This is the map of a possible research methodology based on somatic… so you do and think at the same time… and how you do it and what you do affects your thoughts… everything is integrated… the map is ready to be activated…

pez de plumas [featherfish] is a continuous field travel devoted to the extended frame of architecture and urbanism. It moves through different settings related to research and exploration. That travel is based on the productive ambiguity embodied by the featherfish, being an excellent walker, dancer, diver and flyer at once.

Its numerous adventures challenge and drive all that is conceived, said, written, drawn and implemented in our discipline.

pez de plumas [featherfish] was created in 2010 by María Auxiliadora Gálvez and Bernd Vlay… since 2011 and nowadays is a experience directed by María Auxiliadora Gálvez within PSAAP.

[All documents in pezdeplumas are owned by its authors]


*PROJECT 1: Atmospherical accumulation


pezdeplumas asks people from various disciplinary fields:

Can you qualify “investigation in imaginary pragmatics”, as deep as one can do with ten lines maximum?



GATSBY CHARM                         
Pragmatism always hides opportunism.
Imagination is the less pragmatic ability of mankind.
Once we go pragmatic we never come back.
To hide pragmatism we varnish it with imagination.
Pragmatism links to reality and imagination to “the Real”.
Imagination speeds up the world, pragmatism relents it.
Imagination has no limits, pragmatism is a limit itself.
Imaginary pragmatics is incomprehensible.
Pragmatism killed the great Gatsby charm and we have never recovered.

Eduardo Arroyo 2011


“Investigation in imaginary pragmatics”  – yes – the imaginary is not exclusively utopian, it is more often a function of the everyday. Slavoj Zizek tells us that the `Ideal Ego´ is an idealised self-image (as opposed to the `symbolic´ Ego-Ideal or the `real´ Superego).
As practitioners (architectural) we are engaged in the `business of the world´, where the pursuit of the `ideal´ requires an ongoing and simultaneous engagement and idealisation- a pragmatic pursuit of the `small narratives of practical opportunity´.
The English Etymological Dictionary defines `pragmatics´ as “well practiced, fit for business, active.
Pragmatical – practised in many matters, Praxis (Greek) = fit for action”.  And as for `Investigation´, is that not what we have always been doing, exploring those atmospheres that drift between the `imaginary´and the `pragmatic´.

Peter Wilson, Münster. February 2011 


“When I work with the imagination I tend to first take people into their bodies through a movement, a experience, and ask them to notice the feelings that arise from the connection of the movement to their emotional awareness; and then I might inquire if any image is associated with their experience or I might ask them to make a drawing of their experience which would naturally appear as an image. I might start with an image that is then transformed into movement experience such as… in a lying down restful position begin to imagine a clear blue sky… and from there gradually build up slowly that they are in a jungle and as they walk through the jungle they hear sounds of animals and birds… gradually they will connect with an animal or bird they are attracted to and then with careful direction they will become that animal and dance it… I might also do a guided image. Like imagine you are an egg and come out, or a seed and grow, or an ocean- dance it…
In the dance experience I believe that there are three levels of awareness to make for wholeness: the physical, the emotional and the image association… So this is of great importance in my work… both as a teacher and a performer…”

Anna Halprin, U.S.A. September, 2011.


If you want to work in the real world, if you want to be pragmatic, you need a powerful imagination. It I so difficult to see the world as it is now! The industry of architecture is a large slow body, a leviathan
of lawmakers, politicians, moneylenders, entrepreneurs, architects, and builders, dancing parsimoniously to the protocols of past experience. But the real world is different now. The music has
changed. Today, social structures are reaching a liquid state. Families dissolve into a rainbow of different situations. Companies are broken up into a cloud of outsourcing. Communities self-organize in offshore forums. It’s a new situation that requires a new architecture.

Carlos Arroyo. Madrid, February 2004


I like to understand creativity as something completely normal.
That is for me pragmatism, because creativity is something which is part of my daily life activity.

