Sunday, August 15, 2010

Taxonomy and City

The measure of our lives has become the tabulation and catalogue of the locations we have been successful at placing our bodies in.

It sounds odd, or preposterous at the first instance. But more and more we have begun to value the record of having been able to place ourselves there. Of course that is not the complete measure: that is half. The other half is the further acknowledgment of having placed ourselves, by others who have before us, and yet other who will want to after us. Somehow the record of placing ourselves ‘there’ has become the extent of the interaction with place.

Our present lives consist of mad rushes from point to point, in fevered activity. And each day is repetition of the same idea. Abstracted, our lives could look like red dots spotted across the city with thin black lines that join them. Thin, black, economic and self referential lines. Each sealed in and isolated. These are paths of least resistance and thus of the least engagement that transport us from one controlled environment to another.

Each environment a clone of the other, the last or the next. Our lives then become the ticking off of these red dots on the map of our lives, the map-supreme in the making of the megalomania-cal city of the 21st century.

Gradually the city and its architecture have morphed into vestibules of codified clones of standardized material, shape and image. And the visitation to these similar or same places seem to become the measure of a human life’s worth.

Unless coded, marked , and labeled it has no claim. And human life, seems like a ricochet between taxonomies spread within the labyrinth of (now)no particular consequence. With label removed, each immediately fades from memory and fuses into may similar and in-differentiable images , each without any claim to memory.

The city seems slowly to be heading to a state where without taxonomy it would fade into a placeless, un-remember-able, un-identifiable mass.

The name-tag now offers the future city’s claim to the human mind, much in the spirit of the four way cross road in the middle of a deserted plain , each as un-usable as the next without its special sign board.

Is this the city of the future, made of the architecture of the future?

A city from within which has been removed any idea of memory, and the human memory of the city itself. Where place has progressively been reduced to name . Where architecture relies not on its nature, but on a sign board or a visual naming device to lay claim to the human mind. A signboard without which that very same claim would be void. Without the necessary taxonomy, the architecture of the city would cease to exist.

What would we call landmark then? Similar places, same places, with a different name with the only recognizable mark of a flashing red arrow saying, “HERE”.

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