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The Play of Parts

The whole is not always greater than its sum

“There comes a moment (though not always) in research when all the pieces begin to fall into place, as in a jig-saw puzzle. But unlike the jig-saw puzzle, where all the pieces are near at hand and only one figure can be assembled (and thus the correctness of each move be determined immediately), in research only some of the pieces are available, and theoretically more than one figure can be made from them. In fact, there is always the risk of using, more or less consciously the pieces of the jig-saw puzzle as blocks in a construction game. For this reason, the fact that everything falls into place is an ambiguous sign: either one is completely right or completely wrong. When wrong, we mistake for objective verification the selection and solicitation (more or less deliberate) of the evidence, which is forced to confirm the presuppositions (more or less explicit) of the research itself. The dog things it is biting the bone and instead biting its own tail.”

-Carlo Ginzburg and Adriano Prosperi


What you are about to read, and are witnessing before you, is a construction, a myth and a fiction of reality. This game is played to place you in a position of critical contemplation of the world around you and, as Robert Venturi writes, ‘make its spaces and its elements become readable and workable in several ways at once.’  You will realize that this fictionalized world is not much different than the one that you know. In fact this world constructed for you and the world you perceive is indivisible. You will be able to recognize things that are similar and, at a quick glance, might seem unimportant, banal and mundane. But upon a second look, a longer contemplation, you’ll realize that what you once expected isn’t what is placed before you. This subtlety, of playing with your sensations, is a way to undercut the difference between fact and belief, within architectural design, and attack the false reality between our perceptions and the things themselves. 

Like the knight’s move, this project attempts to combat this false reality from the side and the oblique to point you towards this contradiction of reality at its center. Methods of estrangement, representations between collage and montage, a creation and presentation of a para-fictional world are just materials in which arm you against the power of aesthetics. With the rise of fake news and alternative facts being fed by the instantaneous consumption of media, this project aims to undercut this conception by using its own methods of aesthetics to critically look back at itself and, as Rem Koolhaas wrote, begin to work ‘within the inevitable.’  




© Alex Bahr. All Rights Reserved