Quondam design-l lister Rick McBride sent me a link to yesterday's NYTIMES article "A Memorial Is Itself a Shaper of Memory" which muses on the future fate of the World Trade Center site. Rick wondered if the article might relate to reenactment and architecture. Here's how I responded:
While human memory itself is very likely the prototype of all reenactment, memorials themselves are not necessarily manifestations of reenactionary architecturalism. Keeping and displaying the ruins of the World Trade Center towers is not an act of reenactment. Rebuilding the towers, each up to the height of 9/11 impact, each with a gigantic staircase spiraling down, and each filled with a core of places of prayer and worship (with a mosque at each acme), would be reenactionary architecturism, especially for pilgrims that fly (via helicopters) to the tops and then walk all the way down.
Plus Ultra Houses
...houses that have morphed into museums... ...the palace at Trier, a(n Imperial) house that morphed into a double basilica... ...plus ultra is the Latin for 'more beyond', or more hyper
Re: The world's new look.Really?
The last few days I've been archiving all my email letters from the last year. Since I'm on the computer all day, I occassionally check if there are any new emails. After reading Alex's last post I went back to archiving. Within a few letters I came upon "Nostradamus, etc.", an email I sent to design-l [I sent it 13 Sept. 2001 and it arrived at design-l 14 Sept. 2001]. The last line of this email reads:
"For what its worth, when it comes to the double sided nature of horror, it seems, to me at least, that we are all mirrors that have to see ourselves regardless."
It seems that Alex's "The world's new look. Really?" portray's a true double theater of current history. A double theater that, depending on which stage your watching, manifests what is believed. One of the saddest lessons I've had to learn in life is that there are many, many people that only believe what they want to believe, and, what's worse, people do this quite conscientiously, especially educated people.
A couple of Friday nights ago, I had a conversation with Hani Rashid. He and Lise Anne Couture and Karim Rashid were at the opening of Stradascape, an installation by them at Philadelphia's Institute of Contemporary Art. Hani and I discussed virtual museums, particularly the Virtual Guggenheim Museum that Asymptote (the architecture firm of Hani Rashid and Lise Anne Couture) designed, but has yet to be implimented online. I mentioned the NYTIMES article of about a month ago that itemized the recent Guggenheim cut-backs, and Hani quickly said that the cut-backs actually signify a [virtual???] reversal of fortune for the Virtual Museum. I thought to myself, "Oh, so here is another person that believes only what they want to believe." Hani's explanation gets a bit complicated because there is now www.guggenheim.org and www.guggenheim.com. The dot org is the museum we all know, while the dot com is an independent commercial site that paid the Guggenheim to use their name, etc. The backer(s) of guggenheim.com are not a sure thing either, so the Virtual Guggenheim is still hyper-virtual (if I may again coin a phrase).
Then Hani and I discussed their installation, which for the most part is interesting "furniture" producted using automobile industry CAD/CAM and made of the formed stuff you see in new car trunks. This "stratascape" covers an area of about 60' x 40' and comprises a grid of individual "chairs" approx. 12 across and 8 down. The form of the furniture is all undulating, and a lot of fun to sit in. At one point Hani said the installation "in a perverse artistic way" manifests a reversal where "the people are stationary and the furniture moves." Truth be told, the installation we were both looking at was indeed the exact opposite of what Hani described--the many people present were moving all throughout the "scape", and the "furniture" itself was perfectly stationary. Hani may believe what he wants to believe, however, I believe what I saw.
It appears that double theaters are everywhere, even in architect's heads.
nimiety of ideas
...hyper surface of the Ara Pacia... Ara Pacia as architecture as the delivery of content.
And maybe "niche-obsessed, crippling education" is reflective of humanity's present hyper-assimilating and increasingly metabolic imagination. (With 'maybe' being the operative word.)
Then again, where would humanity be without its "niche-obsessed" organs.
Its truly a wonder that some long ago Hindu niche figured out the long range importance of the spinal column.
