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learning from lacunae

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1998.09.11 10:06
big sign now gone
With all the recent discussion here regarding Venturi, signage, semiotics, etc., I thought it worthwhile mentioning that the Venturi, Rauch & Scott Brown big BASCO building sign (in Northeast Philadelphia) is now gone. The demolition (which is what I assume happened) occurred fairly recently.
The building was bought by BEST soon after BASCO "built" the sign in the early eighties. Since BEST went out of business in the early nineties, the building and its big alphabet sign have been derelict.
It is indeed sad to see such a perfect example of "theory into practice" architecture relegated to the virtual existence of photographs.
Perhaps one lesson to learn here is that whenever architectural design is so closely tied to commercialism and consumerism, then its fate as something fleeting is almost guaranteed.


1998.12.18 07:45
Re: test
oil gas electricity technology war power military iraq gulf desert storm fox architecture
I'd love to see the "blue prints" for this one!


1999.02.23 19:08
Re: irrational architecture
You raise an interesting point which suggests a paradigm shift in how we perceive (and I use that term loosely) space-architecture, however, I don't think such an operational shift is all that "simple," nor does the notion of "space moving through us" necessarily eliminate architecture. To your idea, I'd like to add a complementary idea (not entirely mine) regarding the continuum of time.
It is common to perceive time as moving, specifically in a linear fashion--past, present, future. Time, as Einstein suggests, is a continuum, and therefore past and present coexist, and thus, relatively speaking, past and future do not move. It is the present that moves through the continuum of time and, much like a radio, picks up "signals" relative to its position within the continuum band. Within such a continuum paradigm, both we AND space move through time. In terms of endurance of presence, however, much great architecture clearly holds its own in terms of the span of time (and here the Great Pyramids of Egypt getting close to 5000 years old are the prime example). Perhaps what we today are experiencing more than anything in our present "built environment" or "space" is its (almost patented) premature obsolescence.

1999.05.16 18:41
Re: Piranesi
Elaborate? Sure.
I see Piranesi's prisons not so much as real places, real prisons, but as images specially designed to torture our (perspectival) perception, hence the prison/torture-chamber imagery. In trying to figure out the space(s) the Carceri depict, the viewer executes his or her own (perceptive) torture. The Piranesi prisons are a purposeful visual conundrum that inflict a pain to our visual sense.
In my first waiting for your shockwave file to download, and then trying to figure out the point you were making was a small torture for me. I doubt that was your intention, but the connection is poignant nonetheless, and perhaps someday you might put together a (shockwave) display that is actually designed to "torture".


1999.06.09
chronosomatics 1 : an interpretive method that deals with the interrelationship between chronological or historical sequence and consecutive transverse sections of the human body     2 : a metaphorical link between specific points in time with specific points on or in the human body     3 : a theory whereby the morphology and physiology of the human body is seen as representative of the complete continuum of human existence     4 : The Timepiece of Humanity     5 : the calendar incarnate


1999.07.20 07:17
Colored doors!
Edward T. Hall's The Hidden Dimension was the first required reading of my formal architectural education, which began in 1975 at Temple University. I remember forcing myself to read the entire book mainly because it was required, but I can't say that I liked the book. (In a sort of naive way) I most wished the book was about architecture as opposed to being about psychology. I also remember thinking Hall's portrayal of German's being particularly stereotypic. In retrospect, Hall's book is a prime example of the anthropological blind-sightedness of that (and our?) time (published first in 1966). No where in the book does Hall describe and/or analyze the white American's enforcement of the black American's public and private space! And, I dare say, if Hall's book is still read (by architects) today with the belief that it contains a fair portrayal of the truth, it then only serves to extend the life of a (New Urban?) myth whereby large portions of reality are outright ignored.
In replacement of Hall's book, I propose the required reading of first year architect students today should include Johan Huizinga's Homo Ludens - a study of the play element in culture because the contemporary field of architecture is (fundamentally, unavoidably, and inexorably) lots and lots of games.

1999.09.12
...the flow/current/wave pattern
...the flow/current/wave pattern of your emitted thoughts carry good highs and lows, provoking aboves and belows, and, this time at least, a co[s]mic ending[?].
...you continually apply the standards of the real world to the virtual world with what appears to be a non-investigation of those [other] qualities or standards the virtual [so far] evokes wholly on its own. My leaning toward virtual extremism is at the same time a search for some "purism" within the virtual. I don't want the virtual to merely become a reflection of the real, and that is precisely because it seems that we are actually lucky enough to be living at a time when the whole notion of a virtual realm is becoming a viable other realm--a wonderful time when it is truly possible to begin delivering something that is above all NOT more of the same [o. s.].
For what it's worth, what John just said, "Which is why some argue that reason is too slow to be useful any more. Intuition and insight are speedier, but not as fast as illogic and madness." describes perfectly my position regarding design, and even more so art. Moreover, I began to think this way back in 1983, within the first month of my working as a computer-aided architect eight hour a day, five days a week. I never expected it, but I rather quickly saw that cad (and here I must mention that I was using Intergraph, which was phenomenally superb even by most of today's standards) would be incredibly fast if the user/designer too was incredibly fast, however, the speed of the designer coming close to the speed of the computer meant a shift into spontaneous mode, a design mode rarely taught, and indeed most often severely denounced.

