A+M Bookstore present
Stefano Graziani - Devils Tower (1977)
July 25th – September 5th
Opening July 24th, Thursday from 6 PM
Devils Tower, an igneous rock of phonolite porphyry that emerges from the plains of Wyoming, is not a mountain. It is, as the name clearly points out, a tower.
Normally it is not difficult to distinguish a mountain from a tower (or nature from architecture).
Devils Tower is a space somehow in between nature and architecture.
Devils Tower is architecture because it is recognizable (it is a form), because it seems to relate to a memory (it is a monument), because it is useless (there is no utilitarian explanation for it). Devils Tower is architecture (in Adolf Loos’ terms, as tomb and monument) because it clearly emerges from the background as a form, because it is immediately recognizable as a (holy) place (a Native American sanctuary, a landing spot for extraterrestrial creatures), because it realizes the fundamental architectural phenomenon of associating a place with a fixed (formalized) memory. Devils Tower seems to make evident the most original meaning of ‘form’, that is its primeval violence.
In Close Encounters of the Third Kind [Steven Spielberg, 1977], the aliens decide to land at Devils Tower. This way they recognize it as architecture. This tells us a few fundamental things: 1) events need a stage in order to happen; 2) architecture as ‘non-nature’ is a possible medium to communicate with aliens; 3) unlike the capitalistic society, aliens understand and appreciate architecture.
In Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the aliens attract a group of people to Devils Tower. These people start to be obsessed with subliminal, mental images of a mountain-like shape (Roy fills his living-room with a huge model of the mountain made of mashed–potatoes, while Jillian repeatedly sketches the mountain). The location of their rendezvous is communicated by the aliens and decoded by the selected humans in architectural terms.