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new york, totemized a critical speculation on the integration of totemism in a contemporary urban context ch. 31.814

critical reflection

mathias skafte andersen

studio constructing an archive

fall 2015 page 1

critical written reflection

written


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critical written reflection


new york, totemized a critical speculation on the integration of totemism in a contemporary urban context

critical reflection

mathias skafte andersen

studio constructing an archive

fall 2015 page 3

critical written reflection

written


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critical written reflection


critical written reflection

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I

critical written reflection

table of contents

page 66 page


table of contents

preface page 8 — page 11

the totem and the totem pole page 18 — page 25 conquest — manifestation — inhabitation page 12 — page 17 critical written reflection

the totem in an urban context page 26 — page 39

the resthouse page 40 — page 43 index of image plates page 44 — page 45

index of litterature page 46 — page 47 page 7


II

critical written reflection

pre —

the question is ...

face page 8


preface

The question is, what does it mean to own? Or maybe rather to claim ownership over something, someone or somewhere?

A visit to the church will have you tangled into ceremonies of song, clouds of incense smoke and kneeling prayers. You will pass by carved symbols - notations of the coming and goings of Templars - glass montres containing relics and oil paintings on canvases. In itself the church becomes a study in the manifold ways in which different cultures express ownership over space and place. Physically. Spiritually. Sounds. Markings. Ceremonies. Narratives. It is in the interest in these differences of cultural expression that this project takes its starting point.

critical written reflection

In Jerusalem there is a church. It rests upon Golgotha where Jesus was crucified some 2000 years ago. Jesus being a significant religious figure, the site is considered holy by many countries and cultures around the world and many have travelled to Jerusalem with the aim of claiming the site as their own. The result is layers upon layers of built structure; each time the site has been claimed there has been destruction and construction. Partial, fragmented; an architectural collage to say the least. A column in one corner erected by Templars, a wall in the middle built by the Greek Orthodox, an organ mounted by Franciscan Monks and a Mosque gently placed as a next-door neighbour. To this day the church is visited and inhabited by members of each fraction - each of them expressing ownership in their own particular way.

Notes

Visit to a House #1 �It is inside that the space of language takes on form� Michel Serres (MS) Visit to a House #2 In the Garden of Eden there was no walls and no casings and no membranes. There was no cover because it did not need to be there. Not untill the loss of innocence. Innocence, which from then

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critical written reflection

plate I

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plate II

on disappeared from every orchard and from every man. Adam and Eve put on clothes, casings, to cover up their shame. We build houses to shield ourselves, detaching ourselves from the world. Visit to a House #3 ”No, we do not live as poeple in earth, as is written in books, we cannot claim this to be true, we cannot bear it (...)” MS Visit to a House #4 Captain Nemo did not swim in the ocean, he described it through a window. We allow our houses to face the landscape for us, and are made to believe that the sound of the radio is in fact putting us in touch with the world.

dwelling house live safety comfort things personality community privacy sleep stay rest resting place shelter temporary vinden i piletræerne to exist pause delay inhabitation self contained property casing clothes barbicania godard space of language physical manifestation of desires åndernes hus togetherness corner portraits whitman ownership feeling secret sharing creation knowing belonging refuge pride to be a part to tell narrative story100 bathrooms Place The site will be in the superimposition of New York City an the Grand Canyon. A square mile is extracted from each site. New York City #1 There was once a landscape there and another people inhabiting it. It is a city of monoliths. The skyscrapers represent claimed land in the most physical way.

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critical written reflection

To Dwell


critical written reflection

chapter 1

conquest — manifestation — inhabitation

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conquest — manifestation — inhabitation

New York City #2 ”Only ones more does the Dutch instinct for order assert itself: when the settlers carve, out of the bedrock, a canal that runs to the center of the city. On either side is a collection of traditional Dutch houses with gabled roofs that maintains the illusion that the transplantation of

”If we were the first to land on the moon (...) we would hoist not our banner and claim it for ourselves, but claim it for all the world as a new achievement of earthmen” (Us Representative Victor Anfuso, 1959)1

Amsterdam into the New World has been a success.” Koolhaas, Rem: ”Delirious New York”, The Monacelli Press, 1978 (p. 17) Grand Canyon #1

”Only ones more does the Dutch instinct for order assert itself: when the settlers carve, out of the bedrock, a canal that runs to the center of the city. On either side is a collection of traditional Dutch houses with gabled roofs that maintains the illusion that the transplantation of Amsterdam into the New World has been a success.” (p. 17) 2

Four Native American tribes live in and around the canyon. Three believe that the canyon was created after their own inhabitation of the land. One believe that it was carved by a human. Grand Canyon #2 The peaks, rocks and rivers of the canyon are all given names. Native Americans let their narratives flow through the canyon, giving life to their culture and traditions. Totem Pole #1 I want to create my own totem pole, 8 metres tall with projections dancing on it. It will be indicitative of a new culture. It will be crafted by hand, and the projections will derive from video fragments collected on site. Fragments #1

This approach is in strong contrast to that of the prior inhabitants of the Manhattan island; the Native American

There must be an archival system for the video fragments. Fragments #2 Why not photographs instead of video? Tools #1

