Sunday, November 30, 2008
Picasso once said, "give me a nude. Not doing a nude of a nude as a nude."
I'm designing a school. and i say don't make a school of a school as a school. I just want to say classroom, say artroom, music room, cafeteria...
just as the quote above continues, "I just want to say breast, say foot, say hand, belly... One must a way of doing a nude as it is." Picasso 66'
lets make nude architecture as it is.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Words are what surround my thoughts. I use words and believe that the words hold some power. Words in the both languages that I know (maybe just utter) fascinate me. I constantly hear them, (mis)read them, (mis)speak them and (mis)write them. Sometimes after using a word or a phrase for a thousand times, I say it again and it strikes me as extraordinarily odd. The oddness of a word or expression leads me to wonder why I just uttered it. Why it sounds so strange? And now, why had I just used it there in that context? I hear this and think, “More so, perhaps, than it appears to you who have enormous freedom of speech, and might therefore assume that words are not so important. They are. They are important everywhere.” Fuck I, must really stop (mis)using my words. Important, perhaps but constantly misused – or over used, im not sure but constantly falling short. Becoming clichés, such as, “fall short” or worse, meaningless, uttered nothing, lack of silence and nothing more.
Over time, I have become more unclear, or idealistic in my thoughts due to an abundant use of imprecise words. If words have incredible power, why then do I misuse them? Will this lack of clarity continue? It is hard not to think so, with twenty-four hour media coverage of subjects, develops a communicative environment of filling silence with words. Only the fear of repetition has instilled in me, but not (a far more damaging) fear of overstatement. I live in an environment that seems to thrive on the over accumulation of vague words in order to explain and therefore promote a lack of clarity. An example of overstatement is: Words like phenomenon, element, individual (as noun), objective, categorical, effective, virtual, basic, primary, promote, constitute, exhibit, exploit, utilize, eliminate, liquidate, are used to dress up a simple statement and give an air of scientific impartiality to biased judgments. And what is words like: terrorism, freedom, reform, and change, organic, green, and sustainable…
What is terrorism? A war on terror, perhaps? A group of terrorist? Are we in a war with a feeling? A state of terror? It is surprising what a word can do; some have the power to change the world. Our brains are washed in words, but the words that hide what is really meant or felt are increasingly holding a tighter grip on our thoughts. If language is heading in an imprecise direction, will all our thoughts follow? I have not here been considering the literary use of language, but merely language as an instrument for expressing and not for concealing or preventing thought. Stuart Chase and George Orwell have come near to claiming that all abstract words are meaningless, and have used this as a pretext for advocating a kind of political quietism. Since you don't know what Fascism is, how can you struggle against Fascism?
“The same word can be humble at one moment and arrogant the next. And a humble word can be transformed easily and imperceptibly into an arrogant one, whereas it is a difficult and protracted process to transform an arrogant word into one that is humble.”
Monday, November 17, 2008
Do I miss Mallarmé? Sure. Does that mean I need to bring him into everything I design? No. Do I see the value (and joy) in beginning the design of a garden, and then an urban park, with a reinterpretation of Finnegan’s Wake (and did I pour over it when I first encountered it)? Sure. Would I reveal that source after the initial design had been tested and adjusted for very specific and real inhabitation? Probably not. Does this mean that I have gained a stronger understanding of realistic spatial implications or just become more jaded? Are we ever doing more than reinterpreting our points of inspiration, tainting them with architecture and mixing them with our knowledge of precedence? Does this mean that we should avoid inspiration that comes from sources outside of the discipline? Why am I getting depressed?
Sunday, November 9, 2008
To be witnessed is infinitely reassuring. To observe others and recognize another's struggle is deeply comforting. And it is in this in between that I see all life generated. That space between where a word is spoken and a sound heard. That freedom afforded in the midst of a tensile member supporting a compressive. An oscillation of opposites. The inhale and the exhale, and somehow life is generated. The positive and negative nodes and somehow in their exchange, electricity.
