The real and the imitation
30 January 2009 4 Comments
The predominance of vision has effected the way we think about materials. As more and more communities employ “stampcrete” and if they can’t afford that, “stamphalt” in public spaces, the erosion of values is painfully obvious. The attitude of ”as long as that stuff looks like brick, it’s OK ” is exactly what got the ponzi scheme victims into trouble. Actually all the use of fake materials is sort of like a ponzi scheme–you simply put the day of reckoning off until the whole thing fails and at great expense you end up doing what you should have done the first time around. Materials carry memory, and the replacement of materials with facsimiles destroys memory, with it the hard won truths and values of our society. As an example I’ve posted two images of bricks one of painted stamped asphalt and the other of 19th century brick pavers.
The inadvertent marks of the makers, of the hands that handled the wet clay can be seen in the lower image, the memory of the lives that made these bricks. The moss growing between each brick reveals an unanticipated symbiosis of inert and living matter. the bricks, slightly uneven gently accommodate the pushing of tree roots below without cracking or failing. The stamphalt has none of this capacity to hold time and life–no capacity for memory and for that matter, imagination. The fact that it is unsustainable and unrecyclable is no coincidence. Whenever we remove the dimension of time and the capacity to remember from materials, we fall prey to appearances and hidden costs, not only economic and environmental but cultural and societal.