Antoine Picon’s article critically discusses the point in time in which cities made the transformation from landscape to their own cityscape, with means of technology. He discusses the difference between traditional landcapes versus our new technological cityscapes, which are filled with humans becoming cyborgs that are on the verge of a re-enchanting world. Some of the key issues are as follows.
-The fringes and outskirts of cities are becoming more and more characterized by a purgatory of bridges, refineries, factories, and cranes which are becoming infrastructures of ruin.
-The new “technological landscape” that Picon discusses is saturated with man’s endeavours; green space seems to only be found in-between strips of asphalt. Technological landscapes differ from the traditional, as they do not share the same ability to co-exist with nature, acting as an extension of the natural world. The urban contexts of man-made constructions are becoming inverted with nature. The industrial revolution was the key turning point of this transition; this is when the city became the primary landscape - in and of itself. Etienne-Louis Boullee’s cathedral is an example of how the architecture of the technological landscape changed, as it used the omnipresence of the sky to become independent of nature. The city has become largely invested into the “visuals,” with everything seeking the seduction of the eye. The arts too, have been replaced with technological forms.
-The cityscape is a place full of anxiety and imprisonment. The framework of architecture creates a sense of enclosure and disconnect from nature. The cityscape as its own landscape is limitless; there are no more boundaries as to how far it can reach. A globalized economy and fabricated nature encompass the urban landscape into a totally closed circuit full of quasi-objects; we are living in a world of temporality via connection hubs and networks that are organized around thresholds, characterized by texture and lights.
-Obsolescence and death are the greatest fears of the cityscape. These are places of consumption, marked by the acts of buying and throwing away which formulates the days and weeks. It is impossible to detach from the urban landscape, as much as country views are enjoyed. The idea of everything wearing itself out and no longer being useful is most dominant in the cityscape: Rapid changeover and acceleration to the next best thing. The example that best described this idea was the comparison of today’s locomotive to the Parthenon: The locomotive of today is beautiful but will inevitably find itself as scrap metal, while the Parthenon will still be standing strong as it always has.
-Man cannot be restored to nature until we have ruin. The rust of our creations will imprison us until we continue to triumph over nature.
Picon, Antoine. “Anxious Landscapes: From Ruin to Rust.”Grey Room 01. 64-83.