2009 // West Bank
// Design Studio - Ed Keller
Columbia University, GSAPP
Temporary housing and memory archive
Autonomous memory/identity forming structures
The processes maintained within the autonomous memory/identity structures, or memory/identity-forming mechanisms of political systems and archives make perceptible an Aterritoriality - an occupation of an "other" - and its existing perforations, bifurcations, speeds, layers, tensions and thresholds. The project proposes to develop an Aterritorial space within the contested membrane of the west bank barrier wall as a space for temporary refugee housing and a thermally activated archive for the production and preservation of memory. The barrier wall is occupied as a productive interface.
"One of the options taken into consideration for solving the problem of Jerusalem is that it become -- simultaneously and without any territorial partition -- the capital of two different states. The paradoxical condition of reciprocal extraterritoriality (or, better yet, aterritoriality) that would thus be implied could be generalized as a model of new international relations."
In this situation two states would claim the same region and territorialize the same space. It is then possible to think of each as being in a constant condition of exodus from the other. They would share reciprocal extraterritorialities, and citizens would present a constant opening and closing or splitting of the topology of the territory. The city would be imagined as an aterritorial space of residents in a condition of exodus -- a being-in-exodus of the political citizen. This condition would also produce a categorical difference between birth and nation and put people in a dynamic stability, a position to find new political meaning and identity. The space of jerusalem would be "perforated" topologically. The condition of reciprocal extraterritorialities can be viewed geometrically similar to the klein bottle or mobius strip, where in each case the interior and exterior negate each other and are in constant indetermination. To be in motion, or even to be static, implies simultaneous conditions of escape and belonging. The condition of constant exodus and the concept of perforation can be seen as analogues to negarastani’s concept of the plot hole -- in excess of being an anomolous condition it also presents a new narrative thread or information flow, connected through its own network and always in a dynamic relationship with its more visible counterpart.
The site for the project is the city of Qalqilya, a town on the western edge of the West Bank. The barrier wall runs along the town on three sides, allowing only a single access point on the eastern side. This condition severs the residents of Qalqilya from their cultivated land to the west, thereby destroying agricultural economies in the area. The wall is the dominant control system of the town. The project proposal aims to appropriate the wall as a productive membrane for those who have been displaced, dislocated, or severed from their economic livelihood.
The refugee has reached the liminal condition of aterritoriality, the threshold of competing systems of control
The refugee represents a break/seperation from existing political structures. With the decline of the nation-state, the refugee is a figure in which one may see the coming forms of future political structures.
Autonomy / Indifference
Political systems produce identities/systems/(memories?) that are ascribed to its members. The refugee occupies a space or territory that is autonomous from the identity and memory structures of a given political system. The refugee is at the moment the vanguard of the people -- the form and limit of a coming political community.
Suspension / Tension
"That there is no autonomous space in the political order of the nation-state for something like the pure human in itself is evident at the very least from the fact that, even in the best of cases, the status of refugee has to lead either to naturalization or to repatriation"
Because the refugee exists outside of the political boundary but in the same territory, they are in a constant condition of exodus. The liminal condition of the refugee presents a perforation in the political or juridical topology (a perforation in a given memory structure) of a given territory
Simultaneous escape / belonging
the simultaneous conditions of constant exodus and of belonging recall the topology of the mobius strip or klein bottle. To be in motion, or even to be static, implies the simultaneous conditions of escape and belonging.
'Denaturing' of material; changing locus and status of information to build a deductive history
The archive works to reconstruct objects from simulacra" or "scenarios". Combination of a group (erudite), place (library), and system of practices (copying, classification, etc...)
- de Certau
Marginalization of information
"The original meaning of archive comes from the Greek 'arkheion'. This originally meant a house, a domicile, the residence of superior magistrates, the archons. "The archons possess the right to make or to represent the law as well as interpret the archive."
This concept implies a process of systematic or subjective separation - inclusion/exclusion. This separation produces perforations in the fabric of disseminated information. The archive will work to forget the territorial shifts of existing political structures and remember or build up the gestures of the new multitude as a fortification and promotion of the new aterritorial space.
The gradual migration to and occupation of the barrier wall re-prioritizes its system of control; the wall becomes indifferent. The proximity sensors focus on the inhabitants of the wall and show indifference to further encroachment in the exclusion zone of the wall. The wall surveillance system turns on itself, monitoring its own activity and ignoring surrounding territories. The collection of resources (energy, water, information/data) and people give both sides an interest in the preservation of the wall, giving it a further sense of neutrality.
Each living unit utilizes excess waste heat as energy through the use of temperature differentials in a silicon nanowire thermal current system. As heat is transferred from the heated surfaces in the unit to the cold temperature store of the water in the pipes, the surface deformations in the silicon nanowires slow down the thermal current enough to utilize low temperatures and produce energy. This energy is then stored and used to power the living unit as well as the archive system. The archive is possible only with temperature differential between the surfaces and the water, a natural resource occurring on the site. This resource is necessary for the activation of the archive.
The flexible sensor is placed on and in various surfaces within the living unit and picks up body movement and gestures. This information then determines how the gestures/memories will be recalled /displayed /connected.
Living unit surface
Each living unit surface is composed of a concrete shell that acts as both a thermal store as well as a medium for thermal conductivity. In this way each surface becomes a potential generator for the archival process.
The silicon nanowires contain surface deformations that slow down heat transfer enough to allow for low heat thermal energy production. This energy is both used and stored for future use in the living units and archival system. The energy store is a thin sheet placed within the layered, folded surfaces that both stores energy and acts as a battery for immediate use.
Water - cold store
the water helps sustain life in the temporary housing and also acts as a cold store for thermal transfer, energy production, and archiving data.
These irrigation pipes run along the wall within the spaces to supply the living units with water, redistribute the water among various agriculture areas, and provide a stable, cold temperature to maintain the temperature differential necessary for the archive.
Thermal computing allows for the wall to maintain memory information as long as there is heat. As people migrate to the wall they produce heat during their everyday lives, thus creating the medium for thermal information collection and recall. As people come and go so do locations of memories, however they are forever embedded in the wall, able to be retrieved in the future. This emergent model of collective memory renders the information to be nomadic, traveling through the wall as heat transfers. The medium of the water is what carries the heat, which permits the read and write capabilities.
Recording the gesture - coding system for the nomadic archive
The surfaces within the space are multilayered in order to collect gestural information with thermal computing. Each surface is able to produce heat transfer and record movement, positions, and gestures as digital information that codes and connects memories. In this way the archive becomes nomadic. The gestures - communication of communicability - are used to code memory information in various media, forming a relational archival database. These gestures are then matched with similar gestures in the medium of the wall and as a result connect disparate memories into a comprehensive, adaptable archive.
The perforation of the political and juridical topology creates a space for naked life - life disconnected from existing political structures. This naked life finds itself in the midst of a feral medium and must learn new protocols in order to survive as such. Agamben describes the gesture as a ‘being-in-a-medium’ - an act, or means without an end. These actions in space are the protocols for recording in the archival network.
Means to an end.
End without means.
Means without end.