Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Things of the world often appear in various form. In architecture, the principal image has been one of spectacle. Its hypothetical existence attempts to fill out the contours of objects, eliminating in course their primary elements. Perhaps this is because of lacking substance, requiring exaggeration to attract notice. The problem is that what seem to provide appropriate stimuli are in fact random and unnecessary: impenetrable outgrowths consuming space until nowhere is left to escape.

This is in fact a form of social engineering. Architects might already be accustomed to and compliant with this global fakery. This is apparent when merging in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Singapore, Seattle, Frankfurt, Milan, New York, Chicago, Osaka, Toronto and ……………. My purpose is not to criticize the urban strategy the 20th century offers, and thus I have no intention to discuss the history of urban development or urbanization problems. Urbanization is essentially a mixture of the material and immaterial. Between matter and non-matter lies the consciousness of a city. Inevitably, though, accretion turns cities into inexplicable chimeras. City builders attempt to reverse the irreversible possibility of chaos; using superficial means to cover what underneath has long been human degeneracy and nature.

Beneath this temporary facade, we can still peel back the thin, frail membrane and dig for latent vestiges amidst the scars. When we consciously look for these remnant emotions waiting, it seems, for extinction, the whole environment is implicated beyond credulity. Yet through persistent effort and unintentional contact a new landscape is depicted. At first glance it seems an aberration. But on closer inspection we discover another way that matter adheres to reality. This attachment is neither escapist nor destructive. Rather it is the true face of existence. All things await death. Death uses various forms of reluctance to let go to warn us. Except for the overly optimistic or delusional, people generally accept that death has registered their allotted space and time here.

If architecture ceases to produce totems of spectacle, its momentary features must thus be chosen from various derivatives of things and nothing, even though this may fail to attract attention. At this point, architecture will no longer be classified as visual art. In other words, visual art will create, through non-plastic theory, indistinct shape and texture. In the end, architecture will ceased to be confined to the visible world. We have long been too busy to differentiate the distinction between existence and non-existence. Being not being is to actively engage in the city between the world we live in and our existence.

Tangibleintangible is neither a pre-fixed position nor a building theory. It is an unclear condition related to the disassembling building techniques can be disassembled. It is also difficult to describe in serial chapters. I believe the basic dilemma of modern architecture in the 20th century begins with its impatient rush into a specialized, systematic lanes.

Unintentionally, it has locked itself a grand cage and neglected the delicate constitution of material existence. Clearly I also am alluding to a phase of social and political revolution, in which the basis of the real world is reshaped. The state of being not being can induce evaporating of political incidents. In the manifest activity of new man and matter, we can enter a new society of tangibleintangible.

Ti-Nan Chi

( tangibleintangible, Garden City publication, 1998, pp12-16 )