Friday, January 9, 2009


[The first attempt at a written structure for my thesis].

Reconstructing Fragments: Amorous Attraction in a Game of Spoils

Chapter 1: The Structure of Spoils.
a) Spoils and Memory
b) Cut and Paste: Verbatim Quotation
c) Appropriating Spoils
d) Case Study: House of Loreto

The term spolia, has a clear association to an initial violent act that removes a part from its source to be used elsewhere. Individual Spoils possess an innate ambiguity between simultaneously understanding their original purpose and context and their possible re-understanding. Spoils possess the ability to transport a fraction of meaning from its original source into a new context. They alone have the ability, in the right hands, to stimulate memories and touch souls.

Rome had begun conserving and reusing pieces of their civic buildings in the 4th century. Buildings were judged worthy of conservation because they were repositories of Roman traditions. Ruins were always dismantled for reuse and never demolished. The presence of past building traditions was always to be reconciled before its imbued traditions and “verbatim quotations” lost to a new ahistorical construction.

This project proposes to appropriate the spoils of boats and buildings as the pieces in a game of amorous exchange between fort construction and boat building. Spoils of boats can be disassembled and reused for the boat-building workshop and fortification, chasing the right fit; in reverse, the boats repaired and built from this workshop can employ pieces of fabric or rope from gabions in the building into their construction. The game becomes a sharing of pieces from the similar “other”.

From tradition, the house of the Virgin Mary is thought to have been transported by angels from Nazareth to Croatia, then again to Recanti, Italy; and finally a third time to its present location in Loreto. This practice of dis-assembly is a fundamental aspect in a game of fragments, where a building is never static, but able to move and be modified.

Chapter 2 – Games and Amorous Attraction
a) Objective and Rules of the Game
b) After Descartes: Postmodern Annihilation of Resemblance
c) Amorous Attraction
d) Spoils as Analogical Devices and Storytelling

The game of spoils is a game played between boats and architecture. The rules are that spoils from boats (e.g. wood planks, sails, masts etc) are disassembled for use in parts of the boat construction workshop, and by extension the Fort Beauséjour. In reverse, rope, fabric or wood can be used the construction of boats. The game operates on its own course and meaning as a volunteer activity that can enhance the co-dependency of the regional boat building trade and architecture. The purpose of the game is to revive the similarity between, historically, a collaborative activity which is now two otherwise unrelated things.

Cartesian thinking created a will to divide things into smaller individual parts. It fuelled an annihilation of resemblance and a celebration of difference. The after-effects of this is a difficulty to relate between a seemingly infinite cosmos of individuality. Difference, be it cultural, artistic, or pedagogic, has many positive qualities but at a certain intangible point, we lose the ability or patience to relate between entities in a gigantic superstore of convictions.

Barbara Maria Stafford describes a Game of Back and Forth in her Visual Analogy, a work that attempts to restore analogy and perception to the forefront of some of the issues confronting our time. She argues that we have lost the ability or interest to work analogically, and as such are drifting further away from making connections, only emphasizing differences. Amorous attraction is used in the context of this thesis to describe the process that spoils undergo to find their proper fit, as well as a programmatic union between boat building and fortifications. Using an analogy of amorous attraction, we can begin to make connections between boats and architecture, land and water, invention and memory.

Storytelling using analogy with spoils. Need more info.

Chapter 3 – Transformative Exchanges
a) Metis and the Workshop
b) The Bricoleur and Rural DIY Methodologies
c) Boats to Buildings and Buildings to Boats
d) Paradigm Conversion (Reason from Symbolism) (Boats and Buildings)

From mythology, Metis is the skillful intelligence that guides the Greek goddess Metis. This is conjectural knowledge that lies between reasoning by analogy and skill at deciphering signs which link what is visible to what is invisible. The thesis proposes that both the game of spoils and workshop spaces foster a development of the Metis sensibility.

Synonymous with Metis is the bricoleur, borrowed from the French word bricolage, from the verb bricoler – equivalent to the English "do-it-yourself", the core meaning in French being, however, "fiddle, tinker" and, by extension, "make creative and resourceful use of whatever materials are at hand (regardless of their original purpose)". The do-it-yourself attitude is commonplace in rural Canada, and equally in the maritime region of Chignecto. A person who engages in bricolage invents his or her own strategies for using existing materials in a creative, resourceful, and original way. The bricoleur is the intended worker of fragments to exchange between boats and architecture in the game of spoils.

Seafarers are often cited describing the boat they build and sail as a house of their own. The inhabitation of boats share many commonalities to that of inland buildings, such as shelter, structure, maintenance and decay, pleasure. Much can be learned from the other. Creating an exchange of spoils is a start to making a timeless partnership between disparate vocations.

At the time of the construction of the Fort Beauséjour, a paradigm shift was occurring – a shift from symbolic, metaphysical thinking to scientific methods. Vauban stripped all symbolic and analogical meaning from the fort in favour of prescriptive, scientifically grounded occupation of defensive buildings. Much the same way, boat builders drifted away from crafting symbolic meaning in their watercraft. Today, “superfluous” ornamental details are lost and the naming of a boat is one of the few residual myths associated with a traditionally romantic pastime.

Chapter 4 - Site
a) Materiality
b) The Acadians: History and Tradition
c) Vauban: Paradigm Conversion
d) Spoils of the Chignecto Ship Railway

A quarry is situated near Fort Beauséjour. These stones were retrieved by native and Acadian workers to be used for gabions within the ramparts of the earth fort. Wood from nearby growths were cut to build an ephemeral palisade at the periphery of the earth-works. Small branches were cut to make baskets for the gabions. The two materials form the basis of the site’s construction. Local wood was also used for a short-lived but prosperous shipbuilding industry in the mid to late 1800’s.

Acadians worked the land’s inhospitable marshlands with dykes to transform it into workable farmland. The Great Expulsion of 1755 is a well-known fragmentation from their land. Acadian homes are often additive conglomerations of building extensions.

Vauban sacrificed all symbolic meaning from fortress design, to refine their defensibility that was grounded in scientific reason. Pentagonal forts can be drawn in many different ways (approximately eight methods). The traditional Roman method draws two immense circles, where the pentagon fits within the overlap of the two circles. References to the landscape are drawn with these circles. The fort’s embodied “size” on the draught is then much greater than its physical size. The Fort Beauséjour however skipped this entire process by simply using ready-made plans based on a set of rules outlined and drafted by Vauban.

The Chignecto ship railway was an abandoned project, lead by Henry Ketchum that sought to taxi full size ships from the Northumberland strait to the Chignecto Bay. The project was abandoned at the collapse of the British economy. Spoils of the railway and arched bridges were collected for reuse in the visitor’s centre.

Chapter 5 - Design
a) Methods
b) (De)Monstration of Sea Monsters

The drawings use vellum which has translucent qualities. Cutout drawings or diagrams are added continually, recognizing a past thought, inspiring a new interpretation. The use of adhesives naturally collect atmospheric fragments throughout the drawing process. Fishing line is embedded in the site drawing to denote topological changes, and the geometric symbolism divested by Vauban is carved permanently into the board. Instead of using branches for weaving the gabion baskets, sailing rope is used instead. Denuded figures can be seen constructing these gabions in the drawing (referring to Pastor).

The partnership between fort and boat construction is made through the exchange of spoils. In trading spoils between boats and buildings, there is the potentiality of new uses for parts of each respective thing. In the spirit of bricolage, chimeric monsters, or hybrid building systems can emerge.



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