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Until the introduction of iron tools

critical written reflection

Ten years later when the United States did land on the moon, Neil Armstrong claimed it for the world; then he planted an American flag to prove it. The Euopean - and later also American - manifestation of conquered land is a very physical one. Flags are planted, walls are built - the ownership of a plot of land is marked by fences, symbols and architecture. King Louis XIV transformed acres and acres of land around the Versailles into tamed baroque parks and in Manhattan an infrastructural grid imposed upon the landscape divided the island into plots of land - "for sale!". In his book Delirious New York Rem Koolhaas describes the almost neurotic way in which the Dutch copy their homeland as they colonize Manhattan and make it into New Amsterdam:


critical written reflection

chapter 1

tribes. In Native American culture, what we could call �legal ownership� is much less important. In their cultural narratives it is emphasized that neither the sun, the trees or the sea is owned by any one person or creature. Instead the landscape is inhabited by making it the protagonist in narratives, by giving name to places and spaces and animals and by creating a strong bond of identification between the individual and his surroundings. The Grand Canyon in the state of Arizona is another example of territory inhabited by several tribes of Native Americans. Four tribes, to be precise - and each tribe tells a different story about how the Grand Canyon came into being in the first place. Three of the tribes actually believe that the Canyon was created after human precence - contrary to the beliefs of modern science - and one of these believe that it was created by a person. The peaks, vallies and rivers of the canyon are named, stories of creation takes place in the deep and young men take their spiritual coming of age journeys down the cliffs. The Canyon plays a major role in the development in narratives, influences art as well as the behavior of the tribesmen - while the Canyon is not inhabited by buildings. Though two tribes may disagree on how the Canyon came into being and what its significance is to culture, neither is claiming it as their own. �They exploit and formalize it in the architectural equivalent of a lobotomy - the surgical severence of the connection between the frontal lobes and the rest of the brain to relieve some mental disorders by disconnecting thought processes from emotions. The architectural equivalent seperates exterior and interior architecture,. In the way the Monolith spares the outside world the agonies of the

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conquest — manifestation — inhabitation

invented in Europe Native Americans used stones to carve their Totem Poles. They were initially much less intricate and precise as the ones we see today. Tools #2 Once a tool is invented it belongs to the entire world.

continuous changes raging inside it. it hides everyday life.” (p. 101)3 Fragments #3

One such way of spreading a narrative in the Native American culture is the Totem Pole.

Motion and time must be a implemented in the totem pole. Therefore it is vital that movement can be analyzed from the fragments. Video. Fieldwork #1 ”Manual for Proper Conduction of Fieldwork”, book to describe strategy for collecting video fragments. Contain: introduction inventory strategy archival system notes Clapperboard #1 ”a ​device, used by ​people making ​ films, that consists of a ​board with two ​ parts that are ​hit together at the ​start of ​

references 1

STEINBERG, THEODORE (1995) Slide Mountain, or, the Folly of Owning Nature, London,

University of California Press

filming” (dictionary.cambridge.org) Clapperboard #2

2

KOOLHAAS, REM (1978) Delirious New York, New York, The Monacelli Press

3

ibid.

Construct clapperboard to maintain archival system, notation system. How to carry it? Clapperboard #3 Interchangable sticks to notate location codes on (device system) and bag to carry everything in. Fieldwork #2 Notation system: page 15

critical written reflection

Koolhaas describes the skyscrapers of New York as monoliths that to the outside only show their precense and tell nothing of the life going on inside. The building as approached in the landscape is nothing but a manifestation of ownership over a particular plot of land - the higher the building, the more powerful its owner. The skyscraper limits its role in the urban narrative to a diagram of who has claimed what at which times in history. As a contrast, The Native American tribes wear their stories almost as their skin. An encounter with a tribe will mean an encounter with their narrative, with their way of life. Entering a landscape inhabited by a tribe will submerge you into decades of cultural development told to you by people; by signs and symbols. You will know a place by its name and its story - not by who owns it and what function it has been given.


critical written reflection

plate III

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plate IV

xx (coordinate) _ xx _ (altitude) _ xx (time) _ xx (chronological numeration) ex: D5_01_13_02 Map #1 To emphasize the difference between the built environment and the landscape, the map superimposes the Manhattan grid on the Grand Canyon. Map #2 A diagonal coordinate grid is overlayed on the map, letters on one axis, numbers on another. Diagonal to not prioritize the manhattan grid.

Should it still be called a totem pole? The Woman Who Married The Bear The bear you just killed might be your daughter or your son. Bury it with respect. Transformation #1 Transformation is a vital part of the Native American narrative. The Raven and The Sun The raven transforms into a hemlock needle. Into a featus. Into a boy. Into a raven. Travel note #1 248 McKibbin St. Canal st. Travel note #2 Time is 2.20pm. Starbucks, day 1. Have collected six films. Some focus issues, page 17

gave two films wrong level-id. Otherwise

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Totem Pole #2


critical written reflection

chapter 2

the totem and the totem pole

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the totem and the totem pole

systems seems to work. Getting the routine. Afraid that symbols are too ordinary. Will try not to stress and maybe look more cloesly. Travel note #3 Thought: are narratives for describing new culture after old culture left? or two

”The Totem embraces everything that exists; both in animate and to us -inanimate nature: plants, trees, pools and waterplaces, stones as well as stars. All possessed a life and a soul, all could be a Totem.” (p. 270) 1

cultures to coexist. Is it okay that there are people in frames? Travel note #4 Bought stamps in beautiful building. FDR Post. Finally found bathroom on 55th/ Lex. Will head west. Travel note #5 Thinking I have to make a few changes. Difficult to identify buildings that allow entry. Tripod is not helping. Will try to proceed without tripod. Travel note #6 Tried shooting without tripod. Makes everything a lot easier and i can manage to not rattle the camera too much. Maybe the dynamic is alright. Maybe it makes

