Not the Opposite of Forgetting

At the turn of the twenty-first century, it was not a modern style of architecture that became international; it was the intellectual capital of the architect that became global. The change is apparent as design professionals routinely jet between Dubai, Beijing, São Paulo, New York, Rotterdam, Accra, and Mumbai. The architects of today work with diverse constituencies and within varied contexts. A chapter in the collection edited by Hansy Better, Where are the Utopian Visionaries, "Not the Opposite of Forgetting”examines how architects might forge meaningful associations and exchanges as they build in places around the world when globalization homogenizes local culture and neoliberalism cultivates a politics of individuation, not a public demand for social justice.


Where are the Utopian Visionaries? Architecture of Social Exchange

Decommissioned Guggenheim Las Vegas
photo: Mabel Wilson


I’m writing you all this from another world, a world of appearances. In a way the two worlds communicate with each other. Memory is to one what history is to the other: an impossibility. Legends are born out of the need to decipher the indecipherable. Memories must make do with their delirium, with their drift. A moment stopped would burn like a frame of film blocked before the furnace of the projector.

Chris Marker, Sans Soleil (1983)


The cinematic narratives of Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil (Sunless) breach the tenuous divide separating time from space, memory from history, and East from West. The stream of images composing the film parallels the ways in which memory forms in human perception and consciousness. Letters from an unnamed, nomadic cameraman punctuate Sans Soleil’s fragmented narrative. Marker assembles a patchwork of vignettes, remembrances written to a female narrator who recounts the cameraman’s adventures to the viewer. The subject of these stories migrates from island to island, from the film’s bank of images to our own memory. The narrator’s relay of the traveler’s recollections remind us that “memories must make do with their delirium, with their drift.” Marker’s compilation of found and produced footage explores how memory, enacted through rituals as well as recorded onto magnetic tape, forms in places impacted by various stages of modernization.