December 22, 2006

fin

The one thing missing from the FAB reading, was a dissident. Such a one sided article, and if this really is as pertinent and tangible as the author would have us believe, then it seems some caution should be taken before getting quite so hung ho; as theuth would say... The author admitted that ideologically the idea of personal fabrication was a reversion of sorts, back to a tool using culture. Because in essence what he speaks of is selling the most powerful, capable tool in all of history. One that can build anything, a multi tool on steroids. What he fails to ananlyze is how our economy and our culture, our way of living will be effected by this. He speaks of the benefits to undeveloped societies, but the fact is that while PF's are cutting edge technologically, ideologically they're not that far removed from the way those economies operate. Throwing something like that into our culture would have far more of an effect. Unfortunately, that sort of a revalation is about as far as my knowledge of economics and corporate America will take me; I can shake my finger but not really say anything of substance. I can only imagine how powerful of an effect this might have on a mindset that has become accustomed to being told what it wants, and all of a sudden has the capacity to decide and make whatever it wants.
Kahn's genius is as broad as his disregard for common english grammar, but one can't blame him for trying to sound complicated. Silence is that which drives us to create, but I don't think every human has that drive. I also don't understand his abhorrance for non natural lighting. The lightbulb fights the sun, yes, but it seems to be far too much of a personal preference to have much logic behind it.

December 19, 2006

technopolies

Lance Lavine warned us to not equate technological advances with progress, and for good reason. The adaptation of the ideas and research of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo to a new world view was, as Bacon defined it, progress. It opened minds to an advanced way of seeing the world, a way that embraces truth and makes available for people a tool they have always possessed: reason. It was a consciously made change, with thought as to what the repercussions might be. As Thamus said, however, the inventors of this new technology were not the ones who knew best what purpose it must serve. It took an outsider to realize its true potential, in the person of Francis Bacon. His opposition was fear, and facing fear almost always leads to progress. Thinking about technology in the immediate context of everyday life, the most glaring example is communication technology. The implementation of these technologies are done without any deep regard for the implications thereof; they are implemented at the demand of the masses, who are in turn subservient to these technologies. Doubtless these cause change, but change completely unrelated to progress. Human interaction is both facilitated and compromised through the use of things like instant messaging and text messaging. The definition of friendship has been stretched to the point of breaking by facebook. These technologies don’t have any ingrained agenda to impoverish our interactions. But we use them without a careful thought given to what the consequences might be. Their convenience value is clear. They also pack a lot of appeal in their informality; such casual communication requires little in the way of social skills or confidence. But what does such a large quantity of communication means do for the quality of interaction? The most reliable and immediate way of gauging whether a connection with someone exists is through one on one, face to face conversation. This is the most rich form of communication, as it transmits the most information. At the same time, that’s also why this is the most intimidating form of communication, and why engage in it when there are so many methods to skirt around it? The harm comes in the fact that while you are texting sweet insubstantial nothings, you could in fact be spending that time making an actual connection. Communicational shortcuts are not evil in and of themselves; used as a supplement to real conversation, they can definitely enrich communication. But careful thought must go into avoiding the replacement of real conversation with lol’s and ttyl’s.punch.jpg

December 18, 2006

Geometry (in part because it’s the only math I feel even slightly competent talking about)

The beauty of architecture derives from its reliance on geometry. There is some sort of ingrained appreciation in humans for it, that induces sheer joy at the sight. Must have something to do with natural selection, but that’s a completely different tangent. As math derives its aloofness from its lack of reliance on tangibility, some would call geometry the basest of all maths. Calculus sneers at it, and number theory won’t even deign to interact with it. But all this contempt lies in the fact that their foundations rest upon it, as do the foundations of all of our structures. Geometry is the language that architects communicate by, and that which lends buildings their elegance. Strip a building of all symbolic, ideological and cultural meaning and its beauty will still stand alone on geometry. It’s the most instinctual form of architectural appreciation there is. Upon choosing the field of architecture, I realize I have made a lifelong foe by the name of math. But among its other sweet capabilities, architecture can turn even math into something tangible and beautiful and tangibly beautiful. Here are some examples. As Lance Lavine would say, doesn’t looking at this just give you intense sexual pleasure?
geometry.JPGgeometry1.gif
geometry2.jpggeometry3.JPG
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December 11, 2006

