DESIERTO is a printed quarterly publication suggesting contexts in which to think about architectural experience. In text form, these reflections make Desierto a landscape of ideas which contributes to blurring the boundaries of architectural thought. Desierto promotes speculation, supporting the spreading of ideas in their gaseous state. Its edition is bilingual in English and Spanish.
Architecture […] embraces the consideration of the whole external surroundings of the life of man; we cannot escape from it if we would so long as we are part of civilisation, for it means the moulding and altering to human needs of the very face of the earth itself, except in the outermost DESERT.
William Morris, founder of the Arts and Crafts movement. The Prospects of architecture in Civilization, Delivered at the London Institution, March 10, 1880, compiled in the book On Art and Socialism, London, 1947.
Teletransport— A hundred and thirty three years later we decide to land exactly where Morris said that architecture was unfeasible. It is in this nomad and uncertain1 place where we start thinking. As we arrive, a first idea. The attraction towards the future has been erased from our minds, we are only interested, or rather, obsessed, with the present. —deserted landscape— We find ourselves in a superficial territory, before an image composed of infinite images, a repetitive and constant space. Although we know that we have come here in search of something we no longer remember what we are here for. Lack of memory, that is our first symptom. We start walking faced with the fear of remaining still in the middle of this wasteland. Sudden fear of disappearing. After a while one of us looks back, towards the origin-starting-point where we come from. We have not left a single trace. There must be a mistake. —wander— First conclusion, this is not nomadism. Nomadism takes place in vast empty spaces, yes, but these are usually known.2 Furthermore, a return is expected. We have never been here before, we do not even know if we will be able to go back. We will have to rename it. —knockout— We were dreaming images a short while ago. As images appeared they started disintegrating. We must have fallen asleep. An idea comes to us. A question. Is there something buried? —inaction— We start digging. If we lift the first layer we find again the same surface, copied underneath. The action is useless. As we have seen, every single trace or recent manoeuvre is erased here. We start thinking that our task is impossible. How can we describe a place in which it is impossible to leave a trace? —some bits later—
To be honest, this is not as we had imagined. This is not that hysterical future, fast and volatile, we had been promised. There are no flowing images, nor deafening noises, just a light background buzz. There is no exterior light, only the one that radiates from that which we are looking at. By the way, we have realized that all that we considered as being empty is, in fact, overloaded. There is not even a slight gap under our feet, the terrain has a total density. —reset— This place has control over us. In exchange, it has become a machine through which we can constantly change our taste, convictions and consciousness. Freedom to reboot the system. That is our first reward. —the future— In the same way as the terrain vagues became counter images of the city, this immense territory is the counter image of that fleeting and overwhelming future that we imagined. An overloaded place, an undetermined place without precise limits3. That is what we were building, without knowing it. Obsessed by filling up the space, building the gaps and materialising the void, we did not realize that what we were leaving behind intermediate deserts, vacuums which would suddenly fill up once the hyper communication barriers were raised. —will— We want to talk about what goes on around us, even at the risk of wasting our time. We try it again, we trust that underneath this blanket there will be something which will help us understand how this place really is. To be ready in case we find any residue, we must take into account some basic archeological concepts.
Archeology is not a way of looking into the past, it does not matter why things developed in a certain manner, but how we have been informed to be what we are today. This way of understanding the reconstruction of the past, be it remote or recent, allows us to locate the editing mode we are interested in: registration, classification and reorganization of what exists for a better understanding of the moment in which we live in.
Archeologists have to deal with an inevitable frustration as fossil records are always solid, namely bones and teeth, and do not provide information about the soft structures of the body, which are subject to decomposition. In this way, they must imagine those other parts, the flesh that covered them and no longer exists, envision how the rest of the body was like…or trust the oral story-telling or pictures, if they exist.
Stephen Jay Gould
This statement has become the basis on which to build our idea. Because not
only archeology, but every single reconstruction of the past is made through precise schemes (solid waste) and invented material. Thus history, ideology, religion, news.4 This soft material, still to be developed and which surrounds every work that we encounter, is what we assert as our editorial process.
In this way, the texts become bodies without organs. Through the facts that we find, just as if we discovered teeth, bones, solid structures, every archaeologist, architect, editor, every ideology or current, must add new organs to shape their own idea of body.
Soft Fossil Records
Editing is a type of imaginative archeology of the present. In the modern world solid fossils no longer exist. Everything is soft, watery and transitory. The virtual record that we will leave behind will be at the same time ductile, a shapeless mass of pixels on top of pixels which will end up decaying. Words are shortened to expand the space of the text. 140 characters. 6 seconds.
The average life span of information is the average life span of a hard disk: approximately 6 years. We must rethink writing. We must rethink the format in which we describe our present. Our duty is no longer just to brush the records which we encounter, cleaning the material and classifying it with the intention of reconstructing it. We want to reformulate and invent contexts to find, through editing, new unpredictable meanings.
— 1 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. A thousand Plateaus, Capitalism and schizophrenia, 1997
— 2 Franceso Careri. Walkscapes, walking as an aesthetic practice. Editorial Gustavo Gili, Barcelona.
— 3 Ignasi de Solà-Morales. Terrain vague, 1995. Territories, Gustavo Gili, Barcelona, 2002.
— 4 Agustín Fernandez Mallo. El hombre que salió de la Tarta. 4.11.2014. Blog, Alfaguara.
— 5 Daniel E Koshland. The seven pillars of life, 22.3.2002. Science vol. 295.