Just in the moment when you complicate methodology, when you “fire into the wrong flock” and you try to sofisticate the way you create, is when you lose pragmatism. And without this pragmatism it is very difficult to be creative.

Ferran Adriá. February 2011


I remain in bed with my eyes wide shut for a long time, in light sleep, on a holiday morning, for instance…
I resist the impulse of getting up or opening my eyes…
I let fantasies blur, merge with others and incomprehensibly get entangled in memories, visions or remote experiences…
I let other more tangible images, if they turn up, pass by: just as I do with ideas coming from a book or a conversation, just as I do with the sounds of the mind or the street…
And the mesh grows…
I wander for as long as I can -with no precise target- around this conglomerate, until it clots, sometimes, into more or less formal beings, whose most precise organic affiliation is the family of ghosts. These ghosts are the genuine outcome of fantasy, understood as the capacity of our imagination to produce entities with no other reality than our own individual creative capability. Such reality is just an embryonic state which, when pampered and well-tended, feeds itself and grows, giving the physical, biological and mechanical world the chance to flee from its tight boundaries; and granting us the pleasure of opening up the world to whatever is new, expanding the limits of experience.

(English translation Javier Arpa)

Iñaki Abalos. August, 2011.  


At first it was hard to discern anything; in those blurred images his telescope was capable of obtaining. Just lines, a changing tattoo on the surface of Mars. Schiaparelli, the engineer, architect and  mathematician, using the same metaphysics as Giordano Bruno began to see water canals, which grew and to which he gave form in his maps, in his “bilder atlas.” According to Bruno Giordano’s metaphysics the formal cause is perfect reason. The idea is to represent natural forms and images through the remnants and shadowy details of our imagination (mind: “blazing glimpse, lightening instant in stone”). For Lezama Lima, these shadows in our imagination are the origins of poetry.

(English translation Adam Bresnick)

Carlos A Wandosell. March, 2011.  


How fantasy acts to give back to us, in the right or wrong time, the experiences of space and form, follows a complex system with entries and exits in which the human condition, existencial and intelectual engages the internal connections of the system.
Objective times, physical, and measurables in the habitability of space and, other subjectives, framed in the mirror reflection of a space on, or behind another ones, or in the personal reconstruction of what we have already known.
Construction or reconstruction in the terms that the subject considers what he has already lived like a new situation or reconstruction, if it is referred to previous experiences, of course, even about the same place.

Andrés Perea. March 2011.


First reality, than imagination! Contemporary reality is multi-layered, pluriform and complex and it leads to loads of confusion. The imaginative capacity of architectural and urban design is able to be a relevant tool to help confront our society with this confusing reality of the contemporary city and to imagine and (re)define relevant – and new – ways of peaceful and productive coexistence. To deploy this capacity, we have to fully develop the inherent power of design: making use of it’s underlying fuzzy logic and iterative character, design has the capability of both imagining & producing insight in the confusing past and present and excavating & imagining possible futures, on the basis of which a real, productive and truly political debate about the desirable future can start. The methods and techniques underlying these capabilities have to be developed in a continuous interaction with the full scope of societal and physical reality, while being aware that the power of design is, or ought to be, self-assured and radical on the one hand, because it understands the relevance of its’ imaginative contribution, and modest and pragmatic on the other hand, because it longs to be part of the societal processes.

Chris van Langen. May 2015.


We believe that we know the real world.
Yet the world of the unknown, that belongs to the imaginary, like non-existence, is immense.
So it is not easy to specify the imaginary when the real and the unreal are so entwined with the imagination.
What is concrete and pragmatic is often associated with what is prosaic, and what is imaginary with what is poetic, due to custom.
Only a poet could have affirmed the supremacy of reality over the imagination. For Lorca, the fact that great caves are formed by patient and eternal water drops, is far more awe-inspiring than for them to have been believed to be the work of giants – invented by the imagination of men.
This is because the natural inclination and even whim of each water drop is much more splendid and far more poetic than the hand of a giant, which has no more sensibility than the imagination itself.

