Charisse Foo and Yichen Jia: The Art of Memory

Colorful illustration of street and buildings

Building in Buildings: The Central Baths, Herculaneum. image / Charisse Foo and Yichen Jia

What does it mean to remember? Sited in four Italian towns that have been indelibly changed by natural disasters, this exhibition explores the notion of architectural memory. Across Pompeii, Catania, Poggioreale, and Gibellina, each town embodies a unique approach towards destruction and preservation. The "perfectly" preserved ruins of Pompeii are set against the bustling capital of Catania, the ghost town of Poggioreale, and the crumbling modernist art installations of Gibellina.

Twelve selected sites distill the experience of a 12-day trip across these towns, presenting documentation, analysis, and interpretation through visual, textual, and digital artifacts. Further architectural illustrations speculate upon six of these sites, each representative of a possible future scenario of preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, or reconstruction. How might these complex, historical places age; might they experience a rebirth, or perhaps an afterlife? These projections challenge the assumed permanence of architecture, constructing a theatre of memory through historic preservation.

Charisse Foo (B.Arch. '17) is interested in the power of the virtual image, its construction, and its assumed authenticity. She graduated with a bachelor of architecture from Cornell University and is currently working in the field of architectural visualization as a CGI designer at DBOX.

Yichen Jia's (B.Arch. '18) interests lie in the relationship between architecture and new media; the physical built environment and the digital world. Jia holds a bachelor of architecture degree with a minor in information science from Cornell University. She is currently in the Master of Science in Architecture Studies program in the Design and Computation Group at MIT and is pursuing a dual degree in computer science.

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