I started writing this article a few months ago as an introduction to the brief of New York CityVision Competition that is officially launched on this number. As I tried to find the right words to describe my idea of the future I was bombarded by the atrocities that have slowly degraded our system and I was surprised by how people were determined to change the state of things, from Occupy Wall Street to the latest movement of the Sicilian Pitchforks. When I finished writing it I realized, however, that it could become something more. Then I started collecting the thoughts of some of the most interesting creatives that work on the border of architecture and art, and they have conferred it the right completeness. I asked them to answer these questions:
WHY DO WE SPEND SO MUCH TIME WONDERING ABOUT THE FUTURE? WHAT IS THE FUTURE, ANYWAY? COULD THE FUTURE BE HIDDEN IN OUR PAST?
Today more than ever we have difficulty living the historical moment that belongs to us. Ideas, thoughts and memories resurface and increasingly rely on social networks now undisputed custodians of future memories. These phenomena are often just twittemotions of nostalgia, but also worrying moments that annihilate new generative pulses of ideas. we desperately try to hold on to the memory of moments we’ve lived in the hope that they will reoccur in their simplicity, giving us once again the purest of feelings: hope.
But paradoxically, thinking about the past, today, is hoping in the future. The shock that affects people is that they understand that the future we expected has not been revealed, and for now we can take refuge in the safety of the past. It’s like a mad rush on the most futuristic Calatrava’s bridge and having to stop suddenly because its construction has not yet been completed. So what to do, jump in the air or go back and wait for the completion? Leonardo Benevolo in a recent interview with Francesco Erbani says that “in pursuit of the future there is always a time when one has the prevailing impression that he has taken a step too far and thus takes a step back the past » Giambattista Vico would certainly agree with this statement that history always alternates periods of progress with stages of decay and it is therefore possible to foresee the future from the past (or vice versa) because “Historia se repetit”. We grew up with the myth of Kubrick and Spielberg and novelists who taught us to see the future in several ways: by moving from the future to a past to be recovered (Back to the Future, The Fifth Element) or from past to future in a time of agony and despair (the Road, the Walking Dead). Both directions show a common thought that is the alienation of those who live in large cities and move amongst its spaces. Alienation that manifests itself with an almost total lack of interpersonal relationships, everything is filled with an agonizing desire to go back and earn that source of certainty which is the past.
And if the past was the new future and today we were living in the past? Certainly, our cities will continue to progress towed by the unstoppable technological progress, but they will have to deal with disoriented inhabitants who will resize their lifestyles thus creating an anachronistic paradox where revolutionary buildings will be experienced by people in constant pursuit of lost humanity to be recovered through a new contact with the world. The past is back, and it has the shape of the future.
Past Shock is the latest editorial project presented on February, for the first time, at the MACRO Museum in Rome during the event IHSTF organized by the creative roman group of Cityvision. It’s an article and it started as an introduction to the brief of New York Cityvision Competition with the aim of investigate the Past to understand the Future because «paradoxically, thinking about the past, today, is hoping in the future». It features quotes from some of the most interesting creatives that work on the border of architecture and art such as Eva Franch, Alessandro Orsini, Francesco Gatti, Lebbeus Woods, Ben Van Berkel, Mitchell Joachim, Joshua Frankel, Juergen Mayer H., Nicola Twilley, Eduard Saliere, Jacob Trollback, Derrick De Kerckhove, Roland Snooks and Samuel Romano.
text by Francesco Lipari