Why is the question of erasing the author -by one’s own will, by chance, by context, or consciously by a generation- so important in our times? The larger arc of this idea seems to be spanning between the hyper-celebration or hero worshiping of the individual author on the one hand and the desire for a world that is common, one that is based on sharing and collective well-being on the other hand. Often, the side of the culture of individuality is accused of one being on the side of authoritarianism, hierarchy, capitalism, consumer culture, gender bias, and so on. While the side of culture of the collective or commons is hailed and celebrated as a more progressive and more ethical way of practice. However, the question of authorship, particularly with respect to architectural works, is far more complex than simply celebrating any one of the ideological or political inclinations dominating the contemporary world.
It is complicated because, more often than not, it seems to be difficult to erase the manner in which an architectural work is put together -drawings, models, texts, details, etc.- and the capacity of the person -or machine- to put together the architectural work in that manner. In short even if we do not know the author, it is difficult to not wonder who or what put together the specific work of architecture. At the same time, it seems, extremely easy and effortless, to experience the work of architecture -housing, offices, factories, museums, etc.- without ever paying attention to neither the building nor wondering about the question or idea of authorship. In this second case, architecture is taken for granted, or relied upon unconsciously (indeed the second scenario seems to be most of our experience of moving through cities or human settlements in general). Needless to mention the near infinite regress that the question of authorship puts us in -for example consider the curious omission of the names of the architectural offices in one of the articles on the newly completed campus for Google. If we get into who is the author of the building then we may not only have to include a whole network of producers from the team of architects, team of engineers, contractors, construction workers, graphic designers, manufacturers of architectural components, specific team involved at the manufacturing plants, suppliers of raw materials and so on.