a poetics of interpretation


I response to the circumstances, rather than starting then.

Peter Eisenman


  1. Group of theoretical propositions relating to the artistic and, in particular, literary activity, which offer a clarification under the descriptive and possibly historic profile: the Aristotelian p.; (ext.) literature theory: a studious of p.
  1. Idea of poetry developed by an author, by a poetic or cultural, etc., movement: the Dante’s p.,romance; (ext.) rule on which is founded any artistic production: the p. of the impressionism.

In the first definition of poetics is highlighted the absolute nature of the term, the poetics is attributed to the artistic activity in general.

The second definition instead assumes a more specific nature and relates to the author’s work, so is the result of an individual processing.

There is a third, the most important, that in which it establishes the relationship between artist and viewer, the poetics in this case is the result of the interpretation that expresses this relationship.

The most beautiful pages of M. Houellebecq, without a doubt one of my favorite authors,are those inserted in The map and the territory, in this story the protagonist, unable to surrendering to nature, prefers his interpretation and cultural elaboration made by his own works, photographs, which have as their subject the Michelin maps. To the reality replaces then its interpretation, or rather its manipulation, so it starts the poetics of the author that acts as the interpreter of the world.

Houellebecq knows how to speak about our time as a few other writers, because dwells in it and is intrinsically permeated inside. A master in the analysis of the western production system, in the crumbling of the bodies, in relations and memory; he speaks about the reality that surrounds him proceeding with detachment and scientific minutiae, with the precision of a ethologist, out of any narrative process of magical-allusive type.

For the author, is the human itself which has become a mere commercial and cultural product, and therefore, a product of the art and culture ruthless market. The only solution for the artist, the last agent of the crafts, to which the industrial production has inflicted a fatal blow, is the way of solitude, because ´life sometimes offers an opportunity, but when you are too cowardly or too indecisive to take that chance, she resumes her cards; there is a time to do things and to enter into a possible happiness, this moment lasts a few days, sometimes a few weeks or even a few months but only occurs once, only one, and if you later want to return to your own steps is simply impossible, there is no longer a place for the enthusiasm, the conviction and the confidence, they remain a sweet resignation, a mutual and saddened piety, the useless feeling that something could be, that simply you seemed unworthy of the gift that you had been received” [2].

This book is very well aware of my idea of poetry: the set of choices made by an author among all the possible artistic solutions regarding the purpose of his work, the relations with the tradition and the contemporary, the art of expression. These choices take on a meaning at the time when they come into contact with the world and are assimilated before and interpreted after.

In a sense also the architects’ poetics is the result of a mediation, of a selection of information, of a story. The works of Jed Martin, the protagonist of the novel, are described but never represented, the text replaces the image or better suggests the formation of the images, which take body in the mind of the reader (to illustrate this text I have inserted some, a my free interpretation, of course).

The pictures are trying to give poetic form as described by Houellebecq[3]. By an interpretative operation the artist take the distances to the world of reality and makes us to penetrate his world, his view defines an other-reality that re-builds through the signs the territory.

At the moment in which is represented by cartographer, the territory is enriched with meanings, that the nature, in reality, confounds. The view of the artist is indeed more true of the reality itself. ´[…] while the satellite photo let appear only a mixture of greens more or less uniform, strewn with vague blue dots, the paper developed a fascinating entangle of provincials, of picturesque routes, of points of view, of forests, of lakes. Above, with black capital, was the title of the exhibition -The map ismore interesting than the territory” [4].


The poetics isn’t born from a subject’s aware operation but by the free interpretation of hisvwork by its users. An author, an artist or an architect doesn’t define their own poetics as an autonomous action, but as a result of a system of relationships that establish with others and with the reality that want to represent.

Each reading is born from a analysis, and from an interpretation of the historical time in which the work has form.

