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L. A. X

Part 2 Dissertation 2013
Costantino di Sambuy
Architectural Association | UK
This is a thesis about how Los Angeles dreamt of L.A.

About how the city came to give form to its own fantastic self-image. An image on which it gambled ­­— with almost reckless abandon — in order to build itself. Figures and buildings around the gambling table, betting on the future, hedging, raising, seeing, but never folding — one giant speculative gamble.

The history of L.A. reflects religion, trickery, money, ambition, water and catastrophe — it is banal flashback, deja-vu, epiphany. It is always denying and rewriting the past through the light of the future. A Southern Californian light that first filled the horizon from Donner Pass in long golden strokes, where the world was reborn each day.

“Day destroys the night, night divides the day. Tried to run, tried to hide, break on through to the other side”.
— The Doors, Break on Through (1967). (Always an astute critic, Joan Didion thought the band were just gifted assholes.)

This thesis was an attempt for me to understand my obsession with Los Angeles / L.A., an elusive image I sought to fix in photographs, drawings and words. Signs flickering like the silver gelatin images of old movies, passing casually to form the reel of a city that teases us one day, only to fade in the light of the next.

Like its own city, this thesis grew quickly from an original trickle of words into a flow of sentences — a flow that has taken a given path while remaining subject to diversions along the way. In this course it is liable to change again. And while some words have been lost, others have been lodged in the flood defenses of the footnotes. Much more could have been written, for now this will suffice to explain my fascination.

Costantino di Sambuy

Mark Campbell
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