The Magician of the Apparition: Arata Isozaki

An essay written by Arata Isozaki about Ron Herron, c. 1979; found in one of the boxfiles of Ron Herron's papers, held by Herron Archives

Ron Herron
“The Magician of the Apparition”

Suddenly in the old town of Liverpool, all at once a yellow submarine appeared moving like an airship. The Beatles number makes the image clear. I saw that submarine once in a Czechoslovakian movie, but I’ve forgotten the title. It was similar to an original Jules Verne etching. I thought it is somehow related. Maybe together, the animation and Jules Verne makes a similar movement.

Ron Herron produced “Walking City” in the mid ‘60s a variety of “Walking City”. We can manage an explanation like this:
Happening – A quick change technique of submarine into airship. But Ron Herron’s drawing is more than this idea.

The city materialised when we lived in that place. Residence and organism in the same shape starts to move – high density moves in the same shape – “Walking City”. The exact meaning is subjective, the relationship is fluid; it submerges and flies into the sky.

That sort of yellow submarine at the same time has contradiction.

Because “Walking City” is more radical than the Beatles. Commonsense gets reversed – gets opposite but I don’t mind. Exactly nothing happened in England as usual but we stand back now and get a perspective. A lot of Lewis Carroll’s mysterious and frightening world’s. To this reality Ron Herron has shown at the top of the Hudson River the skyscrapers of New York by background montage in the “Walking City” drawing. Archigram produced in a lot of images much Science Fiction and classical, also Futuristic and at the same time traditional.

If Peter Cook’s Plug in City is a technical city it was paradoxical in interpretation and could be looked at in two ways. It is a project to be intuitively understood. It has a monumental personality. Ron Herron is a very quiet person. He is a man of few words: at a university lecture or in conversation, but he doesn’t like to be shy. He has spent a lot of time because he is looking for careful (accurate) and final (finite) words. Each project has a deep meaning and is the last word. His time spent is perfect because nothing can be added to each project. “Walking City” is a funny feeling tracing of London in the 1960’s like the Beatles or the miniskirt and in the deciding project of walking in the world.

“Walking City’s” structure is similar to a united robot. When they have a crisis they will get together with another robot and together they will manage the enemy.

Archigram’s basic idea is the small unit within the megastructure, the smaller unit plugged in.

Ron Herron produced a tortoise of gathering. It will walk because of the tortoise and get bigger.

There is one more scene. They are walking in an ocean. Maybe this city is a huge Queen Mary. Maybe his attitude is real, and unreal is today’s structure. To survey that, is the attitude. At the end of 1960 he started to think about the surrounding saturated general media which was not condensed.

Untidy kit, but we can put them together and using the idea of set gets important.

A set, meaning a collection, a gathering. “Walking City” ~ that’s the beginning that we can understand. The set of the Queen is the same set but the cinema set vocabulary as soon as it is created is more than an image.

Maybe his project is the most important meaning since “Walking City”.

In this situation reality used the screens of production of the apparition. The screen is removed and amplifies and permeates our surrounding. Of course we understand the real thing ~ and also we are on the reflection side.

We will get upset because we are now on the apparition side-feeling.

Ron Herron is successful in describing this situation.

Arata Isozaki