In Rainer Maria Rilke’s The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge—a novel made up of a collection of melancholic urban images—the protagonist Malte describes life as a mosaic comprised of a “million little insuppressible moments” where “things vibrate one into another and beyond in the atmosphere.”1 “Everything is everywhere,” he adds, “and one would need to be part of everything in order not to miss anything.” Atmospheric perception is similarly concerned with the “chaotic-manifold” of things, through which the viewer is immersed in a complex world of appearances, meaningfully given, charged with affect and historical residues. This view produced by Caruso St John Architects for their Newport Street Gallery in South London celebrates such atmospheric perception, at once shaded and illuminated, obscure and revelatory. It is merely an image, but it brings depth to the surface, communicating the interiority of things. We are made to feel the discrete and uncanny monumentality of the Newport Street Gallery, ennobling the street with a new geometric order, but just barely, just enough to avoid scaring away the specters prowling on that street of South London.
Rainer Maria Rilke, Les cahiers de Malte Laurids Brigge, trans. Maurice Betz (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, Collection Points, 1966), 176–77. Original German edition published in 1910. Our translation from the French.