Do you think Benjamin Franklin knew why salt melts ice? (Assuming, of course, that he knew salt melts ice.)
Re: dead languages
If you read a lot of architecture theory books or essays, every so often you come across an analysis/explanation of something Victor Hugo wrote about architecture and books. Here's an example from a quondam online source:
In Victor Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame Book V Chapter 2 is titled "This Will Kill That". Hugo tells how human history, pre-Gutenberg, was written in its buildings: huts and temples, pyramids and pagodas, tombs and towers. Now (as of the Fifteenth Century) he argues that the printing press and its products have taken over the rôle of recording knowledge. Faster, cheaper, more democratic --- and, with widespread proliferation of books, far more imperishable than architecture. Hugo says, "The invention of printing is the greatest event of history." True? Chapter 2 concludes with a summary of his thesis:
"Thus, to put it shortly, mankind has two books, two registers, two testaments: Architecture and Printing; the Bible of stone and the Bible of paper. Doubtless, in contemplating these two Bibles, spread open wide through the centuries, one is fain to regret the visible majesty of the granite writing, those gigantic alphabets in the shape of colonnades, porches, and obelisks; these mountains, as it were, the work of man's hand spread over the whole world and filling the past, from the pyramid to the steeple, from Cheops to Strassburg. The past should be read in these marble pages; the books written by architecture can be read and reread, with never-diminishing interest; but one cannot deny the grandeur of the edifice which printing has raised in its turn.
"That edifice is colossal. I do not know what statistician it was who calculated that by piling one upon another all the volumes issued from the press since Gutenberg, you would bridge the space between the earth and the moon --- but it is not to that kind of greatness we allude. Nevertheless, if we try to form a collective picture of the combined results of printing down to our own times, does it not appear as a huge structure, having the whole world for foundation, and the whole human race for its ceaselessly active workmen, and whose pinnacles tower up into the impenetrable mist of the future? It is the swarming ant-hill of intellectual forces; the hive to which all the golden-winged messengers of the imagination return, laden with honey. This prodigious edifice has a thousand storeys, and remains forever incomplete. The press, that giant engine, incessantly absorbing all the intellectual forces of society, disgorges, as incessantly, new materials for its work. The entire human race is on the scaffolding; every mind is a mason. Even the humblest can fill up a gap, or lay another brick. Each day another layer is put on. Independently of the individual contribution, there are certain collective donations. The eighteenth century presents the Encyclopædia, the Revolution the Moniteur. Undoubtedly this, too, is a structure, growing and piling itself up in endless spiral lines; here, too, there is confusion of tongues, incessant activity, indefatigable labour, a furious contest between the whole of mankind, an ark of refuge for the intelligence against another deluge, against another influx of barbarism.
"It is the second Tower of Babel."
Interestingly, the paragraph that follows the above addresses pretty much the same idea that I thought of last night:
"So does that put the Web into a better context? Is what we're now experiencing just a step or two more along the road that Victor Hugo identified in the move from the building to the book? And is the noise of the 'Net only an increment (though perhaps an order-of-magnitude worse) to the pandemonium that the printing press has already brought us?"
Actually, what I was thinking last night is more an inversion of the prior paragraph--last night I thought to entitle my post 'virtual [architecture] inversion'.
My thoughts where about Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) as now 'virtually' killing the book. Moreover, I was thinking how HTML manifests the 'structure' of virtual architecture, thus bringing back [reenacting?] an "architecture as delivery of content".
