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Introduction by Rossella Ongaretto PDF Print E-mail

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“He possessed a wonderful collection of tropical plants, fashioned by the hands of true artists, following Nature step by step... This admirable artistry had long enthralled him, but now he dreamt of collecting another kind of flora: tired of artificial flowers aping real ones, he wanted some natural flowers that would look like fakes.”
J. K. Huysman, Against Nature, 1882, ('fake2' in: O.M.A. Rem Koolhaas and Bruce Mau, S, M, L, XL)


The experience of ‘not knowing’ allows the renewal of the creative mechanism in a process of disintegration and reconstruction, remodelling of unknown differences where there is a continual flow of doubts, ambiguities, infinite contradictions make it possible to plan the changeable and arrive at a precarious freedom of thought.

These ideas always originate in the reforming of fragments, made possible by infinite connections and analogies. To deny this upheaval of tradition allows for a mechanism that cancels out every form of creative freedom, the possibility of any form of regeneration of humanity, but above all represents a misguided historical reading and understanding.

To doubt on the level of knowledge allows a critical consideration in which historic certainties can be shattered but must not be totally destroyed. The crisis whose trauma, a radical break with tradition in history has always led to a process of dissolution and destructuring of the system of arts which triggers new levels of perception and creative mechanisms that force us to question the very meaning of the world and its concept.

To observe without reference to history denies this process and means the almost absolute overturning of artistic realisations from the past, significant and meaningful episodes starting with the Renaissance and leading through to the Baroque, the illusion of the theorists of the 16th century to categorize every past architectural cultural model in order to describe an Idea, to deny the viewpoint of Leon Battista Alberti of Serlio, the eclecticism of Carracci and Scamozzi, and the experimentation of Piranesi in the late 18th century, the eclecticism of the late 19th century undermines the theoretical system of the modern avant-guard, Dadaism, constructivism, English and American Pop Art and the post modern avant-guard up to the contemporary deconstructivist movement. It would mean erasing the utopia of Giulio Camillo Delminio who in the 16th century conceived a ‘theatre of the memory’, a rhetorical-mnemonic structure able to contain the entire universe of knowledge: a container in which to collect the fragments of knowledge needed to identify possible answers indeed it could be seen as the one of the first databases in history.

To forget Piranesi’s research towards a denial of philological and academic rigor, to the shattering of every codified language, intent on experimentation and syncretism of styles where the imagination, this unique and principle instrument, makes possible the liberation of form, <<la moltiplicazione degli spazi, montati l’uno dentro gli altri>> e la <<disarticolazione degli organismi>> (M.Tafuri) in a continuous procedure of shattering traditional stylemes and of reinterpretation of archaeological and historic facts. And again, to deny the manipulation of basic geometric forms by the constructivist avant- guard, Ejzenštejn’s cinematic editing, or Rodchenko’s photomontage, Majakovskij’s slogans and Mejerchol’d’s theatre, to forget the artistic-productive school of Vchutemas.

It would be possible to admit that the Schwitters sculpture-architecture Merzbau made up of found materials, fragments, pieces of string, containers for urine samples, the hairs of loved ones, holes, could have given an answer to the whole human subconscious and awoken the rules of analogy, perhaps with a protective licence.

And if, in the history of the arts, an act of putting the fragments back together had never been possible, Moholy Nagy with his editing of continual contrasts and multiple visuals would never have researched a new way of looking at the world; the unconscious would never have prompted Max Ernst to create dream-like collages in which every ordinary relationship was taken apart to create a new form of connection and association; John Cage’s 'imaginary worlds' would never have pointed out audio paths towards the utopian 'non place'.

On the one hand it would mean negating the peripatetic vision of space and the cinematism of Le Corbusier as shown in the projects of villa La Roche and villa Savoye, in the competition for the Palace of the Soviet states in Moscow and of Chandigarh: examples of which show a dynamic vision and a mechanism of juxtaposition and the assemblage of individual bodies linked by a continuous journey that breaks any spatial rigidity towards the horizons of non objectivity.

Forget the ideas of metamorphosis and mobility presented in the proposals of the sixties with the city-machine of Archigram, in the imagination of groups like Archizoom and Superstudio, in the metaphysical settings of Instant City and Cook’s 1964 Plug-in-City, of Herron’s Walking City, of Greene’s Living-Pod that go against all codified realities and present metropolises that are foreign to the real world, cities growing without limits, formed from hybrid spaces in continual evolution and destined to fade away.

Forget Yona Friedman’s Ville Spatiale which imagines habitation capsules intended for everyone’s use and suitable for the continually mutating needs of society: cells that disclose their spaces like technological buds, mutating containers, open when not lived- in, closed when inhabited by those who need them.

On the other hand it would mean erasing Post Modern research, the architecture of Bofill based on the assemblage of symbolic figures and classical archetype forms, Hans Hollein’s theories that exalt the poetry of collage and fragments, Charles Moore’s piazza Italia, Robert Stern, James Stirling and Frank Gehry who place a value on new systems where common sense that was seemingly lost derives from the recomposition of pieces of mechanism and elements of memory.

In architecture, as in the other arts it is a natural fact inherent in the creative process to make reference to past models, consider various variables, use contemporary data in a state of continuous variation, maintain a wide ranging relationship with humanistic and technical sciences.

In this process nothing is ever original. What is original is the resulting product. You take something, break it into pieces, mix it up and reinterpret it because the needs of contemporary society are changeable.

The artifact, architecture and the normal contemporary landscapes are mixed with elements coming from different fields and inevitably every new creation absorbs the changes in present society on all levels: cultural, artistic, social, economic and political.

Today it is only possible to make a drawing of space if you have first identified an operational system that allows the linking together of apparently separate scenes, like those of planning, architecture, design, art, communication and technology - complex elements that define a landscape in continual evolution whose system is broken with “non places”- to delineate a methodological procedure that allows us to recognize within the disorder the instrument needed to understand the dissonant mechanisms that keep contemporary reality moving.

Architecture is inevitably born from a world of protean relationships, interstitial connections between that which has been and that which is possible, to become a space in transition, held in the 'between', that never more than today loses its material nature to become shapeless and suspended in a continual dynamic oscillation. That which is left makes up the landscape, considered as negative elements that form a resource, a quality for the evolution of the territory itself. It is like what happens in languages, in the sciences and arts, the happenings that accumulate in an undecided way, the things that are rejected, the fragments that pertain to all spaces take on the value of necessary data for any form of invention-evolution-renewal- rebirth.