Walter Benjamin. The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Walter Benjamin (1892 – 1940)

Born in Berlin, the German Empire, W. Benjamin was a literary critic, philosopher, social critic, translator, radio broadcaster and essayist. However my relation with his work began the moment I experienced a glimpse of what he might have felt the day he finally escaped from persecution in Portbou, Spain. This relation led me to dig into his works and discover his translation of “In search of lost time” by Marcel Proust, and also discovered his currently actual aesthetics theory with “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”.

A book that starts quoting a fragment from “Pieces sur l’Art” by Paul Valery in 1931 that could very well have been written a few days ago, which always fascinates me.

The book is mainly a discussion about the difference between art that invites the viewer to contemplate, think and stop for a second; and the mechanical reproduction techniques such as photography, lithography or cinema, that erase the worship in art disconnecting the artist from the work of art, in most of the essay, cinema.

However, topics such as painting’s decay with the proliferation of art galleries in contrast to the everlasting importance of Architecture as an art, which combines both the worship and the experience simultaneously.

A short book full of knowledge and that encourages us to rethink art up to today.

If interested you can buy the English edition HERE and the Spanish edition HERE.




Weaponized Architecture · Reading List

Finally, next to read will be the new dpr-barcelona publication, Weaponized Architecture. Ethel gave it to me as a gift and I couldn’t help reading the first 3 episodes. Unfortunately my Final Project is preventing me from reading.

However, for what I have read, this book follows this small editorial’s aim, the search for new technologies that can improve our environment. And they achieve this by implementing Augmented Reality in the book. This new reality we are now allowed to bring into books must go through the same process as any other technology. We now want to use it for everything and this will lead us to many failures until we find it’s righteous use. But I must admit that it has really interesting additions to a paper book that are worth trying.


3D Printers · Two sides of the same coin

By the end of March 2014 a lecture by Ethel Baraona left be thinking about the possibilities of 3D Printers and Creative Commons project could do to: furniture, games and even HOUSES!

(more about it in:

We must add up the amazing fundraising project that NewMatter and Frog have organized and that it’s kicking it super hard! (


Nit de Museus 2014 + Lidia Masllorens

Once again, we have arrived at the magical moment for museums and art institutions when they open their doors for free ’till late at night and invite everyone in. It is magical because museums become crowded space where experts and ignorant come together with no difference.
Unfortunately for those Barça lovers it was a sad night, but a friend a I decided that football wouldn’t ruin our great evening ahead of us. Once the match was over and we managed to exit the stadium (not easy at all…) we headed towards the under construction area of Barcelona, Les Glories.
DHUB, Can Framis and the Music Museum were open for everyone, unfortunately DHUB was hosting a festival and you couldn’t visit it before 9.30pm despite what their schedule said. But this is not a diary of our adventures, it has never been and it will star this way.
There was this one artist who inspired me to write today, a modest and unknown artist whose works of art were pure emotion and not so much fancy or modern compositions. She is LIDIA MASLLORENS. An artist born in Caldes de Malavella, near Barcelona, who combines their art with a teaching position in a local High School of Llagostera, where she lives now. Don’t get me wrong, works of arts by Agustí Puig, Plensa and many more also were appealing and interesting. However, she caught my attention at the very last moment of the exhibit.


HER & our Relationship with Technologies

I must recognize, I don’t know much about movies, I always fall asleep. Well, not always, but most of the times. I fall asleep mostly in my couch, but also in the cinema. However, some movies just capture me. These are usually movies that do not center so much in action and movement, but in dialogues and photography.
Last movie I saw: HER by Spike Jonze. I loved the colors, the outfits, the dialogues and, mostly, the plot. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s about the relationship a person and a machine can develop. A really fancy machine, a new operating system  capable of being intuitive and HUMAN.


New Opportunity Spaces Lecture

Have we ever thought about what would happen if architects learned form life and not from a bunch of different classes in architecture school? Would the containers be more aware of it’s surrounding rather than of the architectural society that every modern city has? There is beautiful designs in fancy design magazines. However, which of these have really changed after the crisis. Even, have architecture schools changed?

