The romantic and ecological legacy of Homo faber sheds light on Han Song's Regenerated Bricks. In that novella the victims of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, guided by an architect, produce bricks by using debris, straw, and corpses. Regenerating lives and hopes of the victims and furnishing building material, the brick testifies to a practice that combines labor and art and a biological rebirth associated with the fertility of the earth. The brick is not only useful but also aesthetically resonant. Working closely with the workers in the fields and workshops rather than from urban offices, the elite architect transforms into a “barefoot architect.” On the other hand, the culture market, neoliberal ideology, and digital media quickly turn the brick into a simulacrum and a consumer icon, alienating the brick and the creators from their vital connection with nature and the earth.

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