As objects, incidents, and spaces within the city get lost or disappear, the question of their duration and destination is raised. If they are reconfigured or if they recede into the mottled and weathered background textures of the (every) city's multiple landscapes (formal, conceptual, electro-mechanical), clearly a city can be defined by its negations rather than by its institutions. This alternative promotes an unexplored but discrete strategy of making, the one informed by this critical frame of the city. This strategy would address the distinctions of concealments within a(ny) city—as a pre/text for informed strategies of urban in(ter)vention.
To this end, a surplus of "borrowed" constructs from external discourses will help clarify this exegesis of Tokyo. Interwoven discourses such as film theory, pure (martial) strategy, and cartography will assist in articulating the range of displacements and erasures subtly operating within every metropolis, to expose/lay bare these operations with precision. Not a mere exegesis of shadows, this research seeks to identify technologically-driven erasures, common in the post-machinic city (Tokyo). The temporal, cultural, and chronological boundaries of Tokyo will act as a natural frame to these external discourses.
THE AESTHETICS OF DISAPPEARANCE AND STEALTH TECTONICS
The Aesthetics of Disappearance is derived from the instability of images, spaces, and objects. It corresponds to a geometry founded not upon absolutes, but impermanent durations and sections. As the concealment or disappearance of "things" is necessary to recognize identities and histories, it is clearly a crucial component of any metropolis worth examining.
Stealth Tectonics is derived from the Aesthetics of Disappearance, of the endless displacements generated technology; it posits a mutable and deliberate relation between what is revealed and what is concealed, where one appears as opposed to where one is projected (both positionally and conceptually). In that sense, any urban in(ter)vention is both tectonic and technological (low-tech and no-tech still addresses technology). There exists the possibility of embracing the impermanence of durations within the strategy of making. It should be a sophisticated response to Aesthetics of Disappearance and not an obscuring architecture. Stealth Tectonics engage assemblages and techniques of concealment and erasure derived from (stealth) technology (insofar as all technology is stealth technology). As a blend of near-parallel research trajectories, the research implied by this terminology can attempt to define what must remain hidden in the metropolis.
The impermanence of images has a striking effect on the architectural responses situated within it; changes in ownership, political and economic re-adjustments, removals and replacements each consprire to re-write the city daily as a scene of transformational strategies, where the scars and memories of the past are preserved through displacement (to alternate sites or the slippery terrain of memories).
MAPPING/OCCLUSIONS: SYSTEMS OF PROJECTION
By utilizing a compressed history of mapping and projection practices (with special emphasis on the representation of the lost, absent, and forbidden), there exists the possibility of developing a representational vocabulary for their investigations of the disappearing city. Not mere mechanical rules, this can be an active effort to capture imaginative gestures and record "the non-existent", in reference to the body and the metropolis, as dictated by the ferocity of events generated by passing through the occupied city.
Exploration of systems of projection can be expanded to include recent film theory (already a projection of a projection, a telescoping of theories) which emphasizes who is casting the projections, why, and what is concealed in this endeavor. The interrelation between optics and occlusions will inform this drift/search for untried representations of the metropolis, through disappearances. These may lead to an architecture of gazes, of trajectories, to a hydraulic or thermodynamic view of Tokyo as envisioned by the contemporary urban nomad.
Examination and elaboration of these possible, multiple systems of projection require sensitivity to various types and degrees of distortion (both mechanical and conceptual). This is not meant as a critique but as a further definition of possible techniques. As every act of mapping or projecting will inherently contain distortions, these occurrences can be sustained, erased or enhanced. Traditional techniques can be grafted or superimposed onto non-traditional techniques, artifacts, or discourses to generate unforeseen original contributions, in a process analogous to "minor" building strategies in Tokyo.
The map and mapping are distinctly separate, but they both address the fundamental uncertainty that arises from the incompletion of all erasures. This incompletion will act as the origin of our activities; not a physical mark of erasure on an existing map, but the recognition of the erasures in every urban environment that lacks a map is the speculative armature for this work.
Mapping, like our conception(s) of the metropolis, engages multiple scales/amplitudes of meaning. The development of an individual system of projection should engage as many of these multiple levels as possible. Once completed, it can be revealed that the systems of projection generating this map must first be directly (mis)read as a literal choreography of strategic forms, a mean of producing a new design vocabulary, and of displacing our previous conceptual frame/point-of-view. From the completion of this research, the primary distinction between immersion and representation can be raised, as each generates a different Tokyo.
