Prosthetic Aesthetics

"Man has, as it were, become a kind of prosthetic God. When he puts on all his auxiliary organs, he is truly magnificent; but those organs have not grown on him and they still give him much trouble at times." Sigmund Freud

Public Assembly: Part Four – Oblique Landscape

The third and final project from the Public Assembly essay, the Oblique Landscape was the result of a year spent obsessing about a new kind of urban sculpture, one that used the daily surplus from a local concrete yard to create a landscape that would grow day-by-day. After a few years, it would connect parts of London that had been left isolated by the infrastructure and train lines that have been growing steadily since the 19th century. Somehow, I wasn’t thinking about Rachel Whiteread’s work at the time, but I was fascinated by Paul Virilio’s Bunker Archaeology, a study of the German coastal bunkers built during World War II.

Although I tried to apply it to a particular place in London, I ended up getting absorbed in this process of creating an infinite number of forms from a limited number of elements. Much like an analogue algorithm, or the mechanical computers used by fabric loom ‘programmers’ during the Industrial Revolution, I found a certain kind of beauty in creating a family of installations, each fabricated according to the same genetic code, but growing according to different rules.

OBLIQUE LANDSCAPE

An installation in sixty-four parts.

Railways cutting through the city have isolated many small pockets of land from their surroundings. This project proposes using the daily surplus of a local concrete yard to cast a network of footbridges to connect these previously inaccessible spaces, thus creating an alternative local transport infrastructure.

A flexible system of casting concrete is needed to navigate the awkward spaces and geometries of the gaps.  Using simple modular formwork, the casts played with thickness of walls, the inversion of external voids, complex interior spaces and the interaction of light with angled surfaces.  The forms are first perceived through fragments but are gradually revealed in full.  Close-up textures read as foreground and the structure itself fades to the background.  Climbing up through this oblique landscape, the city is revealed as a sequence of light and shadow.

Oblique Landscape: an installation in sixty-four parts

London grows through its infrastructure – the river, roads, and railways allow new patterns of living.

The growth of the Victorian railways created many isolated corners and pockets of inaccessible space.

Climbing up through this new cast landscape, the city is experienced as a cinematic sequence of light and darkness, texture and material.

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