It’s easy to set a common program for students to discuss and solve. But, unfortunately, economy has changed our world in major ways. We now have collaborative open source projects, we have bit coins, and, furthermore, we have abandoned architectural containers that are not yet being used by society, architects. 
And rather than just changing things from scratch, why don’t we just reprogram what we already have. Create new opportunities in and out of our homes. Do streets have to be government property, or does it have to feel so? Are our homes only ours? Are schools only for kids? Are universities only for students and professors? What is whose?
This is are some of the questions that Xavier Monteys raised with his lecture of “New opportunity spaces” in ETSAB-UPC in Barcelona a while back. Quoting Le Corbusier or Aldo van Eyck as the promoters of the inbetween space. But thankfully there are already some projects trying to enhance this new programming ideas. 

A initiative that describes itself as an opportunity and interest of bringing the music closer to everyone. Possible thanks to friends and neighbors that provide their balconies that will become the scenarios, becoming new experiences for both artists and spectators.
However, we think it is a way to invert roles and stop looking from our comfortable homes but into the stranger’s homes. Opening our homes for everyone and enhancing the idea of the public space inside private containers. Similar to the interior streets Le Corbusier planned in the Unité d’Habitation in Marseille.
Javier Pérez Andújar: “Paseos con mi madre”
This Spanish writer from Sant Adria grown in an active community neighborhood, has just published this amazing book that gathers the conversations with his mother. Beautifully in this book he realizes the power streets have nowadays. How, due to the crisis we have suffered, the city has been the place where we have defended our private homes. A reminder that younger generations that had forgotten.

Despite these of many examples, the comfortable way of acting is still dominant.Will we be courageous enough to change things?


Anti-Valentine’s Day Plans

For foreigners: in Barcelona very few people celebrate Saint Valentine’s day. We have another lovers day, Saint Jordi. Where men give rose to beloved women, and women give a book to their special man. But, if you are looking for an excuse to ditch someone trying to take you out, here are some plans you can go to:
1- La Mandanga: “Invisible Architectures in Eksarxia, Athens”

Eksarxia is an anarchist quarter of Athens and where the 2013 protests took place. The exhibit offers 9 different drawing that captured this atmosphere. They will be playing a documentary: “Let’s not live like slaves” by Yannis Youlountas about the politic scene in this city and, at 20:30 they will offering free beers and food for everyone to enjoy the exhibit.
2- Open Design: Products in a Networked Culture
Almost the continuation of the lecture Ethel Baraona gave in Iaac last week about the economic system of the world. A designer and educator, Ronen Kadushin, that researches the Open Structure concept with objects such as furniture, to say one. 
But you don’t have t be in the need of ditching someone to come. However, you MUST choose, since both event are at the exact same time. Friday, 14th February at 7.30 p.m.

Affairs in Blue

Despite what it may seem, this beautiful space is a diplomatic institution committed to foster the Mediterranean Villages’ common identity. And it certainly does, to me this space looks more like a flamenco dancing space, which I guess it can be. The program includes new spaces for exhibitions, concerts, shows or parties.
The building was the old Benalua railway station, now empty. And the requirement brief was clear in two conditions: be respectful with the historic building, and low budget (of course). A process of highlighting the building’s special values and dismissing the “fat surplus” started. Also providing “new properties to the interior spaces”.
The main space is a 1500 sqm long open space: EXPERIENCE HALL. With a blue light coming from the ceiling that offer a very Mediterranean atmosphere to this unique space. 
The rest of the program is located in smaller pavilions painted in white. White and blue, the color of maritime cities. 