oppositions

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The most fundamental function of art is communication. Architecture serves a very functional purpose as well, but if there was no art to it then all of our buildings would be built by engineers. Entire books, research teams, cults and lifetimes have been devoted to deciphering just what schemes were involved in an architect's intent when they designed a building. But can one human being really be that complicated? People are self obsessed by nature, and art is meaningful to those who see themselves in it. Pop art is so because it focuses on such overarching topics that people of all classes flavors and intellectual categories can relate to, such as love. Art's survival as a lucrative proffession depends upon people reading into things too deeply, as frustrating as that might be. Art is the passageway and barrier between perception and intent, simultaneously. Some would say perception is everything. What differece does some germ of an idea in an obsolete, deceased artist's mind make when interpreting the meaning of an iconic masterpiece? In many cases it's completely irrelevant. People with their changing mindsets add layers of meaning to art over time until whatever original message the artist had in mind is inconsequential. At the very extreme of this end of the perception stick are those who would strip the artist of all credibility and use the old "art is what you make it, there is no wrong interpretation". I can't dredge up much respect for, say, a photographer who points and shoots with no concious intent of meaning, relying solely on interpretation to gloss their photograph with meaning. It's an easy thing to rely on, to be sure. We humans have a tendency to find meaning in anything and everything. The only conclusion to be found in this contradiction hiding withing every manifestation of human creativity is the criteria for judging whether art is, in fact, good: the clarity/ creativity employed in communication of message, and the depth of the message itself. A person's genius is immeasurably underminded by his inability to effectively communicate, and art just isn't art if it acquires meaning by accident. The resolution of this opposition is that elusive thing we call "good art". It's almost impossible to define, but we know it when we see it. It happens when a resonating and timeless idea is made physical in such a way that it imprints itself onto the psyche of humans and grows there, letting each individual morph the meaning into something that somehow is just as true as the initial. The discrepancy between perception and intent will never be breached, but in these cases they complement each other rather than tastelessly clash.

November 25, 2006

the bubble

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I live in a bubble. The comfortable world of academia. Someday soon, my bubble of classes, campus, dinkytown, east como, and all the people and interactions and experiences that accompany will begin to stifle me and I’ll have to go find a different one. But it’s so tempting to never leave. Academia doesn’t fit neatly into the deconstructed analyses of phenomena, but it’s one as much as any other; it’s a culture, a philosophy, a disease. The things aren’t really things per se, as the very essence of academia is rationalism, physical objects such as notebooks, books, and pens fall into the trivial category of mental paraphanelia. The real units of the phenomena of academia are the minds of individuals, glowing and communicating and progressing. Frameworks are the arraingements we fall into; the choreography of learning. Grouping together in a class for the collective feeding off of the presumed mental superiority of a proffessor, the barely disguised mental competition of study groups and discussions, floating on a sea of caffiene and words in a coffee shop. Clockworks are the arduous beurocratic details that really have no place in the rationalistic philosophy, which states that, given time, no proverbial mountain is too high for the human brain. We do, however, live in a society that compartmentalizes life, hence the need for things like deadlines and class times and highly ordered semesters. What an appealing lifestyle. Everything revolves around the constant progress of knowledge, the abilities of the human brain. It’s so unmaterialistic. On the other hand, it can also be used as a protective shield for those who would rather spend life absorbing rather than producing for fear of judgement and rejection. It’s easy to become blinded to the fact that the real world doesn’t always filter into the exclusive world of “going to college?, and as much as it can enlighten, it can also serve as a barrier to life experience. At this point though, it’s exactly where I want to be.

