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PRINT February 2019

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REMAINS OF THE FRAY

Bunker, France, ca. 1958–65. Photo: Paul Virilio.


PAUL VIRILIO WAS BORED on the beach one summer afternoon in 1958. Leaning against a concrete block, the young man made a 360-degree scan of his surroundings—sand, rocky cliffs, ocean. This panoramic appraisal took him all the way back to the block behind him, a “worthless object” from World War II. His vacation in Brittany was over and his career as an “archaeologist of the future” (to quote his early collaborator, the architect Claude Parent) was about to begin. For the next seven years, Virilio would travel France’s northwestern coast, photographing the abandoned bunkers of the defunct Nazi fortification system known as the Atlantikwall and formulating his ideas about what he initially called “cryptic architecture.” This inaugural survey was made famous in his classic Bunker Archaeology (published in French in 1975 and in English in 1994). The French philosopher died this past

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