A Rake’s Progress and the Monument Against Time


Published in the Cornell Journal of Architecture 12: After, 2022

Location: Across the United States

Medium: Digital images accompanied by short texts

Hull Rust Mine, Hibbing, MN [47°34' N, 92°31' W]

The life of this giant is limited and knowingly so, with the eventuality of its own exhaustion and death by mid-Century marking an instance of this historical object. This passing is but a mere transformation of its figure comprising only an appearance within its recent past. A three-way scar in its belly stands as a totem, which has witnessed the birth of ores bearing riches for flying machines and wars alike.

Southampton, NY [40°54' N, 72°27' W]

Invitees congregate for morning tea time and swing talk on the manicured links. With tailored suits fit for any occasion, the companies kept on these well-heeled lawns take stock in knowing they are united in being amongst the best; in a word, these are citizens about whom there is no question. Beware of the spit jack that is kept locked away, for hospitality a stranger will not find.

Las Vegas, NV [36°09' N, 115°22’ W]

Beyond the flashing lights and buzzing black flies of the nocturnal Strip, modern day alchemists turn silica to gold. Facing vast sandy tracts and little red rocks, cul-de-sac communities with gabled horizons line endlessly patterned streets like the beads of a broken necklace. Yet dreams of homesteading for dear Fannie and Freddie are hardly complete.

Gulf of Mexico, LA [28° 44′ N, 88° 21′ W]

After a firestorm, the oil of salvation crudely anoints the shallows. While staring into vast shattered mirrors, a respite allows for only brief reflection. Having received this blessing and reprieve, all eyes look toward new adventures on the horizon.

Arlington, VA [38°52' N, 77°03' W]

A one-eyed cockerel filled with intelligence and sight stands hand-in-hand with those willing to fight, for now their wings rested and ready for flight. Their arrangement, though clandestine it may be, abounds with endless opportunities built on a taconite dowry.

New York City, NY [40°42' N, 74°00' W]

Intercourse and interchange, conflicts and crises, excess and exchange—all are resolved through the unbridled market. Heaven forbids one to question its ethics, and so it goes on making ingots from ashes. As black bears bark toward smoking towers, keep the dice rolling and do not forget to go shopping.

This tale, part of an ongoing work-in-progress, is an interpretation of themes underlying the original works suggestive of the title. A Rake’s Progress is a series of 18th Century paintings and etchings consisting of eight plates by the English artist William Hogarth. In his satirical moral allegory, the rise and fall of the life of the spendthrift Tom Rakewell is depicted, starting from Tom’s effortless acquisition of a great family fortune, through living his new life lavishly, to finally settling in Bedlam, the ‘madhouse’. Throughout his journey, Tom lives in abandonment and forgoes life’s lessons and forgiveness.
LUCITO’s version presents a series of aerial satellite images of the American landscape. Each scene is curiously looked upon by a monolithic specter whose presence is revealed only through a cast shadow which bears witness to events below. The specific scenes correlate to subject matter within the original. Although portrayed in a non-consecutive historical manner, cues to these leitmotifs linger throughout the imagery and accompanying captions depicting principles, events, and entities of America.

In this retelling, historical narrative and ongoing events fuse while opening the way to a projective fiction that corresponds to the unfinished Plates VII, Prison and VIII, Bedlam.  History folds within itself while producing an endless loop of inevitable fate.

LUCITO, concept, images and texts
Cornell Journal of Architecture, edit, proof and publishing

Special thanks to
Sean Burkholder, image source consultation
Jeffrey Oman, historic consultation and insight

Publication available for purchase at Cornell Journal of Architecture

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