less than three
On the contemporary urban environment 1
JÁUREGUI, Jorge Mário 2
VIDAL, Eduardo 3
Sporting activites building, Favela-Bairro, Fubá-Campinho
conversations about "Ulysses", James Joyce says that if one day, by any
chance, Dublin should disappear, the city could be rebuilt through the
reading of his work.
Sigmund Freud sees in the stratifications of Rome a similar work to that
of the human mind in which the architectonic elements of different times
and historical significations live side by side in a whirlwind, despite
of the coherence, and creating new relations of senses. Thus, the Eternal
city is a metaphor about what cannot be destroyed in the desire of the
human being that lives in the unconscious. Then, cities may be seen as
written lines sustained only by the traces of the projects and drawings,
walls and monuments, writings, legends and graffitts. So layers of writings
and series of letters, just like covered writings, remain in "oblivion",
awaiting for the reader in latency. And, through the reading, a new dimension
of the interpretation of drawing lines, overlaps and folds arises as a
specific task related to the "rest", constituted by the urban accumulation
to be considered as the heritage of the fragments of various overlapped
Jorge Luis Borges uses a metaphor to describe the mythic foundation of
his city. In "Palermo de Buenos Aires", he writes: "Fortunately, the abundant
style of real is not the only one, there is also the one of memory whose
essence is not about the ramification of the facts but about the lasting
existence of isolate lines and further on, recovering this almost motionless
prehistory would be like ceaselessly elaborating a feature of infinitive
processes."4 --- In another occasion, in
one of his poems, he writes that each house is a candlestick in which
the life of men burns as isolate candles. This brings up an association
about the function of the bars in a city like Rosário, in Argentina; these
spaces make a certain ritual possible, they are like altars where lives
are consumed, this way, it is not about the usefulness of the space but
about the desire, about the exposure of the projects of life, that imply
the possibility of being something in the future. These places, with their
always visible and guessable cores constitute dug spaces where the public
and the private mingle and the erasure of the limits between them is a
distinguished factor. Places where one can meet other people, where people
can share these knowledge and their experiences while they slowly drink
some cups of coffee that are a social and cultural patrimony where the
value of exchanging prevails over the value of using.
Therefore, after analyzing the tension between the objective reality and
the spoken reality, we may conclude that the city is, first of all, a
cultural product but it is also a producer of culture.
The inhabitant of the city gets used to the signals through which he walks
and wanders. Sometimes a look from the outside is necessary, an allien
look that faces the strangeness of the difference and makes what has always
surrounded us, emerge. The look that rediscovers the city in every instant,
founds it once again. The city deweller is not a contemplator of the constant
"devír" of the city, for, inhabiting a city implies in being
called to decipher it, to learn to read it, to interpret it, urged to
place the part of his desire.
Through Ítalo Calvino we think of the "written city". "in this mute scenario
made of rocks there lacks the most characteristic element, still visually,
from the Latin culture: the scripture. The city of Rome was a written
city."5--- Written city that preserves and
offers to the reader, drawings and letters carved on the "concrete". Written
city as the writing of the language itself, in a space-time materialization,
in a permanent state of whirlwind.
us take now as a reference the proposal of the biennial of Venice: "More
Ethics, Less Aesthetics." That sounds as a sort of challenge in the sense
of meditating about the consequences of our deeds in the core of contemporary
culture. We accept the provocation and, starting from this point, we are
going to make some considerations.
We add another question to the debate regarding that brings about a tying
capable of working as a triggering factor of different associations and
new perspectives. Politics relates to some dimensions referred to the
materiality of the object - urbanism connected to the statute of the architectonic
"body"- and its articulations firstly with the socius , and on the other
hand, with the self biographic and secrets aspects of the act of projecting.
As a result, there are not less than three dimensions implied in this
Ethics leaves aside the great values and ideals and refers to the responsibility
of our acts. Ever since Aristotle, the actions of men are guided by ethical
principles. The question returns to the subject "did your action obey
the issue of your desire? Facing this issue, the act of projecting should
be the answer pointing out that it is not about the subjectivity but about
a desiring structure strictly articulated with the desire of the Other.
