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This paper explores the impact on agency that comes with making something visible. Taking my departure from Foucault’s analytics of power (in view of concluding with a set of new problems derived from empirical cases), the lion share of the paper will be spent analyzing practices of looking and visualization techniques in the field of architecture. It is of course well known that architects use, and have long used, a plethora of tools and techniques to visualize various aspects of a project. Recently, much debate has centered on how digital techniques impact on the built environment. Well-rehearsed is also how, during education, architects are trained not only to command various drawing and modelling techniques but also how their perception of the built environment is trained. A critical approach to these practices is gaining ground in academies and universities, although such advances are sometimes met with skepticism from architects. Skills in analyzing modes of representation is considered incommensurate with the painstaking task of learning to master them. Concerns are also expressed about how an exclusive focus on the visual obscures the visceral, non-representational aspects of architecture: body, movement, space, scale, etc. are easily forgotten. All the while, a new challenge has risen with designers’ growing interest in the field of material agency and with the renewed attention to architecture’s impact on societal and political agency. A poverty of sorts has been noticed in the representational arsenal with respect to exploring these questions visually. My paper will discuss developing visualization techniques, not all from the field of architecture, in view of analyzing how their ‘making-visible’ capabilities might transgress the limits we have established for architectural intervention. From Foucault’s critical perspective, we are able to witness how a mutation in the ability to see is itself implying a political transformation.

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Dag Johan Petersson 943
Scientific production

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