Palimpsestuous Ithaca: a Relative Manifesto for Sub-Urbanism. A Seminar with Sébastien Marot – April 29th

PhD seminars series 2010-2011
The Historical Project: Whatever Happened to Operative History
Friday 29th April from 16.00 to 19.00 – J.J.P. Oud room
5th Seminar with Sébastien Marot

Palimpsestuous Ithaca: a Relative Manifesto for Sub-Urbanism
“Cornell Bachelors” (after Marcel Duchamp), montage by Kevin Gough.

In 1978, the year Colin Rowe’s Collage City and Oswald Mathias Ungers’ “Berlin: The City as a Green Archipelago” both came out, Rem Koolhaas published Delirious New York, A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan, a theoretical and poetical masterpiece which can be considered as the manifesto for contemporary super-urbanism (the program fashions the site). Interestingly enough, those three urban manifestoes, each magnetized by a fetish metropolis (Rome, Berlin, New York) share the same “distance point” in the little city of Ithaca, NY, seat of Cornell University where their three authors interacted in 1972-73 and started to build up their theoretical plots. By a curious loop in history, it so happens that this frontier town, located on the inlet of a lake that could figure the geographical antithesis of the Island of Manhattan, was founded by the designer of New York’s famous grid (surveyor general Simeon De Witt). Exploiting those coincidences within the laudatio urbis of a hyperlandscape where the poetical adventures of Robert Smithson, Gordon Matta-Clark and Vladimir Nabokov each found their “North-West passage”, our ambition is to reverse Rem Koolhaas’ demonstration in Delirious New York and produce a relative manifesto for sub-urbanism (the site invents the program). In other words, to quote Fitzcarraldo in Werner Herzog’s film, “I am planning something geographical”.