Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cast Shadows

"Capitalism has transformed the face of the earth at an accelerating pace these past 200 years. It cannot possibly continue on that trajectory for another 200 years. Someone, somewhere, has to think about what kind of social system should replace it." ~ David Harvey


There is a city where religion is capital. This city has been in many stages of construction and has never seen completion. Its first step was to show the world what it could be. Through architectural imagery, the city expressed all the amenities that capital could afford. As a result, the city’s water parts floated; fire as lanterns lit the night sky; air took the path of contrived, pressured, capture and release; and deep excavation solidified a new earth scape, a new vertical horizon.

It began with the inhabitation of an aerial rendering and the city. The speed of conception and inscription manifested a lack and a partial state of completion in both realms. The more the city built, the more occupants moved into its lofted dwellings, its penthouses. The more these penthouses sold, the more projects had to be built anew. No occupant wanted to live under anyone else. Therefore, the priority was to build from the top down. Constructing the penthouses to reflect the rendering first, meant that it could be sold as soon as it was rendered. Selling the top penthouse meant construction of the entire project was financed. This principle allowed many buildings to be sold before they where even close to completion.

Initially, the aerial rendering showed what the entire city, once complete, would be. Eventually it could no longer keep up with the pace of development, the rendering began to focus on portions and soon, only on individual parts. Ultimately, it led to renderings of buildings as 'siteless' or 'contextless' due to the unsure nature of where they were going to be built. Even when a site was chosen, renderings could not accurately portray the environment around the proposed site.

No occupant in the city would care to tell you about the city's streets; whether they where black or green or had any trees or shrubs. They only perceived the streets from their penthouses and referred to what the aerial rendering showed. They trusted that if represented in the rendering, it must surely exist under their feet.

Occupants found difficulty crossing the city's streets, in part, because lanes were constantly added as the traffic remained. The renderings showed that additional lanes in the streets would supply the buildings with faster services as well as allow quicker developmental progress. Nevertheless, most daily circulation for the occupants was vertical. Spent in elevators equipped with telecommunicate media and hyper-speed, decreasing time leading up to the top. The occupants that could not afford being disconnected from their businesses had little need for noticing anything immediately around them.

In the world around the city, there would be an abundance of ads promoting belief in the city. One would behold the pinnacle of the tallest rendered building and below it would read, "Now Your Visa Card Can Help You Cast Bigger Shadows."

Someday a new city will be discovered below, and above, there will lay the ruins of a city never built.


avi said...

Someday a new city will be discovered below, and above, there will lay the ruins of a city never built.

That is staggeringly beautiful.

The metaphor of the aerial perspective catches something. As if to have it out of your window synonymous with ownership. To witness and yet not to be witnessed. I believe that is one of the hallmarks of yesterdays ambitions. Does television not provide just that?

I say yesterdays ambitions because I hope that we come to aspire to being in our environment and not looking out over it with a supercilious regal ownership. What would the spacial organization, the key metaphor, that would heap the feeling of responsibility and interconnectedness?

casey said...

It is said that when Hernan Cortes, sailing across the Atlantic in search for gold, finally appeared on the eastern horizon of some shore in south america, the nativec did not see him coming.
They could see the trees on the shore, the clear horizon, the waves, but not the ominous ships lead by Cortes. Not because of faltered observation, or because something physically obstructed their view, but because they could not believe in such a sight.
They could not imagine an occurrence where sea faring, man made monsters would appear on the water, coming from untouchable distances. So they could not see Cortes and his men until they shored their ships and came to land.
If the natives could not see what they could not imagine to exist, then surely we can imagine, and make real for ourselves, that which does not exist.

chelsea said...

the disbelief continued further in that cortes and his fleet landed at an hour early in the morning when the sun remained low in the horizon, to the east, behind them. the dark shapes of men and ships came to shore as shadows themselves.