A Future-Present of the Networked City

[Fusione #1, 2007]

I recently re-stumbled upon Giacomo Costa’s fantastical urban images.  Revisiting them a second time brought to mind recent discussions of Varnelis’ Infrastructural City.  In particular, the images above and below provide an immersive rendering of the odd possibility of towing icebergs to Los Angeles to provide a new source of water for the city.

[Consistenza #5, 2008]

[Fusione #3, 2007]

Giacosta’s images illustrate an infrastructural future on a technical trajectory similar to Los Angeles, only with a little more emphasis on the apocalyptic.  The cinematic quality of Giacosta’s environments read like a Brazil-esque infrastructure of excessive pipes and conduits enabling the mobility of landscape and water from diminishing and ever-further resources.  We are immersed in a collateral urbanism made more overt;  BladeRunner’s infrastructural correlate of a complex future dystopia.  The complete lack of people within the imagery enhance the feeling that something has seriously gone awry, perhaps something like the contagious desolation and terror of 28 Days Later.

[Scena #21, 2004]

[Scena #4, 2004]

How future are these scenarios?  Giacosta’s images of massive dams (the Scena series, above) bear a surprising similarly to Edward Burntynsky’s documentary photographs of China’s Three Gorges Dam (below).

[Dam #4, Three Gorges Dam Project, Yangtze River, 2002]

[Dam #6, Three Gorges Dam Project, Yangtze River, 2005]

[Feng Jie #3, Three Gorges Dam Project, Yangtze River, 2002]

Burntynsky’s documentation of the Yangtze’s fields of demolition debris looks just like the scattered detritus seen in Giacosta’s cities.  However in Burntynsky’s documentaries, living organisms such as trees and people still inhabit these landscapes, albeit provisionally.  Life, however transformed, resiliently persists.  One can’t quite tell if the same is true in Giacosta’s futures.

[Construzione #1, 2008]

[Bao Steel #2, Shanghai, 2005]

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