What constitutes our perceived environment and how do we link one environment to another? For Bert Villa, every landscape is an assemblage. In our gaze, the different features we see and have seen before are intuitively tied together through memory and association. Built structures remind us of others with similar looks and functions or connected histories and thus link landscapes to one another. Fences, cooling towers, antennas or drainpipes are both constituent off their direct environments and of mental maps of assembled environments.
In Assembly, Bert Villa investigates this process by creating a collection of photographs depicting various environments and describing their material constitution in detail. The publication playfully hides shots of some of his own pre-existing works between images taken during Bert Villa’s trips in the peripheries of suburbia, industry and cityscapes. Following personal logics that associate one element or spatial ordening to another, the book jumps from one perceived environment to the other. In this way, Assembly takes its reader on an associative journey through constructed landscapes, navigating the borders between artistic, functional and spontaneous constructions and everything in between.
The photographed elements in Assembly could be described with Gilbert Simondon’s term ‘key points’. They are objects that are both aesthetic and technical. Their relation to a vaster background renders them recognizable and prominent, thus creating and structuring a topography. Bert is specifically interested in how these key points are related to memory and association, thinking of them as forms of (personal) lieux de mémoire.