22 August 2010

Morning Dream in the Voralpen


Buildings ∕ Eurotrash ∕ Suburban Environment

It was a chilly July morning as I came across the Erotik Markt Diskont Store at Alpen Straße 51, and by the time my eye was in the end caught by it I’d already passed any number of likely candidates for a SLAB cross-examination. I have to admit that the back-lit transparency of a lady biting her own finger is what I first took notice of. Lipstick, nail lacquer and hard white teeth: their garish intensity burned through the drizzle and into my subconscious, it was as if I were being confronted by the vestige of a bizarre morning dream that I wished I could wake up from. My eye flinched and then wandered, slowly getting a read on what a weird edifice stood before me. There is a desperation to the suburban landscape that is only very rarely responded to with such a generous serving of architectural coherence as this structure offers.

 Blowing open the Venturian Duck vs. Decorated Shed dichotomy, or maybe imploding it. The climax of strip architecture?

Located at the fringe of Salzburg, Austria, the Erotk Markt appears at first sight to be nothing more than a local iteration of the sort of strip architecture that we’re all familiar with. And it is. But the Austrians, as I learned on my recent travels to Salzburg and Carinthia, have an edge when it come to rendering the banal with an extra level of reflection, expense and stubborn hashing-out-of-the-details that can transmogrify the inane into the exotic erotic. Down there I saw tons of overwrought expressions of consumerist fantasy that I now wish I’d stopped to photograph. I think I was just too taken aback by all the sleek detailing and computer modeled form to start breaking it down into something I could make sense of; I was in a daze, I guess, from having just driven by the local headquarters of Bausparkasse Wustenrot.

But at the Erotik Markt I found something both comprehensible and uncanny, something that for all its convention and economy had a much greater impact on me. What it was, really, that I felt had to be recorded, was the building’s corner detail.

Techné can actually be this frivolous...Structure and Symbol

This mega strut, from which the roof is hung via steel rods, is jacked at an angle well above 45º. That’s something provocative in and of itself given the context. Topping it is an element filled with innuendo, wavering between conditions of structural necessity and frivolous suggestiveness: the triangular steel plate connecting flange / useless finial.

...and this hot and bothered.Learning the rules of hide and reveal from the pros

Driving the double entendre home without any doubt whatsoever, the window dressers have helpfully put a mannequin in what looks like a not-to-comfortable pose against the strut’s base inside the plate glass-enclosed shop interior. The shag carpet sleeve provides a frictive buffer between her and cold steel structure. Cue pink flourescent tube.