Thus, there is nothing either personal or subjective in the answer of
the desire but merely the duty of producing a transforming act that tells
about the reasons that caused it. Yet we must still consider the paradox
of the point of enigma and of not knowing in each act, but this fact does
not exempt the subject of its responsibility. Although part of the subject's
decisions are taken in a unconscious way, in the freudian sense of the
term; it is in this point that emerges the desire and the subject is committed
in the act. The answer is such that does not give up the desire in the
name of the individual or collective, private or public demands and acomplishes
what must be done, including in a trajectory, as says Alain Badiou.
In the twentieth century Aesthetics was profoundly affected. Traditionally
considered as the dominium of the beautiful both in Philosophy and in
Art, Aesthetics was all about the search for a harmonious image in which
man projected his own ideal.
In different ways, the individual was hit in his supposed integrity during
the century that is now finishing, having to recognize his radical division,
not finding himself in any of the current discourses. This brings up the
discussion about the content of the discourses. If the transcendental
Aesthetics supported itself in the projection of a unified body, nowadays
we are affected by the impossibility of detaching the bodies as surfaces
where the pulsation of the desire and the sexuality is registered, in
a partial and fragmental way.
The body of this Aesthetic is no longer the one of the machines and of
the organs, it is made of the erogenous borders of the desire of the Other.
We evocate the twisted images of the body produced by a painter like Francis
Bacon that diverts the look to the process of continuous de-formation
operated by an enjoyment (jouissance) excluded from the representation
by an emptiness in the symbolic in which every sense carries a point of
a persistent nonsense.
if we understand Aesthetics as a way we feel things and a way we are affected
by them, today the act of projecting has to contemplate the shout that
resonates from the twist and from the contortions, from the flaws and
from the residues of the human beings. It is a challenge to Aesthetics
to undermine the habits and the sense of what is always common. The aesthetic
dimension implies in a consistence, which is what "exists with", what
keeps together, what makes ties between bodies. The pulsation of bodies
occurs in the act of projection since the formulation of ideas and drafts
- as the interaction between the interpretation of the structure of the
place and the processing of the demands- until the transition into volumetric-spatial
configurations with the formal distribution of the relationship interior-exterior
and public-private. The challenge is to invent a new corporality that
is intensely consistent to translate our Zeitgeist.
In the political dimension of the act, we want to highlight the necessity
of keeping a criticism of the conditions and commandments of our time.
What do we use in the art of leading our actions to reach a goal? Exactly
a point of lacking that allows us to discuss the demands and the exigencies
of the contemporary discourses. From this point on, and relating it to
the field of architecture and to the urban, the question is how to configure
the emptiness, according to the treatment of the borders. A topology is
required that considers the surface of the projectif plane whose realization
in the space of three dimensions is the Moebius strip, where the right
and the reverse coincide in each point. This surface of a single border
does not limit itself either in or out, as the ant of M. C. Escher shows
when it does not stop wandering over it. What topology makes us think
is the need to create certain points on the border that are like links
that allow us to build complex figures where the opposition in-out, figure-back-ground
is replaced by a condition of intense simultaneity.
To build this point as out of line excludes the predominance of the idea
of a whole, leaves us alert and aware of the seduction by the proliferation
of images. Renovating themselves permanently, these images present themselves
as the last perfect and complete version, a version that comes to substitute
all the anterior versions willing to make a new markless time and space.
The reality shows a real-time "accelerated" face of the suppression of
the physical distances and of the interconnection in wider networks. In
the present world there are essential elements referring to the speed
of information and transportation. These days, the city stands many simultaneous
speeds and its experimentations demands of other instruments of composition
with new fluxes and connections.
We are facing a new nature of time and space, and our perception is also
made of speed. The sound, the light, and the succession of images and
messages produce an intuition that works as a principle of speed. In this
way, the cities, the contemporary metropolises, function as powerful machines
that produce subjectivity. Nevertheless, there is no room for dazzlement,
for reality resists rediscovering and when it is not considered it shows
up again in its most violent forms of segregation and annihilation. Here,
the real must be taken as a cut in this wild proliferation of signals
that forces a memory, a scripture. The written city is such that registers
the marks of the real, producing a difference, that is a place where one
cannot give in, a place of engagement and responsibility, a place where
commiting oneself means being "part of".
