working title museum

learning from mixed messages

  0   b   c   d   e   f   g   h   i   j   k   l   m   n   o   p   q   r   s   t   u   v   w   x   y   z

1998.11.22 13:14
Re: * glossalalia * +forms... +glossolalia
My older brother (and only sibling) is a diagnosed schizophrenic of almost 25 years (now more than half his life), and throughout those years he has written literally volumes of "glossolalia"--nowhere else have I encountered texts that are simultaneously boring and fascinating in such uncannily equal measures. He seems to inhabite precisely the narrow, narrow region between meaningful and meaningless.

1999.01.21 08:11
Re: def: Computer Aided Doctrine
The following text first appeared in Drawing Toward Building - Philadelphia Architectural Graphics, 1732-1986, the catalogue of the Drawing Toward Building exhibit (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 1986). This text accompanied a series of CAD drawings I generated of Center City Philadelphia from a 3-dimensional computer model of the city that I constructed. Although this text is now 13 years old, it is still relevant today, especially with regard to the issue of (individual) architects now having, through CAD, a tremendously upgraded form of manual dexterity.
"It would quickly be seen that the tools that man has made for himself, . . . and which till now have undergone only slight modifications in a slow evolution, have been transformed all at once with an amazing rapidity. These tools in the past were always in man's hands; today they have been entirely and formidably refashioned and for the time being are out of our grasp. The human animal stands breathless and panting before the tool that he cannot take hold of; progress appears to him as hateful as it is praiseworthy . . . This is a great but critical period, . . . we must create the state of mind which can understand what is going on . . . we will see that things have changed: and changed for the better."
The above excerpt, written in 1923 and taken from the opening paragraph of "Architecture or Revolution," the concluding chapter of Le Corbusier's Towards a New Architecture, almost prophesies the arrival of graphics computers in the world of architecture, and more specifically their arrival in the world architectural drawing. The graphics computer is indeed a new drawing tool, one that has not "refashioned" the old tools as much as it has replaced them. Pencils, triangles and parallel rules are simply no longer necessary to produce a drawing. The heart of the issue, however, is that the graphics computer has also eliminated the need for manual skill, that is, the graphic dexterity of the architect/delineator. Until now, an architect's drawing could be appreciated for both the idea that is manifested and the dexterity with which the idea is presented. It has always been the combination of mind and hand that has made architectural drawings very appealing. The question now is whether a drawing generated with the aid of a computer can be appreciated in the same way.
The 3-D graphic model of center city, commissioned by the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, is a prime example where the capabilities of the machine, in this case Intergraph, far outweigh the capabilities of a delineator or any number of delineators. The model extends from the Delaware River to the Schuylkill River, and from Spring Garden Street down to South Street. On the overall street map are projected, into three dimensions, the general mass of buildings. Since the nature of a 3-D "drawing" allows oneto view the subject isometrically from any angle and offers the ability to draw perspectives from any vantage point, the Philadelphia City Planning Cormnission uses the 3-D model to view and compare the effect of zoning recommendations as well as study the effect of proposed development in center city.
In addition to the infinite number of drawings and views that can be produced through a 3-D graphic model, the computer also offers the chance to view the city dymanically, directly on the screen monitor, as if the city were floating and rotating in space, and the ability to set up a series of selected perspectives to simulate what a person might see walking down a given street.
My feeling all along has been that architects and designers should explore all the capabilities that CAD offers rather than being distressed over CAD's popularly per[con]ceived limitations. What is rarely mentioned in this regard however, is the potential need to abandon a whole bloc of aesthetic principles (well established within architecture before the arrival of CAD) in order to allow unfettered experimentation. I personally never view CAD operations as limiting factors; to the contrary, it is often an architect's imagination that has (deeply rooted educationally structured) limitations.

