sitevisit, Sarah Hayden
Materials / Materialien, 2018 £5.00
Pale grey cover, A4 format, the title and contents in landscape orientation and in a sans serif face, minimal text on the front jacket, nothing at all on the back — at first glance this could be an architect’s interim report. That’s intentional. The untitled texts (the contents may comprise either a set of poems or a single sequence) begin on page 3 with
this load-bearing wall
this floor, that shines
this elliptical paraboloid concrete shell
this is where I live
The text closes, on page 28 with the words ‘some of / it in fact is Architecture.’
The pages in between offer an extension of the contrast set out in the opening lines, namely the living versus the inanimate materials by which human life is surrounded. The text reflects similar tensions by exploiting the full A4 landscape format; lines may be blocked and left-justified, or centred, or right-justified, with variable spacing.
To read this publication is to experience the sense of a question rising from the page, as though floating above the poet’s words, spaces and lineation. It’s a question about relationship — or relationships — between the multitude of materials we encounter as part of the built and manufactured environment and our fleshy, irrational human interactions. Or, as you hold the publication in your hands, you might see a query focusing on the tensions between the physical and the abstract.
The poet per se becomes invisible within these tensions, even when the first-person voice is used. Ego is subsumed into a patterning of words across each page. Is this an indication of the influence modern materials might have on the (unnamed) individual? Here’s a sample from page 18 —
thermally insulate//vermicularly ventilate//let there be light
we drink them in the sun
toasting our zukunftswelt
after tiptoeing toosmall interior spaces
under those grey smiling eyes.
‘Zukunftswelt’ translates, loosely, as the world of tomorrow — possibly a utopia. Is architecture always positive in its claim on the future? Is it possible to say where we will live?
This pamphlet floats concepts that survive beyond its pages, that re-shape and re-invent themselves.
D A Prince