— The Forever City 

The Cooper Union Thesis, Spring 2014—Fall 2015.
Recepient of the Tony and David Yarnell Thesis Prize.

Can an instant be forever?

It is dry and hot as I am photographing this city of relentless sun. The city, raised on a fortified stone plinth, collides with and animates the sea. The salt in the air begins to sting subtle wounds. There are only shadows within thick defensive walls to free the body from these omnipresent elements. I leave the city with eight rolls of film carrying its memory. We continue apart from one another. The city transforms… The city I photographed no longer exists. The Forever City exists only in these photographs as an architectural construction of light and shadow.

This city, built on a raised and fortified peninsula on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, is contained. It is an island of time. Each inhabitant, construction, and destruction has left a trace within this perimeter, and continues to do so. Unlike many ancient sites, the continuing re-articulation and shifting urban fabric of this city has never been recorded or traditionally preserved. The Forever City exists in layers of memories and time. With a process of extraction and isolation of architectural and corporal elements, I am attempting to mark an instant of a city that has been inhabited for 2,000 years.

I am proposing a methodology to record the unrecorded by defining the city’s tectonic characteristics with light and shadow. Elements extracted from the photographs are used to develop an alphabet of the city, and with architectural studies and iterations, I can begin to make my mark in time on The Forever City. The thesis is a question of my own presence on this timeline. In order to make record of this layered city, it is necessary to build yet another layer of memory upon it, furthering its structural logic.

I am seeking to preserve the city, as I perceived it at that moment. The Forever City can be rewritten and removed from its context to acquire a new spatial character. A character that can exist autonomously, yet contain the memory of its origin. Ultimately, the records of the city can be rewritten into the site they were originally found, to exist as intimate architectural moments of memory within The Forever City — a city that can now contain the preservation of its own history.

I am pursuing a new methodology to memorialize.