Memories of cities that don't exist

"the life we lived without a "City".".

A child falling asleep to buildings flying by the window, in the backseat of a car; a melody that relentlessly brings us back to a night walk along the river; the melancholic eyes of passersby; that lady in pink having breakfast on her balcony; the Weeping Willow tree at the corner of your grandmother's house…

This piece is not about construction, it is not about a city. It is about our perception of spaces, the way we inhabit them physically and build them mentally.

By establishing a dialogue with technology, it explores ways of building texts and images, and absorbing it, outside of its traditional formats, where tools are not only means to convey a message but central actors of the project.

Memories of Cities that Don’t Exist is about the places we have lived, the ones we lost, and those we learnt to love through the imaginaries of others.

Every creation was once fiction, the way we build those imaginaries, the tools we use to do so, have an impact on what will end up surrounding our ecosystem of objects and architectures. 

The object is a machine that generates fiction through texts written in the form of letters in which the narrator describes his city to a person they wished could visit it. The structure allows multiple entries, each of the first 6th paragraphs has 3 possible inputs, but one ending. 

The last sentence gives its title to this version of the machine, "the life we lived without a "City".". By combining the different options, the users, or composers could build over 700 different letters, but will all have the same last sentence on the paper to be printed and carried. This last paragraph reveals that those stories are all based on the narrator's imagination, they never existed elsewhere. It is through details, narrated experiences, ordinary events that human attachment occurs, this project intends to dissect and reveal these layers.

 It aims at exploring how we build representations of our cities, through a combination of soft elements, that respond to the built environment but primarily involves human sense and perception. 

It is based on a subjective, personal interpretation, but stories read and absorbed by a group of people, could build common imaginaries. 
In reaction to the way fiction always shaped our relation to cities through movies, books, music, photography, this work questions the possibility of building those representations as a foundation to the making of cities. 

Memories of Cities That Don't Exist doesn't aim at applying computational tools in order to achieve performance, to tend towards a supposed efficient city. It uses computation to build a new methodology, using fiction to place the projection of our physical environment at a human level. 

In the same way, computation is not used in the object to achieve technological performance but to affect how we build, use and absorb another tool, the one of writing and producing texts. 

Memories of Cities that Don’t Exist is about the places we have lived, the ones we lost, and those we learnt to love through the imaginaries of others.
Souvenirs de Villes qui n'ont Jamais Existé, 
"la vie que nous avons vécu sans une ville".


J’ai fabriqué une machine pour qu’elle nous raconte des histoires.


Du 1er au 5 septembre 2021, elle a reçu des visiteurs pendant l’exposition SHIVERS à l’Université de Goldsmiths, à Londres.


Ensemble, ils ont composé des lettres, celles que l’on écrirait à une personne que l’on aime pour lui parler de notre ville.

En assemblant les mélodies qui nous reviennent au coin d’une rue, à un arbre ordinaire, devant la terrasse de notre café habituel, au souvenir de la vue du port avec ses silhouettes d’immeubles empilés, mêlé à l’agitation de ses habitants en fins d’après-midi…


Chaque paragraphe inscrit sur la machine correspond à une couche de perception. Le lecteur est ici compositeur et choisit sa voie parmi 3 narrations possibles et interchangeables à chaque séquence. Le chemin choisi s’éclaire jusqu’à la dernière phrase, commune à toutes les lettres. 


La machine contient plus de 700 combinaisons de villes possibles, et une seule fin, que tous trouveront inscrite sur le reçu à imprimer et à emporter avec soi:

« Peut être que tu penseras que rien de ce que j’écris ne fais sens, et tu auras raison. Ce ne sont que les centaines d’histoires que j’ai bâti pour donner de la valeur à la vie que nous avons vécu sans une ville ».


Souvenirs de Villes qui n’ont Jamais Existé nous parle des lieux que nous avons vécu, de ceux que nous avons perdu, et d’autres que nous avons appris à aimer à travers l’imaginaire d’autrui.

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