Another interesting example of poetics of the interpretation we find in another book, the Zone of Geoff Dyer[5]. It is very difficult to classify, a novel, an essay, a short story or a simple rewriting? The Zone is the summary of a film, a rewriting, sequence after sequence. The author describes it as ´A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Roomª. The area is a mirror where the author observes himself observing the film; such as Tarkovsky is the true protagonist of Stalker, so Dyer is the true subject analyzed in the Zone, the author chooses the notes to create a story inside the story, these become more important of the main text. Dyer, in fact, by interpreting the poetics of another author reflects about itself, his life, his deepest desires, describing former loves, trips under LSD and its lost opportunities, and at times seems to wonder what kind of writer is, who reduced to write the summary of a film.

Which kind of architect am I, asking myself, thinking about how the Zone has several similarities to doing architecture, and how I try, through my work, to confront with the architecture that fascinate me more.

Microutopias [6] is perhaps a rewriting of the famous aircraft carrier of Hans Hollein, isn’t it?

The architecture today is nothing more than an operation of rewriting a text that is already written, an adding or better a removing from something that already exists, in a finished form.

Every project was born from what has already been done, a school will always be a school, in a sort of space writing that determines the ideal conditions through which, an idea of space is transformed into a place to use, to live. Will be the architect, time to time, to add a different meaning to history.


At this point the poetics is one of the possible conditions, that you create to make a project, the poetics is enclosed in an idea of space that comes from another architecture, just like in the Zone of Dyer, the poetics was born from a comparison with others and with oneself, while working.

Is not a case that I am very fascinated by the work of geographers that return on paper the complexity of the world, the geography is the description of the earth, the world is thus reduced to a representation thereof, the earth to its surface and the latter to a panel.

A definition that implies a triple transformation, which is the basis of making architecture.

In designing it reads the reality of the space, looking for a its tangible form that is suitable to the reality of the world in continuous becoming, trying to represent it through models (threedimensional or two-dimensional).

The project always starts from a model, from this point starts an interpretative work of collection, in which I try (we try, in my case, IaN+) to combine between their reality, visions and stories [7]. Here, photography, drawing, models, and texts overlap between them, then from the collection will take you to the rewriting of an idea of space. So, the project is an operation of cutting, of renouncing, a synthesis of all the materials accumulated that define the reference models. Between the reference models, the more difficult to achieve is the image [8]. Image as a synthesis between photography and drawings or as a stratification of signs which create the conditions to the project of architecture.

In a recent article on Manet, Pier Vittorio Aureli, speaking about the value of images, argues that it is important that the images are ´[Ö] finite constructs, material objects with their own material properties, Tea radical lesson of Manet’s images is that they are not mere fragments of the world; rather, they are objects in themselves that not despite, but because they accept and even exalt their condition of being beheld, comparison beholders as something separated, severed away from them” [9].

It is very important do not using the images as figures of the project, but like models able, through their objective materiality, to sketching the project and to being their own project.

The images are a method of analysis of reality and are a system of thought useful to analyze, but not only, problems of form and usage.


The images give a meaning to the definition of space, do not generate only ideas but respond in the course of time to the world that surrounds me at the same time that I pass through, that I observe and register it in my mind. I am not drawing so much, use the software in a basic mode, I don’t try to follow the technique, take pictures, I collect models [10], catalog them, I know that one day they will become useful. The cataloguing provides a useful support to my thinkings, starting from photographs, I overlap them, and I can define an idea of space by a selective operation. Photographing means to isolate an element, suspend it in a vacuum, to create an-other-reality. These are the models by which I define the project [11]. The catalog, undergoes transformations becomes another one through the layering which is only a method to get knowledge of the work, a way to get to space, to discover and find the Zone which then becomes project. The architecture and one of the possible results.

On architecture [12]. The architecture is a combination of limits and at the same time it is the definition of these limits. By the collection, the assembly and the selection of information we create structures … (Exactly how I built this short text) different poetics’ combine together and try, through the dialog, new forms of expression; forms continue to change, because, by trying to define a unique form, there is a risk of creating a language that detract meaning to the project. The language defines an alternative point of view that prevents the architecture to grow. John Cage has always claimed not to be a composer who feels mentally the music, and that immediately after, try copying it. But several times stated to develop concepts and structures, and only after they had been played, became aware of the their sound quality. With the architecture is the same thing, you can understand the true significance only after it has been built. Till that moment its materiality is defined by the image and not always the two reality match [13]. The poetics in architecture is the boundary between these two different materialities.

