Seeing ↔ Making / Model Arcade
Seeing ↔ Making / Model Arcade
Seeing ↔ Making / Model Arcade
Seeing ↔ Making / Model Arcade
Seeing ↔ Making / Model Arcade
Seeing ↔ Making / Model Arcade

Seeing ↔ Making / Model Arcade

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Paper model, handmade, cut & paste.
4 color Riso-print + transparency. 4.75” x 7.75” – 1:100

A mid-nineteenth-century guidebook described the arcade as “a city, a world in miniature, in which customers will find everything they need.”

“Horkheimer had suggested to Benjamin that a “materialist study” of Baudelaire that would be of interest to the Institute. At this time Benjamin was also extensively engaged with his Arcades studies, and attempted to use Baudelaire to set down the major motifs of the PassagenWerk: “I already foresaw this tendency of Baudelaire to configure itself as a sort of miniature model [Miniaturmodell] of the book [Passagen-Werk] in conversations with Teddie [Adorno]. Since San Remo, this has been confirmed to a greater degree than I had thought…”56 D

“The “miniature” model in Benjamin is a prevalent idea, and can be taken as a particular fragmentary assemblage meant to represent the trajectories as a whole (as a monad).”

The discussion seems to be expanding, with the essential motifs of the Passagen converging in it. This is due both to the nature of the subject and to the fact that this chapter, conceived as one of the central chapters of the book, has ended up being written first instead. In conversations with Teddie [Adorno] I already foresaw this tendency of the Baudelaire to configure itself as a sort of model in miniature (Miniaturmodell) of the book.

The particular status ascribed henceforth to the Baudelaire by the words ‘model in miniature’ should be emphasised here. The phrase expresses a paradoxical relation between part and whole: if the whole contains itself en abîme, so to speak, the part nonetheless tends to subsume the whole, eroding and gradually emptying of the complete work. Again on 8 July, Benjamin – now in Denmark with Brecht – writes to [Gershom] Scholem that the essay is a ‘very precious model of the Passagenarbeit, setting in motion the entire substance of the thought and study of the last years.’ (GB, vi, p.131). A few days earlier, writing to Pollock, he describes the work in progress as an Extract of the Pariser Passagen, one that ‘will allow a glimpse in perspective into the depths the 19th century.’[1],[2] (GB, vi, p.133).

A month later, having reorganised the material and the structure of the work, Benjamin is forced to admit that the ‘model in miniature’ has become a separate book that tends to subsume within itself a substantial part of the material and subject matter intended for the Passagen:

“In a letter of 1939, he refers to The Arcades Project as “the theater of all my struggles and all my ideas”

“The arcade may be conceived as a mineral spa,” <Aº,12>

“The arcades as dream and wish-image of the collective”

“The century always transcends the "old social order" in its cultural phantasmagoria. As “wish symbols," the arcades and interiors, the exhibition halls and panoramas are “residue of a dream world." They are part of BIochian dreaming ahead, anticipating the future: “Every epoch, in fact, not only dreams the one to follow, but, in dreaming, precipitates its awakening. It bears it “end within itself." Insofar as dialectical thinking tries to define as well as to expedite this end of decaying bourgeois culture, it became for Benjamin the “organ of historical awakening"
(Expose of1935, section VI, end) .”

“"These arcades, a recent invention of industrial luxury, are glass-roofed, marble-­ paneled corridors extending through whole blocks of buildings, whose owners have joined together for such enterprises. Lining both sides of the arcade, which gets its light from above, are the most elegant shops, so that the passage is a city, a world in miniature:' “

“At the entrance gates of the arcades (one could just as well say 'exit gates," since, with these peculiar hybrid forms of house and street, every gate is simultaneously entrance and exit}-at the entrance gates one finds, on either side, remarkable and sometimes enigmatic inscriptions and signs, which oftentimes multiply along the walls within where, here and there, between the shops, a spiral staircase rises into darkness.”

“One could imagine an ideal shop in an ideal arcade-a shop which brings together all métiers, which is doll clinic and orthopedic institute in one, which sells trum­pets and shells, birdseed in fixative pans from a photographer's dark room, ocarinas as umbrella handles.

'"The great fragmentary work on Baudelaire, which came into being in the years 1937-1939, offers a "miniature model" of The Arcades Project,

“In the dusty, cluttered corridors of the arcades, where street and interior are one, historical time is broken up into kaleidoscopic distractions and momentary come-ons, myriad displays of ephemera, thresholds for the passage of what Gerard de Nerval (in Aurrel£el£a) calls "the ghosts of material things.." Here, at a distance from what is normally meant by "progress;' is the ur-historical, collective redemption of lost time, of the times embedded in the spaces of things.”

Architecture as the most important testimony to latent "mythology." And the most important architecture of the nineteenth century is the arcade. The effort to awaken from a dream as the best example of dialectical reversal. Difficulty of this dialectical technique. <Dº,7>

We can speak of two directions in this work: one which goes from the past into the present and shows the arcades, and all the rest, as precursors, and one which goes from the present into the past so as to have the revolutionary potential of these "precursors" explode in the present. And this direction comprehends as well the spellbound elegiac consideration of the recent past, in the form of its revolutionary explosion. <0°,56>

Think of the arcade as watering place. What we would like is to stumble upon an arcade myth, with a legendary source at its center–an asphalt wellspring arising at the heart of Paris. The tavern advertising beer "on tap" still draws on this myth of the waters. And the extent to which healing is a rite de passage, a transition experience, becomes vividly clear in those classical corridors where the sick and ailing turn into their recovery, as it were. Those halls, too, are arcades. Compare fountains in the vestibule. <L2,6>