Plastic Spaces

I’ve always been interested in the notion of plastic spaces that act as architectural time portals; we look back at events with nostalgic ideals and look forward to the future by projecting them. I had been reading Bernard Tschumi’s Manhattan Transcripts¬†( ) and am excited about architectural stage sets that are¬†formed through a relationship between set and scripts. Space, movement and events stand independent of one another in the city but has a relationship with each other. The architecture is not conventionally conceived but is broken down and rebuilt along different axes. Tschumi also address the architectural explorations as “archetype of murder”. His idea of tracing architecture in NYC becomes a murder mystery that is broken down into four parts that is staged consecutively to form the narrative , namely:

I : The Park (Central Park)

Photograph notation of a murder; the formula plot of the murder – stalking the victim, the hunt, the murder – that underlines the deadly game of hide and seek between the suspect and the ever-changing architectural events. Photographs direct the action, plans reveal the alternatively cruel and loving architectural manifestations, diagrams indicate the movements of the main protagonists. Only together do they define the architectural space of ‘The Park’.

II : The Street (42nd Street)

Using street borders that becomes a space with events that it contains and movements that transgress it.

‘He gets out of jail; they make love; she kills him; she is free.’

III : The Tower (Top of the Rock)

Describing the lethal fall of the suspect shows drastic alterations of perceptions and is used to explore various spatial transformations and their typological distortions.

IV : The Block (Inner Courtyards)

Five inner courtyards of a simple city block witness contradictory events and programmatic impossibilities; ice-skaters, dancers, soldiers, marching bands, all congregate and perform high-wire acts, games, or even the reenactment of famous battles, in a context usually alien to their activity. Disjunctions between movements, programs, and spaces inevitable follow as each pursues a distinct logic, while their confrontations produce the most unlikely combinations of spaces.

These are the guidelines set by Tschumi and I wish to use this in my own project as a way to study narratives and intensity of overlaid information architecturally. There are three ‘worlds’ identified by Tschumi; the world of objects (the device), movements (choreography in space) and events (photography). This is interesting because I think it is pretty relevant to what I have been exploring in relation to data and its embedment, its effects and perception. The architectural project could maybe investigate the city in a set of events that could work like an art trail (moving from one site to another); in a way the project itself is an mega event that could take place in Manhattan. I began researching sites in Manhattan by looking at places that are most popular for parades and shows and coincidentally, these sites are in parallel to Tschumi’s murder mystery scenes as well.

The drawing that I am working on is trying to amalgamate and relate these ideas in relation to the four stage sites by Tschumi. What I wanted to mimic was his way of documenting narratives sequentially. I am hoping to develop more layers to the drawing and to build up the intensity within it, adding more clues to the crime scenes. It’s finding Carmen Sandiego/Janet Cardiff all over again!


One thought on “Plastic Spaces

  1. How will you make Tschumi’s strategy your own? Focus on learning something of your site and exploring this in the drawing as the first stage. What are the sites that you have chosen and how will you identify the clues and narrative that you want to present? How is the space altered in becoming the set for these moments? What becomes strange? Do the elements of these events leak out further into the city?

    You reiterate your interest in plastic spaces, start to use the drawing to show what this means to you. In your explorations you have been looking at embedding data – in a record the properties of the material utillised are its ability to be shaped (pressed) and then to hold and keep that shape. What are the characteristics or potentials of a space that make it ‘plastic’ in the sense that you talk about?

    You have a lot of ideas and detail here which are yet to come through in the drawing. So far you have located the sites relative to each other. Be wary of zooming out and creating an image of the whole project before you have uncovered the detail that will inform it. Of course, this is a work in progress so we look forward to seeing the evolved drawing on Tuesday!

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