Leigha Dennis

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Architectural Alchemy

What is architecture if it is not alchemy? Take base materials: stone, wood, sand, water, metal and, following a set of cryptic instructions, impenetrable to common folk, turn it into a dwelling. No wonder then, that masonry is not just the art of constructing buildings, both rather a guardian of arcane secrets, passed down orally from time immemorial. Still, until recently, architecture itself was but a pale shadow of the arcane sciences. Setting out to transmute base metals into gold, alchemists promised not mere buildings but boundless riches, eternal youth and a universal solvent.

Guised as a medieval illustration, this diagram describes the structure of mortgaged-backed CDOs, and the flow of architecture into capital that resulted in the economic collapse of 2008. In 2010 it was published in Junk Jet's "Statistic of Mystics", and again later that year in the New City Reader's Business issue. This is a project of the Network Architecture Lab produced with Kyle Hovenkotter.