Diego Cano Pintos. March, 2011.


{ U . chronia}
Investigation in imaginary pragmatics is Uchronia – a mean by which to escape our condition.
It’s about redefining, reinventing events.
It’s about imagining what would have happened but didn’t.
It’s projecting the non-time.
It’s rewriting History, histories.
It’s a divergence from the world, as it is.
It’s a detachment from the constructed world.
It’s about making history alive.
It’s about thinking, altering and imagining something that is going towards.

Stéphanie Dadour. March, 2013.


Between all the sensitive areas which intervine in the process of imagine, one has been imposed over the rest: sight. The proponderance of this one, has sterilized the world of phenomenons making more limited the life experience.
To imagine images slims the possibilities to imagine.
To imagine images is the consecuence of an expeditious pragmatism.
On the question about if he would be happy with sight, Nicholas Saunderson, blind mathematician from the XVI Century answered: I would also like to have long arms, I feel that my hands would inform me better about what is happening in the moon than their eyes or their telescopes; besides eyes stop looking at before than the hands stop touching*


Victoria Acebo & Ángel Alonso, April 2011.


Imagination allows reality to be magnified.
Imagination is a faculty of human intelligence, it is liberation.
Pragmatism watches reality so that it is not magnified.
Pragmatism is a sociocultural position, it is obedience.

Optimistically speaking, pragmatism is not a limit, , it is a sieve.
Imagination is a substance wich is forced to go through an increasingly close-woven sieve.
Pragmatically speaking, imagination has to be an unestable concentrate that changes its state according to the sieve.
Solid thoughts has a high rejection rate. Only liquid or gas thoughts make it through the pragmatic sieve.

« Imaginary Pragmatics » is a nice oxymoron, a wonderful imposture, it castrate a faculty of intelligence.
I prefer « Sensitive Pragmatics » Human faculties are not undermined. It is just a contribution for the creation of a more elastic sieve.

Manuel Ocaña. May, 2011.



One always suspects that alien cities, those we visit occasionally or look at for the first time, are better than our own. But since this also happens to our travelling friends when they come to our city and
surprisingly talk about it with bizarre enthusiasm, we begin to doubt.
Perhaps we are unable to see. Or perhaps for some unfathomable reason those other overlapping cities remain hidden from us, and we must be contented with phantastic descriptions of an invisible city that our eyes cannot perceive. And so, we may hope to hear one day, from someone close, a deluded remembrance of Madrid –squared like a Roman camp- as a petite New York City…

(English translation Fernando Castanedo)

Luis Diaz Mauriño. May, 2011.


Where ‘tectonics’ is an illness of reason, ‘obsession’ is a sickness of passion. Logic and passion… they form a magical proportion that is the measure of uncertainty of each creative process. We travel seeking daring architectures produced by those sick with pragmatism or imagination. Those who are able to equilibrate the two usually lack interest, we can rarely learn from them.
It’s paradoxical that the effort we constantly make to find a ‘winning project’ –that perfectly combination of pragmatic imagination that society allows— is a cowardly pose that separates us from the architecture that moves us.
Seduction is what distracts discourse from its meaning and separates it from its truth.” Baudrillard.

(English translation Adam Bresnick)

Rubén Picado y María José de Blas. May, 2011.


One day, a group of architects decided to imagine a way out of the economic crisis.
A pragmatic question that needed to be built.
They imagined a pragmatically feminine city.
A city that could only be seen using meeting points and diagrams so that people could meet and recognise each other.
The city couldn’t be drawn using physical, tectonic or material references.
It was a ‘nadja’ city; it was a ‘queer’ city with the odd loose rhinoceros.
Using their lives they wrote a text of actions where the most important thing was they themselves.
That text, sorry, that city, had the most pragmatic thing a city could have:It had networks to get there, places to stay and places to interact.

