Tabula Plena

presentation artefact

I really liked the diagram that Ari did and have structured my presentation accordingly:

site – museum


museum – site

I’ll modify my table drawing that everyone always gets really confused by to work with this new structure.

I will end with the white desert, which I name the Tabula Plena.

Just a few key moments (mainly the intros and conclusions of the 3 parts):


I use this model as a way to situate myself within the narrative. It is divided into four parts. We start and end in the architect’s studio – in fact a room in the AA. We travel through three worlds, versions of the original studio. 

The rooms function as communicating vessels, allowing the narrative to spill from one into the other. 

The narrative that we follow througout is that of the artefact, in various guises – historical, uprooted, forged. The artefact will describe a two part trajectory – from site to museum, and from museum back to site.

Site – Museum:

What is truly original, in a world of precedents, where everything can be described as “been there done, that?”. What is it that defines an artefact as original? If we look at the art world, as many as forty percent of what hangs in museums and galleries is said to be a forgery. The passing off of forgeries  as originals cannot be explained by economics alone. What is the real difference between a true Vermeer and what we believe to be a Vermeer? I believe the answer to be the narrative, the story. We want to believe in the authenticity of the narrative more than in the brush strokes in front of us. 

Forgeries, at least very succesful ones, are not reproductions, they are reimaginings of the original’s narrative and most importantly have the power to produce alternate histories.


I move my Carceri forgeries to the British Museum. 

By moving my alternate historical artefacts, the Carceri Plate, the lion skeleton  and an assortment of mutate pieces, I achieve two things. On the one hand, the uprooted artefacts weave a new narrative for the museum: the existence of the Carceri room ensures the reality of the Carceri in Rome. 

On the other hand, the forgeries are authenticated by being displayed in a museum, their status assured the moment they were placed on plinths.

Museum – Site

Walter Benjamin said that we experience history not when we are engaged in the dynamic process of change, but when we see the remainder, the waste of our culture being retaken by nature. A ghost is the generator of a nascent future. It is the annihilation of the past and the prophesy of a new, more relevant future. Without the ghost, the new cannot exist. 

 By lifting the museum I dispose of the artefact, leaving a gaping hole in its place, the beginning of a tabula rasa. This new site, essentially dehistorifeied and purged of precedent, is missing an essential element – the ghost of the precedent, the waste of architecture past that has within it the capability of generating new futures. 


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 originl 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. 

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.