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Charnel-House: Taxonomy of Failed Inventions

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“Our world, like a charnel-house, lies strewn with the detritus of dead epochs.”—Le Corbusier

The Charnel-House is a speculative final year project situated on the margin of Newcastle’s working harbour, at the site of the former Sate Dockyard in Carrington. The facility is an repository that takes the sterilis of productive capital—the un-moded byproduct of invention of marginal exchange-value or use-value—& refunctions these objects to reveal their latent cult-value. Visitors are taken by cable ferry to the facility which is isolated in the harbour, separated from the varsity of material objects. At dock level, suspended zinc anodes hang in a state of sacrificial corrosion, protecting the mild-steel tectonics. As each anode corrodes it counter-balances a tidal buoy that kinetically powers the facility. Brass callipers holding lenses move vertically in the building mass above. When the lenses align they activate a shutter, casting a silhouette of an archived object against a photographic ferrotype plate. These ferrotypes become the signifiers of the archived objects: a key for taxonomy repeated en masse. Each object can be accessed by platforms from the main level gangway, and taken to the Autopsia Machinorum the end of the facility to be studied. Here the material object is measured against immaterial instruments: an emitter tracks obliquely around a raisable platform, casting light through various filters in order to illuminate the object in unconventional ways. The object may then be (re)deposited or taken from the facility having revealed its value to the operator.

“It is by their very uselessness, [...] that [the] original, archaic machines remain open to contemporary experiment and experience.”—Robert McCarter

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