Jencks/ labelling
…my point about Berlin involves its entire history over the last 100 years, where it would be hard to argue againt a pervasive (and mostly unique) creative-destructive pattern that even includes a spliting in two! The best way to describe Berlin over the last 100 years is to call it metabolic. Just because one city manifests a metabolic pattern, doesn't mean all cities have to exhibit the same pattern, however, over the next 100 years there may indeed be many more cities that are metabolic--Beirut and Kosovo, and maybe even Kobe, to name a few, already seem to have a head start.
I feel my "argument" is sound, especially if you read all my content. And, for the record, I say that Berlin of the 20th century PRESENTS a (or is it the?) prime example of metabolic, that is, creative-destructive urbanism.

1999.05.24 11:24
interview 1
Most recently, I have become fond of the notion that "space" within cyberspace is always readily abundant, and, via hyperlinks, movement and circulation from "space" to "space" is easily facilitated. Moreover, hyperlink transitions within cyberspace offer the same abundant possibilities as the "space" itself since any channel or passage is instantly creatable. Because of this abundance, I do not regret cyberspace's basic lack of the third dimension. Indeed, generating a real cyber space and a real virtual place utilizing only two dimensions is our time's greatest architectural challenge.
The quest for a real two-dimensional architecture sheds new light upon the work of G.B. Piranesi, whose two-dimensional architectural oeuvre vastly outnumbers his three-dimensional manifestations. Nonetheless, Piranesi was a master of both two-dimensional and three-dimensional architectures. It is, however, Piranesi's two-dimensional work that is particularly poignant today -- albeit non-digital, all of Piranesi's architectural engravings reflect the work of the first consummate virtual architect. Above all, Piranesi's Carceri (Prisons) reveal the "torture" that a quest for real two-dimensional architecture engenders.

I see the point along the promenade architecturale [in Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye and his Palais des Congrès] where there is both outside and inside as precisely the same as Terragni's representation of Purgatory within the Danteum--the room that manifests equal measures of inside and outside. ...'limbo'--essentially being there and not there at the same time. The notion of limbo basically differs, however, from the notion of purgation. Although Purgatory gets its name because that is where purging (of the profane from the sacred) occurs. This notion of separation also relates directly to the notion bifurcation that you related to the heart of the Villa Savoye.
The notion of limbo also directly describes the inside/outside ramp situation of the Palais des Congrès--not only is the ramp 'suspended' (in limbo) outside the main building block, moreover, half way up the ramp, it changes from an interior ramp to an exterior ramp.

1999.08.22 18:17
Sony Metreon
It is probably more worth noting WHAT is purveyed rather than HOW it's purveyed.
The fact that almost everything on the market today has a designed obsolescence is what's really frightening. If you think about it, food isn't the only commodity with a "sell by" date on it.
The marketers probably don't care as much about how or where something is sold as much as they care that what is sold can soon be sold again.

