Domènec. Unité Mobile (Roads Are Also Places). Martí Peran

When a hermeneutic aesthetics is obliged to intelligibly describe the premises according to which works of art have an essential raison d’être, but one that only manifests itself when those works are put into practice by interpretation, the most relevant example to draw on is the game. In effect, thanks to a long tradition of examining the impulse to play, this appears as a paradigm of the truth of aesthetic experience, that which occurs only and exclusively through the act of putting the works in play. There can be different rules and norms, instruments and player, but the game as such only comes into being in a here and now, through the action that sets this whole compendium of elements in motion. This reflection gives aesthetics the pretext it needs not to hold on to certain idealistic bases that have already entered into irreversible crisis and thus to continue to cling to the belief that art has an essence, which may be meagre and fleeting (only revealed in the instant of playing/ performing/ interpreting), but still effective for all that.

But the game is something more than a lovely trick for rescuing idealistic suppositions. Together with that almost desperate interpretation, the game can also be conceptualized as a direct product of homo ludens – in the line in which this was reworked by Huizinga and then taken up by the Situationists – and seen more as a way of consummating a real experience rather than as an (aesthetic) experience of truth. This may seem a very minor adjustment, but it is crucial. While hermeneutics seeks to maintain the idea of art as a means of access to a profound truth, the new game theory is solely committed to the value ofthe experience in real time, not oniy alien to a possible universe of categorical principles, but also free of any productive obligation. The game can thus be converted into an effective strategy, not for maintaining an antiquated epistemology, but for toppling it once and for all. After suitably amending its Surrealist antecedents (the game, like the dream, has always been a mirror in which to observe deep unconscious impulses), the Situationists played to create situations with this new perspective: convinced that only the freedom ofthe game permits the construction of an equally free subject, capable of accumulating real experiences instead of getting lost in the search for an ineffable meaning.

Unité Mobile (Roads Are Also Places) is, in the first instance, a toy; a remote-controlled truck that can be driven at one’s pleasure. It would be wrong to call it a sculpture, or even a mobile sculpture that, once set in motion, is reinstated as such. It is a toy – to continue with the dichotomy we have established here – that is not idealistic but Situationist. The clearest proof of this is, of course, the use of a model of Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation as the truck’s container. The gesture is eloquent: the modern architectural paradigm for the happy dwelling, conceived as universal solution on the basis of excessively predetermined and utopian premises, has now been converted into a mere playful instrument, restless and absurd if it is not handled with freedom. The proposition expresses a dual intention: play as a paraphrase ofthe value of real experience, flexible and non-productive and, in addition, a game that subverts the illusory pretensions of modernity, taking the place of dreams by constructing a solid anchorage in the world – and the Unité is a paradigm in its forms of resolving, architectonically, this epistemological illusion of being in the world – with a mobile toy that is domestic, actually usable and vulnerable.

The video recording ofthe remote-controlled unit circulating freely in the corridors ofthe Unité d’Habitation in Marseille redoubles the intentions ofthe project. It is in the self-same static space designed as a universal container of habitation that a ludic mobility – the same ludic mobility that Constant expressed in “The Principle of Disorientation” – 1 is now imposed: a ludic mobility capable of managing its own trajectories, in much the same way as the inhabitants of the Unité ended up modifying the archetype by constantly adapting it to their needs.

Martí Peran
“Mira cómo se mueven”. Fundación Telefónica, Madrid 2005

1 “There will no longer be any centre to be reached, but instead an infinite number of moving centres. There will no longer be any chance of getting off track in the sense of getting lost, but rather in the more positive sense of finding previously unknown paths.” Constant, “The principle of disorientation” in X. Costa / L. Andreotti (eds), Situationists. Art, Politics, Urbanism, MACBA/ Actar, Barcelona, 1996, pp. 86-87.