Ruins make us think of the past that could have been and the future that never took place, tantalizing us with utopian dreams of escaping the irreversibility of time.

Svetlana Boym

This exhibition by Przemek Krzakiewicz is a personal vignette on architectural perception, as well as the dependence on the perceived image in one’s mind to the established point of view. The titular phenomenon of “crowding” is linked to peripheral vision, concering objects which are located in the margins of our field of view. The human mechanism of sight focuses on the central image, while objects on the periphery lose their contours, change shape, disappear. Furthermore, it is the brain which is repsonsible for this phenomenon, not the eye itself.

Przemek Krzakiewicz trains focus of sight, directing his vision and viewfinder towards the corroded construction of the would-be headquarters of the NOT (Industrial Engineers Association). The ruins of this unfinished skyscraper reveal the likely image of a bygone time, which ultimately failed to become reality in its final form. The skeleton of the building tells us more about contemporaneity and what the immediate future may hold. In reaching back to the past and to an archival architectural project, the artist anticipates what is set to happen in a moment. Through the medium of print accompanied by a visual projection of the urban model, for a fleeting moment the city’s late-modern prophecy becomes reality, its contours indistinct and difficult to recognise. The eye follows the dynamic line of the urban landscape, and while scoping this panorama the brain tries to distinguish the recognisable rhythm of the skyscrapers, even though this action is essentially doomed to failure. It is highly probable that first and foremost the brain will “see” a Manhattan skyline, which will be prioritised by our imagination.

The image of this ruin is made with photographic tools used in the professional process of documenting architectural objects. The factor of motion made for the unfocused and vibrating silhouette of this bare-boned building. We see it through the corner of our eye, in haste, through a bus window. Taken out of context. In such a depiction, the construction’s details are lost. The advancing erosion and decay of the skeleton become less visible. Do we still notice this well-known buliding? Are we still dealing with a ruin? The word “ruin” comes from the Latin verb “ruere”, to fall. The durability and the condition of the so-called Szkieletor seem to go against such a definition.

In his seminal work on New York, Rem Koolhaas noted that skyscrapers are multifunctional:

The skyscraper is the instrument of a new form of unknowable urbanism. In spite of its physical solidity, the Skyscraper is the great metropolitan destabiliser: it promises perpetual programmatic instability.

Rem Koolhaas

Once this ambiguity was written into the urban plan, it seems to have made a modern mark, and the future of the NOT building and its closest proximity: vague and unclear.

/Beata Seweryn/

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