Conversations on a Voyage: Dionisio González. (spanish)
By Francisco del Río
It would appear that, beyond your work on the urban settlements of Brazil, in the Halong series for example, there is always a concern for the contemporary tendency towards the endorsement of spaces, for the loss of difference.
Adorno insisted that to standardize is always to centralize, and experimental architects like Buckminster Fuller, in the mid-20th century, understood that with the support of the resources of mass production one would be able to create self-subsistent, mobile houses, which would strengthen individuality, singularisation and an optimisation of individual freedoms - the same ones that Richard Sennet found in a certain kind of urban anarchy and chaos. Behind projects like the floating villages of the Halong bay in Vietnam, all that lies is a desire for the prevalence of a vernacular architecture, which is already threatened, over and above another kind which is substitutive and domineering, as it leaves no choice and, far from harbouring the recovery of a sense of community, it splits and disintegrates socially because the regulation of the constitutional and organisational laws of that community already exists. In short, they have no need for new levels of social obligation and order other than the rehabilitation and tissue of their structures and region. Structures that have proven, all along their historical and constructive path, that they work for human organisation.
In the Dauphin Island series, which I would like you to expand on (as you start out from the basis of the destruction caused by natural forces as an element, in turn, of deconstruction of concepts in order to set up and create alternative housing), there is a change in stance. In this case you decide to create new houses in opposition to those wooden vacation or fishermen’s homes.
Dauphin Island is a spit of land belonging to the state of Alabama, set between the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi Sound and Mobile Bay. This small island has been constantly linked to adversity. Mapped out by the Spanish explorers in 1513, the first French settlers called the island Massacre because of the “mountain of human skeletons” they found there. In addition to this initial nomination of things heinous, the fact is that for centuries the island has been exposed to hurricanes, tropical storms, flooding and tornados. In fact, the number of natural disasters in the county of Mobile is much higher than the average of catastrophes in the rest of the U.S. Over the last three decades the hurricanes Frederic, Elena, Danny, Georges, Ivan and Katrina have passed through the island, all of them with a huge power of devastation, chaos and ruin. This has given the island something of the nature of a proscription. From the viewpoint of this natural aspect of the catastrophe, a place of banishment has been established, somewhere between the vacational factor and the confinement paradoxically denatured by a hegemonic imposition of the natural / exiled. Which is to say: everything is heavenly until the unleashing and the chaos. All is peace and harmony until the fatality proposed as a designation or a destination. It is the predefinition of the tropics as a vocation, and at the same time, as fatalism.
Ever since, on 20th April 2010, the explosion and sinking of the oil rig Deepwater Horizon caused the spillage of 800,000 litres of crude oil a day, approximately 172 kilometres of barriers have been deployed all along the Gulf Coast. These – sufficiently prominent – barriers very nearly drove away the middle-class Americans who came to the island in search of tranquillity and relaxation. Without visitors, as the locals asserted, this is a dying village. Perhaps this was why Barack Obama visited the state of Alabama precisely one year later, in April of 2011, as a result, once again, of the catastrophes caused by the tornados that devastated the centre and south-east of the United States and left authentic war-torn landscapes in their path, with at least 339 deaths and losses estimated at between 2000 and 5000 million dollars. This was not “Katrina”, but it was “their Katrina”, because these tornados were the most convulsive in the country for nearly 40 years and the worst natural disaster since the hurricane that had devastated New Orleans in 2005. Flying over the area in the Air Force One, Obama comprehended the desolation he was to contemplate first-hand. From the air, the president saw the uselessness, the inanity of the ditches left in the earth, the ablegation and its furrows, in short, the pieces of land with the trees torn up like accessories of an omitted landscape, and observed that where before there had been houses, now there was rubble crushed against the ground by the force of the wind. He contemplated the deflection of the inefficient remains (the Dauphin islanders were right), the garbage as the beacon of moribundia. He also contemplated the deviation and accident which in a few hours subject a region to disfiguration and dispossession, whilst a shortage of body bags meant the corpses had to be piled up in refrigerated trucks.
