I am a huge fan of Matt Kish and I just discovered a fantastic tumblr project he’s involved with, Seeing Calvino.
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino is a fictitious dialogue between Marco Polo and the emperor Kublai Kahn about the fantastic and impossible cities Polo has purportedly seen in his travels. It has influenced countless architects and artists with its alternative approach to thinking about what cities are and how they function.
“Seeing Calvino is an attempt by the artists Leighton Connor, Matt Kish, and Joe Kuth, to “see,” through the creation of illustrations responding to and exploring the ideas in the texts, the work of writer Italo Calvino. The tumblr began in April 2014 with illustrations of Calvino’s Invisible Cities. A new illustration will be posted every Wednesday.”
“If, dissatisfied with the answers, someone puts his eye to a crack in a fence, he sees cranes pulling up other cranes, scaffoldings that embrace other scaffoldings, beams that prop up other beams. ‘What meaning does your construction have?’ he asks. ‘What is the aim of a city under construction unless it is a city? Where is the plan you are following, the blueprint?’
“‘We will show it to you as soon as the working day is over; we cannot interrupt our work now,’ they answer.
“Work stops at sunset. Darkness falls over the building site. The sky is filled with stars. ‘There is the blueprint,’ they say.”
“Summoned to lay down the rules for the foundation of Perinthia, the astronomers established the place and the day according to the position of the stars…Perinthia – they guaranteed – would reflect the harmony of the firmament, nature’s reason and the gods’ benevolence would shape the inhabitants’ destinies.
In Perinthia’s streets and square today you encounter cripples, dwarfs, hunchbacks, obese men, bearded women. But the worse cannot be seen; guttural howls are heard from cellars and lofts…
Perinthia’s astronomers are faced with a difficult choice. Either they must admit that all their calculations were wrong and their figures are unable to describe the heavens, or else they must reveal that the order of the gods is reflected exactly in the city of monsters.”
“This belief is handed down in Beersheba: that, suspended in the heavens, there exists another Beersheba … They also believe, these inhabitants, that another Beersheba exists underground.”
There’s a great interview with the artists here. Be sure to check out this blog and follow it if you’re a tumblr user.