But is it Architecture?* | Beniamino Servino

Exercise of reproduction with extension

“To see something: this already means that something is represented. There is no immediate view, the view is already mediated, what we see is already a representation. The gaze is a construction that has its architecture.” -Aristide Antonas

Which are the limits between representation and architecture? [if there’s a limit]. This question poses on discussion the interesting topic of representation and its importance in the architectural scenario. If representation is one of the most powerful tools that architects have to communicate its ideas, to produce critical thinking, and as part of the design process; maybe it is important to reflect about the role of “paper architecture” as means of create a whole new world. Aristide Antonas pointed in a written conversation that “we can transform all problems of architecture to problems of representation.”, and Franco Raggi wrote that architecture, its languages and its criticalities are used to talk about something else. In both ideas the main fact is the symbiosis between architecture and representation, a close relationship that we can also see in Beniamino Servino work, that he describes saying:

All, however, re-taken — re-designed — completed or simply colored with films more or less opaque/transparent moved from paper to digital from the materiality of a two-dimensional depth to the synchronicity of a screen and then return again to the paper in the form of a [possible] serial reproduction. From landscape to the objects of the domestic ambient architecture takes a walk around the image of the architecture.

Under the motto “Necessità monumentale nel paesaggio dell’abbandono.”, Servino work is a constant search for an alternative definition of architecture.

Archeology of the future

In his search for monumentality, Servino is developing his work with a complex series of drawings, research and writing. As he says, “There is similarity between the representation of the needs and the place of its representation. Between the text and the scene. Between language and speech.” The monument he’s dreaming seems to be a non-city, an ideological re-appropriation of the territory with the power of change the landscape. The omnipresent idea of monumentality is filled with proposals that reminds us the poetry of Les poètes maudits, such as Rimbaud’s text “City“, from Les Illuminations:

I’m an ephemeral and not too discontented citizen of a metropolis thought to be modern because all known taste has been avoided in the furnishing and exterior of houses as well as the city plan. Here you cannot point out a trace of a single monument to superstition. Morals and language are reduced to their simplest expression, in short! These millions not needing to know each other pursue their education, work, and old age so identically that the course of their lives must be several times shorter than absurd statistics allow this continent’s people. So, from my window, I see fresh spectres roaming through thick eternal fumes – our woodland shade, our summer night! – New Furies, before my cottage which is my homeland, my whole heart, since all here resembles this – Death without tears, our active daughter and servant, desperate Love and pretty Crime whimpering in the mud of the street.

Is not a coincidence to relate Servino’s visual work with poetry. Each of his drawings seems to be a poem that wants to escape from the paper where it has been born.

The goldfish

In hoc signo vicisti

When we wrote the article “From line to hyperreality” we had a written conversation with some architects about issues related with the concept representation. With the aim to link Beniamino Servino’s work with this on-going research, we expanded the conversation asking Servino the same questions. Here is the brief interview:

dpr-barcelona: What do you think about the ontological importance of representation as means of communication, which deals with the human desire of “being heard”?
Beniamino Servino: The production of images solves the need for visibility through the representation of a political thought and a vision of a possible/likely/desirable world. Or maybe this [the production of images] is just an infantile practice, childish. An exercise of elementary utopia.

dpr-barcelona: Is there a relationship between representation techniques and socio-political moment?, What are your thoughts about this issue?
Beniamino Servino: The technique of representation is certainly conditioned [even in an unconscious way] from time and the infinite set of images that produces this time. But also by the personal history and autobiography. It’s a mix.

dpr-barcelona: Which are your thoughts about the importance of representation techniques as means of architectural thinking?
Beniamino Servino: Architectural thought is expressed through the construction of architecture. Even when this [construction] is conditioned by economic reasons or opportunities. When this is not possible then the design becomes a manifesto. Of discomfort. Of a possible utopia. Of Propaganda.

dpr-barcelona: Do you think that representation is still important in the academic field? Which is the approach of students in a world full of digital tools as means of representation?
Beniamino Servino: Representation is only important outside academia. The Academy provides [only needs to provide] the tools to investigate a thought. The basic grammar.

On this side of the horizon.

Overlapping and indifference

“Can we illuminate a black and muddied sky?
can we pierce the shadowy evening,
denser than pitch, with neither day or night,
star-less, with no funereal lightning?
Can we illuminate a black and muddied sky?
The Hope that shone in the Tavern window
is quenched, is dead forever!”

—Charles Baudelaire, The Irreparable. [1857]

Maybe the work of Beniamino Servino draws the same question and traces part of our endless search for answers.

Monumental draft

*But is it Architecture? Title taken from the Lisbon Architecture Triennale to be held from 12 Sep – 15 Dec 2013. More info: Close Closer
– We highly recommend to follow Beniamino Servino on Facebook, where he shares his work and new projects almost daily.


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