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At a loss

This blog prompt has me at a loss of words. The idea that the built environment affects me is so fundamental, yet for some reason I have a hard time explaining the reason behind its effectiveness and how it actually succeeds to change me in some way. For better or for worse, I get affected. That’s a crappy thing when you’re constantly surrounded by small hallways and dimly-lit classrooms whose chairs offer no emotional or back support. In terms of phenomena, I would say that me not being able to pinpoint or fully recognize the reason why I’m affected by my surroundings is in and of itself a form of phenomena, wouldn’t you agree?

I spend at least three hours of my day in this building:

Isn’t that wonderful? It has a ton of windows which flood the studios with natural light; it has awe-inspiring curves and shapes. How interesting is it that the very building that I never get to sit down in actually turns out to be the most interesting to look at. I shouldn’t completely make that a statement: there are sometimes when, in modern, we are to “take in the surroundings.? That part of class gets a little too New Age-y for me, so I usually skip over it in my mind’s eye…haha. So, in that sense, it is not the building which is detracting me from being who I am, but the person who speaks for the building. I say, let the building speak for itself; don’t stamp your own agenda on it.

Now take a look at the University of Minnesota mall area. This area is the epitome of university, academic architecture. Columns and bricks in every building, huge doors, very intimidating and collegiate. northrop.jpg

At first, these places psych me out. After having classes in them, however, I feel as though they help me to distinguish between class types. At the Barker, I understand the moral code and laws. At Tate Hall, for example, I understand that the laws of Barker don’t apply. So, the buildings are used as a reference point for me to understand the placement of my behavior. For example, if I were to do an arabesque in the Barker, people would perhaps try and help my technique or applaud its beauty. In the physics building, they would be thinking, “that girl is crazy, what the heck is she doin’, get out of my way…? so on and so forth. So, in this sense, I’m thankful for these buildings’ surroundings and basic natures, because they guide me in my daily behavior.

Another example using the same buildings: Tate Hall and Barbara Barker Center for Dance. In terms of clockwork, this time. In Tate, time stops. In BBCD, it flies. This is a phenomenon all by itself. How does time feel differently in two different buildings? I don’t think this is something that can be fully comprehended. I just need to accept it as fact. Once I realize that this is true, how does it shape me? That’s a good question. I feel like it shapes me to become aware of my priorities in life; it shapes me to understand relativity better. I now understand that the professor is going to go on and on about the velocity of a cart down an incline, and it probably won’t change my life. But, I may finally understand how a movement fits into my body in that time which feels so short. So for me, I feel like I need to pay special attention to soak it all up. No matter fast or slow, these things are all important.

Opposition: physics and dance. If I understand the physics of a movement, does that better equip me to understand and absorb it into my dancing? Of course. Now moving back to buildings: I feel like the opposition between my home in Waseca and my dorm room in Middlebrook creates this super sense of inferiority. I have come to terms with the idea that I am the small fish in the big pond. middlebrook.jpg
The small, shared bathrooms. The fluorescent lighting. The hair on the rug that isn’t mine. The alarm clock that goes off in the morning that my roommate doesn’t turn off.

This is my life, folks.

This is my environment. I’m not complaining, I did choose to leave out the good stuff—like a bunch of new friends, growing in my faith, finding a great church…these are all positive things which contribute to my ability to withstand the bad. Parts of my environment change me so much..for the better. I believe that the dorm room is one of those things. Yeah, it sucks to live there sometimes. But, through this environment I’m living in, I am better enabled to appreciate the environment I dwell in thereafter (which has to be better!). I am, ultimately, affected in the best way possible by the buildings by which I’m surrounded. I think this is, in part, due to the building. I also think there’s a certain amount of willpower used that allows me to take the best out of every situation. No matter what.
So, in asking how I’m affected, it’s really a tough thing to pinpoint. I don’t know where that line begins and where it ends. I’m only human! I don’t have the ability to pick apart an environment and determine its affect. Yes, I can derive minute details—like the overall feeling of the room, or how a wall's color changes my mood. I know that, in the end, I will never be able to fully grasp my environment’s affects. That’s alright by me, because I also know that I have the decision, and someday the ability, to eventually be the one who is doing the affecting.
This is a scary thing, I better understand how things affect me before I start affecting them. Maybe that's where bad architecture comes from...