Plug-in City (2000) - Eiffel 2

Alain Bublex

Date : 2002

Medium : Photography

Size : 188 x 188 cm

© Adagp, Paris, 2007

Medium: chromogenic print laminated, diasec on aluminium
Size: 180 x 180 cm

Alain Bublex is quickly drawn to the city, the activity concentrated there and the density of its architecture. The “Plug-in City” series corresponds to the revival of a project from the 1960s created by UK architect Peter Cook. In order to cope with the problem of saturated urban areas, he suggested creating mobile housing units, that is to say, individual living units which could be attached to pre-existing housing: for example, prefabricated houses on freestone buildings, or canvas tents on glass skyscrapers. After his imaginary town “Glooscap” project, Bublex breathes visual life into this slightly madcap utopia, into this perpetually shifting town, via a photo montage.

The guide

This is no dream, that really is the Eiffel Tower. Are we in a science fiction film set in the year 2050? No!

This futuristic transformation of the iconic tower is the work of French artist Alain Bublex. Revisiting the Plug-In City project designed in 1964 by the architect Peter Cook, he developed a series by the same name in which he presents his bizarre vision of a utopian city. To remedy the overpopulation of urban spaces, he imagines modular structures in which different units connect (or plug in) to one another, thereby providing an ultra-simple solution to the population’s needs.

This photograph illustrates the implementation of his utopia. Imagine: Paris is overpopulated, the Eiffel Tower must be occupied and construction has begun. Helicopters invade Paris airspace (inconceivable today) to deliver containers to the platforms that have sprouted like unhealthy outgrowths from all the levels of the tower. Disfigured, the Eiffel Tower almost becomes an oil platform.

The dance of the helicopters recalls the film Apocalypse Now. Far from an idealised image, Alain Bublex instead presents an apocalyptic vision of the French capital.

But look closer. The saturated colours of the helicopters stand in contrast to the dark background of the photograph. The artist’s working method is revealed. Artificial images are “plugged in” to real photographs, increasing the work’s illusionistic effect.

All of this is only fiction. Phew!