In Alberta, an area of Tuscaloosa, the president made a small declaration: “I’ve got to say, I’ve never seen devastation like this before. It’s heartbreaking. We can’t bring those who are lost back. They are alongside God now. But the property damage, which is obviously extensive, that’s something that we can do something about.” And he asserted that federal help was already on the way and that he would do everything he could to help along rebuilding. But what kind of reconstruction awaits these states? Reinvestment in wooden houses that will be torn apart by more hurricanes and tornadoes? Surprisingly, the answer is yes. You cannot renovate, erect, compose on a lack of composition, this is a contradiction; but not in the affected states—Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia, Virginia and Louisiana—which form part of the so-called Deep South, i.e. the most depressed region of the country.
So we may deduce that you mean that some of the houses in Alabama, and specifically the wooden stilt architecture of Dauphin Island, are unacceptable or at least, inappropriate for these areas which are periodically exposed to tornados and hurricanes? Why are they maintained then?
Even today, unaffected, genuine concepts are brought to bear on wooden houses that relate them to late romantic objects and give rise to debates on singularity and frankness. On unadorned, essential phases in which one lives in a severe, Spartan order, in more direct contact with the natural medium and related to subsistence and time for reflection. Let us not forget that in Walden, Thoreau told of the months he lived in a wooden cabin that he had built himself near Walden Pond (Concord, Massachusetts). In a way, it was deduced from a kind of civil disobedience (his other famous essay), but it also expressed a desire for the renouncing of things accessory, and for the use of things contemplative as an absolute notion.
A wooden house is a house that breathes; wood absorbs and expels damp, thus regulating that of the internal environment. It filters and purifies the air, its natural bioelectrical field in libration acts on the lower and upper centres of the nervous system, regulating equilibratory reactions, any disturbances in it and their possible influence on cognition. Wooden constructions and interior wooden structures in themselves act as insulation, unlike what occurs with other materials. The possibility of increasing these values more easily than in the traditional systems, and with a lesser loss of useable surface area, makes wood a material that is widely used in countries with extreme climates. Typically, wooden houses have excellent acoustics, as the wood absorbs the waves it receives. A wooden house is a silent house. Heidegger’s hut in the Black Forest had (has) walls clad in timber shingles. Heidegger always suggested that philosophy transmuted the landscape into words through him, almost without intermediaries, as the sole movement and step between euthymia and space.
And even though these concepts are familiar to and exploited by certain real estate developers and reformers, the main reason why the houses in this region are made of wood and not concrete or bricks is economic. There is a certain inefficiency linked to declivity and, therefore, to the inanition established solely by lack of money. As well as stemming from the impossibility of making more resistant constructions where materials are more expensive, this decrease is also the result of a greater tax burden. Not having houses with concrete foundations in regions where there are tornados every year is as irresponsible as building nuclear power stations in seismic areas or houses on the sides of mountains. Wooden houses are quick to build and quick to sell, which is practical if we bear in mind that Americans frequently change their place of work. A thought-provoking development of he who takes possession as a bricoleur. A kind of moving topos firmly based on labour mobility.
Although I know you are developing “The Light Hours” in a small essay in this very book, I would like you to explain to me what the reasons are for Venice to be so resistant to raising, that is to new building. We all understand that there is a desire to preserve the hegemonic vision of the historical city. But some architectural projects would have enriched the city even more in terms of heritage. In your research, which ends up by faithfully culminating in your works, you reveal to us that there have been sublime projects for the city, designed by architectural geniuses, which were not carried through ultimately; but the most amazing thing is that you allow us to conjecture as to how they would have been integrated into the city of canals.
Yes, that’s right, I did already indicate in The Light Hours that Venice has great difficulties in erecting, in building, because it is entirely the result of things squared in numerical terms. It has a voracious appetite, but it feeds fundamentally on the culture of death, opposed to the trivialisation of life and the distraction before the enigma of destiny which dehumanise our age.
