1 March 2010

Little Vortices of Place and Commerce


Appropriation ∕ Astronomy ∕ Fiction ∕ Place Making ∕ Public Space ∕ Shopping Malls ∕ Signage


7 October 1969. High above the representational void at the heart of the bombed city, the Telecafe at the top of the TV tower is set in rotational motion. This celebratory carousel of solo entertainer with organ and some selected guests draws out first circles around the representational center of a fledgling republic in honor of its 20th anniversary.

It is the architectural equivalent of the refrain as a strategy of place making: “A refrain…is like a song that creates the beginning of order in chaos – as in a child singing in the dark…the beginning of the refrain is fragile. Next, a refrain creates a territory, an organization of a limited space with a circle drawn around it.” 1

centripetal shopping forces

Centripetal forces of the first refrain soon draw others – circular follies as markers of places and commerce: the C&A sign, the Weltzeituhr, the Berliner Verlag, a spinning display of rare Döner meat, the rings of Saturn, the spiraling logo of Media Markt.

If the surveying tool of Cartesian town planning is the groma, the strategy of place making by refrain is best represented by the dreidel:

More dreidel with Ira from Jesse Morros on Vimeo.