Giedion goes on to refer to E.B. Tylor who puts Totemism in close relation to the phenomenon of universal life, called Animism. In this theory every object in the world has a soul: The canoe, the house, the plants. The Totem is thus placed in a close relationship with culture and the artefacts it bears with it. The Totem represents an attitude towards the world around the man - as well as the world inside the man. The construction of narrative is a vital part of the definition of a Totem. The Totem becomes the protagonist in the story of the world, and the holder of a Totem identifies with this protagonist. 2

the pole more interesting. Movement? Time? Having trouble balancing the shots in terms of altitude. Decided to name shots based on focal-point position instead of own altitude. Travel note #7 Guggenheim 171015 Alberto Burri ”Cretto” Kandinsky ”Dominant cube curve” Travel note #8 Made too few sticks (or shot too many films). Trying to find a way to reuse old sticks. Can’t stop thinking about improvements (too late). Does video make sense??? Photography could’ve

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been used to make collages and it

critical written reflection

In Native American tribal culture, each member of the tribe would have his own Totem; one would be a raven, another a bear and a third a fish. The Totem would be assigned to him in a ceremony, and he would keep the animal represented in his Totem sacred. It was his spiritual guide and his connection to nature. There would be a strong identification between the Totem and the man, and the man would adopt the characteristics of his Totem; be it valor, bravery, intelligence, wit or care. Though the Totems are most often seen coming from the animal kingdom, they are not limited to that. In his 1962 book The Eternal Present, Sigfried Giedion describes the Totem as a representation of an all-inclusive interconnectedness. He writes:


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critical written reflection

The narrative incorporates all aspects of life and dictates the way man will act and from that how a culture will evolve. The narrative of the Totem is further developed after the invention of the Totem Pole. The Totem Pole is a collection of Totems arranged vertically on a pole - typically carved into a solid tree trunk. Often mistaken as religious icons, the Totem Poles are in fact not items of worship. They simply tell stories; it can be the story of ancestors, an explanation of a particular phenomena or it can be related to a historical - or even “fictional” - event. The Pole consists of icons and symbols representing the protagonists and other vital elements of a narrative. Often recognizable - as they all derive from our physical surroundings – the icons and symbols can be understood to some extend by anyone who encounters them. However, as each tribe - and indeed each man – has its own relationship with, say, a specific animal there will be a need of translation from someone who has knowledge about the Totem-traits of the symbols. These traits, however, may vary from tribe to tribe, and therefore the understanding of an unexplained narrative may also differ from tribe to tribe, but will most likely be related to what was originally intended. Only when the Totem Pole is accompanied by a storyteller, will whoever encounters it be able to fully understand the complexity of the pole and the facets of the narrative. In North American Native cultures there are two narratives that are widely told through Totem Poles. One is The Woman Who Married The Bear and the other is The Raven and The

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the totem and the totem pole

would’ve been easier to get more and sharper footage. Would make pole less intersting? Sticking to it. Travel note #9 the gc tour is going to be more fixed. only two routes to take + village. will

The story of The Woman Who Married The Bear (plate V) has a strong focus on the relationship between man and his environment. It tells about a the daughter of a chief - a very vain woman - who walks into the woods. She is captured by the Bear Tribe - a tribe of men who transform into bears as they exit their camps. During her captivity she marries a bear, has its children and after a while she herself turns into a bear. She begins to feel compassion for the bears, and as she is rescued by her brothers, she asks that they kill and bury the bears respectfully.

define a ”natural” environment in new york? lets see. also have to forget about verticality in terms of arranging pole when home. Travel note #10 jucylucy123 Travel note #11 CAR RENTAL 5195 Boulder Hwy Maher Campground Res #2-32784535 36.05278, -112.11444 36°3’10”N, 112°6’52”W N41°54’31.69” W87°40’46.559” N36°6’38.862” W115°8’37.596” N36°6’38.862” W115°3’44.282” Fieldwork #3

The story makes it very clear that vanity and arrogance towards the animal kingdom is frowned upon and that mutual respect is to be kept. It places humans and animals as next of kin and wipes out the differences between the two as they transform

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Sun. The ways in which they are told vary from tribe to tribe, most likely because one tribe has adopted the narrative from another by deciphering a Totem Pole. Though the details vary from version to version, the final point in all of them is the same. Transformation is a major theme in both stories as it is in native culture. During the life of a tribesman he will transition through several phases; often marked by ceremonies. One is the transition from boy to man or girl to woman; the coming of age. It is a transition that marks the end of one phase in life to another, the introduction of new responsibilities in the tribe, the time to start a family and it is also here that one goes on a spiritual journey to find one’s personal Totem. The encounter with the Totem changes the way the tribesman perceives the world and acts in it.


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critical written reflection

freely from one into the other. The story shows the power of assimilation as the woman begins to appreciate the bears after spending time with them - even in captivity - and Gideon’s presentation of the interconnectedness of the Totem is underlined by the ease with which animals and humans are able to communicate. In the second narrative, the story of The Raven and The Sun (plate VI), the protagonist is the Raven. The Raven stumbles around in a dark world full of hidden obstacles. To bring light into the world it devises a plan that consists of infiltrating the house of the man who keeps the sun locked away. The Raven transforms first into a hemlock needle that drops in the river and is swallowed by the daughter of the man. It then transforms into a fetus; it grows and is born as a boy. As the boy grows up, he begs his grandfather to see the sun, and when the box is finally opened, the boy turns back into the Raven and escapes with the light - placing it into the sky. Here transformation is again a major theme. The Raven transforms several times into both human and non-human figures, enabling it to carry out its mission - which in itself is a transformation of the state of the world. The Raven, though a bird, is able to think and feel like a human and it is made the hero of the story. Like the story of the woman and the bear, this story seems to tell us that we have much to learn from nature and animals - that maybe humans have not quite understood the strong relation that each individual has to the world around him. The attitude of the Totem Pole narrative shapes the tribe

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the totem and the totem pole

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that it belongs to and affects other tribes that come by it. The Totem Pole is a way of ensuring a cultural legacy, making sure that future generations will remember the same stories and honor the same values as their predecessors. For the Native Americans, the first step towards a positive interaction with the world is to honor their ancestors Totem Poles. In doing so the graphics, colors and Totems of the Pole begin to influence the way they are dressed, the way they sing, their ceremonies and their houses. Everything is included in the interconnection of

