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November 25, 2006

the bubble


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. 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


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.