“Science fiction? Magical hyper-realism? Who cares?”

September 6, 2009

Man is called by the ancients a world in miniature and certainly this name is well applied, for just as man is composed of earth, water, air and fire, so is the body of the earth. If man has in him bones which are the support and armor of the flesh, the world has rocks which are the support of the earth; if man has in himself the sea of blood, in which the lungs rise and fall in breathing, so the body of the earth has its oceanic sea which also rises and falls every six hours for the world to breathe. If from the said sea of blood spring veins which go on ramifying throughout the human body, similarly the oceanic sea fills the body of the earth with infinite veins of water.

—Leonardo da Vinci

The above quote appears as the epigraph of You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination. I’m feeling inspired today, and I plan on buying a lot of books. Another on the list is The BLDGBLOG Book. I’ve only browsed BLDGBLOG once or twice before (this is soon to change), but a few passages from the book’s intro absolutely hooked me:

BLDGBLOG was born out of these circumstances, then, and from almost literally day one it was full of archaeology, astronomy, and underground cities; Gothic cathedrals and Celtic burial mounds; Mars, green roofs, and translucent concrete. Somewhere between science fiction and architectural theory, J. G. Ballard rubbed shoulders with H. G. Wells, W. G. Sebald, and H. P. Lovecraft; there were London floods, earthquakes, William Blake, and James Bond. Ruins, climate change, and the apocalypse. Cape Canaveral. Hadrian’s Wall. Homer. Anything that could, in however distant a way, be related back to architecture, in its broadest and most interesting conception.

Architecture surrounds us at all times, everywhere; we live within shaped environments. From airports and shopping malls to blockbuster action films, from Bioshock and prison camps to the canopies of giant sequoias, there are structures and spatial frameworks everywhere. Mars rovers are architectural; they are structured explorations of landscape and space. Haunted house novels are architectural. Mt. Everest base camps, Tokyo storm drains, abandoned biowarfare ranges in the former Soviet Union, and the inaudible songs of Libyan sand dunes: These are all wide open to architectural discussion.

I’m done. I’m out. There is too much delicious material here, and I’m going to be dreaming for days.


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