D4_0_21_45 D6_0_21_46 D3_1_08_47 D2_2_08_48 D2_1_08_49 D3_2_08_50 D3_2_09_51 G1_2_16_52 F3_2_10_53 F1_1_10_54 G5_0_10_55 B6_0_10_56 B6_2_11_59 F5_4_13_60 D5_4_13_61 G8_4_14_62 G8_4_15_63 E7_4_16_64 C4_3_16_65 K6_4_18_22 K2_2_10_23 K1_1_28_24 I3_4_18_25 J3_1_19_26

references 1

GIEDION, SIGFRIED (1962) The Eternal Present, New York, Bollingen Foundation

2

Edward Burnet Tylor was an English anthropologist who founded cultural anthropology and

H3_1_19_27 F7_1_13_28 F5_0_13_29

invented the term animism. He lived from 1832 to 1917. He is most famous for his books ”The

E4_2_13_30

Origins of Culture” (1871) and ”Religion in Primitive Culture” (1871).

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source: www.britannica.com

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plate V

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plate VI

E2_3_09_68 F2_3_09_69 F2_3_09_70 F1_3_09_71 G1_3_10_72 G2_2_11_73 H2_2_12_74 I3_2_12_75 J4_1_12_76 Fieldwork #4 Subway transportation motion underground connection Food Cart food needs temporary supply exchange Path transportation linear ATM sign money value economic system exchange rythm Peephole visual connection Firetruck emergency fast disaster speed Rock Vantage Point vantage point seeing eye overlook Street Exhaust outlet connection crosslayer GC Opening cave hiding place carving Phone Booths communication link Resthouse resting sleep shelter stop place John/Devil pride Crosswalk connection sign rules Church Statue help sympathy empathy assistance care Subway Entrance gate selection barrier Lock closed Hermaphrodite co-existance euqality Totem Pole I #1 E3_4_18_44 B6_2_11_58 H7_1_18_17 F1_1_10_54 F7_1_13_28 Totem Pole I #2 An observation device on top of the Rockefeller Center.

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An ATM outside a deli at night.

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authority firehose importance light sound


the totem in an urban context

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the totem in an urban context

A firetruck passing by the Public Library. Two phonebooths on 6th avenue. A neon sign advertising a fitness center on 53rd. Giedion on Totems

Considering Gidieon’s defintion of the Totem (p. 15) it would be reasonable enough to assume that our built environment could be included in the term. As the rock, the raven and the canoo are all embeded with a soul and treated in the same way, why would not the skyscraper, the flashing ATM sign and the passing car?

�The Totem embraces everything that

The worship of the Totem and indeed the flourishing of the Native American culture has been given a lesser status in today's society. In dealing with New York as a point of interest for this project, it must be acknowledged that the cultures of the past inhabitatants of Manhattan have been eradicated to make room for the city dwellers and their infrastructure. As a second culture has overtaken the prior habitat of the Native Americans, the development of the Native American culture is stagnating. The lack of assimilation between the new rapidly expanding built environment and the nature-based people has caused a great divide. Perhaps it is therefore that their cultural symbolism and means of expression still refers to times that have passed and not to present conditions.

Totem Pole I #3

inanimate nature: plants, trees, pools and waterplaces, stones as well as stars. All possessed a life and a soul, all could be a totem. Totemism meant an allinclusive interconnectedness (...)�

Gouache on brown cardboard. The video sequences are translated into form. disk. lines. rythm. velocity collumns. foundation. Totem Pole I #4 An observation point, an ATM, a firetruck, twin-telephone booths, a neon sign of exersizing men. It is the eye on top, The observer. The watchdog. It is not static - it moves, rotates. It is above, overlooking. It is survaillance. It is a flashing sign. Three letters. It is a machine. It contains money. It gives out money. It denies requests for money. It is the financial system. Economics. It is

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alive, changing to a rythm.

critical written reflection

Let us consider what it would mean to treat the city as the Native Americans would treat the landscape and attempt to extract Totems from the urban fabric. The Urban Totems would be able to assist in a narrative approach to city building and city dwelling. Each Totem extracted would contain information, symbolism, assiciations and characteristics to be utilized in informing cultural development as well as the programming of architectural schemes.

exists; both in animate and - to us -


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critical written reflection

Transformation is a recurring theme in the traditional Totem Pole - one that would also be adaptable to an urban environment. The static nature of the Totem Pole, however, must be reconsidered. Created for a context in much slower development than that of urbanity the Poles lack indication of the time that seems to move faster in the city than in the forest. “Over the great bridge, with the sunlight through the girders making a constant flicker upon the moving cars (...)” 1. That is how F. Scott Fitzgerald describes the encounter with New York in The Great Gatsby; with a flicker. In the roaring 20’s the motion, mechanics and movement of the city became a focal point for artists and writers. Sculptors and painters broke out of conventional treatments of figure and perspective and filmmakers broke down their timelines to keep up with the pace of society. Figures in motion required new forms of expression in order to be described. One example of such a breakout is Russian Filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein. After noting a series of perspectives of the Acropolis done by Auguste Choisy, Eisenstein develops a new way of perceiving film sequences. ”Eisenstein finds in the carefully sequenced perspectives presented by Choisy the combination of a “film shot effect,” producing an obvious new impression from each new, emerging shot, and a “montage effect,” where the effect is gained from the sequential juxtaposition of the shots.” 2

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It is an emergency. Blinking red lights and sirens. It is speed. It is crisis. It is loud. Neon men lift, push and pull. Two kneel, two stand. They are foundatin or bottom. perhaps they will revolt. Revolution. Uprising. Reaction. Pushing upwards. United and strong.

