Proposal for the New Modern Monument
Hello everyone and thank you for coming tonight. We are really excited to present to you our proposal for the ideal modern monument, which we see as sustaining and concentrating the absence of an infinite number of desires (that we’re sure you all have). For our little monument, we’ve broken it down into eleven features that we’ll explore together as we walk through.
So. Where did the modern monument originate? Is is so profoundly unoriginal that we could have only imported it? Well, our monument of the modern city is to be imported from the greatest and most fashionable places. Just as Rockefeller assembled his Cloisters, so the monument will take the form of three-dimensional space and create a billboard large enough to draw the most inconvenienced tourists. And it is because of this that we can scientifically state that the new monument has no origins, but represents Origins (generally).
As I’m sure you picked up from the previous slide, the monument has been designed with excellent exteriority: like a facade, not for those who inhabit the city but for those in transit. We must display to people just what we are as a people. Modern cities are occupied, sure, especially by its inhabitants, but we can safely “gift the name” Transiency to most of its inhabitants. However, though it is designed with the distraction of ‘historical charm and monumental appearance,’ the modern monument can never truly be able to shake an internal ‘truth’ or the triggers that grow the seeds of thought. To project truth is a great sin of dictatorial nations, and the children of 1960s Recursion enthusiasts. No truth, I repeat, no truth shall be contained and represented in the monument. A modern monument should be ultimately a placeholder to remind us the space for free-thought is still vacant.
The third point will of course seem obvious: every modern city has a monument and we are to be no exception. We, Need, One! St. Louis boasts the Gateway Arch to the same shrill note that Chicago advertises The Bean. And other cities need one too. We’ve been blessed in our time to have received the formal purity of The Bean, which is the most malleable of monuments I can recall off the top of my head. And luckily, having reflected upon Chicago so effectively, it is slated to be reproduced and imported again. The spoils of a decimated India? The painted mental fuges of Van Gogh? Picasso (everything)? What could be more troubling to the soul of a city than an impermanent exhibit? Not even leaving photographs or well made replicas? The Bean’s new twin will come to support the base of Herzog & de Meuron’s 56 Leondard Street luxury condo development in New York City: giving back to the city through so-called public art.
Like The Bean, mirrors are embraced as a key motif in our monument, for avoiding them has itself become something of a cliche. The literal reflection of city and its subjects has proven itself abstract enough that its transplantation to the better people of New York could not have been more frictionless. Therefore the fourth point we’d like to make is that our monument shall be equally slick.
Now I ask you, the audience, what frontiers are left for us to discover? Our earth has been measured with such absolute precision, down to the pixel, that we are incapable of being lost. Our history has been so heavily documented, and thank God our ancestors built monuments or our task would have been made even more difficult than it already was. Our collective past used monuments as fillers to the questions they lacked the mental and technological capacity to answer, or that in fact had no answers at all. The pyramids were a placeholder to the anxieties of death; the temples to our anxieties of life. Have we any need to employ these psychologically stabilizing limits? The dual function (death and life) to these confines on our shared mental states was the singularity of their direction.
Having mastered God (and made him a lowercased g.o.d.) the modern monument will no longer represent movements towards a singular truth, or a frontier, but rather it incessantly refers back to an Other. It is inherently always another subject: the pure symbol: something to dance around. We present (what is in essence) an open vessel: a colander if you will.
The monuments of the past always contained a future sentiment one could say. They saw a person or event as they had been, as they are (which is dead), and what they could be (even more dead). On the contrary, the modern monument aims towards no frontiers. We propose that, rather than categorically piling symbols and subjects to compose a monumental totem (which would have been a supreme idea itself!), it becomes a field of geometric forms. All are ideal, and ideals would be present alongside our uncharacteristic and immoral. Everything is imported, of course, but divided and separated equally. The arrangement of signs from a horizon to a horizontal creates a harmonious tension between everything, in all directions: forward, backward, sideward.
Our modern power structure (embraced warmly) no longer lends itself to producing the same symbolic acts once necessary to hold a collective in toe. God had existed only in symbols we’ve discovered. And Monarchical legitimacy was the same. Our present condition of separating meaning from forms has revealed this long ago. The monument was but a mere witness to methodical scientific process of Enlightenment. No matter. There is no void. We occupy the void. We shall deny the existence of such a void; the very void we occupy. Reduced to a smirk and a wink, the monument will be the sole of discretion.