You have to understand that Venice was a commercial emporium with branches all over the Middle East and Asia. In the year 1400, during its most vigorous era, it had a population of 200,000 inhabitants. Its progress was based not only on the glut of spices, but also on a complete accession to cultural manifestations. The wealth of the city’s protectors (the Church, politicians and merchants) meant that a lengthy patronage of painters, architects and those with other vocations who were attracted by its splendour could be maintained. Venice did not have a feudal or a communal period; it was an aristocratic republic with a doge (dux) elected and assisted by associated organisms and established for over a thousand years. The impetus of Venice was cut short when Constantinople was taken by the Turks in 1435, which led to the beginning of its decadence, aided by the displacement and predominance of the commercial currents dictated by the discovery of America.
It is this obedience to its – mainly Renaissance – past that seeks tutelage, tameness in the desire to modify. Today’s Venice lives subordinate to integrity and the achievement of conservation of a state that is essentially anachronistic but attached to the security of its design. The prevailing desire is not to update but rather to make healthy, to reconcile the city with its history from a stance of cleansing, disinfection, and bulwarking against the Adriatic. At present Venice loses one inhabitant a day; if there is already a computed depopulation of reality, in addition to this we have the depopulating of Venetians caused by tourism and high prices. Some sustain that Venice is designed to die of tourism, that it is already a museum. Demographers forecast that it will no longer have any inhabitants by 2030, only suddenness and unlimited powers, meaning full powers granted to the other, i.e. the tourist. So it is rushing forward to a theme-park destiny with no topical emissions. It is estimated that every year 20 million tourists visit Venice, and in 20 years this figure could double. Without Venetians (Venice has already lost half of its inhabitants, who have diminished from 121,309 in 1966 to the 59,992 currently registered), the dreamlike image would be reproduced, but there would no longer be any dream; in spite of its wealth, the city would be decapitalised, absorbed in its own utopia which would consist of no more than being contained within the limits of tourist reserves, just commercial endeavour, nothing more.
From what you say, I understand that had the Wright or Le Corbusier projects in Venice been erected, they would have modified the time scale. The projected time.
Yes, in this way they would have bestowed on the city a scaled heritage of works by the most important architects of the 20th century, Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier or Louis Khan, and of buildings which were in turn tremendously respectful of the city.As I explained in The Light Hours, their fatality lies not in their not having been built – in short, in their not having been granted a space – but in their not having been inhabited, neither possessing nor being possessed. Because that which is present is what inhabits and lives on. Otherwise that which is lasting is not irrevocable; it can be dismantled and forgotten. Nothing, not even the most beautiful memorial, prevails without archive.
In 1951 Angelo Masieri, a young Venetian architect, decided to commission Frank Lloyd Wright, who was in Venice (he had been awarded the Stella della Solidarietà and an honorary PhD by the IUAV School of Architecture) to build a family home and professional studio by transforming a little house the Masieri family owned on a corner of the Grand Canal, called the volta del canal, at the entrance of the small artery of the Rio Nuovo, beside the Palazzo Balbi and opposite Ca’ Foscari. Because of its location, this small building has – it still exists – the portent, the prognosis, nearly, of the panoramic double view, which is always a wonderful thing - of both the Rialto and the Accademia bridges. The Masieris travelled to the United States, to Taliesin, to finalise the project. Whilst waiting for Wright, who was away, and due to arrive within a week, they went to visit some of his projects, but near Bedford, on the Pennsylvania Turnkpike, Angelo Masieri lost his life in an automobile accident. What started out as a studio/house now became the Masieri Memorial, which makes sense, because Venice itself is nothing more than a memorial that does not repress the sensation that there is, now, a huge amount of lethargic, untaught memory. The sketch of the project for the Masieri Memorial which Wright exhibited in 1953 in the Gallery of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York aroused a huge, interested commotion in Venice after being published by the USIS, and once Cini had vetoed it from the Società Adriatico di Elettricità (SADE) along with the idleness and vexation of the University of Architecture of Venice, the IUAV. A project that was plausible, harmonious, even classicized, was aborted for the sake of impulses to dip and impoverished interests that joined the constructive pallor and wane of the city.