His studies on Choisy leads Eisenstein to the technique now refered to as Soviet Montage. The technique was tested by another Russian Film maker, Lev Kuleshov, in his Kuleshoveffect experiment (plate VIII) where the image of a man looking off camera is sequenced first with a bowl of soup, then a dead child in a coffin and lastely a lady on a divan. The sequences shown to an audience revealed that the mans face - though the same in each juxtaposition - would be perceived as changing.

A similar effect caused by juxtapositioning is experienced in the Totem Pole. The collection and seemingly linear sequencing of symbols and icons create a narrative between them; the bear placed on top of the woman, the sun placed above the raven. It is not to say that these juxtapositions can not occur in the world without a narrator - the raven can indeed fly past the sun as we look up, as massacres can happen close to lion statues. It does, however take a narrator to give meaning to the juxtapositions, to apply an agenda to the narrative and to highlight the

plaster casting layered mold mdf depron laser cut background bitmap trace 3D collage test_01 test_02 test_02_02 divide 3D into layers 5mm

critical written reflection

Eisenstein utilized the technique in his 1925 film Battleship Potemkin3. In its iconic stair scene in which innocent civilians are gunned down by government soldiers, Eisenstein crosscuts to several lion statues in different postures and from different angles. In doing so, the viewer is given the experience of a narrative evolving between the shown sequences that would not arise had the sequence of the lions and sequence of the massacre been shown seperately. The scene lets the viewer know - without words - that the massacre causes a change of attitude in the people of Russia; that a rebellion is underway.

Totem Pole I #5

depron lasercut stone plaster keep tight 1 plaster to 3 water stir pour 1 hour, take out of shape tape edges Totem Pole I #6 Casting taken out of mold. Two minor damages, fix with new plaster Plaster bends cardboard, next time use mdf (or other wood) for box. waste of plaster Aros Exhibition, Tony Oursler works with projection mapping, remember the eyes and the faces and small worlds Totem Pole I #7 AV Projektor 819

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Afhenter selv


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critical written reflection

importance of certain elements to a story. Let us consider a firetruck as an example of an urban Totem. A moving firetruck, speeding through the city, its red lights flashing and its sirens sounding loudly as it passes by. Based on the story of the Raven and the Sun, the Raven is known as an intelligent and sly creature - a fighter for justice. However, those are characteristics that are given to the Raven based on a fictional tale as we have no way of recognizing the personality of an actual raven. The firetruck does already play a part in society, and as it is man made we have more a sense of what the firetruck is. So, what characteristics does it have in terms of iconography and what information does it carry along with it? For one its a motorized vehicle. It carries and is driven by people from one point to another. It is dependend on an infrastructure. It contains velocity and speed. It is a testament to technology. It uses gasoline as fuel and carries water as its purpose. Itsts color and lights red to draw attention. It has authority and importance. It represents an organization. Perhaps most significantly it indicates an emergency - most importantly it indicates help. Could the firetruck not be a Totem? Is it perhaps already a Totem in its cultural precense? Kids play with toy-firetrucks dreaming of becoming firemen and someone in an emergency will sigh with relief at the sight of one. To create an exemplified juxtaposition of Urban Totems, let us add another one to the equation; the flashing ATM sign. Found outside a local deli or inside a pharmacy, the sign draws attention

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the totem in an urban context

Totem Pole I #8 Project reference test take photo at right angle overlay videos, photoshop export project record edit

to itself with its bent neon lettering. Flashing in shades of green or red the sign announces the purpose of its companion, the automated cash machine. There is a rythm to the flashing of the sign, a counter of time. Though in reality static, the sign appears not to be. It is technology. It is machinery. It contains money, hands out money and retains money. It is a necessity for trade. It connects to accounts that connect to banks that connect to economic systems all over the world.

The question then arises of how to physicalize such a narrative. The traditional Totem Pole is carved from a solid piece of wood, all figures and icons facing in the same direction and sometimes painted in colours. It will show faces of humans and animals looking straight ahead - never in profile. Should a firetruck have a place in a traditional Totem Pole it would most likely be featured as the front of the vehicle; lights, windshield, wheels, and it would also most likely be recognizable as an icon of a firetruck. How then, do we apply a contemporary

20151011_totem sketch.mp4 20151211_totem 1.prproj 20151211_totem 1 projection.mp4 20151211_totem 1 meta_02.mp4 20151211_totem 1 meta_03.mp4 20151211_totem-1-meta_03.gif 20151211_PROJ TEST.mp4 Totem Pole I #10 I find the result very beautiful. It is like a trophy. It is minimal, clean. But it is also flatter than I had planned - the projections hit the pole like a canvas. Only in certain places is the projection manipulated by the shape of the pole. Would like to make second one more spatial. Totem Pole I #11 metropolis workers revolt wall street crack financial crisis eisenstein eye of sauron lord of the rings cubism picasso strong foundation revolution from below power of all seing eye Narrative #1 An emergency in the financial system. Alarm bells go off. For a moment, the system is fragile, it flinches. Word spreads. At the bottom, they unite. Giedion on Cubism �The cubists did not seek to reproduce the appearance of objects from one vantage point; they went round them,

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Allowing the two Urban Totems to be next to eachother generates a narrative space between them. It allows for an agenda to evolve; are we dealing with an emergency in the economic system? Is a crisis to be solved with money? Is it expensive - or profitable - for a society to handle emergencies? The juxtaposition could be speaking about the financial crisis that already naturally plays a part in many different narratives on many different scales. Adding more Totems to what would essentially be the Totem Pole would begin to specify the agenda and final outcome of the narrative.

