December 3, 2012 § Leave a Comment
For someone as obsessed with the mechanisms of nostalgia as myself, Google street view is both a weird comfort & a neutralising force. I have no photographs of the house I grew up in, nor of the houses I lived in at university, except for very early film photographs taken & kept by my parents, in wh/ I not infrequently feature. In my memory I’m struck, though, by the sense of repetition, at once vivid & hazy, of architectural space & atmospheres, as if sampled by the processes of Freud’s dreamwork: growing up in a neighbourhood too close to the town centre to be suburb, too neglected & preternaturally quiet on long afternoons to be ‘built-up’ (still net-curtains, kitsch figurines, Vienna blinds at mid-day); living in the same neighbourhood in different towns. As Brian Dillon notes in In The Dark Room, architecture formed the guiding metaphor for the ‘art of memory’, going back to Cicero’s De Oratore: what was to be remembered was imagined existing in a pattern in space, each memory in a niche (a theory that oddly anticipates Saussure’s conceptualisation of language), the imagined building of memory giving expression & coherence to the figments of experience. But this isn’t that easy: the specifics of space itself blur; details & contours become fragments whose arrangement, it sometimes seems, would yield a different, hidden meaning. Return in street view & the world is laid out, stark & still like a miniature train set w/ tiny plastic figures, their features painted small & haphazard, as solid & boring as it was when you left.