José Juan Barba. July, 2011.



Some steps to investigate one line following a target as utopian as one is able to imagine, but simultaneously one that can produce results which are able to be part of the physical reality:
1º Set a goal to reach, as much ideal- imaginative as possible, inside the level one is interested in (individual housing, familiar or collective one…) to fit in a block, a neighbourhood, a district, a city… also imaginary ones
2º Try to design a model or prototype that can be implemented with the existing economic and technical means
3º You have to know that along the process the final model or prototype will be different if the starting point is the ideal city, or the ideal house
4º Try to merge both results: you will obtain an intermediate stage
5º With this result as starting point, iterate again the process with the same final goals
6º As this process is infinite, even if we get each time closer to the target, we will have investigation enough till the end of our days, till the end of our children’s days, till the end of our grandchildren’s days… since, fortunately, we will never reach it.

José Miguel Prada Poole. August, 2011.


No one had ever seen it. The fable was about the huge feather fish, the one able to give life with its heat. This fable was useful only every spring for the kids, who followed the tradition made by everybody: they went for a swim, splashing the seawater, with coloured feathers around their waist and arms. Only the old, crazy, almost blind guy, said that he was able to see it when he was young. So, he remained seated every day, near the shore to be able to see it one more time. Suddenly, everything began to be different. The earth was trembling day after day and the sea changed its colour. Nobody was able to understand what was happening. To everybody astonishment, finally, when they were really disconcerted, a grey back came up the surface of the sea. Enormous feathers with the colour of fire lighted for a long time the Island nights.

Eugenio González Madorrán. November, 2011. (Date of the underwater volcano eruption in El Hierro island)


While the pragmatic searches for the practical consequences of thought and puts the truth criterion in its efficiency and value for life, the imaginary comes from imagination, faculty of the soul which represents images of things real or ideal. Imagination is also the capacity to conceive new ideas and new projects. This maybe the point of intersection for two antagonistic worlds because imagination is not measured by its effectiveness but does indeed add enormous value for life.
Imagination is invisible and intangible and can cross the fine line of the incorporeal to take material form. When the material comes from imagination, it has a soul.

Andrea Buchner, Madrid. December, 2011.


Thinking about Jules Verne, and the way his research on imaginary pragmatics flows in the realms of fantasy, projecting itself towards the future, leading us to Utopia: Captain Nemo’s perpetual dèrive through the Oceans. Nemo’s weightless walks through the unexplored paths of Atlantis, under the glowing light of Ruhmkorff’s devices.

Illusion feeds imaginary pragmatics: the most powerful and invincible source of energy, ready to produce the outmost unexpected pragmatic results. Moving away the tempting effectiveness of melancholy. Moving away the easy comfort produced by having your feet on the ground.

Verne could never be so right, as he assigned Ned Land the symbolic role of the gravity of the Earth. As Annorax escaped with Land, he represented the saddest paradox of all. Unfortunately, he was not aware that at the very end of the Maelström, his obsessive classification skills would have proven useless, watching of the unbelievable shoals of featherfish from the Lofoden, from the lounge of the Nautilus…

Plácido González Martínez. February, 2012.


Once upon a time
there was a jerk
it’s only aim in life was
bothering, molesting, disturbing
Always following Gödel’s theorems
reflected his acts in thousand mirrors
jerking and jerking and also jerking to the infinite
while searching google in google
the ephemeral became unexpected architecture
imaginary pragmatism

Miguel Gil. June, 2013


Let there be a crystalline animal.
Let there be an aquatic pavilion.
An excessive series of scenes (135);  an over-sized palace (1857 ft).
Let there be a mechanic assemblage with bizarre tonnage.
Let there be a submarine journey, an atmospheric reading.
On its technology a wish of non-lasting: on its mellow stomach the rest of desires.

Let there be architecture of minimum term; literature of maximum place.
Let there be, in any case, the thinnest skin for the largest volume: never before it was such a fragile enclosure.
Let there be all of them images: re-created praxis.