Totem Pole I #9


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dimension of time and velocity into the piece? On the Cubists, the early 20th century art movement comprised of artists such as Picasso and Braque, Siegfried Giedieon writes:

critical written reflection

�The cubists did not seek to reproduce the appearance of objects from one vantage point; they went round them, tried to lay hold of their internal constitution. They sought to extend the scale of feeling, just as contemporary science extends its descriptions to cover new levels of material phenomena. Cubism (...) views objects relatively: that is, from several points of view, no one of which has exclusive authority. And in so dissecting objects it sees them simultaneously from all sides - from above and below, from inside to outside. Thus, to the three dimensions of the Renaissance (...) there is added a fourth one - time.� (p. 357)3 The cubists propose that the subject of the art piece be unfolded into time; that showing several sides of, say, a face will add to the piece a sense of passing time. The subjects are deconstructed and reconstructed in a way that no longer shows only what is visually percieved in the subject but what is perceived by the combination of all senses. Picasso and Braque both conduct intense studies of musical instruments, trying not only to convey the atmosphere created by the sound of the instrument, but also - more importantly - the movement involved in playing it. However, the Cubists - and this is especially apperant in Cubist sculptures - do not trancend the seperation of the object, the space around it and the viewer. The piece will still be viewed from the outside, against a back

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constitution. They sought to extend the scale of feeling, just as contemporary science extends its descriptions to cover new levels of material phenomena. Cubism (...) views objects relatively: that is , from several points of view, no one of which has exclusive authority. And in so dissecting objects it sees them

wall perhaps, and the perception of time will come from the viewers movement around the object - the sense of time then related more to space than to object. The cubists attempt to show time ultimately becomes an attempt to freeze a moment in time and to show that moment from multiple vantage point.

simultaneously from all sides - from above and below, from inside to outside. Thus, to the three dimensions of the Renaissance (...) there is added a fourth one - time.” Totem Pole II #1 G9_2_14_37 B6_2_11_56 E7_4_16_64 D3_3_09_66 G9_2_09_37 Totem Pole II #2

”(...) sculpture must make objects live by rendering apprehensible, plastic and systematic their prolongations into space, since no one can any longer believe that an object finishes where another begins and that there is not an object around us: bottle, automobile, tree, house or street, that does not cut and section us with an arabesque of curved and straight lines.” 5 And goes on to explain:

Atlas sculpture outside Rockefeller Center Lion statues outside the Public Library Fallen tree in the Grand Canyon Tunnel through cliff in the Grand Canyon The flags outside the UN

”(...) areas between one object and another are not empty spaces but rather continuing materials of diffeing intensities, which we reveal with visible lines which do not correspond to any photographic truth. This is why we do not have in our paintings objects and empty spaces but only a greater or lesser intensity and solidity of space”. 6

Totem Pole II #3 Translation into form Gouache on brown cardboard sphere

It is apperant that Boccioni intends to move away from the prerising planes falling mirrors opening forest of poles

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critical written reflection

In the Technical Manifesto of Futurist Sculpture by Umberto Boccioni, the author lays out the guidlines for what would become Futurism. Catalysed by the same forces that made Cubism come into being, the Futurists were equally facinated by the mehcanics and velocity of the new technologies of the 20th century. Boccioni writes:


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conception of the object being something that a viewer would move around inside a space and he argues that everything in fact intersects. An object is not confined to the limits of its present state, rather it extends into space, intersecting with other objects or trajetories of passing viewers who themselves occupy more space than what is percieved in a certain moment. The architectural drawings of Futurst Antonio Saint’Elia show pen lines that continue into space after having intersected with other lines. Though a seemingly banal drawing technique the architecture depicted seem to break out of its bounding boxes. Caught in a moment - in this case in the imagination of Saint’Elia - the buildings manifestate their precence in both time and space. It is an argument of Boccioni that there is no such thing as rest. Writing about his theory of Absolute Motion he elaborates: ”The plastic construction of the object will here concern itself with the motion an object has within it, be it at rest or in movement. I am making this distinction between rest and movement, however, only to make myself clear, for in fact, there is no such thing as rest; there is only motion, rest being merely relative, a matter of appearance (...) it is the plastic potential which the object contains within itself, closely bound up with its own organic substance, and according to its general characteristics: porosity, impermeability, rigidity, elasticity etc. or its particular characteristics: color, temperature, consistency, form (flat, concave, angular, convex, cubic, conic, spiral, elliptical, spherical, etc.)” 7 Boccioni hereby dismisses the idea of a moment frozen in

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the totem in an urban context

Totem Pole II #4 lasercut sphere, suspend fabric. make sphere rotate? rotation+fabric, static image. project atlas. mdf rising planes. jagged. eisenstein reference. brass tubes holding up web of mirros. intention of movement. mirros project both out and internally. work with feedback from ground and backwall. lasercut opening. sand. plywood. ”litteral” translation of gc opening. sticks in steel, random placement. Totem Pole II #5 Pole finished. It looks powerful and a bit mean. Totem Pole II #5 AV Projektor 819

1

01-12-2015 08:45 - 13-11-2015 17:00

If we make an attempt at transposing the idea of plasticity and time into the design of a contemporary Totem Pole, it seems obvious that the static frontality of the traditional Pole must be dealt with. The Totem Pole must not be an object that is looked on and looks back from one direction. It must intersect with the world and the people around it - truly recognizing the interconnectedness of its character and pysically representing the way in which its narratives seeps into culture. The firetruck must be recognized by the velocity contains, the purpose it has, the underlying societial mechanics it represents rather than the flattened image of its facade. In Architectures of Time Sanford Kwinter adds a broader perspective to the art of the Futursts: ”The modern world, then, will no longer be resolvable into seperate and autonomous reals of value or meaning, that is, economic, social and phenomenal. Futurist plasticity is above all pragmatics that relfects all phenomena - events - through the single screen of a real

