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Industrial abandoned lands, ruins, eyesores, voids, derelict, urban deserts, dead zones, silent spaces, landscapes of contempt, and squats are just a few of the words that have been used to figure out the fragments of transformation within our urban spaces. They are terms that refer to spaces such as post-industrial landscapes, abandoned environments, and empty spaces in the peripheral parts of a city. Linked to the processes of decay, the terms also refer to the “cultural entropy and social” of our city spaces, their “loss and ruin.” By virtue of their neglect, ruinous state, and marginal place in the urban landscape, recent architectural and urban planning discourse has defined these spaces as “contingent,” “interstitial,” and “spaces of indeterminacy.” Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, many cities have witnessed the unused of significant industrial landscapes and their eventual abandonment. Urban societies, cultural and architectural history, these landscapes of indeterminacy remain a part of the urban palimpsest. Using the metaphor of “city as palimpsest” and extending the notion of indeterminate spaces. It is explored the nature of contemporary city phenomena in relation to the transformation of abandoned urban spaces.
Since the fall of the Nazi’s colonization, Oswiecim has struggled with using former factories. Under Communist force, the city’s main employer, who a chemical worker, failed to develop continue with modern technology, and since 1989 over 10,000 work places have been lost at the plant. With seemingly no other choice to cultivating a grizzly tourist trade, Oswiecim is finding its past increasingly difficult to escape. In other words, Oswiecim is urban decay city – falls into irrecoverable and aged, with falling population or changing population, economic restructuring, abandoned buildings, high local unemployment, separated families, and inhospitable city landscape – where whole city area as fragments which is contained city memories and space qualities.
…trauma and discontinuity are fundamental for memory and history, ruins have come to be necessary for linking creativity to the experience of loss at the individual and collective level. Ruins operate as powerful metaphors for absence or rejection, and hence, as incentives for reflection or restoration.
Industrial ruins are an intersection of the visible and the invisible, for the people who managed them, worked in them, and inhabited them are not there. And yet their absence manifests itself as a presence through the shreds and silent things that remain, in the objects we half recognize or surround with imaginings. In ruins we can identify that which appeared to be not there, a host of signs and traces which let us know that a haunting is taking place. The ghosts of ruins do not creep out of shady places unannounced, as they do in highly regulated urban spaces, but are abundant in the signs which haunt the present in such a way as to suddenly animate the past. Rather than being exorcised through redevelopment, these ghosts are able to haunt us because they are part of an unfinished disposal of spaces and matter, identified as rubbish but not yet cleared. Such things suddenly become animated, when the over and done with comes alive the things you partly recognize or have heard about provoke familiar feelings, an imaginative and empathetic recouping of the characters, forms of communication, and activities of factory space. In these haunted peripheries, ghosts rarely provoke memories of the epochal and the iconic but recollect the mundane passage of everyday factory life.
The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.
The decay resides at the conceptual intersection of the individual parts of the analogy that zone created by the superimposition and superposition of essentially translucent entities. The active light of interpretation shines through these layers, as it were, illuminating significant shapes and figures. Meaning actively happens here; it is constructed as images overlap each other, aligning themselves momentarily, and then shifting slightly, encouraging reevaluation and reinterpretation. As a layered figure of depth in architecture, complexity occurs in both plan and section. As a site, the zone of meaning in the analogical system is often ambiguous. Yet, also as a site, this area has boundaries or, rather, a set – largely unquantifiable – of all available meanings, which is different than a boundless field of all-inclusiveness or unregulated interpretations.
Trace and Time Layers with Derrida’s Theory
The resonance of a knock on a door uncovers its density. The tactile of a wall describes its materiality. The texture of a floor may invite us to sit or lay down. The smoothness of a handrail comforts our ascent. Human skin is a powerful material that enables us to perceive and understand our surroundings. Skin is highly expressive; based on its color, texture, wear and plasticity we can read it, gathering information concerning culture, ethnic background, age, abuse, health and the tasks it performs on specific body parts. Skin itself reads as it is readable. Our skin can gather data through tactile perception and read our spatial surroundings. Architecture is an expressive act and the only discipline that stimulates all of our senses. An architect designs spaces that foresee and celebrate the bodily interaction of the inhabitant.