Nieves Mestre. February, 2014.


*PROJECT 2: pezdeplumas archive >

Another accumulation: Diary discontinuous in time assembling a documentary of actions, reference texts, cases, discussions, memories, images, stories, essays, situations, disasters, ideas, strategies, opportunities, projections… relative to the research on “imaginary pragmatics”.

“And now, fantasize that out of this environment, we’re going to move out of this space in your imagination, and go anywhere, in any space, in any part of the cosmic world, as you leave this space and go anywhere you want.” In a class of Anna Halprin.

“… What nature needed man to be was adaptive in many if not any directions; wherefore she gave man a mind as well as a co-ordinating switch-board brain. Mind apprehends and comprehends the general principles governing flight and deep sea diving, and man puts on his wings or his lungs, then takes them off when not using them. The specialist bird is greatly impeded by its wings when trying to walk.The fish cannot come out of the sea and walk upon land, for birds and fish are specialists…”
Buckminster Fuller. “Operating manual for Spaceship Earth” 1969

“The play of the steps is a formation of spaces […] they cannot be localised, because they create the space itself. They are just as intangible as Chinese letters, the contours of which the speaker sketches with a finger into his palm” Michel de Certeau. In “Kunst des Handelns“, 1988

“… This choreography is not the transcription of a previously written pattern of movement, but rather a movement of reading and writing in one. […] Walking is a mode of reading and writing chronological maps whose points are read together in movement- a script which renders invisible the very process that made it possible. Every script of movement replaces and occupies, just as the motion of writing and reading itself does, and becomes a trace that takes the place of praxis”. Gabriele Branstetter. In “Chorepgraphy as a Cenotaph” ReMembering the Body 2000

“One day he writes to me: description of a dream. More and more my dreams find their settings in the department stores of Tokyo, the subterranean tunnels that extend them and run parallel to the city. A face appears, disappears… a trace is found, is lost. All the folklore of dreams is so much in its place that the next day when I am awake I realize that I continue to seek in the basement labyrinth the presence concealed the night before. I begin to wonder if those dreams are really mine, or if they are part of a totality, of a gigantic collective dream of which the entire city may be the projection…” Chris Marker “Sans Soleil” 1983

“Falling represents here an extreme possibility. In falling, we touch the boundaries of our being. In falling over or falling down, we enter a movement that slips out of our control. The body slips out of itself.” Bernhard Waldenfels “Sinneschwellen. Studien zur Phänomenologie des Fremden” 1999

“The heuristic model is neither exegetic nor deductive here, but genealogical/ cartographic. […] the vertigo of the radically multiple (not subjective) inside viewpoint. One maps the very reality with which one is inseparably intertwined, because no external viewpoint or image is possible. In this as well lies the difference between genealogy and history: the latter describes the river, its life and its form; the former swims through it upstream mapping its currents. The one is linear, the other turbulent.” Sanford Kwinter “Architectures of Time” 2001

“One can, rather literally, “follow” the story of creation either by walking about over the landscape and attending to its features, or by similarly roaming with one’s eyes across the surface of the picture. […] Yet while there is centainly a correspondence between the form of the painting and the morphology of the landscape, it would not be right to suppose that the one represents the other. Rather, both landscape and painting exist on the same ontological level, as alternative ways in which an underlying, ancestral order is revealed to human experience. […] Quite unlike the European navigator, with his charts and compass, the Micronesian seafarer feels his way towards his destination by continually adjusting his movements in relation to the flow of waves, wind, current and stars” Tim Ingold “The Perception of Environment” 2000

“One aim of a radical democracy project should be to preserve one’s own power for “radical imagination”, which means the capability for utopia, for thinking the Other.” Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe “Hegemony and Socialist Strategy” 1991


Original idea: Mª Auxiliadora Gálvez and Bernd Vlay

Year: 2010- Unfinished project.