Perpetual Present

The notions of “invisibility” and “future” have long been linked in the traditions of philosophy, hence of critical thought; one may thus say that an “art of seeing” belongs to what it is to think.  A turning point arises when the future and the city’s given “identity” are no longer thought to be compatible or congruent. The future then becomes “invisible” in a particular sense: its “image” no longer stands in any representational relation with the real cities from which it derives; it has a problematizing rather than an idealizing relation with them.

-John Rajchman

The problem confronting the historian has always been to find the beginning and the end of the threads of happening. Traditionally [s]he has cut the thread wherever the measures of narrative history indicated, but those cuts have never taken as a possible measure the differences between different lengths in specific duration. The discovery of these durations is difficult, because only absolute chronology can now be measured: all past events are more remote from our senses than the stars of the remotest galaxies, whose own light at least still reaches the telescopes. But the moment just past is extinguished forever, save for the things made during it.

In the subjective order, an act of discard relates to the ends of durations, just as an act of invention initiates them. It differs from other kinds of rupture as a free decision differs from an imposed one, or as a slowly accumulated resolve differs from an unprepared action in an emergency. The act of discard corresponds to a terminal moment in the gradual formation of a state of mind.

-George Kubler
The Shape of Time:
Remarks on the History of Things

And so we too might surmise that the mortar of some unbuilt future is also the dust of an equally distant past, but in the end, and perhaps most satisfyingly, it is just a pile of cement – there to be dug for its cementness.

-Neville Wakefield
Yucatan is Elsewhere:
On Robert Smithson’s Hotel Palenque

This series of photographs documents abandoned construction sites in the Cypress Park, Glassel Park, Highland Park, Mount Washington and Eagle Rock neighborhoods of northeast Los Angeles. This grouping of images addresses the problem of habitation in Los Angeles in a way that is both timely and specific and yet accounts for the abstraction and untimeliness inherent in such an endeavor. I was initially struck by the visual qualities of a gradual process of decay that can slowly overtake a site demarcated for the construction of habitable space. This process, in which unbuilt architecture has the potential to become a ruin, has something in common with photographic images themselves. That is, both navigate unsteadily in time and, through reflection, have the potential to instigate phenomenological and materialist questions.

Commission by the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design