According to Derrida, phenomenology is metaphysics of presence because it unwittingly relies upon the notion of an indivisible self-presence, or in the case of Husserl, the possibility of an exact internal adequacy with oneself. In various texts, Derrida contests this valorisation of an undivided subjectivity, as well as the primacy that such a position accords to the ‘now’, or to some other kind of temporal immediacy. For instance, in Speech and Phenomena, Derrida argues that if a ‘now’ moment is conceived of as exhausting itself in that experience, it could not actually be experienced, for there would be nothing to juxtapose itself against in order to illuminate that very ‘now’. Instead, Derrida wants to reveal that every so-called ‘present’, or ‘now’ point, is always already compromised by a trace, or a residue of a previous experience, that precludes us ever being in a self-contained ‘now’ moment.
Whenever I distrust my memory, writes Freud in a note of 1925. I can resort to pen and paper. Pater then becomes an external part of my memory and retains something which I would otherwise carry about with me invisibly. When I write on a sheet of paper, I am sure that I have an enduring ‘remembrance’, safe from the ‘possible distortions to which it might have been subjected in my actual memory. The disadvantage is that I cannot undo my note when it is no longer needed and that the page becomes full. The writing surface is used up. Memory-autobiographical and collective, each integral to the other-exists as the foundation upon which meaning is built. Memory affords our connection to the world. Every aspect of experience becomes enveloped in the process of memory. It forms our identity as individuals and it coheres individuals together to form the identity of social groups. Memory is also the thread which links the lived-in now with the past and the future: what I remember of my past contributes to who I am now (at this very moment) and in many ways affects what I will do in the future. Without memory, meaning building cannot happen.
Memory of architecture, therefore, seems to depend more on our ability to perceive the embodied situation. Moreover those situations are subject to particular catalytic moments in time-those instances in which the energies of both the container and the contained become virtually indistinguishable. The timing of those moments is uneven, poetic, and anisotropic. It would be impossible for the constituent elements of a place memory to sustain a constant equilibrium or frequency of resonance in time. It needs to be emphasised that remembering is a thoroughly social and political process, a realm of contestation and controversy. The past is “constantly selected, filtered and restructured in terms set by the questions and necessities of the present”. Memories are selected and interpreted on the basis of culturally located knowledge and this is further “constituted and stabilised within a network of social relationships”, consolidated in the `common sense’ of the everyday. Although practices of inscribing memory on space are enormously varied, there are undoubtedly tendencies to fix authoritative meanings about the past through an ensemble of practices and technologies which centre upon the production of specific spaces, here identified as monumental `memory-scapes’, heritage districts, and museums. It is within the contingent spaces of the city where ephemeral gestures resonate, drawing our attention to the residue of the past, enticing us to rediscover their temporal value. And for me at least, ruins, like palimpsests, are traces by which we discover our urban history, and the soul of a space.
As all historical narratives are subjectively woven Tapestries of pieced historical facts and events, new Histories often reveal striking discrepancies in the linear conventions of previously inscribed histories. The intention here is to piece together discrepant theoretical notions, to produce an archaeological investigation, which is consistent with the theoretical and ideological approach of Aldo Rossi.