In 1962 the civil and hospital authorities tried to convince Le Corbusier of the need to build a hospital in Venice, and that he should be in charge of executing the commission. Le Corbusier, who had drawn, thought and published Venice since 1907, decides to plan the hospital not on the basis of the detailed or fragmentary nature of those initial studies, but using the approach of a building which in itself accommodates and is organised like a town. A hospital town with 1,200 beds, on the site of the slaughterhouse in San Giobbe. Many consider it to be the first Mat Building, or carpet building, that is, removing the borders between city and building, buildings with unlimited growth on an urban scale. On 22 February 1965, the Superior Council of Fine Arts studied the project and approved it unanimously. In March Le Corbusier presented a second, modified project geared towards its future users. On 16 March the Venice Gazzetino informed of Le Corbusier’s arrival to the capital of the Veneto region on 10 April, for the presentation of the hospital. On 8 April Le Corbusier arrived in Venice; this was to be his last trip to the city of the canals. Mazzariol, the historian and architecture critic who had already suggested Le Corbusier’s name in 1962, spoke in the architect’s presentation of an encounter for civilisation of architecture, poetry, rigour and historical knowledge.
On 27 August 1965 Le Corbusier died in Cap Martin. After the meeting of the first hospital board of trustees, the conclusion was clear: the project must go forward. Guillermo Jullian de la Fuente, the Chilean architect who had worked for Le Corbusier since 1959, continued with the project, now from Atelier Jullian, until the year 1972 when, once again, Venice swallowed up another opportunity to regenerate itself. In reality, it swallowed up an unprecedented project in terms not only of architecture, but also of town planning. Another brief relationship without contrition that cancels the realisable thing, the foundation of the thing, snatched away because it is unpredictable in spite of being subordinated to the process which snatches away the thing, like a corrective in the face of the being of progress. “If there could be no limits, life would become unbearable”, contends Daniel Bell. Moreover, tradition is no more than an illusion of permanence; everything is revocable, incurred and disfigured. Tradition is not necessarily a suspension, or a halt; it should mean acting from the mobility of an apprehended knowledge. “I do not feel that I am breaking with tradition”, Le Corbusier was to say in The City of the Future; “I believe myself to be absolutely traditional in my theories. All the great works of the past, one after another, confirm my statement that the essential spirit of any period is bound to have an equivalent in material things”.
Venice was to plan and catalyse, right up to the near conformation of the thing, of the materialisation, other impulses like the Palazzo dei Congressi commissioned to Louis I. Kahn, who developed the project from 1968 to 1974,for the Giardini space and later for the Arsenale. But incomprehensibly, the city was incapable of realising this project either, in spite of the fact that Kahn’s work was expected to lead to the rehabilitation and revitalisation of the Arsenale by enhancing the palace building through the inclusion of squares, arcades, shops, craft cooperatives and small businesses with associated workshop schools.
The problem of so much miscarriage is that not everything emerges on the surface, and amidst that which is submerged, occasionally there lies what serves for action and the future. To have had ideas is to have been able to deliver an intention; in short, make the latter transmittable to the point that it overcomes all doing and omitting. Heidegger said that initially the word “memory” means as much as devotion: this initial sense of memory later gives its name to a more restricted interpretation that merely indicates the capacity to retain something in the past. But if we attend to its original meaning, immediately the relationship between memory and gratitude springs up, because in gratitude, the spirit remembers all that in which it remains congregated. This meditative, pensive remembering cancels out the state of destruction and vagueness of the projects (Memorial, Hospital and Palazzo dei Congressi) due to its immediately effective nature, because if, as Heidegger stated, only if we are capable of dwelling, only then can we build; until Venice puts a stop to the depopulation and the abandonment, it is condemned to motionlessness and conservation and, perhaps, to the recognition of the will to build alone and not actual building, from the archive and from gratitude.
In our contemporaneity, would a Venice no longer be possible? Understand that I refer to the homogenous occupation of a territory that stands out as a civitas, as a polis.
