Curator: Mark Campbell
What was it Marcel Proust said about paradise? 'Les vrais paradis sont les paradis qu’on a perdus.' That is: 'the true paradises are paradises that one has lost.' Not only does it seem the only paradises worth the name are those that have been lost, but also that there are any number of paradises which can be lost. A plurality that means ‘paradise’ is only – in essence – another way of describing an eminent loss.
During the twentieth-century the United States was the world’s most influential economic, scientific, and cultural force. Now – in the first decades of this century – that influence is indisputably waning, with the United States approaching a kind of unplanned obsolescence. This research cluster examines the architectural implications of this passing loss through a study of contemporary America. One in which architecture exists as a form of by-product, or residue. We are beginning to sift through these varied residues in the hope of determining the words and images that truly speak of these paradises lost.
During 2012 the cluster visited the Salton Sea – a derelict sea in the Californian desert that was formed when the Colorado River was accidently diverted in the wrong direction. This accidental sea not only instantly became a tourist attraction, a ‘Palm Springs with Water’, but also an opportunity for rampant architectural speculation. Unfortunately the promise of the ‘California Riviera’ soon faded with the toxic reality of 140 deg. summers and apocalyptic wildlife die-offs. And the 22,000 fully serviced lots in Salton City – complete with paved roads, water and power, and phone lines that were never connected – passed into ruin.