Robert Venturi in his latest theory regarding electronics and iconography upon a generic architecture is almost saying the same thing as far as architecture again being a delivery of content, but, for me at least, Venturi's theory becomes flawed when he admits to not knowing what the content should be. More than anything, what he so far fails to acknowledge is that iconography on buildings today, be it either electronic or not, is almost always advertising, advertising, advertising--essentially a very limited, narrowly focused delivery of content. Since 1999 when I did a large number of webpages utilizing the HTML 'marquee' tag, I've wondered if HTML might not be a better 'programmer' for the 'screens' that are now on buildings (as in Tokyo and NY's Times Square and Lehman Brothers Building). For example, if I were commissioned to design content for some real (generic) building whose 'skin' was an electronic screen, I'd propose a vast series of 'webpages' that act as a museum of architecture, thereby making the building, at least on the surface, a 'virtual museum of architecture.' I wouldn't necessarily be advertising Quondam, rather I'd be cloaking real generic architecture with many architectures. It wouldn't really matter what goes on inside the building because that will probably change from year to year, and the 'bulk' of the building's real architecture will be literally superficial and ironically really virtual.
I could go on and on, like pondering what kind of content I would propose for a hospital that had screen facades, or electronic/iconographic houses that change decorations by seasons or holidays, or even imagining the imaging of a house of ill-repute.
Re: dead languages
For me as an architect, the liberating part of hypertext (and here I mean specifically HTML and its application via the internet) is that I can design a virtual building with just my two hands. There are very little costs involved, and no one can stop me, nor a can anyone deny that I'm doing it. That is very liberating, especially for an architect. Furthermore, virtual architecture via hypertext has no real need for a client, thus liberating all design possibilities.
My work as a hypertextual architect/designer can be judged by anyone, just like it can be utilized by anyone. So far, the architectural 'establishment' chooses rather to pretend it's not there, or judge it something lacking or even just unimportant.
Re: fashionism etc
Spoken language is all at base a wavelength, isn't it? Does that mean language written digitally is a hyper-wavelength?
Re: Marriage Vow(El)S In Drag
Could it be that the whiter humanity thinks, the more it manifests extinctions? Or is such thinking going hyper avant-garde?
MORPHOSIS Exhibit Redux
On 19 November 2001 I wrote (and promised):
I too go to Temple's campus quite often, and thus am also aware of what types of student's works are produced there. In fact, I was at the architecture building today, using the library. There is an exhibit there now, which, when I first walked in, I thought was a student exhibit. Then I soon enough found out the exhibit was of recent work by Morphosis. It wasn't that the work was unprofessional and thus looked like student work, rather more that many students today are doing projects that emulate Morphosis. Anyway, I'm going to go back to the exhibit to take lots of digital images. Then I'm going to put together an online version of the exhibit.
"And now for something completely hyper-different."
Yesterday I finally got around to compiling and uploading Morphosis Exhibit Redux starting at...
This is not your 'standard' online display in that it further exhibits the ease of digitally artful arbitrariness, the easy otherness of virtual curating, and an insurance against copyright infringement liability via the critique/parody clause.
Re: the dead end of urbanism as we know it
Check out Le Corbusier's plan for rebuilding Berlin (1961, i.e., just before the Wall) at the end of volume 7 of the Oeuvre Complète. In retrospect, it is almost bizarre in its intentions. Note the reenactment of Chandigarh's Palace of Assembly next to the Reichstag! And the gigantic pronged towers scattered in the east. Urbanism, architecturism and spacism all in one plan.
It's funny. I really like this plan, and would love to see it executed, but not at the cost of losing Berlin in the process. If Disney, for example, ever wants to (again) do a great thematic 'FutureTown' (they actually called it TomorrowLand, didn't they?) they should simply enact this plan, and maybe put a big wall around it. I think I'd even like to like there. A kind of beyond virtual Berlin, like a new double Berlin, again.
And here's something that's really interesting in its obscurity. Remember all those little sketches depicting bad modern building design that Leon Krier used to draw as contrast to his 'good' designs? I'm betting big money that Krier actually used the axonometric of Le Corbusier's Berlin plan (OC, vol. 7, p.234) as 'inspiration'. The 'lightening-bolt buildings just south of the Tiergarten are a dead give-a-way. Now I know why I always thought those sketches were actually the best buildings Krier ever designed.
