The Continuous Monument and the Brown stone Spire: Radicality in the Architecture of Night Vale
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In June 2012, writers Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor released the first episode of the twice-monthly podcast Welcome to Night Vale. Each episode of the podcast is produced as a community radio show broadcast from the fictional town of Night Vale and hosted by local presenter, Cecil Palmer. An isolated desert community, Night Vale regularly experiences super-natural events and its inhabitants are under constant surveillance by local authorities. Fink and Cranor’s writing casts these aspects of life in the town as constituting the mundane in order to produce a comic effect. Often parodying real companies in mock advertisements dispersed throughout the “broadcast,” the podcast offers a critique of free-market capitalism, while avoiding easy alignment with any specific political ideology. Welcome to Night Vale is not, first and foremost, a podcast about architecture or politics. Nevertheless, the architecture of the town and the governmental and corporate powers controlling this community remain central to the narrative structure of the show. The podcast avoids detailed descriptions of the town’s architecture, with key buildings within Night Vale and its surrounds instead used as a series of recurring landmarks. Without suggesting any direct links between the podcast and earlier modeled, performed, collaged, drawn and written works by the Italian radical architecture project during the 1960s and 70s, the following paper places Night Vale alongside this earlier work, raising questions about the podcast as a medium for the conceptualization of architecture and the city in non-visual terms.
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Architectural History and Theory