The Ludic Beacon: A Subversive Mechanism
by Glen Reid
Mar. 26, 2012
In a Situationist interpretation of the urban, cities are both sinister and repressive. The populace, as a ubiquitous mass, are subdued by authority through the coordinated creation of leisure [work], and the ‘enjoyment’ of that leisure through the expenditure of allotted capital- time/money. Through the drudgery of relentless routines, urban infrastructure delimits lived experience, as prescriptive space makes allowances only for ‘acceptable’ activities and imaginings. Gilles Ivain stated that ‘we are bored in the city, there is no longer any temple of the sun’, claiming that the lack of poetics in the modern city fail to engender an authentic stimulus. In essence, reality is a fabrication, and the urban a dystopia.
The Ludic Beacon is a subversive instrument, intended to disrupt the perfunctory rhythms of the urban everyday; a mechanism providing a counter narrative to that of the city as Machine.
Located within the neglected industrial sector of Millbay [Plymouth], the beacon attains the curiosity of the local population- momentarily disrupting the routines of individuals within the surrounding urban areas though ephemeral visual interfaces [high power flashes]. Various individuals are drawn to the structure as curiosity overcomes their inhibitions. On an impromptu Derivé they seek out the beacon, and are subsequently invited to take part in a creative process; through using the materials supplied by a nearby car scrap yard and abandoned machinery present on site, they must add to the beacon, feeding its growth.
As an increasing number of people engage with this process, a ‘Cult of the Beacon’ is established; a subculture of individuals united though a shared experience, who take on the mantle of maintaining the beacon. As the community grows, in both size and experience, the tectonics of the structure develop and are [re]configured.
Alongside this growth, the stability of the tower becomes increasingly precarious, causing the collective to further consider/develop the architecture of the beacon; components such as support cables and additional structural elements will need to be devised and employed to overcome arising problems.
The development of the emerging architectonic language is unpredictable. The community take charge of the beacon’s fate, and its destiny, alongside that of the subculture which maintain it, will be recalibrated by factors arising from the shifting urban context.
[i] Debord G., Society of the Spectacle, London: Rebel Press, 2004. Pg 15.
[ii] Mcdonough T., The Situationists and the City, London: Verso, 2009. pg 33.
[iii] Debord G., 2004. Pg 7.
Architecture student: Glen Reid
University: The University of Plymouth
Semester: BA, Architecture year 3
submitted on 2012.03.21
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