Paisatg-e / Paisaj-e / Landscap-e / Paysag-e





Chronos' space

Francesco Careri
Researcher at the Roma TRE School of Architecture and Co-founder of Stalker and the Laboratorio di Arti Civiche (LAC)

"Verily at the first Chaos came to be, but next wide-bosomed Earth, the ever-sure foundations of all the deathless ones who hold the peaks of snowy Olympus, and dim Tartarus in the depth of the wide-pathed Earth [...] And Earth first bore starry Heaven, equal to herself, to cover her on every side [...] After them [the children], was born Chronos, the wily, youngest and most terrible of her children, and he hated his lusty sire." (Hesiod, Theogony: 116-9; 126-7; 137-8)

In a landscape still without Space and Time, roving Chaos ventured along the wide paths of the Palaeolithic night. He explored and interpreted the world, looking for order until inventing, first, Mother Earth and, second, Father Sky. The age of Chaos thus made way for the first generation of gods, Gaia and Uranus, a time in which Chaos finally turned his gaze towards geography and the land and, similarly, towards astronomy and the stars. However, Time (Chronos) was born in the space between Heaven and Earth, putting an end to his father Uranus' reign. Chronos cut off his father's testicles with complicity from Gaia, the Mother Goddess. Chronos then ruled jointly with her until Zeus imprisoned him on the Fortunate Isles, making way for the third generation of Olympian Gods which you, the readers, are probably more familiar with.

I have been wondering about Chronos for some time now. Time was born from the union between Heaven and Earth? Nomadic men first created the concept of Space and later Time? What relation does all this have with the art of transforming space, with architecture and with landscape? What were the temples dedicated to Chronos like? Did wandering Chaos invent Architecture as a Space to imprison Time? Why was Chronos imprisoned?

Between Heaven and Earth is the Horizon, which is what I imagine Chronos invented, that clear line dividing and joining Gaia and Uranus, with the clouds, winds, rains, stars, the moon with its erratic cycles and the sun with its precise interludes moving above. In Chronos' time —fully now in the Neolithic—, the first artificial horizon was built with menhirs or standing stones, making it a space which no longer consisted of phenomena in movement but fixed objects. I'm convinced that these menhirs served wandering Chaos not only to orient himself and avoid getting lost along the Horizon and its broad paths but to also understand Time, interrogate it, understand it, measure and venerate it. The construction of the most monumental menhirs, the great alignment in Carnac (Brittany, France), has been defined several times as a stone calendar. It is an immense landscape of arranged menhirs, very similar to the interior space found in the Great Hypostyle Hall of Columns in the Amon Karnak temple, the first example of stone architecture built in Egypt in the second millennium BC. It is not difficult to imagine ritualised walks, processions and even rhythmic dances dedicated to Chronos amongst these forests of menhirs and columns. Perhaps both Carnac and Karnak —stressing here the consonants in ChRoNos— were the ancient temples dedicated to Chronos. Perhaps they were created to celebrate the mystery of time which passes by incessantly, instruments for its possible measurement, aiming to calculate the hours, months, and seasons and to count back the years to explain their own history. They were meeting points or spaces in which to escape from the idea of finite human Time. Perhaps this is why these ancient spaces transformed from places to go into prisons of being, that is, architecture to imprison Chronos to keep him from ever wandering again.

For some time, I have also wondered about where Chronos is. What sense would there be to make a Karnak today, a place dedicated to Time? And, to which Time? The Time we find in watches and clocks? Would the aim be to continue searching for Chronos along the Horizon? Or would it be to invent architecture to sing to the movement of the sun and clouds between Heaven and Earth? I think now is not the time to imprison Chronos with architecture. The time has come to free him from the ancient Carnac/Karnak. Let's also turn back to search for good old Chaos and to have the act of getting lost and time join together.

The New Karnaks will be Spaces in which to lose or waste Time. To paraphrase Constant and his Situationist colleagues who understood this very well: The new powers tend towards a series of human activities which go beyond utility: Available time, superior games. We have to free ourselves from the consumption of time, liberate Free Time from the market, experiment New Games, exploring and producing Free Spaces and setting back time.

As Stalker advocates: "He who loses Time gains Space".

Francesco Careri Researcher at the Roma TRE School of Architecture and Co-founder of Stalker and the Laboratorio di Arti Civiche (LAC)

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