In architecture we have the capacity to create spaces for opposites to interact. We have the opportunity to generate the environment for this life generating synthesis. Inside and out, maximize the surface area. Expansion and compression: alternate abundantly. To witness to witness to witness.
Monday, November 3, 2008
This is my first draft for my application essay. Thanks casey for posting that little quote of mine. I read it over and copied it to word and wrote the rest of this. Its a little long for our ADD culture but bear with me, I could really use some feedback. here goes...
What myriad forms and beauties, what precious creations our Sisyphean battle against loneliness has birthed. That mercurial enemy that we find in that same room we lock ourselves into seeking refuge. We find the reality of a life led alone nauseating, vapid: the unwitnessed is no better than the untrue. What good is my triumph without the accolades of those who care? And so we, one, run to be two and begin fighting loneliness now with justification because the other has not met, not seen, not appreciated, not heard, not cared, not freed us from what we are and what we will always be, alone.
I did not come to enjoy academics until I began to find it afforded a way to articulate these inexorable struggles from which I could find no escape. Somehow these pithy unflinching accounts of our condition did not seem dreary or bleak. As I read of Sisyphus, “cheek tight against the stone, shoulder bracing the clay covered mass, the foot wedging it, the fresh start with arms outstretched, the wholly human security of two earth-clotted hands” (camus) I felt profoundly met. I could as well have been standing with him as he finally heaved the rock onto the pinnacle and shared a deep breath as he and I watched the boulder careen down to the valley below.
Even the companionship I enjoyed in the myth of Sisyphus and the rest of the existentialists timed out. As Sisyphus run’s down the hill to restart his own futile quest I was left on the mountain side, yet again alone, to contemplate my own. Aware that I shared Sisyphus’ fate, aware of the indubitable truth of ephemeral, keenly of my limited time, the question began at a whisper but soon began its crescendo. “So what? now what? What now? NOW WHAT? NOW WHAT?”
What could I do? There was a fork. Two answers. Yes or no: to celebrate the swings and fallows of this outrageous pendulum or, like Hamlet, be paralyzed by them. My truth was already evident in tremendous excitement I felt with Sisyphus sharing his moment where his work became clear; fully activated for his task at hand. The pursuit of the heights is not only enough to fill a man’s heart but articulates the undulating life force itself.
Sisyphus was not done instructing. His ups and downs gave voice to the fecund trembling tension of opposites, the ups and downs, the inhales and exhales, the electrified nodes, the explosive chemistry of opposites. So the question became, how do I lay out my life as a stage to welcome the fusion of opposites. How do I activate myself fully and let every facet of my composition be activated in this celebration. How do I let my artistic inclinations war with my need for mathematical precision? How do I let my delight in organization be enriched with observation? How do honor my needs for physical interaction with introspection. How do I unite philosophy and action?
The answer began to coalesce as I began to realize that the most satisfying articulation of these interweaving forces was formal. What better way to celebrate the this trembling life force of the dynamic union of opposites than to create the space for them to occur? I found my thoughts leading to a wealth of spaces, where tension is given permission to activate expansion, for the outside to liberate the in and in to define the out, where old meet young. I drifted to the creation of spaces that find their definition in the in between, between exposure and security, between compressive and tensile members, between heaven and earth.
What a profound privilege it seemed to engage in the celebration of the struggles that make life rich from a vocation that has bears the potential to consume every last inch of the myriad me_s. Architecture: a profession that promised liberty from the myopia of specialization. A last remaining choice for the contemporary renaissance man.
And as I reflect, the trajectory that led me to architecture could not be more timely for architecture will soon be asked to seriously grapple with its own sobering set of limitations. Just as philosophers, a century ago, grappled with the possibility that this life is it, so to will architecture soon be asked to consider the possibility that the resources we have left are it. Liberating as I found the pithy unflattering synapses of life and toil, so to do I see a great possibility of liberation in the realization that efficiency has become necessity. As the appreciation of our own ticking clock infuses every action with an added weight so too do limited resources exponentially multiply the responsibility of every material application.
