Hi everyone, after being stuck in a snow storm, have finally resurfaced. Exhausted but trying to gather my thoughts from over the holiday in a semblance of a logical manifesto. Look forward to seeing everyone very soon!
Forger, Faker, Fiction Maker
Today Google celebrates the 225th anniversary of the British Museum. In these 225 years the British Museum has slowly expanded from an almost domestic environment, Sir Sloane’s collection of curiosities, to the vast real-estate development that has reached the point that it contains a condensed version of the ancient world. Over the years, the original museum housed in Montague House, at the same pace with the increase Empire and later with the economic power of the UK, expanded by engulfing chunks of Bloomsbury.
As artefacts were displaced from their original sites, a factory-level production of archeological fakes began to replace them. In this replacement lies a paradox – if an original is to be experienced and a fake only to be viewed, then the original artefact (which has become a museum display) can only be viewed and thus looses its material quality of the original. At the same time, the fake artefact, by being placed within the original context becomes a fictional original. It is in this duality of the object, the fake and the original, that defines the architectural context around it.
The museum, context of the original, transforms the artefact into a mere display, sanitises and conserves it, almost as if curators guard these architectonic seedlings from being pushed out by fakes, an End of the World library for the apocalypse of plastic facsimiles. Fakes, more than ever before, have become scorned upon.
Greek fakes, for instance, were praised in ancient Rome because they retained the same manufacturing quality of originals. The speed, sheer mass and cheapness of today’s fakes is seen as a threat to originals which starts a race of uprooting artefacts from their original sites and fossilising them in museums. In a way, the freeing of the original site from the preciousness of the historical is the ultimate modernist fantasy, unleashing the architectural potential of the site – be it archeological fakes, kitsch fakes or something entirely new.
Cities grow vertically, demolishing the old, burring the old underground. The buildings of today become the rubble of tomorrow which becomes the artefact of the future. As the city grows, the artefact layer thickens. Archeological digs cut through the mass of this layer, removing and replacing certain artefacts. The museum grows as the city heightens and the digs deepen. The museum grows to the point that it becomes a city in itself, an fossilised urban landscape which can never be experienced beyond the detached gaze.
So what becomes of the exterior – the anti-museum, a context suddenly freed of its historical roots. I believe it will never be entirely be devoid of the form of the original artefact, since the basic human emotion of nostalgia comes into place. People hate museums because they remind them of death, of tombs. People hate the new because it the new implies the loosing of the old. So the de-historyfied context gets filled with an odd, hybrid mutation of the old and the new, a sort of living, inhabitable anti-museum of nostalgia.
My project almost functions as a two sided coin. The internalised spaces of the city occupy the coin’s mass, the middle ground, a defined and limited space. All that is on its underside is the dig, the layers of original which become an underground museum, a sarcophagus of originals.
The flip side, the above, is the new city, the anti-museum, an odd mutation of new and fake old, a distorted image of the museum underneath. This might be a world where architecture as space becomes redundant or, better yet, reduced to a Google street view facade, a Potemkin. Its structures might be monolithic, super light-weight silica aerogel ghosts, anchored only by the mass of their original counterparts. When they are no longer needed, when a new layer is excavated, they are relaxed, their cloud-like monolithic structures floating away. It becomes a world where unbuilt is build able because it has been liberated from the original. It becomes a world that I want to explore, to build.