Our monument universally touches all hearts. Once abstracted to such a degree, each individual visitor can project their clipped ambitions into the monument and receive back their own spiritual reading, each and every time. Though personalized to all, it remains collective in its ability to address us as an increasingly docile people.
Now without further ado, I present the first images of our monument. It is a mound, or, more accurately, a pile that can be seen from above and below. The minute granular pieces of everything are placed on a large mirror plane occupying the entire ground of the square (or circle, or rectangle, or rhomboid) to form an iconic conic pyramidish thing. The pieces are at once representational and literal in how the installation acts within our great city, as we hope it will do for all great cities. By its nature, the pile won’t last long. The modern monument clears away the distractions towards a deeper reality or consciousness. People will visit. Many will pass blindly. But many will take a few stray granular pieces for their mantels at home. With any luck, the modern monument will grow the spores of thought, already presented in its spoiliated form, into a million homesteads. This monument, as much as it negates questions, contains the seeds to “answer” questions for these people all the same. Others will visit this place outside from themselves and be provoked to turn their reason upon themselves, which is arguably our only remaining frontier.
The functional monument of urbanity itself destroys our questions with the same vigor the modern monument does to god. New York is a monument to men. The field of infinite distractions at eye-level keep pedestrians from looking up. But it’s plagued with a major flaw in that it still functions, even if machinistically. Ideally, and I implore the politicians and developers here, we would take a large portion of the city fabric and level it to build an even larger, true urban monument of ideal forms (in ideal relation to each other).
It was somewhat alluded in a previous point (which number are we on?), but this monument will be mass produced, distributed, and sold. It is no exception to commodification. It shall be constructed from a place where labor is cheap and quick. It practically screams that it wants to half the flow of time. The whole thing is designed so an unskilled population won’t have much difficulty, and it can be assembled in a winkle of time. Not only is the modern monument representational that it surpasses time, but in all aspects of its creation and dissemination is should transcend time, and truly make it modern. Multiplication of the monuments should be sufficient in creating the ideological vessel, and the parts of it each and every visitor is allowed to purchase for a reasonable sum make it exponentially so. Conscious or not (for why does it matter), the object will provide an absent and much needed phallus in the lives of all who visit the gift shop. Once unwrapped, it is our coping mechanism to an absence of meaning gained in reproduction.
Ever since the clock tower was moved from the church towers to the factory we’ve lost concern over it; time dominated through a retroactive appropriation of the future. We cannot stress enough that our monuments have always existed. They have lasted forever and will continue to do so through the careful gloved hands of preservationists. Modernity will be young forever. Our monument will be young forever.
Of course, if revolutions were ever possible again, we’d have needed further monuments (a monument to the 4th, to the 5th, to the 6 international empire). But they will most likely be placed on the very squares of future conflict and inevitable violence, which is why the logic behind a field of forms is so smart and witty. On the of chance something happens it can be added to the others with no disruption. But the most modern characteristic of Tatlin’s tower was that it wasn’t built.
Gathering mere signs of ‘death’ and delirious ‘victory’ won’t give us a greater understanding of them as concepts so it seems trite to bother. How does one represent something that means nothing? Surely with something. Therefore, we propose our monument again be a limitless field of signs and monumental fragments (once the pile has slurried and spread). These very substitutes for enlightenment, for logic, and for reason will be multiplied by erosion. Thousands of obelisks. Thousands of arches, Thousands of empty urns turned over and the ashes becoming the collective debris of the city.
Representation heavily limits the generation of action. We fear that monuments have the nature towards confusing the edges between representing ideals and representing actuality. But these dialectics remain mysteries in what has exceeded representation. This mystery has been stated by some of the most well-circulated magazines as “exhilarating.”
To conclude (as I realize I’m 10 minutes over the allotted time), I shall state that the monument shall be placed on a placed on a broken, isolated chunk of an elevated old highway turn-off. We’ll paint this La Madame Pedestal gold to be safe in case some of our more lofty goals don’t come to fruition. It can be profoundly spatial: profoundly a billboard. Those with a luxury of time and position (those of us with a driver) will be capable of overcoming their displaced thoughts and using the monument to its true affect. And another one last thing. We cannot stress enough the lengths we’ve gone to remove origins from this monument’s design. No god. No nation. No bust of Washington. No power. Nothing can be concentrated by its existence. The monument is pure. I would just like to say thank you again for the opportunity to present and submit our proposal. We are really pleased with the work we’ve done and feel it will quickly become a manual for future monuments.