Not in the sense of its vigour, as an epicentre -Venice was New York in the age of Marco Polo, but New York, like all great contemporary metropolises, watches on as its centre becomes detached from its periphery and the city itself ceases to have precise limits or be contained.Contention, if any, comes from fear, people lived walled into forbidden areas (interdictory spaces) which delimit and define the social hierarchies, and also the levels of exclusion. Fear is another peculiarity that is not present in Venice. Paris became the city of light in the 17th century because a huge street lighting project was embarked upon so that there would be no black spots in the city where crimes could be committed. That is to say, it “chimerized” the space of the night, dissolving the darkness and ambiguity of actions and faces.
Another circumstance that makes any comparison with Venice impossible is the road congestion that causes losses amounting to thousands of millions of dollars in the United States and brings urban life to a halt in the big metropolises and urban agglomerations of the developing countries. In short, there is a difficulty in congregation, a series of platforms without participation.
Moreover, if we speak of controlled or planned occupations of space that are regulated homogenously, where the ethos conceives the transport as a differentiating element, we would obtain some disparate yet tempting examples. Whereas before we first recovered the city of light in 17th-century Paris, nowadays we may speak of the first Sun City, in China, located in Dezhou, Shandong, south of Beijing, constructed on a surface of over 330 hectares. The whole city is supplied by solar energy, including the water heaters and heating and cooling systems; it is the work of the vanguard Chinese company Himin, which has built a prototype of a city with recourse to photovoltaic panels. China has already launched into the energy absolute of wind turbines, photovoltaic panels and biomass tanks which assure it an ambitious modernisation plan. This apodictic, renewable vision may well situate China in fusionist integration and as a legitimate mirror of the West. Without a doubt this is a proposal of the sum or successive aggregation of elements or containers that turn our big cities into the death of all codifications. Massimo Cacciari said the city is everywhere, so there is no city. His idea is that we no longer inhabit cities, but territories whose metrics are not spatial. The spaces are no longer systemized, but rather all of them, including industrial zones, may contain the same functions. There is a development without objective, an uncontrolled expansion constructed with relation to the automobile.
In contrast to this lack of systemization of specific areas of signalling and the establishing of functions, in the south of Mexico City, with the Campus Biometropolis project, a Knowledge City is planned where the grouping of the productive sector is validated, with laboratories for healthcare, a combining of hospitals and universities, and research into human resources. Conceived by the National District Government and the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the company Foster + Partners was commissioned to design the campus. A serious predisposition exists towards this area of enterprise being more than just a glimmer, a conjecture or ideality. True, in Plato’s terms the territory envisaged would be a sinoiquia, more than acivitas or a polis as you indicated, because it will comprise a cohabitation, as the basis of the relationships between individuals will be more subjected to or regulated by private rights. People who interpolate their relationships of reciprocity in a similar way to companies which relate through commercial contracts.
City of canals, City of light, Sun City or Knowledge City; these are some of the “specialist” communities you have mentioned. Does this mean that there would no longer be, not so much utopias left to realise, but realisable utopias, even more so in view of the course of the history of cities and human settlements?
A utopia does not necessarily lie within the quadrant of the impossible; the criteria of harmonisation and plausibility help delimit and conclude the utopia, and advance to what point it is realisable and differentiate it from that which is purely imaginary or from the completely impossible. The origin of the utopian concept lies in the myths of creation, and our society is obsessed by myths of speed. We are all aware of how the big commitment ideas that ultimately wound up being imperative, such as the colonial powers of the second half of the 19th century, or totalitarian ones - like bolshevism and the eugenic or race myths, communism which encouraged the good savage within the barbarism of the Khmer Rouge, or the phantom of the environmental catastrophe - ended up nourishing dystopias, negative utopias or anti-utopias.
It is possible to establish utopian spaces without reinventing an entire society re-elaborated as a utopia. What we need is for that perfectibility that is being pursued to be sufficiently similar to real human conduct so that it continues to seem plausible.
