Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11

Above is one of the most amazing pictures I've seen of the Twin Towers. It is one of 44 pictures collected by Seolbin Park for a show, 'Twin Towers Once Stood', at the SB D Gallery. The show opens tomorrow, and runs through October 15th. Click here to see more images and for more information about the exhibit.

Below are a couple of other images that have made an impact on me this morning:

Towers of Light, by amazing photographer, Clare Hambly. One of its creators, Paul Myoda, spoke to one of my small architecture seminars at Columbia a few years back. Myoda had been working (with Creative Time) on the 91st floor of the WTC on a light sculpture that was to be placed on the giant radio antenna of the building. That particular project was obviously never realized, destroyed after the terrorist attacks leveled the towers.

"It was an incredibly bright cloud, like an unimaginable hallucination," Myoda said about the plumes of dust and smoke after the attacks. "You could almost see the towers. That's where the idea of Phantom Towers came, like phantom limbs. The idea was to restructure that cloud into the shape of the towers."

The public art piece was originally going to be called 'Phantom Towers', but survivors and victims' family members said that focusing on the people rather than the buildings was a more fitting tribute... Hence, 'Tribute in Light'.

I'll never forget the haunted look on Myoda's face as he spoke to us. His project particularly resonates with me because of my interest in phantom limbs... I've written about the phenomenon extensively- even writing it into one of the first drafts of my book (alas, it didn't work with my story, so I needed to take it out).

Took this one from a Facebook friend's page. It gave me a strang feeling... the idea of time passing, of moments in time becoming history.

At the time of the attacks, I was living in Wisconsin, with a month and a half old baby, in the hospital with a terrible case of mastitis. Seeing the towers fall on television was one of the most shocking, surreal moments of my life, more so because of the high fever I had. The magnitude of what had happened didn't strike me until later that day. I spent a few years reading work by people such as Baudrillard and Virilio, just trying to wrap my head around the problems of terrorism on a conceptual level.

"As much as terrorism rests... on the despair of the humiliated and insulted," wrote Baudrillard, "It rests also on the invisible despair of the privileged beneficiaries of globalization, on our own submission to an integral technology, to a crushing virtual reality, to the grip of networks and programmes, which perhaps represents the involutive profile of the entire species, of the human race become 'global' (doesn't the human race's supremecy over the rest of the planet resemble the West's supremacy over the rest of the world?). And this invisible despair- our despair- is terminal, since it arises out of the fulfilment of all desires."

Yep, I thought that reading stuff like this would help. It did. It helped me become even more fatalistic and upset. It made me become this strange a-political/non-political/political (for all of them, done in sincerity, are sort of the same thing, right?) machine.


I finally stopped reading all of this material (at least, not every waking moment), as I realized the problem was quite simple. People had died in the attacks, just as people were dying all over the world. Wars were being started, the West was acting as though God himself had given 'her' a right to invade the Middle East.

I no longer needed to figure out where and why all of these things were happening- (why men believe so strongly in an eye for an eye will forever be beyond me, conceptually or realistically).

My heart still aches for the people who lost loved ones in the attacks- it also aches for all of the people who have ended up on the wrong side of the global order... the ones on the other side of the world, the ones Baudrillard calls the 'disinherited'. It all comes down to the kids, man, who have had to deal with terror against terror. Babies growing up without their parents, babies growing up into men and women who hate the people who killed their parents. These babies live on both sides of the globe.

Today, I take a moment to think about the way I'd like the world to be. I'm going to wish peace and love for all of the people who have lost loved ones. Tonight I'll look at the 'Tribute in Light' and try to not think of the buildings we lost, but of the fragility we found, and of the relationships and lives we find so precious.

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