The Manhattan Transcripts are theoretical propositions executed through drawing. Made between 1976 and 1981 for consecutive exhibitions, the four episodes transcribe imagined events in real New York locales: The Park uncovers a murder in Central Park; The Street (Border Crossing) chronicles the movement of a person drifting through violent and sexual events on Forty-second Street; The Tower (The Fall) depicts a vertiginous fall from a Manhattan skyscraper; and The Block illustrates five unlikely events occurring in separate courtyards within a city block. Tschumi’s Transcripts propose that, beyond its traditional conventions of representation, architecture resides in the superimposition of space, movement, and events. The event, in particular, is the figurative origin of architecture itself, through which Tschumi proposes an architecture of difference and opposition rather than synthesis and totality. Narrative techniques—be they pictorial or cinematic—evoke the ability of fiction to produce an alternative form of critique.
Gallery label from 9 + 1 Ways of Being Political: 50 Years of Political Stances in Architecture and Urban Design, September 12, 2012–March 25, 2013.