The principles, the needs, the questions, and the means are all asked to be distilled to their essence. Again, I find the the process of distillation comforting. The elements I can understand, what do we have? We have the sun’s rays, we have earth, we have the chill of the depthless sky, we have the need to be protected and the need for companionship, to witness others grapple with their rocks, search for their heights, watch their rocks plunge. Additionally, we have our labor, our resources, and a limited amount of both. So we are demanded to act with a judicious application of both. These are should not be a source of dismay. The acknowledgement of these limitations are what will give life to the next epoch of architecture. They hold the promise of liberating us from the feckless digital baroque.
Not realizing in fact that the writing was to a question, that the words were out of order and confused that in fact the secret was not something I held but something unknown. That not telling anyone was beyond privilege; a state of lack, a state of indulgence in not knowing. A state in the process of the realization that creativity, originality, or not seeing, blindness on as many levels of grayness, of black and white, of light and dark in the formation of understanding that defies, dismisses, persuades, patronizes, absorption and consumption.
I did not realize that you might describe someone as sick. That I heard those words and heard someone else saying them. I heard those words in a voice all too familiar, in a face I knew too well. In a voice that I could feel lying recently, where lying is not natural and that the prospect of ignorance in the sense of dismissal is much easier than addressing the envelope and sending it, that time exhibits pressures on the moments when it, the crisis, could turn the air a different color, make it weigh more, make the burden less, make it evaporate, make it mute, make it sing. The patience of a notion to keep things indisputably even, that things boil over eventually.
I watched, eked, through the motions and concluded similar conclusions.
In hearing an account, an anecdote, a story, a fable, a dream, a sketch, a moment, of another, I pressed words and asked to ache less. Everything hidden seemed useless as if exposure, revelation, implies empathy, as if clarity, description, understanding, provides these things in themselves. In propaganda, in proposals, in an eternal conversation, dialogue, monologue, some truths and some lies pervade the lines and all of the space, too.
A valise carried unremembered words, unforgettable tone, unspoken, written, etched, scarred. It was the single mention that recalled all of it, opened it, found it and impressed with associations, yearned for more of a lapse, ached for its destruction, that I remembered the pressure and soreness between fingers and in the palm, in its discomfort, in its translation from the letter into a world, a universe.
A stretched hand watches the color fade from areas of the surface, watches the lines of the palm grow darker not in shadow. In tension. The response of the body, of the heart, of the capacity for patience, ill-served, has not revealed itself.
Set out for the ruins, but didn't find them. Or didn't recongnize them. It only seemed the same worn path through a new field. Sometimes I feel a force urging me to burn down the forest and watch the new grass come up next Spring. Or mid Winter if you are in California.
Maybe we can never meet each other. Maybe we will never re-unite the egg that Zeus split with a golden hair.
But maybe we can help each other find the gift of fire.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Lebbeus, Ben, and many others over time have brought up the issue of abstraction vs. representation. The painter who produced these, Richard Diebenkorn, spent his whole artist life struggling over these two ideas. Is it possible to say which of these are representational and which are abstract?
At a glance, some may easily fall into a category, but I would argue that Diebekorn is a clear example of the blured boudries and dissatisfying definitions that become evident when we try and put a finger on what is real, and what is non-real. Or what is objective verses what is subjective.
Architectural honesty is a difficult term handle because it implies that one form of architecture is more honest, or more real, than another. But how is that decided?
How do we decide that an architecture that is in some way egalitarian is more honest than one rooted in capitalistic intentions?
ps. hello Avi. You should try and find Diebenkorn in LA.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
What is the difference between poetry and prose? How thick is the boundary between what we exert to know and what we dare to risk? Can we quantify the amount of chance or humility mustered in either situation? Is there a difference between feeling and thinking? Is our brain or our heart the most resilient? The most agile? The most vulnerable?
