Museum To Site (aka part 3 aka problem child)

Before I begin, two title ideas (since it is obv. no longer forger faker fiction maker):

1. The Tale of the Fact That Became Artefact (I prefer this one)

2. The Tale of the Artefact That Became Site

Whole presentation as pdf: artefcat 3

And the rewritten part:

Underneath our very feet, for 20 or so meters, a new kind of geology has been forming – the geology of urban layers. The city of today is the rubble of tomorrow and the artefact of the day after tomorrow. The city exists on the ruins of its past.

(Walter Benjamin said that) the new can only be generated by the waste of the precedent, that the remainder is the generator of a nascent future.

The annihilation of the past is not necessarily destructive – it is the prophesy of a new, more relevant future. Without the ghost, the new cannot exist.

By floating the museum I dispose of the artefact, leaving a gaping hole in its place, the beginning of a tabula rasa. It is as if I uprooted the Caryatides but instead of filling in the narrative of the Erechteion with a decoy, I leave the Acropolis bare. The hole where the museum’s foundations stood has become a sterile gash, incapable of generating new futures since it is missing the remainder of the past.

If until now I have gone from site to museum, it is time to return the museum to the site. In a mirroring of the action previously described, that of ripping the artefacts from their site, the buildings of London are dismembered bit by bit.

First will go the museum, the originary collector, followed by an entire slew of listed, precious buildings that the city feverishly collects, as if in a large, open museum.

But these buildings, though dismantled, do not disappear. When taken apart, bit by bit, a ghostly artefact is unveiled, a trace of the building. This ghost plays the role of the decoy Caryatide on the Acropolis. It echoes the presence of the built space within the city’s narrative.

Remembering that only through waste can erupt the new, I embark on the last lag of my journey with the aim of creating a fertile ground, a site whose matter is the waste of the precedent.

The ghost artefacts, cast within my victim-buildings, will pass through a transformative process and ultimately be reduced to a fertile desert. I will focus on the British Museum to explain the mechanics of this metamorphosis – from artefact to site.

My architectural ghosts are almost metaphysical in their material quality.

The mass of the buildings is cast in a monolithic, ghost-like substance called heliogel. Its halo like nature sits in the gap between real and fictional. It is an improbable material sitting at the core of an absurd fiction and oddly, validating its reality through its presence.

Its monolithic structure is cast into the buildings, which become super scaled drying chambers.

The underground spaces store and transport helium, silica, water and other chemicals.

Piles of silica are hydrated by vapour, forming a gel. The air water pockets inside the gel are replaced by Helium. Thus the artefacts ghosts become self-floating.

They float above the city, a strange cloud formation of architecture past. Their airy structure filters the ligh and squeaks in the breeze.

Heliogel slowly absorbs the debree of the city, replacing its gases with solids. The weighed down ghosts crash in slow motion to the ground, the end of  an almost biological cycle.

After they have crashed, the ghosts are reduced to their basic component, silica, which covers the city in reflective dunes.

Saltation, separation and decanting processes are put in motion. The heavy remainders of the destroyed artefacts sink into the London clay, while light particles, such as the macerated ghost artefacts form the seamless canvas for new histories.

I have followed the artefact through three scales, each of them seemingly destructive.

I entombed the Carceri in the British Museum, I uprooted and disappeared the museum itself and I ultimately reduced the city to the white desert.

We have gone from site to museum only to return to  the site. But this site that we have returned to has nothing in common with the original site, it is entirely constructed from the matter of past precedents.

What might seem a tabula rasa is in fact the very opposite, a Tabula Plena. It is formed from the waste of an overspilling, layered history. From this white desert can erupt the new.

It is time to turn the model one last time. We arrive in the architect’s studio, my studio, the AA. The white desert, the canvas of the unbuilt, rests on its plinth, an entire world reduced to a display case.

At the begining of my presentation I asked: What is the real difference between a true Vermeer and what we believe to be a Vermeer?

I will refrase it: What is the difference between the reality of built architecture and the fiction of the unbuilt? Between artefact and fact?




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One Response to Museum To Site (aka part 3 aka problem child)

  1. Oliver Pershav says:

    Use of the word “reconning” is a bit to unit-internal. Say “recontextualising” instead.

    The thesis is very clear in the introduction, that of asking what it is that makes an artefact an original, but later during the presentation, we more move into what an artefact *can be*, an exploration of its potentials. This can be more clearly related to the question of original/fake. Is the site which we reveal as a tabula plena in the end a fake, or a genuine ground? Does it matter? Is it the narrative that matters? I get the feeling that you’re building a legend that prepares the ground, infuse it with meaning, for future buildings to refer to, but I don’t see the connection to the fake in the tabula plena. I think what ties it together is the notion of how to use a precedent, if it is okay to use a fake as our reference point, or if we always need to excavate the truth in order to make a relevant proposal.

    The tying together with the Caryatids works, but since it is just an example, perhaps it would be better to refer to Piranesi instead, who you directly engage with. For example: “this ghost plays the role of the decoy Caryatide on the Acropolis” can be “this ghost takes the presence of Piranesi’s Carceri in Rome, a replacement for a history we no longer know the truth of.”

    I think you have two discussions: the tabula plena and the forgery. I’m not saying that it is a bad idea to have more than one thesis, but the question here is: how can they sit together? In the end phrase, you ask what the difference between a true Vermeer is, and a fake Vermeer. Perhaps the question here is: does it matter whether the ground which we prepare for architecture is fake or real, built or unbuilt, a fiction or a fact?

    Will ponder more of it for tomorrow.