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Architecture_Dust (a cipher of it-ness)

Author: Teresa Stoppani, Teresa Stoppani, School of Architecture and Construction, University of Greenwich.

Panel: Architectural Traits, Saturday 10 July, 13.45-15.15.


'At a certain point, things disintegrate into muck, or dust, or scraps, and what you have is something new, some particle or agglomeration of matter that cannot be identified. It is a clump, a mote, a fragment of the world that has no place: a cipher of it-ness.'

Paul Auster, 'In the Country of Last Things', 1987

Literal definitions of dust aim at precision: they dissect and analyse the very small - parts, particles, infinitesimal fragments. But such definitions include also space dust, that which seems small but is not. Size is relative then, and no longer acceptable as a parameter for a definition. Dust is therefore intended here as characterised by heterogeneity, by the absence of the whole, by constitutional multiplicity, instability and change.

This notion of dust is used to suggest a possible redefinition of the material in architecture, from the explosion of the object and of the perspectival centrality of vision, to the contemporary notion of multiplicity and sprawl in the urban and territorial. Dust is intended as that which results from the explosion of these pre-constituted orders (the architectural object and its representation, the urban space and its definitions) but no longer belongs to them.

Architecture_Dust redefines dust as a concept that embraces at once the notion of the fragment(ed) and that of a possible new assemblage. Dust is related to systems of order and disorder -the disintegration in the ocean of the multiple-, in an attempt to overcome their oppositions. In this context the fragment(ed) loses any reference to an a priori whole(ness) and form, and is redefined a generative possibility for the production of space.

Arts and Humanities Research Board School of Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies University of Leeds