When do we draw the line between what is imagined and what is real? When does reality end, imagination begin? Do I know what you imagine? Can you see it? Can you hear it? Can you touch it? Can I? Do you ever really feel what I dream? Is it just a story? When you tell me your tales, do you hope I inhabit them? Do I act them out as script or live them in all of their peculiar, unexpected circumstances?
Is abstraction a shield? An impenetrable, esoteric cloud that, in its radiant, hovering mist, shelters and ensures that any other is never really, truly able to understand? Do we protect ourselves, in a very conscious and active practice, by giving up what we, and only we, can understand? In the active donation of what we hold to be most sacred, intimate, secret are we subconsciously offering only the fringes of a rope (to never be grasped?) that might allow another (if deemed worthy) the ability to climb inside the Rapunzel’s tower of our soul? What warrants or permits this entry? How much do we value those that are able to scale these heights? Do we want anyone to join us? Are we obligated to host a gathering?
Are there things that are always legible to everyone? Do we endeavour to keep things illegible in order to protect a certain mystique? Does this mystique legitimize what we do? Does every object, word, maintain a degree of meaning inaccessible to anyone but the one who has created it? Does meaning exist anywhere in the absence of context? How do we nurture, cultivate, share meaning?
Is what we claim as our expertise the product of a beautiful, fragile, infinitely momentous train of creativity? Or do we tell ourselves stories (maybe fiction) about how much (through tested inquiry) we know better about the everyday? Are our senses heightened, refined more than the next person? Or have those of others merely dulled? Is it in awe, in touch, in sight, in feeling, in empathy, in advocacy, the way in which we hope to connect with others? Are we priests or politicians? Are we in the practice or serving or providing a service? To whom?
When I write, am I acting? Am I giving? Is the word any more or less material than the stone? Is time or mass the measure through which I am able to distinguish between what I produce and what I ingest? Where do I place myself in the cycle of give and take? Where do we place ourselves?
Comment as you see fit.
There is a city where religion is capital. This city has been in many stages of construction and has never seen completion. Its first step was to show the world what it could be. Through architectural imagery, the city expressed all the amenities that capital could afford. As a result, the city’s water parts floated; fire as lanterns lit the night sky; air took the path of contrived, pressured, capture and release; and deep excavation solidified a new earth scape, a new vertical horizon.
It began with the inhabitation of an aerial rendering and the city. The speed of conception and inscription manifested a lack and a partial state of completion in both realms. The more the city built, the more occupants moved into its lofted dwellings, its penthouses. The more these penthouses sold, the more projects had to be built anew. No occupant wanted to live under anyone else. Therefore, the priority was to build from the top down. Constructing the penthouses to reflect the rendering first, meant that it could be sold as soon as it was rendered. Selling the top penthouse meant construction of the entire project was financed. This principle allowed many buildings to be sold before they where even close to completion.
Initially, the aerial rendering showed what the entire city, once complete, would be. Eventually it could no longer keep up with the pace of development, the rendering began to focus on portions and soon, only on individual parts. Ultimately, it led to renderings of buildings as 'siteless' or 'contextless' due to the unsure nature of where they were going to be built. Even when a site was chosen, renderings could not accurately portray the environment around the proposed site.
No occupant in the city would care to tell you about the city's streets; whether they where black or green or had any trees or shrubs. They only perceived the streets from their penthouses and referred to what the aerial rendering showed. They trusted that if represented in the rendering, it must surely exist under their feet.
Occupants found difficulty crossing the city's streets, in part, because lanes were constantly added as the traffic remained. The renderings showed that additional lanes in the streets would supply the buildings with faster services as well as allow quicker developmental progress. Nevertheless, most daily circulation for the occupants was vertical. Spent in elevators equipped with telecommunicate media and hyper-speed, decreasing time leading up to the top. The occupants that could not afford being disconnected from their businesses had little need for noticing anything immediately around them.
In the world around the city, there would be an abundance of ads promoting belief in the city. One would behold the pinnacle of the tallest rendered building and below it would read, "Now Your Visa Card Can Help You Cast Bigger Shadows."
