Tuesday 7 October 2014

Inspiration for urban fantasy writers: Brodsky and Utkin, Calvino

If you're in London, you can see Brodsky and Utkin's fantastical paper architecture in person at the Tate Modern. Otherwise, try on the internet, because the book of their work starts at $245!! These two artist/architects are part of a movement called Paper Architecture, buildings which exist only on paper. Which is pretty much what fantasy writers do as well. Their work really got me excited about the world-building aspect of urban fantasy all over again.

Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities is like a catalog of imaginary urbanism: cities on stilts, temporary cities, cities of earth... Did Marco Polo visit them on his travels or is he really telling Kublai Khan about fifty-five different versions of Venice? Who knows, but each one of the cities could be the basis of a whole novel. I was going to quote from one of them, but this little snippet of conversation seemed to go best with the Brodsky and Utkin above.
Marco Polo describes a bridge, stone by stone.
'But which is the stone that supports the bridge?' Kublai Khan asks.
'The bridge is not supported by one stone or another,' Marco answers, 'but by the line of the arch that they form.'
Kublai Khan remains silent, reflecting. Then he adds: 'Why do you speak to me of the stones? It is only the arch that matters to me.'
Polo answers: 'Without stones there is no arch.'

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