Afhenter selv Totem Pole II #6 Using airgun to rotate sphere works. Projection on fabric is more clear in movement than static. Mirrors don’t show projection. Difficult to see GC texture on plywood. Flags are dancing on the ground. Looks like it is moving Totem pole II #7 More a sense of stacking than in the first. Corresponds better with traditional Totem Pole. Still too frontal. Work more with feedback and inhabited space around pole. Totem Pole II #8 Untitled.prproj 20152611_totem 2 collage.mp4 20153011_totem 2 projection.mp4 20150112_Totem 2 Projection mpd.mp4 Narrative #2

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On top is power but forces from below

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time as no object can in fact be considered frozen - or resting. Any object will be in a state of movement - fast or slow - and a sculpture or a painting or a work of architecture should by his ideas be a reflection of this. Boccioni’s own sculpture Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913) depicts a human figure in motion - however the figure is distorted. Fragments of earlier states of movement as well as future states swirl around the figure, allowing the object to begin a conversation with what has been and what will be. The impact it has on its environment seems almost measurable as the velocity of each fragment is given weight in a hiearchy of speed and time.


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material consistency� 8 If the contemporary Urban Totem Pole must indeed affect not only the attitudes of the city dwellers but also the advanced societal mechanics of economics and politics, it seems hard to to imagine that an object - a sculpture - in itself would be able to do the job. A sculpture is certainly capable of conveying a message, but in a dense urban environment messages are constantly being imposed on its inhabitants. Consider Times Square as an example - are the massive billboards, one stacked on top of another, not in itself an interpretation of a Totem Pole? Each billboard carrying its own agenda, while as a collection of billboards the message is simply �consume!�. No, the Totem Pole must be inclusive to its context, it must allow inhabitation and exploration. It must turn its insides out, break its confinements and spread into the city. It must create a space around it as well as inside. It must react to the dynamics of the city, impersonating or countering the infrastructure, the facades, the people. It must connect to the city in order to convey its message, its language of form expressing the Urban Totems it contains by translating their precense in time. It must speak with the inhabitants of the city rather than speaking to them, as it must recognize the dynamic nature of the narrative. Can the Totem Pole trancend sculpture and become architecture? Perhaps a space to enter in which a person would

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the totem in an urban context

come to challenge. There is a fight, a shattering of conditions and opening leading to a new unity. Futurist Manifesto #1 ”(...) sculpture must make objects live by rendering apprehensible, plastic and systematic their prolongations into space,

be reminded of the narrative it builds on - a space that becomes a cultural reference point as well as an integral part of urban life. It must be a structure that stays true to the message it contains - one that instead of manifestating itself in the city with a massive footprint does it with inclusion. It may cut and splice through the urban fabric, engaging in a conversation with the verticality of the buildings, the infrastructure on the street and the submerged layers of traintracks, plumbing and electricity.

since no one can any longer believe that an object finishes where another begins and that there is not an object around us: bottle, automobile, tree, house or street, that does not cut and section us with an arabesque of curved and straight lines.” Boccioni Futurist Manifesto #2 ”The plastic construction of the object will here concern itself with the motion movement. I am making this distinction between rest and movement, however, only to make myself clear, for in fact, there is no such thing as rest; there is

references 1

FITZGERALD, F. SCOTT (1925) The Great Gatsby, New York, Charles Schribner's Sons

2

VIDLER, ANTHONY (2000) Warped Space: Art, Architecture and Anxiety in Modern Culture,

Cambridge, The MIT Press

only motion, rest being merely relative, a matter of appearance (...) it is the plastic potential which the object contains within itself, closely bound up with its own organic substance, and according

3

Battleship Potemkin (1925), motion picture, Goskino/Mosfilm, Soviet Union. Directed by

to its general characteristics: porosity, impermeability, rigidity, elasticity etc.

Sergei Eistenstein

or its particular characteristics: color, 4

GIEDION, SIGFRIED (1941) Space, Time and Architecture, Cambridge, Harvard University Press

5

VIDLER, ANTHONY (2000) Warped Space: Art, Architecture and Anxiety in Modern Culture,

Cambridge, The MIT Press 6

ibid.

7

ibid.

8

ibid.

temperature, consistency, form (flat, concave, angular, convex, cubic, conic, spiral, elliptical, spherical, etc.)” Boccioni Anthony Vidler on Futurists ”The modern world, then, will no longer be resolvable into seperate and autonomous reals of value or meaning, that is, economic, social and phenomenal. Futurist plasticity is above all pragmatics that relfects all phenomena - events - through the single screen of a real material consistency” Vidler

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an object has within it, be it at rest or in


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plate VII

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plate VIII

Totem Pole III #1 E2_3_16_43 F1_3_09_71 B6_2_11_58 D7_1_12_01 D6_0_13_04 Totem Pole III #2 Construction crane outside MoMA Resthouse in the Grand Canyon Traffic outside the Public Library Revolving door in the Chrysler Building The clock in Grand Central Station Resthouse #1

there are resthouses. The word is interesting; not quite house, not quite shelter. What is it to rest? Futurist Manifesto #3 Absolute motion no such thing as rest only motion rest: matter of appearance expression of plasticity resting? motion! relative motion: objects in movement, form expressing speed. Divide, interconnectedness - interpenetration of planes Totem Pole III #3 Form Gouache on brown cardboard Suspension Opening

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Rotation

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Along the trail leading into the Canyon


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chapter 4

the rest —

house

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the resthouse

Sphere Totem Pole III #4 Kinnetics. Make Totem Pole move? Rotate. Spatial. Avoid footprint - suspension? Work with gears. Dual rotation. Mechanical? Electric? Manual? Totem Pole III #5 Threaded rod, string (white), painted mdf. Blue? Resemble engine, motor. F1. Several blue rings tied with string in suspension. Lasercut. Gear system, three levels, translucent facades rotating opposite ways. Triple gear system. Lasercut. Translucent material, plast? Attach on threaded rod. Superglue? UHU? Acryllic revolving door holding string with ball wood? Turn on top, everythng attached to threaded rod. Totem Pole III #6 AV Projektor 819

1

AV Projektor 820

1

15-12-2015 13:00 - 16-12-2015 13:00 Afhenter selv Totem Pole III #7

The Resthouse allows the hiker to dwell for a moment in the landscape - it becomes a part of the journey just as much as the hike itself. As a work of architecture it is simple, implementing only the materials and elements needed to fulfill its purpose.

