Yesterday’s Banned Text

Micromegas envelops the viewer in such as way as to remove both immediate physical context and the cultural context of which it is a product. In order to decipher this very densely saturated spaces in any sense, the viewer has to become a reader of the drawing, recognising the break between the traditional map-territory relationship in that Micromegas is not the direct representation of an external object but a text that calls for a multiplicity of readings. The privilege of the reader, as opposed to the viewer, is the ability to unhook the signs from their supposed intended meanings.

In trying to read the drawings, one then starts projecting his or her own meanings into them. This is not because they are devoid of an original meaning or context, but that this particular context becomes irrelevant through the reader’s subjectivity. Libeskind’s lines exist in a vacuum up until the point that they are subjected to the reader’s inspection. The reader then, in turn, writes their own context for them – based on not what they arbitrarily present but what they actively allude to beyond the page.

The figure of the architect is now elevated to the third and final position, from viewer to reader to reader-writer. The reader-writer sees a figure or a context in anything put before her, and only understands a precedent project through her own production. Exploring Micromegas, one digests the plethora of forms only to constantly derive new spaces, new territories. The reader-writer never views a piece of work in order to decipher ‘what the author meant’ but solely as a platform from which to project forward her own ideas. We should abolish inheritance – as it is only our projection.

The work allows for a multiplicity of readings, not due to ambiguity of content but because it itself is woven out of multiple discourses and spun from already existent citations, echoes and cultural references. The reader-writer finds themselves at the loose end of one of these threads.

Micromegas do signal that they derive from somewhere, that there is an origin to their big bang – as only something that was once a figure can then be broken. However the quest for this origin is more interesting and important than the discovery of what actually lies behind the explosion. Reading Micromegas, we are all the time rewriting it too – writing to explore it, to critique it, and ultimately to create our own version of it. To draw, to write, to author is not to represent but to make.

This leads to the question of whether anything exists outside of its own representation – or whether that is even relevant. If, regarding any architectural work, what is significant is not the territory that the map derives from but the territory it allows me to create, then the ‘reality’ of the representation ceases to exist. Just as in Calvino’s Invisible Cities, the Khan only knows about the various cities in his empire through the stories Marco Polo tells him and it does not matter whether those cities are “real” or exist in any sense outside Marco Polo’s imagination.

The way the architect reads any work is as a work of meta-fiction. Through its highly contrived artificiality, it makes context disappear and works as a portal into its own past and future through what is alludes to and references; all the while rendering you aware of the process.

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