When utopia aspires to a kind of aseity, that is, which takes existing due to the necessity of its own nature as an attribute, it becomes intolerant and enforced. This is when it aspires to salvation and not to improvement. For example the Venus Project, designed and constructed by Jacque Fresco in Venus, Florida, is a 25-acre research complex that tries to look for focuses and solutions based on a structure of sustainable cities harmonised by energy efficiency, collective farms, natural resource management and advanced automation. This industrial designer and social engineer feels that the current monetary system should be replaced by a resource-based economy which would provide an abundance of supplies for the world’s population without the need for monetary exchange or barter, by using geothermal energy and magnetic technology. This theory is based solely on the idea that assets and services are within everybody’s reach because the planet is rich in resources. This would bestow on individuals a long-dreamed-of equity complemented by a high standard of living and also a broad range of new technologies which would be at their service. According to Fresco, this would shorten the working day, which would be replaced by efficient, systemic usage of technology and science. He points out – in the conviction that citizens are unaware of both the potential and real possibilities of science and fail to understand that the more miserable behavioural traits such as rage, envy, speculation, racism or patriotic sentiment are by-products of our culture – that in this way, society would be spectrally different, without delinquency, criminality or intolerance, because these are acquired, learned patterns of behaviour, prejudices and behavioural rhetoric. In short, they are derived from an outdated model of commerce which needs to maintain advantages based on economic competitiveness or, when applicable, on military intervention. With this regeneration, or rather, with these dynamics of supplanting, the environmental and social affixes or additions like toxicity, accidents or criminality would disappear or be almost entirely alleviated.
Without a doubt, in Jacque Fresco’s project the concept of salvation superimposes itself over that of improvement and in this way, involuntarily but repeatedly, that will to save will transform the utopia into dystopia. In conclusion, in spite of the fact that it holds many interesting proposals, the Venus Project is based on a conflict of genesis that synthesizes it as dystopian. As we indicated earlier, any utopian project must be sufficiently similar to real human conduct for it to continue to seem credible. When this is not the case the project naturally reverts to totalitarian formulas in order to control the difference, to preserve and impose what has been envisaged or to detect and banish the unexpected.
But a failed attempt, even if it is contradictory from its very base, seems preferable to continuing with the disordered growth model of our cities.
Well, in this regard, one project that is very different to previous experiences would appear to be the Masdar initiative, in the largest of the Arab Emirates, one of the biggest oil producers in the world, which will invest 20,000 million dollars into the first phase of a large-scale project to develop green energy and construct the most titanic hydrogen electricity plant hitherto planned. Within this scenario, the first sustainable city in the world designed, projected and conceived by Norman Fosterand his team will be built. The Masdar city will be the first zero-carbon, zero-waste city and will be able to accommodate 100,000 people, none of whom will live more than 200 metres from public transport, which will be provided by a fleet of futuristic vehicles with space for four people. Electric cars, with no driver or control panel, directed by digital intelligence and guided by sensors camouflaged in the concrete and manipulated by central computers that drive them by counting the number of wheel revolutions. The city will produce all its energy from the sun. Water will be supplied by a seawater desalination plant which will also be run on solar energy. The composition of the buildings will be destined to create a microclimate and their morphology and distribution will be similar to those of a “kasbah”.
This project, which in itself encompasses huge, novel technical demands, may come to be a laboratory, a communicator, a questioner of our future urban demands. Curiously enough, without any kind of preaching or auguration. It seeks improvement and not salvation, and in this regard would be linked to utopianism although Gregory Cleys says of utopia that its anticipation is not based on realistic premises as its capacity of vision exceeds them easily. This will not occur with this project, planned with precision and a finalisation date: 2016. The only possible contradiction would respond to the very environmental nature of the instigating country, which is one of the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide per capita on the planet. But there is great expectation amongst environmental experts and town planners with regard to the development, shaping and guarantees of success of this challenge.
