Out of Time. Pierre Bélanger

Published in a+t 46 Organization or Design?

December 27, 2016

Out of Time. Pierre Bélanger

Time as Infrastructure. Shared Time Zone as Sub-Arctic, Cross- Border Aerodrome ±24:00:00:00 UTC. Source: OPSYS (2015).

"During the past two centuries, the mass centralization of capital and credit has enabled more than just the containerization of goods on cargo ships or concentration of resources in investment banks, it has led to the containment of time. Through the overregulation of environments and under-valuation of labour, vast bureaucracies have swelled in size and scope and their indirect influences violently shape contemporary life today. How then, do we design our way out of this pervasive, oppressive condition?

When viewed as the ultimate infrastructural scale, the agency of temporality offers designers a counter- strategy by grounding the evasive flows of capital and undisclosed externalities, fixing them and locating them in the variegated topographies and uneven geographies of urbanization. Here, land is a language, both used and abused, but largely overlooked.

Opening and extending the understanding of this urban terrain as an accelerated and unprecedented medium of history and time, futurist geographer J.B. Jackson explained the nature of this strategic regrounding in 1984, at the height of uncertainty and doubt during the Cold War:

'…a landscape is not a natural feature of the environment but a ‘synthetic’ space, a manmade system of spaces superimposed on the face of the land, functioning and evolving.... a composition of man-modified spaces to serve as infrastructure or background for our collective existence; and if ‘background’ seems inappropriately modest we should remember that in our modern sense of the word it means that which underscores not only our identity and presence but also our history... a landscape is thus a space deliberately created to speed up or slow down the process of nature...it represents man taking upon himself the role of time'...1"

1. John Brinckerhoff Jackson, “The Word Itself” (1976–1984) in Discovering the Vernacular Landscape (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1984): 8.

 

Extract from the essay "Out of Time" by Pierre Bélanger, published in a+t 46 Organization or Design?

 

architecture and design essays Harvard GSD

 


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