Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

Control isn’t necessarily helping worthy contributions. We are living with knowledge that is always evolving. The knowledge held by different disciplines is continuous and exponential. Great achievements rarely happen within the span of a human life but grow on the achievements of others over many years and even generations. It is linked to the tools we use both in micro life (biology, chemistry) then in macro life (astronomy, chemistry, geology).

We all live with the state of knowledge and the tools we have in our own times. We understand that the global behaviour of all populations together won’t fit with the needs of other life on earth. So we need to introduce a more subtle dialogue between our ‘human’ system and other ‘systems’. But we can only use the tools from our timeline – with enough flexibility to embrace what we do not know – and survive by being as efficient as possible. That doesn’t mean no language, no exploration, risk or creativity. If we only had to efficiently apply what we know, we could just give the task to a device, programmed to achieve technical goals. If no human thought or effort or sensibility is necessary, it means no more civilization.

Today a dominant movement in capitals and countries is to ask all inhabitants to express their ideas to contribute to the program –- that is direct democratic decision-making. I totally disagree with this. It assumes that it is not necessary to have experience and knowledge to make decisions. It supposes everyone can equally read and work through all the parameters of a problem; that everyone can do it. That is a total fiction. It actually happens when nobody wants to take responsibility for a direction. It is a way to say that expertise is not valid and everyone has an equally legitimate opinion. The result of this is what we see on social media and in the fragility of democracy.

Liberty, Equality, Fraternity was a call to control human wildness and open a dialogue to bring together individuals and communities to make decisions affecting us all. Today we need to do that with other life as well as each other. That is the great challenge.

Catherine Mosbach, Foreground Interview (2019)

Vetschpartners Landscape Architects, Sulzerareal (2002-2015)

FIND IT ON THE MAP

Exposure

Mosbach’s unique education in the life sciences that was precursor to her training in landscape informs and nourishes her aesthetic approach. The ground at Louvre-Lens is designed as a sensitive surface.
The intention is to expose this surface to variations in time, playing with relationships between materials through the processes of contagion, superimposition, and coverings. It is about drawing the ground via flows and traversing different environments in the park.
An existing wood at the edge of the site yields to a large clearing of meadow. which then becomes a mix of hard planted surfaces near the building. The ground is locally perforated to allow water to infiltrate; it folds over to become seating at the entrance to the museum: it protects the building from the intrusion of vehicles and it dips to accommodate a pool. Around the building, desirable mom exists as the first pioneer stratum, collecting atmospheric dust and preparing for successive ecological cycles. For Mosbach, the way the park responds to temporal and ecological dynamics is multidimensional and becomes a new heritage for the site.

Thierry Kandjee & Sarah Hunt, The Invisible Made Present (2013)

Louvre-Lens by SANAA and Imrey Culbert03Louvre-Lens-By-SANAA-59-Hisao-Suzuki Louvre Lens By SanaaCatherine Mosbach, Louvre-Lens Museum Park (2012)

FIND IT ON THE MAP

Body

More recently (…), we could observe a new diagram of the human body in relation with its environment. The winning entry of the Phase Shift Park (Taichung) competition by Philippe Rahm architectes and Catherine Mosbach depicts indeed the body, not anymore by its anatomical dimensions but rather by its biological affections by the environment. Heat, humidity and pollution, as three factors having physiological consequences on the body, are mapped and exploited in the creation of the park proposition. Léopold Lambert, A subversive approach to the ideal normalized body (2012)

However, while the Downsview Park does reclaim a form of agency for architecture at the scale of the city, it still leaves open the question he actual citizens. It is in this respect that the Jade Eco Park gives an extraordinary response, challenging the city-as-a-forest paradigm in a radical way. The city-as-a-forest embodies all the contradictions of our relationship with the state of nature, a condition that is seen both as barbarism but also innocence, productive ground but also wild junkspace: Held but also jungle. It is to this jungle that the jade Eco Park reacts by becoming, quite explicitly, a machine: while the visitor is allowed to become fully just an animal body, architecture takes control of the jungle. But Mies’s and Laugier’s ‘jungle’, ultimately, is a narrative trope before anything else: that is to say, a cultural trope, rather than a spatial one. On the contrary, by working on physical reactions, the Jade Eco Park asks the users to recuperate a primordial form of agency: the awareness of one’s own body. In doing so, Rahm and Mosbach’s project stands out as it questions the very use of the word landscape. Landscape, as a term, is inextricably linked to sight – a sense that becomes almost irrelevant in the haptic environment of the jade Eco Park. And, after all, the highest kind of critical agency lies perhaps in the possibility to rethink and redeine the intellectual categories we work with as architects, and as human beings.

Maria Shéhérazade Giudici, How to live in a jungle. The (bio)politics of the park as urban model. (2018)

TAICHUNG taichung3 A-futuristic-new-park-for-Taichung-07 A-futuristic-new-park-for-Taichung-01 6_2013-0808_MasterPlan A_v4-1

Philippe Rahm & Catherine Mosbach, Jade Park, Taichung (2011-2016)

FIND IT ON THE MAP

Formation, Information and Propaganda

 
The distinction among formation, information and propaganda is melting in our profession just like it does in our everyday life. Everybody tend to believe that, when an image is presented to us, it brings trustable information but, the only thing that an image transmit is a moment of moving shapes and events that the observer can identify or not.
The issue of meaning comes out in the construction of the information between the emitter and the receiver. The dimension of an image is attached to the observer’s knowledge and to his curiosity that cultivates to learn the complexity the image reveals. Nevertheless, examining an image can or can not give access to its context. Nowadays, the exception state created around us through the image’s saturation, fosters the kingdom of the indifference. Excess of information banalize information. Information masks reality when creates the illusion that the point of view that gives us access is enough, just because it gives us access to any data or databank. The Digital Image offers us tools to an infinite manipulation. The mental image unleashes the onirical, through the building of points of view based on the origins of experience. When someone considers the whole from one only point of view, usually an idealistic view comes out. When all that is similar is put together, a positivistic view comes out. The social liaison as hope for a community is menaced when the individual’s singularity and the events do not foster anymore the collective imagination. To Hannah Arendt, the objective of the political and strategic action is to reveal what is singular into the plurality of the links. Hence, the aim is to fight against what is banal to show what is unique.

Catherine Mosbach, Passages: à l’endroit-à l’envers (2008)

(check Mosbach’s studio website, absolutely coherent with her speech)

Catherine Mosbach, La Bastide Botanic Garden (2005)

FIND IT ON THE MAP

(Head Image: Logan Zillmer, Photography inspired on Magritte (2015))