Texto e imagenes de Luca Galofaro, Arquitecto

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1 This short writing had to be a dialog with the editorial staff of the magazine, we began with a series of questions, as I was trying to write the answers took shape a text that collected fragments accumulated over time. I preferred treat it as a collage of texts and images, the questions you will find along the flow of the text, the fragments will be used by the reader, he will adapt to their own interpretation. What role attaches to poetics in the definition of your work? The poetics is something that is born from the perception that the others have for a given job, it is not inside an individual project but in the set of ideas, scriptures, and rewriting, because the poetics is stratified in the time, was born, gets worse, reading a book, doing a project, designing, photographing, trying to become interpreters of the reality.

2 Michel Houellebecq, The Map and the territory, Bompiani 2010. The Map and the territory is not a novel, it’s a work of conceptual art. The author writes a self-portrait. The tones soften compared to its previous novels. This has the effect of rustle up a novel that doesn’t seem to be written by Houellebecq: no roughness or vulgarity, no judgments on the human race nor philosophical quotations, but, instead of all this, so much art (and Jed Martin, the fictional protagonist, is an artist that continually alternates between painting and photography). His poetic however, little by little begin to emerge, as the protagonist, the artist, knows and interacts with character of Houellebecq inserted in the novel.

3 I started photographing the Michelin maps, but then I started to concentrate on other maps closer to my sensitivity of architect, the map of Rome of the Nolli, the original prints of Piranesi, preserved the calcography of Rome. 4 Bringing near and compare the photo of the map to the satellite photos is a little bit, such as photographing a glimpse of a town or observing it through Street View… Which conceals more signs?

5 Geoff Dyer, Zone: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room, Pantheon books, New York, 2012.

6 Microutopie is a project made by the office IaN+, to which I belong; the project revolves around two key concepts: recycle the architecture and recycle the arms in order to produce a new landscape. The goal is to build relationships among users, the nature and the urban texture. In the Microutopie, the war machines become fleets programmed for a strategy to support the recovery: Culture-Artscape, Leisure-Sportscape , Housing-Housescape and finally the Landscape.

7 How you start working?

8 Is there, in your work, an initial vision? And, if yes, how do you relate to the whole design process? And, yet, what relationship is there, in your work, between the initial vision and your formal world? The answer to this question is in the sequence of images, the images guide us in the design path, or better define the project’s guidelines.

9 Text provided by the author waiting for publication on Scapegoat (http://www.scapegoatjournal.org/).

10 In the category models, take part: drawings, sketches, photographs, objects, texts.

11 To return to the time while the project was born: I take pictures of it, I observe it, I reconstruct a mental map of the place, because as shows Dyer in an essay on the photograph: ´The room is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a roomª. I can add: ´how to live without a camera“.

12 The Italian culture of the years ‘70 and ‘80 has taught us that the world of poetics’ is less abstract than you imagined. I think about the magic realism, the conceptualism, the figurationÖ In fact, it showed us that may also lead to great successes and great achievements. Do you consider, in the era of crisis, that is still so on? Yes, even more at a condition, to not lose contact with reality. The architecture depends on many things, from functional program, the places, from the materials, from how is designed in the buildingÖ How do you relates your formal world with a whole series of needs?

13 It would be interesting lead to limit this discussion to say that architecture is always something else, something that we cannot ´doª, but only to read, to interpret, and by this way to appropriate of it. Who has designed? Who has built it? No matter. It matter who read it – ergo who dwells. The architect, as a designer, cannot claim any right, if not that to be an interpreter, perhaps more ´equippedª, of architectures made by unknown. So there, I like to close this text with a commentary by Gabriele Mastrigli, after reading the text in the August 2012.




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