we are all already

Other Space Odysseys: Greg Lynn, Michael Maltzan, Alessandro Poli, Giovanna Borasi and Mirko Zardini, Lars Müller Publishers, Baden 2010


The 1969 moon landing radically changed Alessandro Poli’s vision of planet earth, leading him to develop a new idea of geography. Other Space Odysseys revisits projects of his that explored drastically different proposals for connecting the earth’s environment to the new reality of outer space. In the exhibition, Poli’s current reflections on his research are presented alongside his original projects. The first gallery is dedicated to Architettura interplanetaria (Interplanetary Architecture -1972), a film by the radical Italian architecture group Superstudio, a form for architecture at an interplanetary scale, including a highway from the earth to the moon. In addition to the film, preparatory materials including sketches, collages, and storyboards are on display. Conscious that manned space exploration also implied a return to earth, in 1974 Poli began the research for Cultura Materiale Extraurbana (Extra-Urban Material Culture) in parallel with several members of Superstudio.

http://www.cca.qc.ca/cca.media/files/9242/8234/Other_ Space_Odysseys_Press_Release.pdf

“The greatest challenge for all
is the return to earth, and we must
do it together.”

Alessandro Poli

http://www.cca.qc.ca/cca.media/files/9242/8234/Other_ Space_Odysseys_Press_Release.pdf

Alessandro Poli continued working on the figure of Zeno Fiaschi by expoliring a parallel with astronaut Buzz Aldrin. This work was presented in 2010 at the Canadian Centre fto Architecture in Montréal on the occasion of the exhibition Other Space Odysseys: Greg Lynn, Michael Maltzan, Alessandro Poli, curated by Giovanna Borasi and Mirko Zardini.

The exhibition Other Space Odysseys through architects’ projects emphasizes how space exploration is useful for rediscovering the earth, illustrating the importance of pursuing an architecture based not as “material goods” production but on ideas.

They presented three approaches related to an adventurous journey that began 40 years ago after the moon mission in 1969. The theme of space travel is analyzed from a design point of view as rethinking the land parameters of architecture and how it is dealt with in the Everyday reality.

Poli offers some of the more poignant examples of the kind of alternatives to the continually codified systems of architectural production and representation that the escape to an extra-planetary context is meant to offer.

Alessandro Poli, postulates a fictional encounter between Buzz Aldrin, the U.S. astronaut, and an Italian farmer called Zeno from the village of Riparbella. Poli represents it through a photomontage produced in 2008, entitled: Zeno incontra Aldrin a Riparbella. We don’t see much in the image: just Zeno on the left, separated from the approaching astronaut by a series of pencilled lines used to hint at a largely familiar but disconcertingly alien landscape between them. The context of their meeting, however, is extraordinary: it is to contrast the landscapes they’ve both seen, and to compare the tools and equipment they used in order to make those landscapes habitable. There is the Earth on one hand and the Moon on the other but what makes these celestial bodies survivable by modern human beings is a suite of specially made pieces of equipment. Devices, mechanisms, instruments, tools: these handheld objects work to transform what would otherwise be hostile or, at least, uncomfortable to human life. Indeed, it is through tools such as these, and the architectural environments to which they are connected, that whole planets become available to anthropological experience in ways they simply could not have been before. Even the most basic agriculture, we could say, is a form of applied terraforming.


http://www.cca.qc.ca/en/ issues/3/technology-some- times-falls-short/818/we-a- re-all-already-astronauts

Alessandro Poli, Zeno incontra Aldrin
a Riparbella, 2008, photomontage
and sketch with pencil

Buzz Aldrin in 2017

For Zeno, this translates into a broad range of vernacular tools, really no more complex than gardening implements, that Poli has laid out for visitors to see. These include hooks, augers, and assorted harvesting equipment, each appropriately labeled. But, of course, there is also Zeno’s personal farm shed: his own space capsule. For Aldrin, meanwhile, this means an esoteric but no less vernacular suite of high-tech devices passed on to him by NASA, in order that space and the lunar surface could be survived. But what I find most extraordinary here is the idea that the anthropological experience of any planet, including the Earth, is by necessity mediated by a series of tools an assemblage of Heideggerian equipment that cultivates, prunes, transforms and domesticates an otherwise inhuman environment. The upshot, of course even if I hate to put it this bluntly is that we are all already astronauts, using the tools available to us to seek or construct new niches of habitation on a planet that we might not otherwise survive. Seen this way, Poli’s loosely implied vision of farmers in rural Italy someday using repurposed lunar tools in the cultivation of basic crops seems neither sciencefictional nor farfetched. It is all just equipment for living.

Pieces to be reused, Alessandro Poli: Zeno-Research
of a self-sufficient culture, 1979-80

images from: Other Space Odysseys: Greg Lynn, Michael Maltzan, Alessandro Poli,
Giovanna Borasi and Mirko Zardini, Lars Müller Publishers, Baden 2010