Laden Nord Double projectors Glass table + Tracing paper White background Canon 5D

The final question posed here is if the concept of the Resthouse could be implemented as an architectural progam applied to

Tripod Beer Totem Pole III #7 There is a clear division between each element of the Totem stack. Each is its own, but connected. The twisting mechanism works, making the canvas move - allowing the dynamics of the

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videos to really have an impact on the

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Hiking along the trails of the Grand Canyon will have you pass by socalled Resthouses. The Resthouses are placed in strategic intervals on the trails and allow hikers to stop for a while and gather strength. They are houses, but do not provide all the utilities that a house normally would - in their interior they resemble shelters - however they contain a certain poetic dimension that the shelter does not. In its placement on the trail the Resthouse becomes a measurement of time and distance. It is a vantage point from where a hiker can observe the distance travelled and the future journey to be embarked upon. Considering Boccioni's dismissal of the state of rest, the actual term "Resthouse" would at first seem like a falsification. However in its function, its program, the Resthouse does in fact amplify the sense of moving through time, in that it acts as a notational system for the measurement of distance. As hikers move through the resthouse they are invited to reflect on time past and time to come and on their movement through space. The Resthouse extends onto the trail as it draws in the hiker from afar already then creating anticipation of the meeting with the physical manifestation of a certain moment in time; a moment that is in constant change.


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critical written reflection

the Urban Totem Pole as a means to spatialize it in a way that allows it to trancend its potential status as an architectural folly? If we consider the infrastructural grid layed out over Manhattan, it becomes clear that the urban fabric of New York is based on a system of paths. The life in the city takes place on these paths as city dwellers commute back and forth between home and work. The pavement is of constant exposure to events and even inside the buildings and under the ground people shift from one place to another. If we were to add a structure, a Resthouse, to these paths, it would seem ideal to position it in a place where the paths intersect. The Resthouse would encapsulate people on all vertical levels of the city at once, allowing them to consider the multitude of speeds and trajectories happening at the same time. It would become a narrative space where the manipulation of space itself in relation to given Urban Totems would present itself from many perspectives simultaniously. Intersecting with the planes of streets and facades the Resthouse would become a place for a person to dwell inside the dynamic narrative of a city as it unfolds.

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plate IX

pole. Very little footprint in comparison to first Totem Pole. More spatial - indicitative of an architectural strategy. Totem Pole III #8 20151612_totem 3 projection.psd 20151612_totem 3.prproj 20151612_totem 3_1.prproj 20151712_totem 3 meta.mp4 Narrative #3 A new building typology grows out of the rebellion; the urban resthouse. The resthouse is on a new path through the city; it redefines the way time is percieved in an urban environment.

end of notes

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III

index of image plates

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index of image plates

Plate I: ANDERSEN, MATHIAS S., 2013, Jerusalem #09, analog photograph, author's own Plate II: ANDERSEN, MATHIAS S., 2013, Jerusalem #15, analog photograph, author's own Plate III: ANDERSEN, MATHIAS S., 2015, Conquest #1, digital collage, author's own

Plate V: ANDERSEN, MATHIAS S., 2015, The Woman Who Married The Bear, digital collage, author's own Plate VI: ANDERSEN, MATHIAS S., 2015, The Raven and the Sun, digital collage, author's own Plate VII: ANDERSEN, MATHIAS S., 2015, New York Totem, digital collage, author's own Plate VII: ANDERSEN, MATHIAS S., 2015, New York Totem, digital collage, author's own Plate VIII: KULESHOV, LEV, 1910, Kuleshov Experiment, stills from film, reference: www.elementsofcinema.com Plate XI: ANDERSEN, MATHIAS S., 2015, Totem Pole #3, photograph of model, author's own

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Plate IV: ANDERSEN, MATHIAS S., 2015, Conquest #4, digital collage, author's own


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IV

index of litterature

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index of litterature

FITZGERALD, F. SCOTT (1925) The Great Gatsby, New York, Charles Schribner's Sons GIEDION, SIGFRIED (1941) Space, Time and Architecture, Cambridge, Harvard University Press GIEDION, SIGFRIED (1962) The Eternal Present, New York, Bollingen Foundation

STEINBERG, THEODORE (1995) Slide Mountain, or, the Folly of Owning Nature, London, University of California Press VIDLER, ANTHONY (2000) Warped Space: Art, Architecture and Anxiety in Modern Culture, Cambridge, The MIT Press

Battleship Potemkin (1925), motion picture, Goskino/Mosfilm, Soviet Union. Directed by Sergei Eistenstein

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KOOLHAAS, REM (1978) Delirious New York, New York, The Monacelli Press


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studio constructing an archive fall 2015

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critical written reflection

mathias skafte andersen


Profile for Mathias Skafte Andersen

New York, Totemized  

Critical Written Reflection - Studio Constructing an Archive / The Aarhus School of Architecture

New York, Totemized  

Critical Written Reflection - Studio Constructing an Archive / The Aarhus School of Architecture

Profile for matskafte
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