Back to SPACE

Rem Koolhas recently published an article for the series “Digital Minds for a New Europe” where he discussed his view on ‘Smart Cities‘. Yes, our cites are heading the age where things can talk to us and perform according to our needs and usage.

HOW EXCITING!!

However what does it mean for the quality of our everyday dwelling? If we are constantly monitorised in hybrid space, so that objects can reply to us, who is going to be in charge of controlling the digital infrastructure that enables communication? Who is going to pass information from one terminal to another? In other words, who is going to control hybrid spaces?

The government, state, administration???? Mmmmmmm..

In the parallel debate of net neutrality, where only few are in control of the info we access through the Internet, can you imagine what might happen if these people are not only in control of the movies, articles, and so on, we watch and read but also of how are life enables its functionality in the everyday?

Is SMART really SMART for us, or is just a glassed layer on top of a bitter pill to swallow? What ‘public’ hybrid space is in an oligarchic high-tech corporation controlled space, either digital or real?

Rem Koolhas described how he has been analysing the current state of architectural basics – door, windows, ceiling and so on – with his Harvard students to see how such basics are changing in the age of smart cities.. well they are of course moving towards remote device controlled entities, whose control is liminally related to us, as fully delivered by few digital infrastructure corporation.

As architect/artist I feel I need to get back to space; it’s very hard to accept that we are under an invisible coat, which is wrapping us without any possibility of debate.

Space enables democracy. Greek and Roman cities were shaped around the Agora (Ἀγορά), a place for debate where citizens met to discuss and argue. The riddle is then, is there any Agora left for us? What is the Agora of “Smart Cities”?

I take the discovery of the contemporary agora spaces as a challenge for myself

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The Void of the Real

In these days I’ve been lucky enough to see Malevich’s “Black and White” at Tate Modern and Turner’s last paintings at Tate Britain. The lucky coincidence made my mind travel through a common theme that both artists have dealt with: the void.

Nevertheless the value that each artist assigns to the void is at the antipodes. Whether Malevich expresses the impossibility to capture the real, so that beyond the white frame there is nothing, Turner uses the void of representation to translate the metaphysical value of the real. This is something that transcends the phenomenal and reaches the noumenal – borrowing Immanuel Kant’s terms.

In other words both artists are coping with the unknown form of the real, which is something that any of us – borrowing again Kant and Slavoj Žižek‘s insights- can grasps, so that we fill it with our imagination.

Imagination and fantasy are instruments we employ to reify the real, i.e. to give it a form that somehow we can understand. Malevich gave a black formless square, Turner assigned a metaphysical aspect, driven by a different cultural and religious context.

To deal with the void is like passing a threshold where certainties are gone; we cannot hide from ourselves anymore and those questions and riddles that oppress our minds fall on us.

By flipping what I have told at the beginning of the post, did I look for those artists? I do feel the void is haunting me and I cannot avoid to deal with it.. I am wondering around my thoughts looking for possible solutions, but unfortunately I can’t feel the same energy to translate such unsettling sense and get it out of myself through a new “form”, whather it might mean.

To be honest looking at those works puts myself in the right track, whatever the track is. Looking forward to acknowledging it.