But I enjoyed speaking with him

But I enjoyed speaking with him about his own work and the subtleties with which he was approaching it. In academia it is hard to bank on subtleties. Complexity becomes a cipher for labor and thought (not necessarily talking about complexity of form here, but complexity in the constellation of factors that bear the work). No one would argue that the contributing or governing factors behind architecture are not complex. In fact they are and that is the problem. An enormous barrier that must be surmounted is the orchestration of just those givens, the parsing or triage of contributions into a constructed solution that is so fine tuned and appropriate, has fitness, that you can then sculpt the subtleties like light falling on a surface. The tools we have in the academy, or more precisely, the misconceptions we have about those tools withhold those more sensitive investigations to a parallel realm of analogy or substitution. These tools train the better students to be cognizant of the further reaches of experience via the presence of particular effects in products and production by and with those tools. But the crux is that these tools communicate data of those eventualities of architecture, or often more accurately, the data of the framework that allows for those eventualities, but they do not awaken them or execute them. And it is not the limitation of the student but of the academy. I envision a project presentation by a student that is a sort of collage. The student leads their jury through a spatial and affective assemblage cobbled from vantages, spots, spaces, passages, and types in their city which represent or approach the aspirations and compositions of their proposal if not precisely in form then in composition of experience or facilitation of use, the manner in which people gather in a plaza during an event, autumn light through Gingko trees with a month’s loss of yellow leaves onto a brick embankment, the dust cedar odor of a dry attic, the feeling and sound of a particular scale and shape of gravel underfoot, cats’ paws on a translucent roof stitched together into a blur of new memories. Nobody doubts the ability of most students to compose the functional machine that will execute a building’s will to usefulness, this is something the tools corral quite nicely in quantitative stillness, but the aspects of architecture that rely on reference funneled back into the quantitative documents need other mechanisms for education and characterization that analogical or representational aids. The grasp of space and form must first be internalized before it can hop out into a line or a scaleless volume. The Grand Tour was a, albeit foppish, vehicle to harness and internalize quantitative realities such as volume, and proportion, but also such resultants as light and surface, scent, narrative effect and sequencing, and most neglected, the effects of time (Speer, Leatherbarrow), the things that can’t be drawn, but bust be drawn… by drawing around them. I was never one for looking deeply into works by other architects to crack their codes or even develop high-level understandings of their compositions. As much as I love to hear and read about those subtleties and constructions I think I share a layman’s transitory assimilation of cultural productions. I think the grave impact (literally at death) of all of those things that we have assimilated will be their compositions of us, not our reflections on them, and so too is my trail through them, picking up bits and pieces and ‘klatching’ them to moments in my life in a much more emotional framework than the clinical dissection of some ancient impetus. And as I have said before, that is still somewhat different than typical experience, it still requires a removal from the stream, a cinematic detachment, it might be accompanied by music. I would think then that my own efforts might have that emotional structure at their core but they are usually more numb intellectual noodling that grinds out at such a glacial pace that their production could never have any meaningful connection to the fluid passage of my experiences or personal thoughts. Is it possible that products of the ‘burst of the moment’ which are incredibly emotional and tactile render themselves more static or stuck ‘objects’ while the glacial and clinical deposits of a skeleton for experience are emptied of predestination and able to support the experiences of others and the flood of nature better than the canned emotion of the former. Architecture is rarely a burst. It all, down both tangents, causes me to reflect, while Leach is sharing, on what difference it makes. Things will be made; there are enough people on Earth now that those things that will be made in such diverse voices that not only would it be folly to see a way to unify those voices, but it would be folly to assume there was some way to speak to the lives from which they emanate in any particular unifying voice of work. So how can I determine what is meaningful work? I think the original step is that it must be meaningful to me (the maker). I was introduced to a couple of hardworkers as we fled the studio to the gallery downstairs.

Critical Response:

« | »