Technology sometimes falls short

This issue is a collection of stories about new technologies, about optimism, and about limits. A technological advantage that allows humans to travel to space, to build higher, longer, faster, or to bridge one condition or another may not always have the outcome that we really hoped for. And some technologies reshape our ways of thinking and living to such an extent that they themselves become platforms for new speculation.

Article 2 of 18

Zeno and Aldrin Meet in Riparbella in the Summer of 2008

A conversation imagined by Alessandro Poli

Alessandro Poli. Zeno incontra Aldrin a Riparbella (Zeno and Aldrin meet in Riparbella), 2008. Archivio Alessandro Poli. Photographed by Antonio Quattrone.

Zeno and Aldrin meet, many years after the moon landing. The landscape of Riparbella is reconstructed by their conversation as they speak. The countryside of Le Preselle—with the shed, spring and row of vines—now belongs to history. The accelerated pace of contemporary times has transformed it into a nondescript suburb.

I don’t recognize anything, and yet there is still much that belongs to me.
Could you start again, and transform what seems to have been destroyed, using your repurposing techniques?
Possibly, but only if you succeed in altering your invasive, dominating technologies and leave me room for my work. I can teach you. You just have to believe!

Their meeting transforms the anonymous suburb where they stand into an actual place, which does not mean returning to the past but rather putting the current situation to use according to different rules, dictated by living together and understanding cultures and technologies that originate from different realities and backgrounds.

I played a leading role in the greatest technological feat of the twentieth century. We set foot on the moon.
How well I remember! I thought of you while I was shut up in the shed at Le Preselle, and I feared for you, for your safe return.
Our technology was safe. It had been put through every possible test, and everything functioned.
One essential factor was missing: “necessity,” which is the motive underlying all our work. My deep perception of the moon, like everything I do, is rooted in necessity. This is the main motive prompting me to act, to experience, to strive according to my potential.

Zeno is the principal author of the reappropriation that could return the region to a dimension in which everything, including architecture, arises from necessity, from doubt, from respect for simple techniques even while increasingly sophisticated and invisible technologies are used. The planet has already been invaded by a media network that transforms it from real to virtual.

The greatest challenge for all is the return to earth, and we must do it together.
To begin again from necessity in order to restore the possibility of redemption, of transformation through techniques of reuse, for both the artifacts of the squalid suburbs and the super-architecture that is invading the deserts.
I can guide you along the shortcuts I built to return home by in the countryside of Riparbella. They were necessary, like the moon that lit my way.

The concept of landscape borne of their meeting is a fusion of different worlds that expands space rather than compressing or invading it: it is the initial situation that arises from a conversation, from an exchange of experiences, before becoming a reality.

Avvicinamento dei pianeti (Nearing the Moon to the Earth) in our photomontages was an idea for merging different worlds to create alternative possibilities more than specific territories.

Alesandro Poli
Florence, 28 January 2010

This fictional account was part of our 2010 project Other Space Odysseys and was published in the book by the same name.


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