A car is suspended in space, over the breezeway between the two buildings of the Meccanica complex. It is a full-size 1958 Porsche 356-A Speedster replica, the very type produced by Intermeccanica International, in their soon-to-be-moved facility on the Meccanica site. Using actual parts supplied by Intermeccanica, the image of an exploded view, a car in the process of assembly or disassembly, expands in all three directions above the viewer. Its various components are sprung off a grid-like frame, in the order of their regular alignment, so that their functional relationships can be clearly seen and understood. The paint treatment is layered up in three coats, from bottom to top, from raw to primer to finish (black, gray, silver).

The didactic and explanatory concept of an engineer's exploded drawing, the precursor to the finished product, shows the development of an idea from image to shape in both directions: coming apart and coming together. It is the graphic representation of a reciprocal process. In the contemporary world of human production we inhabit, the total and complete commodities we routinely encounter, with their careful finishes and external forms, render opaque the actual nature of their forming and construction; there is no encouragement to picture their making. The process by which they come into being is often obscured by attention to surface; the labour of their accumulation and assembly is a lost residue buried inside.

The proposed project aspires to open up this experience, so that a viewer is drawn inexorably into the processes and procedures of the making of an object. Its overall schematic character resists a totalized view of a singular thing (as we usually view objects); here one can't help but think procedurally, putting things together and taking them apart in the mind. This animation of participation on the part of the viewer should act as a counter to any tendency toward passive viewing, so that one's experience of the work becomes dynamic and functional.

The Porsche Speedster was developed in the late 40's by Ferry Porsche, the son of Ferdinand, developer of the Volkswagen Beetle. It was the first vehicle marketed under the Porsche name, and used many of the same components as the Volkswagen. The postwar shift from a 'people's car' to a sportier roadster was in keeping with the optimistic and progressive spirit of the postwar 50's, particularly in North America, where the car had a popular success in southern California. (At the time, European sports car teams fielded cars in national colours: British green, French blue, Italian red, and German silver; this is the colour for the project car.) Gradually the Porsche name, through its successes on the racing circuit, came to epitomize the ideal of superior German automotive engineering, an image not lost on the conscientious consumer to this day.

The rarity of the Porsche Speedster (only 21,000 were built) and its legendary status has made it one of the most collectible cars ever produced. To meet this demand, the Intermeccanica replica Speedster was first developed in 1976 in Los Angeles by Frank Reisner, the father of the current President, Henry Reisner; in 1981 production was transferred to its current location in Vancouver. The new car uses custom-built and modified Porsche engines and modern running gear, mounted in an ISO resin body with custom welded chassis. It improves on the original while retaining the look and feel and sound of the 50's classic.

This idea of reinvention and reconstitution is not unlike the historical development of Vancouver itself, especially around the False Creek area. Once the industrial heart of the city, it is now the centre of expansive real estate development, presenting another version of creativity and progress, but not unconscious of the industrial and manufacturing ambitions of the area's 20th century entrepreneurs. The reference to international mid-century modernist antecedents in outfitting the Meccanica buildings encourages consumer's identification with this high point of cultural modernity. Intermeccanica and Meccanica share a symbiotic affinity, linking the immediate history of the place with the dynamic potential of the future city. The proposed project reflects this reciprocal and integral relationship, taking one thing apart while it reassembles another, moving forward with an eye on the rear-view mirror.

Tar Sands
Concrete Truck
  Special Sawmill
Rock Fountain
Holocaust Memorial
Project for Meccanica
2012, model, mixed media, 20" x 24" x 24"
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