Cannibalizing Existing Structures | Ioannis Oikonomou

Inspired by Plato’s World-Soul, part of the Timaeus dialogues, where Plato’s ideas puts forward speculation the nature of the physical world and human beings; Ioannis Oikonomou has made this project for documenting spaces on the fringes of society and finding the astonishing in the commonplace. Oikonomou quotes the next part of Plato’s text, translated by J. Burnet in1903 refering to the myth of the creation of the earth and the world-soul:

And he bestowed on it the shape which was befitting and akin. Now for that Living Creature which is designed to embrace within itself all living creatures the fitting shape will be that which comprises within itself all the shapes there are; wherefore He wrought it into a round, in the shape of a sphere, equidistant in all directions from the center to the extremities, which of all shapes is the most perfect and the most self-similar, since He deemed that the similar is infinitely fairer than the dissimilar. And on the outside round about, it was all made smooth with great exactness, and that for many reasons… For movement He assigned unto it that which is proper to its body, namely, that one of the seven motions which specially belongs to reason and intelligence; wherefore He spun it round uniformly in the same spot and within itself and made it move revolving in a circle; and all the other six motions He took away and fashioned it free from their aberrations.

Here, Plato talks about how the soul of the world was created. As we can read in the same text, in Plato’s day, the world itself seemed boundless beyond comprehension, its resources inexhaustible, and the dangers and wonders of nature were a test for human knowledge. Now, Ioannis Oikonomou tries to explain the world through his vision of the city and its buildings.

Going on with Plato’s text:

Such, then, was the sum of the reasoning of the ever-existing God concerning the god which was one day to be existent, whereby He made it smooth and even and equal on all sides from the center, a whole and perfect body compounded of perfect bodies, And in the midst thereof He set Soul, which He stretched throughout the whole of it, and therewith He enveloped also the exterior of its body; and as a Circle revolving in a circle He established one sole and solitary Heaven, able of itself because of its excellence to company with itself and needing none other beside, sufficing unto itself as acquaintance and friend. And because of all this He generated it to be a blessed God.

If we go further from Plato’s physical description of the cosmos, these evocative images where buildings are upside down, people is extremely small and even the landscape has been replaced by a mirror efect, we can recognize the presence of the three elements of Plato’s World-Soul: two varieties of Sameness (one indivisible and another divisible), two varieties of Difference (again, one indivisible and another divisible), and two types of Being (or Existence, once more, one indivisible and another divisible).

At this point, we can also say that some of Oikonomou’s pictures also reminds us the work of Filip Dujardin and his serie Fictions, with images of impossible structures. This fact of impossibility in space and human efforts for resample all the spatial configurations that surround us, drives us again to Plato’s deep impressions on the order and beauty he observes in the universe, and his project in the dialogue to explain that order and beauty.

Ioannis Oikonomou ends with this simply statement: Going where I’ve never been.

More info and images at Ioannis Oikonomou’s flickr-set.
Recommended reading: Plato’s Timaeus at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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