Discourses of the directional gaze and optics is crucial to the study of disappearances - e.g., disappearances of historic figures (and history), or of objects within the urban landscape. As our eyes draw invisible lines while we gaze, and the gaze is always already framed by alternate borders, there are great possibilities of conflating this condition with the architectural necessity to draw lines. These lines are constantly being drawn and erased in the transforming metropolis. There also exists the possibility of replacing the tyranny of the medusa/panoptical gaze (as a referent) with more precise non-hierarchical tracings of the flows and turbulences that define cities—a map for urban nomads, either as a drawn/built document, or as an intangible cognitive process (a virtual map).
All laminar flows become unstable after a specific velocity, and the smallest deviation from a line toward a vertiginous motion defines the construct of the "clinamen". This term, borrowed from hydraulics, is perhaps a more appropriate construct for speculative design research in the metropolis, as the origin of a radical transformation; it is both event and space. Linear trajectories, clinamens, voids, and erasures are simultaneously architectural and epistemological tools, in that knowledge is an intersecting of fields, flows, and terrains.
STRATEGICS & METROPOLIS
Musashi, the classical theorist of kendo (Japanese sword fighting) states (in an apparently Taoist moment), "By knowing things that exist, you can know that which does not exist - that is the void...where there is nothing...". All the disappearance can be seen as strategic; therefore, architecture in the metropolis is strategic disappearance. Peter Wilson, in a recent Tokyo design competition, developed a figurative architectural vocabulary founded not only upon secrecy and concealment, but upon a deliberate attempt to negate the information-age metropolis, by filling an absence with a void.
Absolute essences are here supplanted by transitory images across an indeterminate frame. The urban nomad (simultaneously Benjamin's "flaneur" and Poe's "Man of the Crowd"), in his endless wanderings, traces a futile cartography in this disappearing metropolis. The permanence of ruins gives way to transient situations; the static and bounded space surrenders to the virtual space of technology; spatial and temporal constructs collapse in the unflinching presence of the machine. The images of the city appear constructed to "diffuse" the metropolis through a deliberate suspension of perspectival laws and positional multiplicity - in these streetscapes there is always the sensation of being "underneath" or "between" spaces. The viewer is continuously established in a floating relationship with the implied depths of volume encountered when inhabiting shadows (physical and gestural).
To inhabit and dwell unnoticed in those domains (therefore considered unoccupiable) within the metropolis is the late 20th century condition. According to Shin Takamatsu, it relies on sensitivity to the atmosphere of places. The difficult quality of atmosphere is a crucial but underemphasized aspect of architectural space within the metropolis—ambient spaces implicate atmospherics of architecture (architecture as the precipitation of ideas). Though the role of atmospheres (plus terrain and opposition) in traditional Japanese martial strategy is primary, it connotes an alternate reading in the design process—engendering atmospheres that acknowledge the necessity of disappearances within the metropolis. Just as shadow and light are conditional boundaries of countless potential spaces, so is the complex interrelation between light/shadow in post-machinic, neon streetscapes that makes further demands on the occupation of shadows, or the region where multiple shadows overlap and intersect.
One possible technique is dictated by Musashi, "In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close, and to take a distanced view of close things...the gaze is the same for combat and large-scale strategy...", but (frequently) adds, "...it is impossible to write about this in detail...". If architecture is not a type of writing but the acceleration of disappearance, then this strategy could operate to inform the act of building explicitly.
DECEPTION AS A STRATEGY
In Tokyo, the legacy of the Bushido (samurai code) continues to inform architectural strategy—the necessity of building in concrete within a tradition that demands the thin and impermanent to be the fundamental tensions operating here. Physical proximity is considered negated through concealment, even when other (i.e., acoustic) clues linger. Invisibility and deception are crucial to both strategy and design. In the 4th century B.C., Sun Tzu specifies that all strategy is founded on deception; significantly, he adds strategy "...is as difficult to know as the dark..." In kendo, moves called "to move the shadow" and "to hold down the shadow" are executed through the smooth, curved line of the katana (sword) becoming a gesture, always in relation to this virtual shadow. Architecture in Tokyo is not so different.
CINEMA & OTHER DARKNESSES: PREVIEW
The metropolis is a cinematic process: elevation becomes skin becomes (mis)information; the remnant meanings are vented away into other (conceptual) terrains. The distinction between inside and outside is rendered obsolete by an information economy, as the information transcends (negates) space. Simultaneously, the traditional distinction between form-content and form-expression is dissolved as the barriers between city and text evaporate. The (cinematic) spaces become derelict. Implicit in the apparatus and the medium of the emerging (recombinant) code, a formal methodology arises entirely from the apparatuses themselves. It is a question of an aesthetic theory of concealment engendered within a machinic assemblage, not in exterior but folded into itself, into its shadow, "the deferred time of the cinematographic motor empties the present world of appearances..." (Virilio).
