Last November I was invited to discuss about “urban narrative” in Göteborg, Sweden, an event organized by Squid. I have then wrote some notes in form of manifesto in order to clear what I had to say about it in relation to my practice. My “manifesto” was basically conceived as a platform to start a debate. We went through one or two statement, then the conversation took off in a more spontaneous and fun way. The Squid friends (Katja Aglert, Martijn van Berkum, Janna Holmstedt) decided to publish on their site the transcription of our talk as well as my preliminary manifesto which you find in this post and that you can download here as pdf. Enjoy!
URBAN NARRATIVE: A MANIFESTO
00_ FIAT LUX. Narrative in-forms realities. It gives them a form. So that these can be recognised, narrated, historicized, represented. Narrative stands for any form of representation. The urban condition is a tangible reality that takes form with narrative, here understood as any kind of representation, visual or not.
01_ HOW TO: URBANITY. Narrative is a form of symbolic order. It could take any form in which information is organised: Atlas (as collections of maps, diagrams, cartograms), a guide (manuals, recipes, a game, instructions), archives (database, indexes), but also many other forms of narratives, any form that organize information.
02_ EXFORMATION. Narrative is a form-giving process that discards information: the process of transforming “the world into a map”.
03_ 2BR02B. This is the question. Narrative has an ontological power. It has the power to define what “exists” and what does not. Therefore narrative is a weapon for the affirmation of reality: the urban realm.
04_ CONCRETE. So narrative is not a naïve practice. Narrative is not the “copy”, the transcription, of the urban as a form of reality. On the contrary, the urban is the transcription of a narrative. The physical reality, the urban condition, is the fragmented construction of narratives.
05_ REFLECTIVE DESIGN. Narrative is not just a representation of the urban, but rather an idea of it. An idea about what urban is and how it functions/operates.
06_ SYMBOLIC VIOLENCE. Narrative is a subversive practice. It has the power to imagine and to actually represent, therefore construct, the urban reality according to different kinds of symbolic orders. It is a tool of signification of reality. It could be progressive or reactionary. The urban condition is a storytelling battlefield.
07_ PALIMPSEST. The never ending editing. The only rule in narrative is the inner, self-referential, coherency. There is no truth, but only ideas about “truth”. Narrative is about what we believe is truth, or what we want others to believe as such. The urban condition as narrative battlefield could be therefore contradictory, or tell different “stories” at the same time.
08_ MAPPING AROUND. Narrative shifts symbolic values and shapes information. It gives information a form that could follow poetic or symbolic principles and therefore create a new form of objectivity, new forms of “urbanities”.
09_ PROGRAM. If the urban is the “copy” of a narrative then, if we change the narrative, we are willing to change the latter, exploring and representing new forms of urbanities.
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