Gran Macchina Domitia: A Necessary Transfiguration Of An Ordinary Monument Along The Domitian Coastline
It’s the emptiness of it that fascinates me, said Franz. People collect altars, statues, paintings, chairs, carpets, and books, and then comes a time of joyful relief and they throw it all out like so much refuse from yesterday’s dinner table. Can’t you just picture Hercules’ broom sweeping out this cathedral? _ ‘The unbearable lightness of being’, Milan Kundera (1984).
The “IDAC Food Building” recalls with its high concrete walls to the age of illegal construction and disastrous choices that since the 60s lead a whole territory to the edge of civilization, a place where the last ones stand out from what refuses them. This drying-food factory, inactive since it was completed fifty years ago, is regimented in a collective imagination too tied to its emblematic presence, sometimes also ignoring its origin, gaining the role of “a priori” monument, a symbol of disillusion and powerlessness towards the existence in a so problematic context. Situated along the coast road Domitiana, a paradigm of decline and ruins storage, the monolithic factory can be considered as the cutting edge of this residues’ accumulation: men, buildings, or waste, what unites them is the awaiting of redemption.
Like a dream under suggestion, the project composes itself from a passage by Kundera’s masterpiece, where the unconscious desire of getting rid of everything that keeps constrained a man or a community to the signs of past is magnificently exposed by the ‘Hercules’s broom’ concept, a regenerating power which lead from its own destructive impetus to a new sense of beauty. A rebirth that inevitably makes the pre-existent monument its main vehicle, whose transfiguration will shake the numb masses, leading them toward an inner epiphany. A necessary act, but at the same time continuation of the human senseless interventions, the incinerator plant is what’s most close to the ‘extrema ratio’, a dramatic final resolution.
It takes the hard task of re-establishing a lost order, phagocytising all kind of useless residue to create energy for a present development (waste-to-energy process), and making this perpetual circle of “annihilation-creation” into an image of industrial cathedral.
Who influences you graphically?
I’m not able to define who or what influenced this work. Honestly, I’d always rather not know, not because I don’t want to acknowledge this, but rather to distance myself from the dangers of mimesis. I let ‘pieces of everything’ flow into the pot, observing the new processes of evolution, in graphic and design terms.
What defined the drawings & views through which you choose to reveal this speculation?
The focus was the necessity of clarifying this physical and conceptual evolution as it’s a mere subjective speculation born out of an obsession for the former building. As such, I tried to fragment this product as a progressive sequence of images, keeping in mind that these all must maintain a certain grade of autonomy. To preserve the inner iconicity of the intervention, every drawing aims to be a individually considered fetish individually, as well as the fragment of a monument.
What were the main objectives when constructing the views? What role do the silhouettes play?
The views, as the last phase of the design narrative, try to communicate the experience in which one wants to immerse himself the observer’s mind. Playing with its vagueness and ambiguity allows for one to achieve an emotional effect, to catch ones focus in a mood. A kind of induced disturbance. Coherently to this purpose, the silhouettes act as anonymous extras act within the image’s space in which to transmigrate to better comprehend a certain dramatic atmosphere.
What dictated the choice of the colour yellow both in foreground and background?
In my opinion yellow brings with it a deep sense of nostalgia, maybe because it leads back to the ageing of paper, or to the colours of the countryside that our ancestors talk about. I wanted to tie the project to those often-stereotypical feelings, where we think about the past as a mythological and ideal age. At the same time, I was keen to juxtapose the nostalgia with the tough machine of formalism of the building, that in its turn seems to toxify the environment of the image. I also think that yellow significantly emphasizes the lines, and the different shades of white.
What was your work process in terms of concept development from Kundera’s text to the production of images?
By accident, reading those pages, I realized that Franz’s soul was strictly linked with the context in which I had to intervene, since both needed a kind of heroic liberation. So, the book helped me to define a programmatic base that would have bridged between the context and architecture, as response to its issues. In graphic terms, especially in some views, there is the intention of reproducing and implementing the event described by Kundera: from the discovering of a suggestive void inside the cathedral, to the act of bringing one’s own past to the furnace, as the capping stone of a little ritual. I think Franz triggered all of that.
If you had one more month to work on the project in which direction would you develop it? are there any more mediums you would want to experiment with?
I don’t think I would have exploited another month for further graphic experimentation, since the project still shows some open points about a following social use of the structure. In that context, I would have investigated those aspects coherently to the current approach, which is to stay as far away as possible from a mechanic and cold use of our common digital mediums. As much as they can influence what we do, it’s important to save our own arbitrariness, to not reduce the creative act to a simple mouse-clicking aimed at imitating serially an absolute reality.