“There are living pasts and dead pasts. Some pasts are the liveliest instigators of the present and the best springboards into the future…”
Le Corbusier, When the Cathedrals Were White.
My Urban Memories are large format artistic installations that recreate the spirit of vanished constructions, architectural elements that in their day had great value.
Beauty is an absolute value, but when it comes time to reconstruct a familiar absence to pay homage to the fallen edifice, I search for other positive values, for the heroic element in its story. This esthetic and ethical work contributes decisively to satisfy these portraits of the soul, those in which integrity occupies a preferred place. Integrity, the capacity to “stand behind an ideal” 1 , is applicable to buildings as well as people. The hero is known for his deeds, for what he creates and contributes, for the positive net balance of his consumption. This essence can be located in individuals. If there is no ego, there is no awareness; there is nothing.
The first knot to unravel in this process is the identification of my conviction and individual vision as an author of the soul to be rescued from a project that “must be done”. This same romantic mechanism leads others to join and push the projects by spontaneous natural affinity with their ideals and its conceptual and esthetic greatness. Collective visions can add up, but a chain of compatible individual visions can multiply. “Think separately, act together.” To raise Urban Memories, unusual structures that defy convention, a large series of obstacles must be overcome. The energy of allied individual thoughts is unstoppable. In fact, it is this same energy that finishes monumentalizing each project in which, now at the disposition of the public, many individuals invest their personal ideas of grandeur, their energy. Their images and mental projections are the true power of humanity, that which, among other things, made possible the original construction in its day. People’s dreams are the actual working material, the one true agent of transformation available to mankind.
Both the methods and the technology are revolutionary. The structures are the result of the search for the outline, the essence of the elements. The soul resides in these masterful lines, metallic nerves that transmit and support all the efforts of the original construction, each line offsetting another, comprising a whole. At the same time this approach presents the best and most complete opening to the surroundings, stripped walls capable of being dismantled, transported, and put back together. The engineering process challenges and stretches thinking by producing a minimal presence, yet impressive absences.
1 Ayn Rand. The Fountainhead. Part 2. Kent Lansing speaking to Howard Roark: “…And what, incidentally, do you think integrity is? The ability not to pick a watch out of your neighbor’s pocket? No, it’s not as easy as that. If that were all, I’d say ninety-five percent of humanity were honest, upright men. Only, as you can see, they aren’t. Integrity is the ability to stand by an idea. That supposes the ability to think. Thinking is something one doesn’t borrow or pawn. And yet, if I were to choose a symbol for humanity as we know it, I wouldn’t choose a cross, nor an eagle nor a lion and unicorn. I’d choose three gilded balls.”