Wienfluss (II)

We are nourished by patterns. Everyone is, but we, „The Passenger“, very literally so.

Why else do all sorts of people love to stare at maps for hours on end?

To find orientation, they say.

But we know better. They try to find out the patterns. Are they random? Are they regular? Boring? Fractal?

And by trying to figure them out, the nourishment takes place.

How many other worlds, maybe far away, maybe just a variant of this one, hidden in this one, are on display on plates, or textiles, or walls, on pavements or any other odd thing humans tend to cause as a matter of habit?

They rarely notice them at all.

To us it is like a 5-star buffet.

Take the landscape of so-called „Suburbia“, apparently so dull and so similar all over the (humanly defined) world.

But hold on! 

Even if we can see very similar patterns everywhere, things like shopping malls and supermarkets in standardized container buildings, or parking lots, or industrial zones, or the radial roads feeding cars into the city (why, we wonder. Are cars food for cities?) – even so. 

The way all those standard elements are actually embedded into the local landscape makes for unique patterns.

Take Auhof center, a shopping mall at the northwestern outskirts of Vienna, part of the 14. district and „Hadersdorf“, an area that once was a village outside of the city.

Today it is suburbia as we know and usually hate it.

But behold!

There is a piece of temporary architecture, an old pavillon for the exhibition of cars, long abandoned by humans and cars.

It is specific, it is still there, it speaks to us and could still be used for something new.

And then you just need to cross a bridge and turn right and you find yourself at the banks of the „Wienfluss“, the major water artery of the city that would be seen to flow right into the Donaukanal (and hence, by proxy, into the Danube and the Black Sea) – were a good part of it not to flow underground.

Not here.

It is a typical „Naherholungsgebiet“ (suburban recreation area) with a footpath along the river, used by bikers, joggers and even people who walk, a dog or themselves.

Still we are always reminded that the humans of the city dispose of their waste into rivers who were not asked if they like that kind of food.

We have never quite understood how our friends, the rivers, with whom we share so much fluidity, can tolerate such behaviour.

As if to give guidance where orientation does not seem to be hard to get by, the city has provided a green railing along the whole path.

It is amazing.

It is painted in a very particular green, „reseda green“, that has been made famous by the architecture and overall urban design of Otto Wagner.

Now our friend Otto, who will pop up now and again throughout our trips, was unique in his effort, to give the then Imperial city of Vienna with its many ethnic groups, its intense migration dynamic and its explosion of population around 1900 a corporate design that would unite rich and poor – and closely related to that primal difference humans seem unable (or even unwilling) to overcome – also center and periphery that was very much correlated to this social difference.

To make the center recognize the periphery as its own, but also signal its control over those potentially unruly edges of town, we still find those all-pervading structures in a friendly green.

After all, friend Otto himself has built private houses in that very district at the Western periphery – including a mansion for his projected „widow“, a „Witwensitz“ – yet he outlived her.

We do care about the fates of the humans, but also about the life of so called „inorganic“ things, for to us – as we do not live a biological life and do not die a biological death – the very notion of „inorganic matter“ being supposedly less valid than the world of organisms is absurd.

Even more so as we all know that organisms depend heavily on the „inorganic“ environment they coexist with.

So to us that green railing is an animal in its own right.

We greet it with respect and take a close look. Or touch. Or even bite?

Our friend has been welded and composed of standard modules, but some tiny errors give it character.

But what is that? A dent that seems to be the trace of an attack humans like to call „accidents“.

Yet there were not just interactions with humans, with birds too.

Which makes us wonder. Them shitting on a thing – is it a greeting or an insult?

Friend railing took it with stoic dignity.

A lonely pink mask left behind. A reminder how the micro world we are in such close contact with is a danger to those still all too biological humans. But why, given their need for so much non-biological protection from biological dangers they are themselves the biggest part of, do they treat their silent, inorganic friends with such neglect?

Turn them into waste at every occasion.

Yes, it is fine to exist beyond this human world.

But from time to time we take possession of an unsuspecting human.

Or several.

Like here.

To show, visible to the human eye, how to approach a being such as the green railing with respect and care.