If reenactment as a design prescription is still only a "weak hypothesis," your consideration of the notion so far certainly contributes supplemental vitality and strength. I assume (and hope) you've read my paper for Belgium and my Tafuri critique before writing your reply, because my response here works along those lines.
The evocation of Serlio's 'street scenes' is indeed apt--the notion of stage set is very much part of reenactment, i.e., the place upon which and within which to 'act' again (and again). For the record, Serlio drew three scenes, the third, Scena Rustica or Scena Satirica, is all natural /naturalistic (proto primitive hut? or proto romanticism?).
While reenactment certainly necessitates a contextual understanding, reenactment as a design paradigm is nonetheless not necessarily site specific. For example, theme parks everywhere are for the most part far removed for the 'actual' themes they reenact. On the other hand, the reenactments within Venturi (Rauch) and Scott Brown's Franklin Court (Philadelphia), Western Plaza (Wash. D.C.) and Welcome Park (Philadelphia) relate directly to their respective sites/environments. Reenactment then can (and indeed does) have it both ways in terms of context.
As to the "problem" of "exciting ideas" never getting developed due to being brightly spotlighted and then quickly moved on form, perhaps this 'trendy' behavior too is a form of reenactment, that is, a repetitious renewal, the continual process of putting on a new hat, but always putting on a hat nevertheless.
The best philosophy I've read so far that purports reenactment is within Collingwood's The Idea of History. Collingwood is much influenced by Croce, and Croce is much influenced by Vico. [I have yet to do extensive reading regarding of the philosophy of history, but I have done enough to see that there is a significant strand of it that addresses reenactment as a methodology. I suspect Vico's New Science to be the most important primary source--I have the book, but have only read a small part of it so far.] When I first began to redraw Piranesi's Campo Marzio using CAD, I was doing so to get as close to Piranesi as possible; essentially, I was reenacting his act of drawing as best I could. For me, this exercise, this reenactment, has provided enormous insight, albeit it took several years of continual work for this vision to develop. I am certainly not Piranesi, nor do I contend to possess his superior creative talent and imagination, but I deliberately attempted to do some of the same things he has done, and in so doing I honestly believe I removed several degrees of separation. Perhaps reenactments then are always a play with degrees of separation, sometimes seeing how close one can get to the 'original' and/or sometimes seeing how far one can stretch the 'truth', to name the extreme cases. [play - theater - reenactment]
My historiography of Piranesi's Campo Marzio (and here I include my paper for Belgium with the work so far in the Encyclopedia Ichnographica) aims to present the Ichnographia as a prime exemplar of architectural and urban design as reenactment--Piranesi's plan is not only a large architecturally drawn plan, but also a plan in the sense that it lays out a course of action, or, should I say, a course of reenaction. Taking the lessons of the Ichnographia('s virtuality) and utilizing [reenacting!] them in today's world is the 'real' challenge.

2000.01.15 10:15
pretty [scarry] hybrid?
The following is an anecdote relative to the (new) notion of beauty (and aesthetics), etc.:
While still an architecture student, I spent the summer of 1978 working for the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) stationed in Perry, Missouri, a very small town (pop. 931) 30 miles west of Hannibal (of Mark Twain fame). It was then that the city of St. Louis (120 miles south) became the 'big city' destination on several weekends. What struck me the most in St. Louis was Eero Saarinen's Gateway Arch--not only is it an incredible site from a distance, but even more amazing when perceived while walking around its base, (and I won't elaborate here about the "otherness" of its elevator ride up to the top observation room inside, which I believe I heard is something you can't do anymore).
On what was my third visit to St. Louis, I was with several of the other student architects I lived and worked with--it was their first trip. We were all around the same age and education level, i.e., early twenties and full of youthful over-confidence. I distinctly remember being asked by Mike, "So, what do you think of the arch?" (Mike and I were room mates, and we often 'discussed' architecture). I said, "I think the arch is very pretty." Well, Mike quickly told me that one just DOES NOT use the word 'pretty' when referring to architecture!--(apparently) pretty has such lowly connotations. I briefly argued that I thought 'pretty' was the best word to describe how I saw the arch, largely because I see its 'prettiness' as pretty much undeniable. I was confident I used the right word to describe how I felt about the arch.
Today, just two weeks into the 21st century, I looked up pretty in Webster's Third International Dictionary:
pretty 1 a : marked by or calling for skillful dexterity or artful care and ingenuity, esp. in coping with some difficult or complicated matter.
I am thus (finally) completely convinced I saw the arch for what it is, and then also described how I saw the arch in a most fitting manner.
Now being somewhat older (and hopefully somewhat wiser), if I were today asked what I thought of the arch, I'd say, "The St. Louis Arch is very likely the prettiest architecture-sculpture hybrid I will have ever perceived."

2000.02.20 10:49
So what has the realm of architecture [r]evolved into?
I believe it is a global truism that all culture, including architecture, is now a commodity. Architecture is a commodity, and the education of architecture is a commodity. Furthermore, even 'revolution' is now a commodity in that a revolution that 'makes it' is essentially a revolution that 'makes money'.
There are very few places where 'architecture' on an educational level is free.



Quondam © 2019.03.24