Artificial Light -- Author Keith Mitnick's first glimpse of an architectural drawing came through the underside of a glass kitchen table. Overcome by the sight of blueprints created for an addition to the family's tract house, the young boy spontaneously vomited on his father's shoes. Now an architectural professional and educator, Mitnick finds himself thinking and writing theoretically about moments like these, when architecture makes itself felt, immediately and palpably. Balanced precariously between practice and theory, Mitnick refuses to put contemplation over experience—architectural thinking over making. Unconvinced by those who proclaim the death of theory, Mitnick maintains that architectural discourse need not disappear entirely; it need only change shape and break free from the tired, post-structuralist narratives with which it has become associated in the past couple of decades.
Artificial Light suggests an alternative type of critical theory consisting of personal and fictitious anecdotes, real and fake photographs, and mini-essays that addresses prevalent themes in architecture such as immediacy, affect, abstraction, atmosphere, realness, and banality. With a narrative style reminiscent of other unconventional writers on design such as Paul Shepheard, Roger Connah, and Rebecca Solnit, Artificial Light is the beautifully written and visually engaging debut of a dynamic new voice in the world of architectural criticism.
Keith Mitnick is assistant professor of architecture at the University of Michigan. He earned a Master of Architecture degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and is a founding principal of the design firm Mitnick Roddier Hicks.