Recorridos, Intervenciones y Situaciones

Narrative Archaeology

Posted by Canto Rodado on September 25, 2006

A fictional narrative is an agitated space.  A story world is constructed with attention to selection of detail and level of its description (setting and its establishment of tone, subtext and above all, physical place).  The traditional role of the author has been to carefully use these tools to create the other world.  The city is also an agitated space.  A city  is a collection of data and sub-text to be read in the context of ethnography,  history, semiotics, architectural patterns and forms, physical form and rhythm, juxtaposition, city planning, land usage shifts and other ways of interpretation and analysis. The city patterns can be equated to the patterns within literature: repetition, sub-text shift, metaphor, cumulative resonances, emergence of layers, decay and growth.

The city is rich with layered semiotic  systems on even a cursory, immediate reading.

There is at present a dual city to be read, the denotative and connotative city, if you will.  The city exists to navigate and “read” on a literal level of interpretation of architecture, shifts, movement, traces of past and the patterns that form as one walks through the city.  This is the denotative city.  The author utilizing the concepts and form of narrative archaeology can form a reading of the second city (the connotative city or semiotically charged) with points in street layout pinpointed to address the resonance of multiple readings and resonances of buildings, street signs, navigation, infrastructure.
Narrative Archaeology

One Response to “Narrative Archaeology”

  1. gullybogan said

    I think that the analogy drawn here between literature and cityscape is incorrect.

    Certainly a city can be read as a text, but I would see it as having more similarities to a sociohistorical narrative, rather than a fictional one.

    History (that is, manifold histories combined) is just as much an “agitated space” as a work of fiction is; differences in interpretation of “fact”, and in responses to the traces of human presence and action, make history just as agitated as any (so-called) imagined narrative.

    Narratology as it appertains to storifying the human environment doesn’t need to be cast as being in the fictive mode. Historians perform just as much moulding of their ‘story space’ as the authors of fiction, and anyone wishing to create or experience the narrative of a city need not consider themselves as explorers in a construct that responds most closely to the demands of literature. They should see the city for what it is: the (non-fictional) story of the city’s people.

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