Friday, January 3, 2014

Siemper and Style

"Stil ist die Übereinstimmungen einer Kunsterscheinung mit ihrer Enstehungsgeschichte, mit allen Umstanden und Vorbedingungen ihres Werden". Gottfried Siemper 1803-1879

English (my) translation:
"Style is the conformity of an artistic phenomenon with its genesis-history, with all of the contextual conditions and preconditions required of its existence."

The statement on style implies Siemper's larger ideas of both objectivity and genetic methodology focused on and around the object. His concept of style maybe true of purely morphological comparisons, but it does not account for public (social-cultural) acceptance of style which requires a theoretical legitimacy to exist. Style in this context can not be created by form but requires a existential legitimacy of the particular Zeitgeist.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The limits of Interpretation.

If one believes that art objects exist independent of our perception of them -as opposed to their existence being created by our perception- then our interpretation of independent objects is always removed and done from a distance. When observing these objects outside ourselves, we first internalize and then express through a transferable medium, such as language, performance or, another object our interpretation of that experience.
For example, a painting is an independent object one experiences rationally, viscerally, emotionally etc. But in order to explain that experience linguistically, one has to first translate our understanding of the object into a description of words. We then use this description of the thing to explain our interpretation of it.  In fact our interpretation of an object is really our interpretation of a description of an object.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Rilke and the Spaces Between Part II

Sappho an Eranna

Unruh will ich über dich bringen,
schwingen will ich dich, umrankter Stab.
Wie das Sterben will ich dich durchdringen
und dich weitergeben wie das Grab
an das Alles: allen diesen Dingen.

Rilke, Rainer Maria (2011-06-22). 88 Gedichte (German Edition) (Kindle Locations 739-741). Projekt Gutenberg-DE. Kindle Edition. 


Unrest I want to deliver to you,
I want to wield you, you entwined staff.
Like death I want to penetrate you
and to hand you down like the grave
to the Everything: all of these things.”

(my translation)

Rilke and the Space Between People

Eranna an Sappho 

O du wilde weite Werferin: 
Wie ein Speer bei andern Dingen 
lag ich bei den Meinen. Dein Erklingen 
warf mich weit. Ich weiß nicht, wo ich bin. 
Mich kann keiner wiederbringen. 

Meine Schwestern denken mich und weben, 
und das Haus ist voll vertrauter Schritte. 
Ich allein bin fern und fortgegeben, 
und ich zittere wie eine Bitte; 
denn die schöne Göttin in der Mitte 
ihrer Mythen glüht und lebt mein Leben.

Rilke, Rainer Maria (2011-06-22). 88 Gedichte (German Edition) (Kindle Locations 588-592). Projekt Gutenberg-DE. Kindle Edition. 

O you wild far hurling woman!
like a spear among other things
I lay among my own. Your resonance

flung me far. I don't know where I am.
No one can bring me back.

My sisters think of me and weave,
and the house is full of trusted footsteps.
I alone am distant and removed,
and i quiver like a plea;
for the beautiful
goddess at the center
of her myths
burns and lives my life.

(my translation)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Question 2: Near Architecture and "Architecture" Proper

A homeowner built a prefabricated gabled metal shed behind his house used to store lawn furniture and a work area. The shed is not painted, nor altered from the manufacturer's standard specification.

What if an identical prefabricated shed was used as a house of worship by a church who believed that the metal, reproducible shed embodied their metaphysical, cultural and religious worldview.  To the congregation the metal shed was the most, spiritual building in the world.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Question 1: Can there be two buildings, exactly the same in every aspect, but one is Architecture and one is not?

What if a homeless man built a shed for himself in an alley way out of recycled materials that he found on the street.  He built it slowly over time and had no plans or architectural designs. It had walls made from wood palettes, mis-matched windows, wood plywood for floors and a metal roof. For insulation he used bundled newspapers. Being homeless and without money, he had to build everything by himself.  He used an oil drum to collect water on the roof and used a series of hoses to supply water to a sink in the kitchen and a shower. He set plastic containers with water in the sun to heat it.  The house had no electricity and no toilet.

What if at the very same moment, an architect built a cabin for himself out of recycled materials that he found on the street and it was e x a c t l y, in every way, like the homeless man's house. The architect built his cabin based on precise dimensioned construction plans and elevations. During the design process, he used sketches and wood models to study its shape and aesthetic. He built his cabin in a plot of land in the country. It had walls made from wood palettes, mis-matched windows, wood plywood for floors and a metal roof - again every thing was exactly like the homeless man's house.  In order to understand his craft better he decided to build everything himself.  He supplied it with running water exactly as the homeless man and for environmental reasons did not include a toilet or electricity.  Once it was completed, the architect published the pictures of his cabin and won several professional awards.

At the same time two boys, again independently of the homeless man and architect,  built a tree house that was an identical copy of the architect's cabin and the homeless man's shed.  The boys built it by themselves with some help from their father, in a large oak tree behind their house.

Simultaneously, a large manufacturing corporation, Eco-fab, decided to sell, prefabricated micro houses made from recycled materials which could be delivered by flatbed trailer and installed by a team of workmen on site in 2 days.  A specific manufacturing process was developed which combined materials from hundreds of recycling and demolition companies in order to produce and deliver identical micro cabins to every customer.   The micro cabin too was exactly like the homeless man's shed, architect's cabin, and boy's tree house.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Anti-government ideologies, the Shrinking Middle Class and the Death of Architecture: Part III

 Architecture as a commodity

When the community is replaced by the individual there are psychological social traits which are enhanced for the better and those for the worse. Personal efficiency, responsibility, competition and shear effort, it's argued, are increased when driven by selfish entrepreneurial motives.  Viscerally this makes sense in that personal success is common to the human condition.  We hear it in language "keep up with Joneses", we see it on the road with luxury cars, we see it with clothing brands and fashion we feel it at our high school reunion.  One hears this in the antidotes of the self-employed who express  the freedom and ease which comes with working and  building ones own business. The idea that individuality creates accountability and in turn efficiency has found it's way into everything from the military subcontractors, to NASA, to schools, to prisons, to roads.  The private sector can do it better mentality is a near truism in American society.
I would argue (supported by numerous studies) that this not supported by fact and is instead a political myth.  Even though efficiency, it could be argued, has less to do with  the owner, public or private, more to do with size and culture, it's mythos as a truism has dramatically affected the quality of the built environment. To this point it's validity is irrelevant but it's effects are clear.