Someday a new city will be discovered below, and above, there will lay the ruins of a city never built.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I believe we are being called to re-infuse the romance back into the judicious, the frugal, the decidedly unwasteful. It is being asked of us to re investigate the notion of need and to relearn how much we can do without!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The social, political and financial networks in which architecture is embedded have grown increasingly complex in every imaginable context, and will most likely continue to do so. Within these layered, and therefore progressively less transparent, networks, the building becomes an unstable pawn, a social tool, a status symbol, a mover of capital and risk. It bumps up against and infiltrates a myriad of exteriors. Rarely is a work of architecture purely introspective and self-contained; why then should we allow, as is often the case, a single work to feign self-absorption?
Instead of merely attempting to restore its solidity and wholeness, we can benefit from the condition of architecture as a set of plural and decentralized processes by allowing them to grow and make use of their full potential. How can an architectural process make nebulousness positive by taking on a more active role in the creation and manipulation of the systems that surround it, thereby inverting their power structures? How can it take greater control over the form of its own condition? The provision of housing infrastructure could create job skills, a construction cooperative, savings groups, a new economy. An analytical embrace of surplus and unused potential energy can lead to the reevaluation of intellectual waste within the processes we use to sharpen the navigation tools we carry: poetic, literary, technical and ethical.
This understanding of the physically constructed as only one component of the discipline implies a reconceptualization of the porous walls that signify where our work as architects and providers of dwelling begins and ends. There is a new design process to be found, and a new design, not the ether but of the ether.
and a little extra...
Scaffolding of process has the potential to design its own demise within the artificial confines of a single project, but take on a generative life of its own within the larger and intangible web of layered networks in which architecture is embedded and by which it travels. How do we responsibly make it grow? What do our poetic tools tell us to uncover from the surplus? What can we make?
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Look at us. 3, now four (hello beni-ben-ben, we all look forward to hearing from you) enchanted by the possibility of a blog where we might glean a glimpse of being met, being heard, being seen and witnessing others. We shall all be disappointed. Sisyphus has by now realized his fate is no mystery. Have you ever thrusted your fallice in the warm embrace of your lovers punani and been struck by the thought "this is good...this is great....why don't I just stay." But the moment you stop moving and establish yourself as met loneliness creeps from behind the stomach and has soon saturated the body. That grim ghost that keeps the pendulum of life in perpetual motion swinging from boredom to want.
So, what is it that I want from architecture? It is a plethora of those moments of reflection where I can bear witness to the friction of well lubricated movement. Where I can see all of those who are goaded by the grim gadfly of going it alone. I can sit and watch the birds sing their songs of longing. Here the crickets fight the silent abyss of the night sky by the friction of wing on wing. See the shopkeeper sweep the stoop outside his store, the beggar bear his final plea, the lovers taste the fleeting freedom. But most of all I want a space that will be hospitable to me when I cease struggling to find friction and welcome silence into my gut.
I aspire to an architecture that might make me more honest in understanding that the only reason I crave expansion is because I am compressed. The only way I recognize life is through movement and the only way I will ultimately be satisfied is if I turn around to meet my fate.
hold a transcription, a proposal, translation.
a story, a sentence, a secret, a space.
the weight is quite different.
the lightness has changed.
in relative gravity, is burden the same?
a house is a book, a cavernous story.
a house is a book, a vessel, a journey.
a house is a book, a weight and a memory.
a house is a book i cannot carry with me.
This world is in search of a crisis to base its revolution and reform. Cracks have appeared in the foundation of its base. Fractures will follow. A transformation in society and in politics and in economy through architecture is its future.
The interest lies in the design of a podium for a new society that could inform itself through its environment. Rather then each authority building a podium around its self or its ideology, the podium is ever changing due to its many builders. Government is thought of as a database in the wake of intercommunication of its occupants. Initially the fractures open opportunities for insurgent architecture. Creating a setting for the collapse of its walls. The will to change the condition of existence is its start. The result is brutal architectural honesty.