The Architecture of Absence

Ghost House
Courtesy of Pruned

I have so much I want to say about this “urban graffiti of absence,” but am going to hold off for now until I’ve gathered my thoughts.

(Check out the Flickr Group, The Unconscious Art Of Demolition for more of this.)

I also want to take the time to collect some things that will, eventually, make their way into The Bones of Ghosts, whatever that ends up being. Consider this “Notes Towards Furthering ‘The Bones of Ghosts.'”

One thing that needs to be included in such an architecture of absence is “Reverse Graffiti,” like this:

Also included would be the work of Daniel Libeskind and other contemporary architects for whom the whole is found in the absence of parts, that is, where perfection is found in fragments. An example of this in fiction can be seen in the Second Death Star in Return of the Jedi, which, though seemingly incomplete and imperfect, is actually much greater in power than the original.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “The Architecture of Absence

  1. kvond

    Is not the consumate attempt to embrace this notion/affect of “absence” the Nazi totalitarian architecture of ruins, with its ruin-value? Is not any political/urban asethetic that seeks to affirm absence as an ontology, and construct its way around and through it, ultimately a fascist project, seeking to bind the people past, present and future?

  2. Kevin, I see no fascism here whatsoever. There is nothing I have written about “bind[ing] the people,” let alone binding them to their past, present, and future. What I am concerned with is not a political ontology (politics must always come later), but an ontology that takes time seriously, since a hauntology is always an ontology of time. Ruins can have value even to non-Nazis.

  3. kvond

    The question is (and it is MY question, if not yours), is the impulse to grasp at the ruin-value a fundamentally fascist one, with all its attendant Goth/Romanticism of the dark. I’m not sure of the answer. I only raise the question as a relation. It is the project of constructing a “ghost” intentionally, so as to be spared the ghost.

    Perhaps you would find this post interesting, using Piranesi to uncover this kind of drive:

    http://kvond.wordpress.com/2008/11/22/spatial-voice-wuthering-heights-and-speakings-from-the-heart-of-a-topos/

  4. There’s something of this affect when coming across things like an empty cicada shell or the snake’s cast off skin. It speaks of an organic process of liquidation/deterritorialization that we grapple with as embodied beings, not only how we’ve morphed from our own larval and radically different infant, child, and adolescent forms but also what has yet to happen to the body. We are trying to the reconcile present mind/body with past and future configurations. The image in your post speaks of stratigraphies of knowledge, and how a larval view is at times demolished by the wrecking ball of truth to make room for wider and deeper understandings, but traces remain of those distorted views and stratagems, traces which affirm the authenticity of human beings as fully viable imperfect solutions to an experiment that has no end.

    Images of construction/destruction sites and related art resonate as ritual containers for our transformations, of which there are very few because consumer culture is hell bent on avoiding such utter vulnerability, like an overindulgent parent or a meticulous embalmer, even though our dignity depends on meetings with the wrecking ball.

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