Grey Room

Title Grey Room: architecture, art, media, politics
Location New York
Publisher MIT Press
Periodicity Quarterly
ISSN 1526-3819
Published Since 1999-
Indexed Holdings 1999-


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Periodical's Overview

Grey Room has been situated at the intersection of architecture, art, and media in the conviction that these three areas are crucial to an understanding of modern and contemporary aesthetic practice, as well as to the larger characterization of modernity. While architectural and urban questions have figured prominently in such fields as philosophy, studies of mass culture, and poststructuralist and postmodernist theory, these debates have frequently lacked the perspective of architectural history and theory itself, including the growing body of scholarship seeking to problematize architectural concerns and to open important new lines of research. At the same time, there has been a continual engagement of architectural problematics within modern and contemporary art, especially in those practices that turn from the traditional gallery and museum to intervene in an expanded field of architectural, landscape, and urban sites. Furthermore, given recent technological developments and the continuing debates about aesthetic practice and perceptual modalities surrounding television, surveillance technology, computerization, and the "society of the spectacle," considerations of media have become important, indeed unavoidable, topics in understanding the history of architecture and art.

Grey Room is dedicated to the history of politically oppositional aesthetic practices and to the most rigorous theorizations of the possibilities of their contemporary continuation and transformation.”[1]

Selected Subject Headings

  • Bioinformatics
  • Computer vision
  • Corporate image - United States
  • Curtain walls
  • Dromology
  • Exobiology
  • Heterotopias
  • Information warfare
  • Jesuits - China
  • L systems
  • LSD (drug)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Center for Advanced Visual Studies
  • Milieu (biology)
  • Military intelligence
  • Multiscreen presentations
  • Neurasthenia
  • Photography, Underwater - history
  • Remote-sensing images
  • Slaughtering and slaughter-houses - symbolic aspects
  • Sound-waves
  • Space (architecture) and information
  • Surveillance in architecture
  • Technology and sexuality
  • United States Strategic Bombing Survey
  • Women computer engineers - United States


In the millennial 2000, Grey Room ends its promising and exciting editorial statement[2] with a bold typographical salvo from William S. Burroughs:

  • Photo falling - Word Falling
  • Break through in Grey Room - Towers, Open Fire
Six issues later, merely two years after, Grey Room published an immediate response to the physical and symbolic violence inflicted to the City of New York in 2001. This collision of safe dystopian Ballardian longings with their unexpected irruption in one’s reality might have been startling, no matter if the journal aims at providing a neat tool box with which we should be able to analyze, think and theorize our contemporary reality.

From its beginning Grey Room was an assertive journal, and as such it created a much-needed space to bring into the aesthetic and the architectural the soft envelope of our subjectivities, Media. Among other terms, they used televisual; it was 1999 and television was somehow still relevant, but they also wanted to historicize it in relation to artistic practices from the previous decades; we were mostly interested in their attempts at mapping a history of computational machines and their networks, in all its historicity and hidden political and socioeconomic understructure (Aware); in short, how machines have affected the other fields that they set out to think about: media, architecture, the aesthetic, and politics, all spookily meshing into those crumbling towers.

To do this, they proposed an interesting mix of theoretical texts, scholarship on arcane esoteria, alongside interviews with political scientist, philosophy of science incursions, and historical unearthing of modernist architectural, urbanist and media milestones. Antecedents.

As journals are organic entities that grow and shift as time accrues and editors rotate, this interest in media and computers, these odd combinations providing refreshing perspectives, has somehow been waning, giving way to scholarship on what they define as “politically oppositional aesthetic practices;” these practices were given space since the beginning, but not with such preeminence; what has happened is that we now find ourselves with a very similar journal to October, as a database perusal of artists written about by both periodicals will retrieve almost identical strains of “politically oppositional aesthetic practices,” written by a very similar stable of art historians, albeit Grey Room’s are younger and attempting to deal with the ‘contemporary’ and rethinking, again, the 1960s and 1970s. In the United States of America, New York. This is not a loss, as Grey Room’s contents fit now very nicely with the aforementioned periodical, its New York academic antecedent, but also with the German periodical Texte zur Kunst. This collision of networks cannot but be good news for scholarship, although the dangers of redundancy should not be overestimated. In technical terms, network noise.

Despite this shift, we believe Grey Room has been, and continues to be, an invaluable periodical to equip us with one set of tools to be able to discern how machines and screens have shifted the aesthetic terrain in ways that affect how we try to elucidate what this torrential fall of images, words, and towers might be doing to our perceptual senses. Our reality. Streamed, live-feed. Or just downtown.

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[1]"About Grey Room…,"Grey room (New York), no. 1 (Autumn 2000): 5-7.