Representing Place

Alternate Arcologies and the (Re)Construction of Place

Posted in maps by mjcaraccioli on April 21, 2010

Mauro J. Caraccioli, Greer Dauphin, Windham Graves, Josh Mehler  

What is arcology? It seems almost ridiculous to ask this question after decades and centuries of human interaction with the environment and the construction of multi-layered and pluri-mobile spaces and places. The most familiar definition of arcology is that of a field dedicated to etching out the space and design of  hyperstructures: amassed quantities of spaces, peoples, and physically constructed spaces. The arcology we are proposing today, however, is one that instead looks upon the world itself as the greatest of hyperstructures and its inhabitants – both present and past – as beings dedicated to the re-construction of place.  Readers pressed for time (and space) are likely inclined to discard the suggestion of an artistic method that says everything, and may perhaps wonder whether such a method – as philosophy, scope or guiding star – that cannot define the range of its scope deserves discussion. The answer lies herein…  


Souk'he Temple Diagram (W. Graves)

Robert Smithson - Non-Site (1968)

Richard Serra - Tilted Arc (1981-89)

Situated Space (J. Mehler)

We begin our project by addressing the nature of sites, their specificity as a place, and the inscription on the part of art and politics to inscribe fictions on a particular place/site. Inspired by the childhood phenomenon of fort-building, along with the ingenuity that it takes to construct a world out of odd materials generally found outside, we address site specificity as a means of fitting the work to the space it is situated in. The project’s emphasis on both the transportation of place (the couchiness of our arcological dig), but also the (re)construction of place (by turning discarded objects into multi-layered and re-presentational sites of meaning) speaks to what Nicolas Bourriaud saw as the way art “keeps together moments of subjectivity,” making the different combinations of couches and signs and shadows not only instances of individual expression (as art and geo-graphy), but part of a broader relationality where all works of art, “down to the most critical and challenging of projects, [pass] through this viable world state [the creation of new possibilities], because they get elements held apart to meet.”  


Flowers (J. Mehler)

Spring (J. Mehler)

Robert Smithson in Vancouver: A Fragment of a Greater Fragment (Catalogue Cover - 2004)

Multiplicity (J. Mehler)

The contemporary impoverishment of places, through the commodification of space enacted by global capitalist flows, allows our site to represent the tension of places caught in the cycle of investment / disinvestment (the corporate university) and the possible challenges to capitalism’s logic. A place that is constructed through allegedly useless materials allows us to uncover the underlying processes / systems involved in the construction of place (i.e., the shifting cycle of tenants in Tallahassee, the unstable place of geographic art / artistic geography in the modern university curriculum). 


Slivers (W. Graves)

Robbins & Becher - Incoming Train (1994)

Robbins & Becher - Chairs and Table (2003 / 2005)

Time and Space act as the conditions of possibility for any definition of an epistemology and ontology. Where Kant has already noted that time precedes space in the formation of human consciousness (epistemology), he failed to emphasize (at least in his philosophy) that space acts as the firmament against which any understanding of the relation between time and place is possible (in this sense, providing a working definition of ontology). What does this say of time then? The (re)introduction of time to these debates represents a shift in the focus of internal time consciousness to a more global (geological?) form of time consciousness. According to Massey, even the mountains themselves are “migratory”, merely passing-through this place that 500 million years ago was not here. In this sense then, we have taken the couches from the temporal space of their former owners (as local) to the temporal space of broader ontological and meaningful horizons (i.e., a more global sense of place). 



Visual Lexicon (W. Graves & J. Mehler)


Text and writing as a reflection of epistemological structures…

Souk’he Language Pronunciation Guide

Vowel Sounds:

a=a as in “at”
e=eh as in “bet” unless at end of word then uh (as in Souk’he)
i=aw as in “ought”
ou=oo as in “do”
u=uh as in “dug”
u’k=uh-kuh (breath)

Consonant Sounds:

k’=hard breathed k
ch=(pronounce with sh sound)
cg=(pronounce like “dge” in contemporary “edge”)
p=(pronounce th)
kn=both consonants pronounced kuh-nu
t=pronounced tch
ak=pronounced “awk”
r=trilled sound
l=pronounced as the French “le”


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  1. Echo said, on April 22, 2010 at 2:06 am

    That was great:)

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