It’s the economy, stupid review

When I was at Senior High School I learned philosophy started in the most peaceful and wealthiest period of the Ancient times. Then, triggered by a lack of worries, who we today call pre-socratic philosophers, started question where it is we come from. They thought water? dust? atoms?
However, today we are in a needed position. Many families have lost their houses, there is high unemployment rated all over the world and we are still in war trying to disarm potential threats. Young people lack the opportunities are parent had, we are forced to move all around the world having to fight through thick and thin to create our own unique paths. And, despite the contrast between the first and the current situation, we are now able to think not where we come from, but WHERE WE GO TO.
Last Thursday, 6th February 2014, Ethel Baraona, cofounder of dpr-barcelona, gave and english spoken lecture in one of the most international educational institutions in Barcelona: IaaC (Institute for Advance Architecture of Catalonia). 
A motivational lecture that made us think for an hour what is that caused this global economic crisis to know how to change it. In fact it is not as hard as it seems, we just need to think we live in a happy world and everyone will sacrifice personal $ ambition for the wellbeing of the planet. But unfortunately, no matter how hard some of us (I am very honestly including myself) try, there is always other willing to step on others like if they were mere objects. And this is, my dearest friends, CAPITALISM. 
Pretty pessimistic for now, right? Well, it wasn’t. It turns out there are many many many project that are trying to make this changes happen. Shifting from COMPETITIVE ENVIRONMENTS to CO·WORKING NETWORKS. Some examples:
1- The Free Universal Construction Kit
The Free Universal Construction Kit from Adapterz on Vimeo.

A project that allows interoperability between 10 popular construction toys with 80 adapter bricks, opening the otherwise closed systems. You can download the files and print them with you 3d printer. If someone doesn’t fit you can design your own one and upload it.

2- Open Structures (OS)

Photographs from
A modular construction model based on a 4x4cm grid available for everybody.
3- Wiki House

WikiHouse from 00 on Vimeo.

Print whatever house you want (designed by a “open” designer), draw it in SketchUp and click to MAKE A HOUSE button of program’s pluggin and PRINT in a CNC machine.

4- Lamassu. Bitcoin Ventures

Image from

The future’s easiest way to get money without the corrupt banks taking away your money with every transaction. Takes over notes from 200 different countries.

5- Statigraphic Manufactury

A exploration of materials reaction to 3d printers to enable research with the same downloadable file of the use of different local materials from all over the world.

We could keep on going forever, these are just some examples. There are other we use EVERYDAY like Wikipedia that also collaborative projects and we don’t even realize.

But at the end what matter is our personal contribution to this global project. Buying in local stores, being responsible with what we use, and take care, not only of the final result of what we do, but of the process we go through to get there.

Are we going to be able to change the world?


It’s the economy, stupid


So two apparently unrelated things happened to me yesterday. The first one, may seem rather irrelevant, was the post on Facebook about the death of the Hipsters. An article by the GQ Spanish Magazine. The second, a lecture by the cofounder of dpr-barcelona, Ethel Baraona in IaaC, Barcelona.
Let’s say the first was accidental, the second intentional. Superficial – groundbreaking. Time consuming – time investment. I think you get it already. However, Ethel lectures triggered something in me that has reassured me that the article was wrong (not that the article is very serious though…)
Let’s introduce the facts: 1st: hipster will cease to exist. And 2nd, we can change the world by taking brave decisions and worldwide co.working rather than creating competitive atmospheres; and also by taking care of the social impact of the that we consume (a really interesting lecture we will talk more about in the future days).
So, how why do I think the article is wrong?
To me Hipster are those Portlanders who are really true to their values and not just their look. They care about the sustainability of EVERYTHING they use, eat or buy. They ride bikes, recycled bikes, to prevent pollution. They are vegan to safe animals. They buy housemade cosmetics to avoid animal experimentation. And they also avoid “made in China” to ensure the protection of Human Rights.
From what I have learned today, the way we can make our world a better place for EVERYONE (not just us) is by taking care of these details. Using non-polluting energies or materials. Caring for other people’s life. Being a person that truly cares. And to me, those Portland-like hipster around the world are contributing to the growth of this caring quarter of our economy. That which will provide for us.
What is ironical is that all these product are, still, way pricier than regular contaminated-by-despicable-capitalistic-companies products. And, for now, caring is only affordable for those who have enough. Hopefully, the change is close for the many and not the few.