At the recent From Russia exhibition at the Royal Academy, the piece that was causing the most stirring of the luncherati was the 12ft high model of Tatlin's Monument to the 3rd International. It was interesting to see that it still has the power to shock, bemuse and astonish people today. The original model built by Tatlin housed a small boy inside turning a crank to make the cube, pyramid and cylinder rotate.
[Tatlin's tower] has become the de facto emblem of Constructivism, a visual shorthand, and as such it is often used to illustrate either the grand folly of the Constructivist 'project', the supreme egotism of architecture, and more occassionally a symbol of the radical desire to remake society.
I've come across a number of posts recently that have all used images of Tatlin's outlandish Monument to the 3rd International to compare and contrast against other architectural projects.
Firstly there was Owen Hatherly in the peerless article Delirious Moscow at archinect, putting Tatlin's tower next to a Martian tripod from War of the Worlds.
"Like Tatlin's Third International Tower, whose iron legs and perpetual motion are akin to the Martians' walking tripods, this was something as fearsome, uncanny and technologically terrifying as the alien invasion, and intended to be every bit as threatening to existing society."
Next up is The Los Angeles Times, where Christopher Hawthorne sees Tatlin's monster as a precedent to Foster Crystal Island behemoth in Moscow, even if ideologically they are at polar opposites.
"Perhaps its most obvious forebear is Vladimir Tatlin's "Monument to the 3rd International," a tilting, ziggurat-like structure the Russian constructivist proposed as a tribute to the Communist revolution. In Crystal Island's sharply tapering silhouette there are also echoes of later tributes to Tatlin's unbuilt tower, notably Dan Flavin's 1964 piece "Monument 1 for V. Tatlin," which consists of seven white fluorescent tubes arranged in a skinny triangular form. Foster's design finds an aesthetic middle ground between Tatlin's tangle of steel beams and Flavin's spare, ethereal composition."
At aggregat456, Boromini's Lantern at Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza is placed next to Tatlin's leaning tower as examples of 'A Lazarus Taxon':
"Russian Constructivism is a Lazarus Taxon: a species of architecture that though eradicated from previous historical records, reappears once again."
Then there's the comparison of Tatlin's Tower with 'paraSurf' by Macus Novak, as examples of algorithmically based generative design.
Marcus Novak's recent 'transarchitecture', existing predominantly in Cyberspace, is algorithmically generated or 'bred' and - like Tatlin's virtual structure - can be interpreted as symbol and agitprop for radical innovation beyond the realm of architecture per se.
Allow me to contribute two more Tatlin juxtapositions:
Tatlin's Tower against Gazprom tower by RMJM, both seen as threats to the skyline and good taste in their day.
Tatlin's Tower against OMA's CCTV, destined to be the architectural icon of the 21st Century - radical, provactive, and structurally daring.
Tatlin's unbuilt tower continues to exert a powerful influence over contemporary architectural speculation.