Preceding attempts to build this type of clean city had unequal results, as we saw with Jacque Fresco’s Venus Project in Florida or as is occurring with Arcosanti. This municipality is based on arcology (a concept drawn from the fusion of architecture with ecology), was created by Italian architect Paolo Soleriin the desert of Arizona. Started in 1970 and still under development, this project was intended as an ecological town based on energy saving, conservation of the environment and access to natural resources, but in the end the suburban expansion of Phoenix is invading it, not so much due to interference as to lack of proportion, arbitrariness and lack of foresight, a kind of precipitation arising from precociousness and because the utopia cannot function without authority, leadership and a sentiment of communal goal. At this point the architects or designers seem to come and settle in a kind of commune where a sort of missionary delight is activated. In the same way the solar cities in China, constructed with the help of U.S. partners, established in rural communities and designed to reduce environmental impact appear, according to recent studies, to have encountered problems with renewable energies in the face of the go largeand the impossible nature of their storage and transportation.
With regard to your previous question on whether there is a possibility of a Venice contextualised as a homogenous occupation of a territory, Masdar will be only slightly smaller than the historical area of Venice; it will have equally narrow pedestrian streets, but they will be covered by inclined roofs with photovoltaic panels, and large stretches of land irrigated (to prevent hyposthenia, as this region suffers three months of extreme heat and the rest of the year is quite humid) by shallow pools acting as refrigerators and climatic attenuators.
In this sense the coincidences between Venice and Masdar are interesting, but the latter will be constructed in a plenipotential fashion; this would distance it from the city of canals, wouldn’t it?
Indeed, nothing will look like Venice because this city is impossible today, due to its location and conviction, but all of its representations will remind us of it. The Venetian, that distorted reproduction compressed into a unique experience in Las Vegas, fulfils the gnosis of presence and the severity of absence. Not because it is reprogrammed or emulates, but because its decontextualisation turns it into a stage and this is always what lies behind representation. Its (floating) actants are the same, but here no natives are accommodated, so there are no protagonists. Hence the importance of Venice not becoming depopulated, in spite of the fact that Las Vegas and Venice itself form part of what Normal Klein defines as architainment. The Venice of Las Vegas is therefore present but incapacitated for nostalgia due to the absence of the vital nucleus of consolidation and development. It manifests itself, appears or becomes apparent but only as a spectral cliché surrounded by other icons and other skylines reproduced on a scale that is dysphoric for habitation and exultant for entertainment. In Las Vegas, the artifice is immersive; it is an illusion that takes in over 40 million visits a year which therefore validate it. In a thaumaturgical territory, which permits all perspectives, we recognise objects but their derealisation makes them difficult to describe. It is an approximation to agnosia. Verdú wrote of Las Vegas that it was born in the unmarked region of a desert and ever since, has behaved with the frivolity of a mirage. By contrast to Las Vegas, Venice is not designed by artifice in spite of the fact that it shares the illusory, limitless sensation of programmed spaces and the design of a way of seeing, of a way of travelling close to the cosmorama. Venice is stowed in time, but its similar copies and careful stagings only aspire to an abbreviated trompe l´oeil without perfume, deodorised, which drags the visitor from an ephemeral aristocratic power to a sequence of shops set amidst canals and a scaled route of slot machines, gambling tables and hotel suites. Venice turns up to all dates energized as it disappears; and as its recreations emerge the city itself, its function lost, grows as a recreational territory. In a way, outside of its logic, once it is replicated it translates as a replicant with greater impetus. Perhaps Venice should reveal its condition as a replicant; admit that its memories are implanted and the vision is not a guarantor of certainties, and thus make the last words of Roy Batty (replicant nexus 6 in Blade Runner) its own: “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe….. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die.”
It is indeed time to die as a replica, as a figuration, and reassign to the city a task that does not include déjà vu, which commits it to prefiguring as a deposited centre of learned perceptions and cultural techniques for comprehension, but does include déjà vécu, that is, not what has been seen but that which has been experienced already, more interacted and disposed towards a policy of zoning which transcends the social construction of a parallel reality. Which interacts towards that temporary community and not towards the antagonism or the “collapsible” due to the compulsion of proximity because in the demurrage and its local assimilation, that is to say, in coexistence lies non-final arrest. This must be a mediate, and not a regressive phenomenon, there must be a native return that assumes the transit of tourist operators, in conclusion, seasonal migration as a formula of permanence.