TERRAIN VAGUE////////PSYCHOTOPES – Gene Mastrangeli
June 27th - July 8th
These videos are the initial catalysts for the extensive project “Design in the Void”
“Architecture’s ultimate project is to sustain the originality of experience: it does so by catching its occupants in their own disorientation.”
- Giles Prince from AA’s Discourse of Events
It is the question “Where am I?” and the sustainment of this question that drove my exploration in the project “Design in the Void” (Terrain Vague – Psychotopes –Architecture). For the purposes of this work the site I am using is Toronto’s north-western rail corridor, from the bridge over King St. in Liberty Village where the site leaves the streets to cut against the city grid through Parkdale to the bridge over the space at Dundas St. Within this stretch of land there are sub-sites that I have focused the video work. I am proposing that these partially obsolete sites are an opportunity for the creation of a different kind of urban space. This requires one to view these vague terrains through a psychotopic lens to show an alternative way of seeing and thinking in and about these spaces in relation to the city beyond. The psychotopes that I’m referring to in this project are a series of short video works which explore a “moment of hallucination” within the vague terrain.
Terrain Vague: An ambiguous landscape, a void, a space in a deterritorialized state, a fray in the urban fabric.
The term terrain vague (vague terrain) was developed by the Spanish historian and theorist Ignasi-de Sola-Morales and refers to greater and perhaps less precisely defined territories, connected with the physical idea of an “ambiguous landscape” in its potentially exploitable state but already possessing some definition to which we are external.
Psychotope: a process of decreation and recreation, a reterritorialization that occurs within a deterritorialized space. This is a provocation that manifests itself in the vague terrain. It is a perspective offered by the “exteriority” of the site on the “interiority” of the city, or on itself in contrast to the “interiority” the city. The psychotopes are site specific experiments in video form.
The idea of the psychotope was initially presented by Austrian architect Richard Neutra in his book "Survival through Design" (1969). Neutra expanded the concept of a biotope (an area usually small and of uniform environmental condition) by introducing the psychotope (an area of physical and mental recreation for humans).
Main image: video still from “Linearity” 2009