeles, in Uncube Magazine, Cuarto: Architecture Playground, Artsy, and Dezeen. Their project, Three Ordinary Funerals, was recently acquired by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul. Gertler has mounted three solo shows of prints and sculpture with Toronto's Corkin Gallery and is a sessional lecturer at the University of Toronto. Bragado is a contributing critic to El Pais, an adjunct faculty at The Cooper Union Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, and was awarded the 2017 writing prize by the Design History Society.

Join us after the event to meet the presenters.

For more information, email thelivingroomaap@cornell.edu, or visit The Living Room on Instagram at @thelivingroomaap.