genius loci

robie1.jpg A building is never just a building. Like onions, cakes, and you and me, the years give them layers, rarely tangible, but somehow subtly palpable. More than any other art form, architecture is changed by every interaction it has with a human. This force of human-ness upon architecture can be compared to the force of the sea upon Andy Goldsworthy’s wooden vortex, as he sent it out to sea with the belief that it would “make it into something far greater than (he) could have ever imagined?. It has a similar level of intent, too: it’s rather random. As much as an architect tries to shape the activities and ways of “being? his building will bring about, he can never imagine with any degree of accuracy what will transpire beneath the building’s passive gaze. The sense of quiet reverence I feel in any place of worship is worth more than just aesthetic appreciation, nor is it out of metaphysical adulation. It’s a function of all the people that have diligently conspired to release the most powerful of human emotion in that space year after year. And a very human passion this is, as we are the only species with such a feverish impulse to create arrestingly powerful religious monuments. Of course, this phenomenon isn’t by any means unique to churches. Every so often a house makes me stop in my path and fills me with an insatiable desire to go inside and sit in an empty room with bare walls, and try to somehow ascertain answers to questions like, what kind of people have lived here? What happened here? Generally, the older the structure, the more of this human-ness has built up, like so much sparkling dust clinging to the building, only visible to the highly perceptive. After such a stuffy and overdrawn introduction, what I’m trying to get at is this: I’m partial to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House. It’s like a thread of influence woven into my life long ago. It was across the street from my first american elementary school, and down the street from our far less lavish apartment, back when we were all young. It stands as a landmark of the beginning of my fascination with the meaning of spaces. Its very silhouette feels like home. The meaning of this building to me goes beyond the brilliance of FLW’s design. It’s a product of his vision frozen in brick and wood interacting with the psyche of everyone that comes in contact with it. A building isn’t finished when construction ends; rather, that’s the end of the beginning and the start of a new, indefinite process.robie 2.jpg

November 17, 2006

art in the apolis

Sooo Minneapolis is a pretty sweet city. As all the derelict warehouses, grain towers, rail road tracks, and strangely shaped protrusions obstructing the sweetly passive flow of the mississippi so nostalgically proclaim, Minneapolis was founded upon the river to exploit its hydraulic power for the advancement of....bread. As the town developed into the diverse metropolis it is today, our focus shifted slowly from complex carbohydrates to becoming the best damn pocket of midwestern underground visionary, quietly insightful artistic talent we can be. We midwesterners being a rather passive bunch (passion has a hard time thriving under 0 degrees C), we opted to forego the rejuvenating demolition that would disguise our yeasty roots. But what more fitting environment for the observation of brainchildren than the site of obsolete industrialism? A stuctural oxymoron. Of course, such an environment is not a very discriminating one; there is lots of, well, bad art. If you are like me, however the search for the occasional diamond in the banal is half the adventure through a brick red labirynth of workshops and studios. The good and bad thing about the lack of noteriety of these places is as follows: in-depth, meandering conversations with artists living in a similar economic sphere. For the most part, this is art for art's sake. They don't advertise too well, though. www.art-a-whirl.org. If by chance the art iself isn't much more than humorous, all the free wine and cheese more than makes up for it. Sometimes, if you're lucky, there's cupcakes too.

November 1, 2006

1

Between people, the most blatant form of energy exchange is conversation. What creates such a feeling of chaos in any large public gathering is that people don't know how to listen to each other. To hit an ear words have to be aimed correctly and at the right time, and carefully formulated using the elusive recipe for cleverness and terse substance. Even then fate has the last word on the journey of the message from ear to brain. The goals of self presentation and long term aspirations of everyone mingle and clash, and just sitting still in the midst of it amplifies and exaggerates all the similarities as well as differences between people. Shopping doesn't need to be this complicated. People go to places like markets on a social agenda; to ascertain their own self worth based on the reactions they recieve from others, to be mirrored in strangers.

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