Two cities are our reference, despite of the radical differences between
them: Rio de Janeiro and Berlin. One distinctive line relates one to the
other: both of them are fractured cities.
Rio, an anticlassical city "by nature" (or by the nature)
does not obey a central scheme; in this place, new urban pieces emerge
after each social, technological and economical transformation. The portuguese
heritage, populated by African influences, does not present uniformity
or continuity. More of a rizhomatous pattern than of a tree, in Rio, the
distance between the luxury and the garbage is very small.
In the last decades, its contradictions have been deepening and have become
explosive, demanding new concepts and sensibilities in the urban interventions.
Nevertheless, the city of Rio resists the real pressures of wild capitalism,
and among hills, lagoons and the ocean, its wavy borders have found in
Oscar Niemeyer, Affonso Eduardo Reidy and others, a drawing line that
unites artifice and nature.
The movie "Berlin-Cinema" by Samira Gloor-Fadel, presents a multi dimensional
reading capable of articulating the architecture and the public space
with the memory and the happening. In this movie, Win Wenders affirms
that the cinema and the urban space are two registers that support the
interrogation of the Other: what is it that they want? Here the blank
space between two images is relevant. In between the images the space
for the contemporary view of intense signification and singular beauty
where the emptiness turns out to be a significant space is configured.
This city parted by a wall, that is now invisible, is today the battle
camp where different concepts of the urban fight against each other. Between
those that try to establish illusionary lost urbanities and those who
come exclusively as a manifestation of a triumphant capitalism, the city
demands the production of a writing line sufficiently consistent to inscribe
its history in a permanent "devir".
Returning to Rio, the interventions in the shantytowns reveal the preoccupation
with the production of a connection, a bridge that ties, the formal and
the informal, the hill and the lower land, creating the perspectives of
articulating the urban again. The question asked by Rodolfo Machado about
what differs the modern urbanism from the one that we practice now in
our interventions in Rio, allowed us to think about the substantial differences
between the two of them.
Modern urbanism started from the "tabula rasa", of the lack
of consideration of the existent and from the idea that what is concrete
(the project) would be the origin of new social relationships (Brasilia,
Chandigarh, New Towns, etc). The project was the "cause".
Nowadays, inverting the process, we start from the reading of the structure
of each local considered place in its physical (context) and social (established
uses) and then we elaborates the assumptions of the project. Now the project
is a interference. Through the project, the proposed interventions on
the existent, considered as a collective construction, seek to reinforce
the latent or exposed centralities, creating new agents of attraction.
These centers of urbanities, seen as spaces of living together, contribute
to the integration of the life of each community with its surroundings
and with the city as a whole.
Under this perspective, urbanizing shantytowns is forcing the chaos until
you can convert it into form, starting with the interpretations of the
demands of the population intercepting with the architectonic and urbanistic
But, what is an architectonic project beyond the drawing line and the
style? Even though the projects configure one of its dimensions but they
do not conclude the matter; a project is something launched to the future
and it implies in accepting some challenges. What we call reality is about
a group of signals, and a project is not only about an adaptation to reality,
to the existent, it also brings out the possibility of interference, of
re-reading, and of re-signification.
New articulations between Ethics, Politics and Aesthetics may contribute
meaningfully to the search of a direction to the urban "devir",
where the subject meets with the resonance in the super determinations
and the three analyzed dimensions permanently tie up without imposing
In this course, aesthetical paradigm has strong ethical-political implications
because one who speaks about creation, speaks about responsibility of
the creative instance regarding the created thing, in the influence of
the state upon things, and about the fork that takes us to something beyond
the preconceived scheme.
1 Published in "O Corpo da Psicanálise", Escola Letra Freudiana
N. 27, Rio de Janeiro, 2000, p. 261 firstname.lastname@example.org
Architect-urbanist, collaborator of the Escola Letra Freudiana, Rio de
3 Psychanalist, Escola Letra Freudiana.
4 Borges, J. L., "Palermo de Buenos Aires", In Obras Completas. Emecé
Editores, Buenos Aires, 1974, p.105
5 Calvino, I, "La ciudad escrita: epígrafes y graffiti". In Colección
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