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Icon revisited

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If you thought the fuss about icons was over, think again.

Even as Graham Morrison was delivering his withering attack on gesture architecture at the Royal Academy last summer, our old friend Charles Jencks was busy at work on a book on the self-same subject. To be published in May, The Iconic Building is subtitled 'The power of enigma', a suitably semi-sinister tag which refers to what Jencks believes is the new convention behind icon buildings: 'the enigmatic signifier'. This, he argues, has emerged because the old justifications for icon buildings, religion and ideology, no longer hold. Jencks argues that the 'motives and rules' in relation to enigma were worked out in the 1910s, by Giorgio De Chirico and James Joyce, among others.

Anyway, it seems that 'the key to a successful iconic building is the way it exploits the enigmatic signifier, a paranoiac sign with negative and positive overtones'. Blimey!

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