The most evocative works of Aldo Rossi are exemplary of the process of building meaning as we engage memory in our everyday experiences, thinking analogically and understanding the world tacitly by doing and making. Whether stated explicitly or not, Rossi must have sensed the necessity to temper his early polemics about a theory of design with a commitment to architecture of intense poetry, of non-quantifiable artistry, and an architecture conscious of its autobiographical significance. Underlying the rationalist tendencies of Rossi’s theoretical ork is a deeply felt reverence for the power of memory, both his own as well as the collective memory of a particular culture or society that is embodied in key architectural types. And the force of memory permeates his entire oeuvre to such an extent that it is almost pathological, or cultish, or verging on nostalgia, to say the least. For Rossi, the process of memory analogically suggests the evolution and morphology of the physical form of the city; and a formal language based on a typology of architecture; and, as a matter of necessity, the repetitive, obsessive, and dynamic nature of his own creative practice. However, Rossi’s poetic was not as self-absorbed as it may seem-or, at least, it was not ultimately meant to turn in on itself in the creation of a restrictive, self-indulgent reverie. He expected his obsession with memory to translate into his buildings in such a way that it would invigorate architecture with a new liberty, a freedom of experience and meaning similar to so many of those buildings he had discovered and cited in his early treatise, The Architecture of the City: the Palazzo della Ragione in Padua, the Roman amphitheater-turned-market square in Lucca, the tiny fishing huts along the Po River valley-buildings that, while displaying characteristics of specific types, transcended the program of those types by accommodating changing activities and uses. By analogically relating the transposition of architectural types with the process of memory, Rossi was privileging meaning building with his architecture as an integral part of the built environment, especially as it governed the evolution of cities.
It is how Rossi engaged the profound memories of his past. It is how he anticipated people would live with and within his buildings, seeing in those forms their own memories of an architectural past, encouraging them to reactivate those connections, those relationships in his buildings. “The emergence of relations among things, more than the things themselves, always gives rise to new meanings,” wrote Rossi. Perhaps, like this: Confront the built form-it reminds you of other buildings and other experiences you have had before-this new building feels familiar and established in your understanding of “the given”-yet, you experience this building as something different, it’s meaning has changed from what you thought it should be because of the change in how you use the architecture-“the given” is expanded, enriched with new meaning… meaning building. It is how Rossi “practiced” architecture-by working analogically from drawings to buildings to writings, discovering relationships, exploring the space where meaning happens, in between those things which can be explicitly articulated, patently expressed.
‘to make music, people need sounds and when people can’t make them yourself you find them somewhere else: in appearance there is nothing more simple’.’The sampler is an electronic memory that is virtually infinite, which enables sounds to be stored, from a single note to a symphony. This fund constitutes a sort of personal library, where works are reduced to an anthology of chosen pieces drawn flora the vast reservoir of musical culture. The work ceases to function as a ‘closed opus’ or a melody and becomes a sum of harmonies and pre existing sounds. The sampler is thus the centre of sound memory, a centre where all metamorphoses are possible. It is an abstract place where all the sounds of the world are classified and subjected to changes. This tool simplifies the work of the DJ, who then needs only to physically manipulate the vinyl records in order to modify sounds, slowing them down, warping them or passing them into a loop. These manipulations are necessary to the construction of a durable rhythm by the mixing of short breaks. The re-appropriation of knowledge has always been pre sent in human activity, in different forms, but the advent of the sampler has upset the pre existing metaphysical relationship between creation and memory. Indeed, by faithfully retrieving recorded pieces ready to be recombined, the memory no longer works as a catalyst. The combined effect of the dormant memory/recall binomial implements internal re-composition, a metabolism that plays on memory by default. But the sampler, on the contrary, pushes the process of fabrication to the surface, turning it into a conscious act, like collage, thus relating it to an aesthetic of superposition, medley and fusion.
- Leatherbarrow. D, Mostafavi. M, Surface Architecture
- Skin+Bones ; Parallel Practieces in Fashion and Architecture, Thames & Hudson, London, 2007
- McLuhan. M, Understanding Media; The Extensions of Man, 2002
- Bru E, New Territories New Landscapes, ACTAR, 1997
- Herausgeber, Atlas of Shrinking Cities, HATJE CANTZ, 2004
- Juhani. P, The eyes of the skin; architecture and the senses, London:Academy Editions,1996
- Morphosis, Architecture and Urbanism, A+U, 1994
- This quote was taken from Walter Benjamin’s “Paris: Capital of the Nineteenth Century,” cited in Sexuality and Space, ed. Beatrize Colomina (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1992) 74.
- Matthew Goulash, 39 Micro Lectures in Proximity of Performance (London and New York: Routledge, 2000) 190.
- Salvator Settis, forward, Irresistable Decay: Ruins Reclaimed, by Michael S. Roth (Los Angeles, CA: The Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities, 1997) vii.
- William Faulkner
- making meaning out of the memory of architecture
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