Re: Libeskind on CR tonight
Could it now be clear that nothing at Ground Zero will ever come close to what was there before, and certainly in no way capture the same intensity of event that September 11, 2001 was? If that's the case, how does one design something that is already destined to be lacking, except for the media hype. And given all the hyper media attention surrounding Ground Zero and its renewal design, one would think that the rebuilding of Hiroshima and Nagasaki would be in all the history books as a(n atomically) powerful precedent clearly explaining what such renewal really means and how to do it properly.
I wonder what would have happened if one of the chosen architecture teams proposed doing as little as possible for the time being. I'm thinking such a proposal would probably have gotten more attention than all the other proposals combined.
Hyper Size: virtually small, virtually medium, virtually large, virtually extra large; a virtual bigness book. This is where scale in architecture goes.
Regarding architecture and plagiarism here's a short exchange from DESIGN-L 3 August 2001:
See how the Frank Lloyd Wright's Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of New York reenacts Giuseppe Momo's 1932 entrance hall with double-helix ramps of the Vatican Museum.
Isn't the word 'plagiarism'? Even the dome is the same configuration. I noticed that when I visited the Vatican museum in 1966.
[to which lauf-s replied:]
I believe you are correct about Wright plagiarizing Momo, in that plagiarize means: to steal or pass off as one's own (the ideas or words of another); use (a created production) without crediting the source; to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source. But the buildings themselves do not plagiarize each other, rather they manifest reenactment. For example, if Wright had acknowledged Momo's design, then Wright would no longer be guilty of plagiarism, but the Guggenheim as a building wouldn't actually change because of the acknowledgment.
ps 12 February 2003
Simply put, if sources are acknowledged, then plagiarism does not exist. Furthermore, reenactment exists whether a source is acknowledged or not.
Tomorrow, 13 February, is the feast of St. Catherine de Ricci, whose name some may recognize from the Dominican Motherhouse of St. Catherine de Ricci, an unexecuted design by Louis I. Kahn. St. Catherine was indeed a 'reenactor' in that she for twelve years reenacted the events leading up the Crucifixion, beginning Holy Thursday and ending Good Friday afternoon, even including the appearance of stigmata.
I have to wonder whether Kahn ever took the time to research St. Catherine de Ricci while designing the Motherhouse dedicated to the Saint. Are there perhaps clues within the convent design that may suggest Kahn was aware of the Saint? Honestly, who knows. All the same, Kahn for sure did some reenacting himself with the design.
pss from DESIGN-L 2003.01.10
Check out Le Corbusier's plan for rebuilding Berlin (1961, i.e., just before the Wall) at the end of volume 7 of the Oeuvre Complete. In retrospect, it is almost bizarre in its intentions. Note the reenactment of Chandigarh's Great Assembly next to the Reichstag! And the gigantic pronged towers shattered in the east. Urbanism, architecturism and spacism all in one plan.
It's funny. I really like this plan, and would love to see it executed, but not at the cost of losing Berlin in the process. If Disney, for example, ever wants to (again) do a great thematic 'FutureTown' (they actually called it TomorrowLand, didn't they?) they should simply enact this plan, and maybe put a big wall around it. I think I'd even like to live there. A kind of beyond virtual Berlin, like a new double Berlin, again.
[And here's something that's really interesting in its obscurity. Remember all those little sketches depicting bad modern building design that Leon Krier used to draw as contrast to his 'good' designs? I'm betting big money that Krier actually used the axonometric of Le Corbusier's Berlin plan (OC, vol. 7, p.234) as 'inspiration'. The 'lightening-bolt buildings just south of the Tiergarten are a dead give-a-way. Now I know why I always thought those sketches were actually the best buildings Krier ever designed.]
Here are some digital snapshots of Le Corbusier's plan for Berlin, 1961, plus a sketch by Krier and a project by Stirling/Wilford.
Chandigarh and Reichstag
gigantic towers in the east
jpg lightening-bolt buildings at bottom
lightning-bolt building at bottom
1988: Seville: Stadium Development lightening-bolt buildings