# LITERATURE /// The Declamatory Porcelain Architectures of Serge Brussolo

Serge Brussolo is a French science-fiction writer whose masterpieces has been mainly written in the 1980′s. As far as I know he has never been translated into English and although I already tackled this topic at the very beginning of this blog’s life I am willing to evoke it again and give a short translation of my own of some excerpts of the short story Aussi Lourd que le Vent (As Heavy as the Wind).

Written in 1981, this story narrates the invention of a new form of art (and by deviation of architecture) that introduces voice’s frequencies as a mean of materialization of evanescent porcelain volumes. S. Brussolo actually iven implies even a sort of counter-Kaballah  as the words screamed by the artist which seem to produce the most beautiful pieces are insults from whichever language they come from.
Once their time is up, those porcelain volumes release the sound that generated them just as if their materiality was strictly composed by sound itself that could transform itself from waves to solid and back to waves again.
At the end of the narrative, a venal patron manages to make the volume permanent and sell it to the building industry that produce entire buildings in this unbreakable porcelain.

With this story, S.Brussolo invented a new way of creating architecture: a declamatory design that requires the architect to recite or improvise a composition of sounds and words that materialize into porcelain. It also celebrate the creation of architecture as a ceremony that, once again, owns something from the Kaballah, a religious power attributed to the words. Here, the Golem is not activated by the word of God but rather by insults in what I would interpret as a beautiful homage to Antonin Artaud.

Here are the three excerpts I chose for this article. Please bare in mind that the translations are mine and I still did not improve my skills at this assignments ! (the original versions in French are below)

” She screamed :
” Earth ! ”
She felt the air ringing out of her teeth with an extraordinary violence and on a frequency close from ultrasound and probably inaudible. The name was already materializing itself between the drifting slings of mist in the form of an imperfect sphere, made out of a milky white and that was softly rolling along the sandy slope. Nel got on her knees, her hands stretched to receive against her stomach, the solidification of the word pronounced few seconds earlier. It was a mass big like a soup tureen both soft and resistant whose brightness was recalling Chinese porcelain. A kind of monster born from the coupling of a giant tea cup and a Ming vase. All over the surface was running a thin network of cracks similar to blood vessels under a too thin skin.
“ No” she forced herself to think, “they are objects. Only objects.”

There was enough here to establish the basis of a new art: the vocal sculpture, the sung mold, the poem bas-relief, and sometimes she was shivering to think of the commercial aspect of such a discovery! Developers, architects wouldn’t be tempted to created houses by voice? To build entire cities with only manpower, a well trained choir, a box of solution and a needle? She was already seeing immaculate cities rising, extracted from the nil by a lament, a recitative carefully designed on an architect’s drafting table or on any crooked developer’s desk. Fortunately, the very evanescence of the production, the ephemeral aspect of forms created by sound or clamor, was protecting them from any commercial speculation. The scream-sculpture will remain within the domain of art, and no contractor will ever use them to make money. The work’s fragility was becoming its best defense, and the brevity of its life was its best guaranty of eternity.

“The sun was lighting its first reflections on the high creamy and bluish barrier of projects which was occupying the Southern part of the city’s horizon. A thousand housings born from the nil during only three nights. Products of a strange technology that Rene was not really sure to understand everything about. Projects born from the song intoned by a choir of architects-baritones who were operating only at night. They were raising, in the middle of darkness, those buildings supported by soft and bright walls like porcelain and yet surprisingly resistant. […]
Although Rene was remembering having read in a dissident newspaper, an article about a day-time catastrophe in which a thirty stories tower suddenly disappeared just like by the effect of a magician, abandoning its tenants in the void with their furniture, their televisions. Letting them collapse on the asphalt in a horrible pile of wrack bodies.”

« Elle hurla:
« Terre !  »
Elle sentit l’air fuser entre ses dents avec une violence inouïe sur une fréquence proche de l’ultra-son et probablement inaudible. Déjà le nom se matérialisait entre les écharpes dérivantes des brumes sous l’aspect d’une boule imparfaite, d’un blanc laiteux qui se mit à flotter mollement pour venir rouler le long de la pente sablonneuse. Nel s’agenouilla, les mains tendues, s’apprêtant à recevoir contre son ventre la solidification du mot prononcé quelques secondes auparavant. C’était une masse grosse comme une soupière, à la fois molle et résistante dont l’éclat rappelait la porcelaine de Chine. Une sorte de monstre né de l’accouplement d’une tasse à thé géante et d’une potiche de l’époque Ming. Sur toute la surface courait un fin réseau de craquelures semblables aux ramifications des vaisseaux sanguins sous une peau trop mince.
«  Mais non », se contraignit-elle à penser, « ce sont des objets. Seulement des objets. »

« Il y avait là de quoi jeter les bases d’un art nouveau : la sculpture vocale, le moulage chanté, le bas-relief poème, et parfois elle frissonnait en pensant à l’aspect commercial d’une telle découverte ! Les promoteurs, les architectes, ne seraient-ils pas tentés de créer des maisons par la voix ? de bâtir des villes entières avec pour seule main-d’œuvre un chœur de chanteurs bien entraînés, une boîte de solution et une seringue ? Elle voyait déjà se lever des cités éclatantes de blancheur, tirées du néant par le biais d’une complainte, d’un récitatif soigneusement mis au point sur la table à dessin d’un cabinet d’architecte, ou sur le bureau d’un quelconque maître d’œuvre véreux. Heureusement, la fugitivité même des réalisations, l’aspect éphémère des formes nées du chant ou de la clameur, les protégeaient de toute spéculation commerciale. Le cri-sculpture resterait du domaine de l’art, et jamais aucune entreprise de terrassement ne s’en servirait pour faire de l’argent. La fragilité de l’œuvre devenait sa meilleure défense, et la brièveté de sa vie son meilleur gage d’éternité »

« Le soleil allumait ses premiers reflets sur la haute barrière de H.L.M. crémeuses et bleuâtres qui bouchait l’horizon au sud de la ville. Dix mille logements sortis du néant en l’espace de trois nuits. Fruits d’une étrange technologie dont René n’était pas bien sur de comprendre toutes les arcanes. Cité-dortoir née de la chanson psalmodiée par un chœur d’architectes-barytons qui n’opérait que nuitamment, faisant se lever au creux des ténèbres ces immeubles aux parois lisses, brillantes comme de la porcelaine et pourtant étonnamment résistantes. […]
Pourtant René se rappelait avoir lu dans un journal d’opposition le compte rendu d’une catastrophe au cours de laquelle une tour de trente étages s’était brusquement volatilisée en plein jour comme sous l’effet d’un coup de baguette magique, abandonnant ses locataires dans le vide, avec leurs meubles, leur télévisions. Les laissant s’écraser sur l’asphalte en un horrible amoncellement de corps fracassés. »

Brussolo Serge. Aussi Lourd que le Vent. Paris: Denoel, 1981.

2 Comments on “# LITERATURE /// The Declamatory Porcelain Architectures of Serge Brussolo

  1. Pingback: # SCIENCE FICTION /// The Power of Sound and Words | The Funambulist

  2. Pingback: Declamatory Constructions and Destructions (via The Funambulist) « supersede

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