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The unconscious ruin: drawing minor architecture
Sellar, Brendon Sellar
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The citizen subject, simultaneously estranged and yet embraced as an entity, insatiably commodified and marketed to, increasingly experiences urban place as a terrain vague – a place without coherent reference or broader orientation. Far from being an historical accident, the terrain vague testifies to the operation of spatial systems of decline, a decline mandated by the deterritorialising logic of Late Capitalism. This research speculates on what postures of observation remain available to gauge such a scenography. Set against contemporary architecture’s insistence on ameliorating conventions bound to Euclidean concepts of spatial distinction and legibility, but also its adventurism through experimentation and spatial disjunction (developed via post-modernism, neo-avardgardism, speculative digital and the virtual), this project aims to enter into the politics of the architecturalised digital image. It claims entry into such politics via spaces of dereliction; the existential “non-places” of the post-industrial. Drawing on the industrial-maritime hinterland of Auckland’s Mangere inlet, the project intersects the Situationists’ joint strategies of dérive and détournement with Surrealism’s overturning of realism in favour of oneiric and uncanny spatial abstractions. Merging illustration and installation practices, it undertakes what will be considered a minor architecture – one paralleling Gilles Deleuze’s and Felix Guattari’s consideration of minor literary voices, particularly in Franz Kafka. The experimental architectural drawing – itself a minority within architectural practice – is considered here as a means for unfurling the complexity of place and its sighting, eschewing an architectural will-to-project, a will to bring sites into completion and resolution. The project turns to Jean François Lyotard’s and Deleuze’s conception of “the Figural” as “fissure” or break with reality to further explore place, sighting and situating. The strategy pursued in this research is that the spectacle of capitalism, and its production of “grey sites”, harbours an emancipatory potential accessible through the architectural drawing and its installation.