|Melancholy and Mystery of a Street, Giorgio de Chirico, 1914|
Ivan Chtcheglov's 1953 'Formulary for a New Urbanism' is everybody's favourite example of Situationist psychogeographix loonie prose. It certainly is one the most accessible and likeable works in the corpus from which many people have quoted and after which the Manchester Hacienda was named. I have always been baffled with Debord upping jaded, sentimental Claude Lorrain and Chtcheglov here, while mentioning Lorrain, recommends clean, graphic and controlled De Chirico as his favourite place where to find inspiration for the construction of the emotively charged spaces of the future.
De Chirico remains one of the most remarkable architectural precursors. He was grappling with the problems of absences and presences in time and space.
We know that an object that is not consciously noticed at the time of a first visit can, by its absence during subsequent visits, provoke an indefinable impression: as a result of this sighting backward in time, the absence of the object becomes a presence one can feel. More precisely: although the quality of the impression generally remains indefinite, it nevertheless varies with the nature of the removed object and the importance accorded it by the visitor, ranging from serene joy to terror. (It is of no particular significance that in this specific case memory is the vehicle of these feelings; I only selected this example for its convenience.)
In De Chirico’s paintings (during his Arcade period) an empty space creates a richly filled time. It is easy to imagine the fantastic future possibilities of such architecture and its influence on the masses. We can have nothing but contempt for a century that relegates such blueprints to its so-called museums.