Yet, the metropolis can never be reduced to a screen—it remains uncancelled, it surrounds, it allows the projection of cinematic image. The reframing of the city, by tracking its disappearances, will utilize perspectival distortion as violence against man-centered panoptical space (the fixed p.o.v. is abolished by a skimming gesture—the drawing of lines). These lines that intersect with discrete terrains can be read in the metropolis at every level, and at every level they engage the act of concealment.
The realm immediately outside the cinematic frame is the near-equivalent to the subconscious (and to the shadow), in that it operates directly on the gestures framed within the screen. Suspense is founded upon this tension between known/framed and unknown/unframed, in that the unseen possibilities are fully recognized. This condition is most explicit in the FILM NOIR genre: suppression, negation, seduction, and dread are configured by shadows, on-screen and off. Indeed, the play of shadow drives the plot trajectory. In Tokyo, the construction of space through negations follows a similar path.
In Tokyo, the performed dance of darkness, Butoh, is informed by the writings of Artaud and the celebration of the concealed/suppressed raw and primal conditions of urban life. Pure atmosphere and gesture, it is a spectacle of disappearances played outside conventional boundaries. Butoh can be read as the inhabiting of (striking/emotional) gestures unwoven as figural gestures (as lines of stealth); it challenges the metropolis founded upon enduring absolutes by inscribing its opposite into the very spaces of Tokyo.
Bergson's emphasis on duration and intensity, originally intended in relation to perception and memory, is implicated with every act (building) within the metropolis. The conventional relation between monument, memory, and history is erased by the interplay of fictitious events in corresponding spaces, but duration and intensity are not absolutes in themselves. They are dissolved, they fade into nothing:
"with the irregularity of the elliptical space, defined by surprize and an unpredictable variation of frequencies, it's no longer a question of tension or attention, but of suspension, disappearance, and departure from duration...dimensions vanish in the reduction of straightness or of a straightaway, which would be only the speed of a geometric trajectory. The will to carry out whatever is possible...has led to a new atrophy of the instant...by destabilizing the instant, a contingent phenomena, the standards are abrogated...the diversifying of speed also abrogates the sensation of general duration..." (Virilio).
STEALTH/CONCEALMENT: COMPOSITE DURATIONS
Though appearance is tied to duration, duration itself must be challenged for a more precise reading of the metropolis. Hence disappearance is a composite action. To conceal by stealth, to detect acts of concealment, would engage this philosophical inquiry but not in the abstract—only in the concrete domain of the city of Tokyo. Individual acts of disappearance (of absence, erasure, and concealment) are already composite strategies.
Advances in (stealth) technology are frequently derived from the military—this timeless strategy (of concealment) supplemented by current boundary of technology: compressed time recognition combined with deliberate positional mis-information. Every technology creates analogous space(s) that negate and erase; in this studio, shadows in the electro-mechanical landscapes of the metropolis are as significant as those cast by volumes. As a consequence of technological interruptions in the late 20th century metropolis, bounded and static spaces are replaced by hydraulics or thermodynamics of form. As technology operates as a pure vehicle for erosion (for erasure/dissolution), it accelerates the possibilities of disappearances.
The projected (advanced) body of technology leaves behind circles of negations. The relation between these circles (clinamens and artifacts of decay) is associated with architecture itself: architecture is a discontinuous body of negations. The previous role of technology as a form generator (misinterpreted as a value generator) is made more difficult by technology as a desire for the obscure, for multiple occlusions and dissolves. The post-machinic city, in its entirety, appears as white noise static (with individual disappearances as discrete bandwidths from within the spectrum). These operations, embraced in a (deliberate) stealth architecture—operations of cloaking, screening, concealment, negation, suspension, interruption, of "mottled" atmospheric spaces receding into the background of white noise—are clearly evident in the electro-mechanical landscape. In this landscape, marginal positions become derelict information—shadow zones that duplicate the vacant/exhausted spaces in the city... Not the pure shadows of De Chirico or the first machine but their "others", developed through experiments in form (e.g., caves, voids, abscesses, vessels, absences). A traditional vocabulary of voids must not be equated with the erasures of technology (or the Aesthetics of Disappearance). These absences resist a simple taxonomy; concealment, exhaustion, erasure, displacement, misplacement, dissolution, implosion, and others only begin to define the range of possible design strategies available from within this critical frame.
These deliberate strategies of negation are frequently manifested as concealment strategies (intentional or otherwise), though other avenues (may) exist at both the level of forms/spaces/events and at the level of conceptual operations lying behind the city. This framing of the metropolis could generate unexplored/unclassified (proto)types of space: the manifold space, distortional space, white noise, fractured space, spaces of erasure, spaces of concealment, dissections, erosional space, dislocation/mislocation space, unfolding space, implosion space, etc., resulting in a post-industrial landscape of desire and rupture that condenses and foregrounds the latent possibilities of these spaces within every metropolis, redefined by its negations.