1999.12.29 16:11
(the reality of being) sleepless in Brussels
As I already mentioned, I did not sleep much during my trip to and stay in Brussels. Upon seeing each other Saturday morning at breakfast, Winka Dubbeldam immediately asked if I had caught up with my sleep. I replied that I again slept little the night before. I explained that since I spend practically all my time at home and alone, when more than occasionally a day goes by and the telephone hasn't even rung, that the last two days at Inside Density have been wildly over-stimulating for me.
More than over-stimulation, however, my experience at Inside Density brought what had been something only virtual into something of a reality. By this I mean, after spending three years creating a virtual museum of architecture and after one year of participating with design-l (both involvements very much something other than dealing with the 'real' world) that then being rather suddenly right in the thick of architectural discussion and debate was very much a shock to my system. Yes, it was exciting and fulfilling, but still something for me quite out of the norm. As it happened, there as a week or so after returning from Brussels where I became depressed by my (back to) 'virtual' architectural existence -- I almost desperately wanted to go back "to the real world." (And, as you can see, it's taken a month for me to become 'virtually' comfortable again.)
I already mention (in a prior post) that they say sleep deprivation makes one susceptible to acute emotional reaction, and I relayed how such a reaction happened to me when Mark Wigley told me about his schizophrenic brother. Well, the truth is that I had several such reactions my second day in Brussels. The last such occurrence was late Friday night at the Atomium. A large group of the INSIDE DENSITY participants where done having dinner and finishing their drinks. I went to sit beside Charlotte Gedolf (she and Gartan Du Four co-chaired the "Thinking Density" session of which I was a part). To my surprise, she started asking me about Quondam, and she specifically asked me about Anand Bhatt. Charlotte had been reading the exchange of correspondence between Anand and myself within schizophrenia + architectures, and she wanted to know if Anand and I knew each other, if we were friends. It was thus, when I had to honestly tell Charlotte that I actually don't know Anand at all, and only virtually know him, that my emotions almost got the better of me. It just kind of overwhelmed me that a woman architect that I just met the day before was so well aware of a set of correspondences I've had a few months earlier with an Indian architect that I've never even met, and then there was Anand a thousand miles away in India with no idea that he was part of a lively conversation in Brussels, in the Atomium no less.
As much as my going to Brussels reaffirmed that reality has many, many virtues, I also learned how the virtual realm of cyberspace has its own uncanny reality.

2000.01.20
Wright and historical method
I will now get very 'Freudian' here, and say that just maybe the Guggenheims, like Freud, had this strange love/hate thing vis--vis Rome/the Vatican. After all it was Freud, a Jew, who reenacted the Christian Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit by instituting the ego, id, and super-ego. So, one could then imagine the Guggenheims saying, "Mr. Wright, we want you to build for us a Jewish Vatican museum!" And lo and behold, Wright, creative genius that he was, designed the foremost Jewish Vatican Museum in existence, with no one ever being the wiser--quite an accomplishment, (or did it all just happen subconsciously?). [I better stop before I start writing a reenactment novel here.]


2000.02.16 22:08
metabolism and revolution
Cain and Abel (like all creation myth twins) were "brothers metabolic".
The Dance of Shiva (no matter how ancient) is a reenactment of metabolism. [note: Hinduism, particulary Yoga is a reenactment of the bottom to top corporal range of the spine.]
Romulus and Remus (true brothers metabolic that they were) reenacted metabolism.
Hegel's notion of synthesis (no matter how philosophically astute) is a reenactment of metabolism.
Revolution (no matter it be French, American, Red or Velvet) is a reenactment of metabolism.
Furthermore, Schumpeter's (sp?) notion that capitalism is "creative destruction" is a reenactment of metabolism,
and
genetic engineering and human cloning may well come to represent humanity's most extreme reenactment of metabolism. The point being that whenever it comes to a creative/destructive duality, the operative/defining word is metabolism or metabolic.
The above is part of the theory of chronosomatics, also know as The Timepiece of Humanity It is a theory I've come to use very much as a tool, and indeed a quite useful tool. Moreover, it is a theory that has an absolute principle in that the morphological and physiological design of the human body is chronosomatics' "intrinsic structure".
Considering that some architectural historians claim the "first Moderns" lived in the mid to late eighteenth century, it might be premature to place Modernism in the past tense. Then again, perhaps Modernism just isn't a useful enough term to describe what's really going on. That's why, when I look around at architecture from today and going back a few centuries, I don't so much see Modernist thinking and designing, but rather a lot of thinking and designing that is assimilating and/or metabolic.


2000.03.23 10:20
teaching at its worst
I find you and your hypocritical attitude shameful, and I am certainly glad I never paid money to have you as a teacher. What a disservice you are. I call you a hypocrite because you "profess" to know things that in actuality you know little or nothing about. You professed that Frank Lloyd Wright never, ever looked at or borrowed from European models, and you were wrong; you dismissed Oppositions with some sort of authority, and it turned out you know virtually nothing about the magazine, and, moreover admitted that even now it's not worth your time and effort to fix your mistake; and now, "for the sake of those that may not know," you offer just more of the stereotyped info regarding Ludwig II and his architecture.
And worst of all, you profess to be a teacher, while at the same time you show a high procility for not being willing to learn yourself.





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