The Economy of Modernity
Industrial foam, wood, paint, 240w speakers, table, 24w light, iPod . 1 700 x 500 x 480 mm . 2005
No - o - o - o - o...
Ooohhhhhh... I can’t understand it...
I had an empire in the palm of my hands...
It just slipped through my fingers.
I can’t understand it...
I can’t understand it...
The above is a transcript of a broadcast
via iPod on two 250w Yamaha speakers (see image right) of a 25 second
sample taken from the film
Africa Screams (1949) - starring Budd Abbott and Lou Costello.
"The plan is circular: at the periphery, an annular building; at
the centre, a tower pierced with many windows. The building consists
of cells; each
has two windows: one in the outer wall of the cell allows daylight to
pass into it; another in the inner wall looks onto the tower, or rather
is looked upon by the tower, for the windows of the tower are all dark,
and the occupants of the cells cannot know who watches, or if anyone
"…the term proportion, the term mathematics, the term precision… lead
to error, for it is not about artistic forms on which mathematical principles
are applied, but about obtaining, through fantasy and intuition, forms
that in the aesthetic plan, possess similar characteristics." (2)
The Economy of Modernity, I have tried very hard to poorly epitomize
van der Rohe’s belief in an architecture of ‘almost nothing’ -
a design much loved at the time by developers, as it was simple, quick
and cheap to build. The large mound of industrial foam was built by the ‘empiricists’ – who
stressed the importance of basic human needs. The speakers and table
were in turn, made by the ‘rationalists’ who followed Gropius’s
advocacy of parallel rows of linear blocks. The light was made for purely
functional reasons. The artistic impulses I intended to critique with
this project are both self-indulgent and self-annihilating - where feeling
or rather, acting 'tortured' is understood as having integrity - ultimately
alienating and making irrelevant the viewer. While the fact of the monochrome
potentially generates a dialogue on the constitutive process of the sovereignty
of cultures from peripheral regions in the face of the Eurocentric means: “What
if the Company's real objective were wealth derived from a trade in bones?
The fragile veneer of western civilisation, the great white lie of the
White Man's Burden with its implicit, pseudo-altruism.” (3)
"Whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but
are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness." (4)
“One must desire the ultimate essence even if
it is 'contaminated'.” (5)
(1) Victor Burgin
(2) Jorge Romero Brest
(3) Philip Allingham
(4) Matthew 23 : 27
(5) Cy Twombly