February 3, 2010
November 24, 2006
Higher Dimensions from String Theory
Firefox has become my favorite browser, and today I found an extension called StumbleUpon. It works a bit like del.icio.us, in that you can save sites you like and comment on them, as well as read other people’s opinions, but what makes it very tasty is that you hit the stumble button, and you are taken to a new site based on the interests that you have entered in your profile.
I was so entranced by The Elegant Universe that I spent three hours learning about string theory. Perhaps this is just a new way of surfing around, wasting time, avoiding writing my thesis, or perhaps not, perhaps it’s all connected in the 11th dimension. And reading about Quantum issues in Architecture makes me wonder why people aren’t thinking about Quantum issues in Art too, or maybe they are, just not at the Slade.
October 8, 2006
I love Canada, and being Canadian – even though, or perhaps because I came to Canada later in life from free choice rather than by birth default. I love being in a country that has a day dedicated to thanksgiving, even if that mostly translates into getting stuffed on turkey and collapsing on the couch in a triptophan haze.
So for your turkey-enhanced entertainment, I suggest an online tour of the 70’s retro homage to turkeyness, wittily presented by James Lileks – the Gobbler motel and supper club.
Sometimes we need all the thanksgiving we can get.
September 4, 2006
As the children of avid gardeners, sisfish and I spent many boring hours being dragged around nurseries and wishing that we were watching movies instead. Of course we were always happy to play outside in the beautiful gardens that were the result of these trips, but I always thought gardening was a grubby, consuming kind of hobby that looked like a lot of hard work.
It is all that, but now that I am older and have my own garden, I have realised that there is enormous pleasure in creating an environment that in many ways seems closer to my ideal of art than all the dead images in all the heavy frames in all the museums of the world.
A garden is a living, growing, constantly changing space that fully engages all the senses; the heavy white sweetness of night jasmine or the peppery cinnamon scent of carnations; the sound of birds and the vibrations of bees; the papery touch of poppy petals or the sharp thorns of roses, the sour acid of just-ripe blackberries. Although vegetable gardens are very utilitarian and useful, I confess to loving flowers in all their forms, so my gardens mostly feed the senses rather than the stomach.
A garden also combines the formal concerns that define traditional painting, architecture and sculpture: color, texture, form, mass, height, scale etc. What makes a garden more interesting though is that these qualities change with the seasons, so planting a perfect spring garden doesn’t necessarily mean that the same garden will still be lovely in the fall. Gardens take time, sometimes years. Some plants only start flowering after three years. I am always very impatient, but making a garden has taught me to be (just a little) more patient, and now I am grateful for all the boring visits to nurseries during my childhood. I think I must have absorbed some knowledge by osmosis!
August 30, 2006
This 1967 structure from Haus-Rucker-Co is quite wierd, although there aren’t really any indications that it does indeed expand the mind. From the description, it sounds like sitting in a giant hairdryer-kaleidascope.
For a more contemporary design which makes no claims for mind expansion but does for musical stimulation, see the beautiful prototype for Acconci Studio’s Sound Shell.
August 30, 2006
There is a fascinating interview with Vito Acconci, New York poet, conceptual artist and architect on designboom. The interviewer describes Acconci as the ‘godfather‘ of transgression.
While this strikes me as art/designspeak that tries to rescuscitate the tatty corpse of the avant garde with a good pinch of sexualised sensationalism thrown in for good measure and extra ratings, Acconci’s own words are very inspiring.
In particular, I feel inspired by the way he describes the evolution of his work, and his fluid movement from writing to performance to architecture and design:
“can you describe an evolution in your work from your first projects to the present day?
there is a line but it has been through so many forms.
as a writer I became very conscious of the space on a page,
I started to get obsessed with questions such as
– what makes you move from left margin to right margin?
– from top of the page to bottom of the page?
in other words, I saw the page as a field over which I as
a writer could move and you as the viewer could move too.
I then figured that if I was so concerned with space why
was I limiting myself to a piece of paper when there is a
floor or a street to work with.
so things then went to an art context.
I started off the process by thinking how do I move in real space
and what makes me move.
I began by using my own person. I realized that I had to focus
on myself – it became ‘I’ and ‘me’…
but there are other people in the world.
so later I focused on how do I concentrate on him/her,
or how do I concentrate on you while you concentrate on me?
I think that it all began with that notion of movement.
in that you move through the page, you move within yourself,
you move within a space and back and fourth.
gradually it becomes clear that you /the people are in a space.
the question then is how to react to a space.
the great thing about architecture and design is that people
are aware of it even if they think that they aren’t.
everyone has passed through a doorway,
sometimes you may not even notice the doorway but sometimes
you might, be it because the doorway is a little to narrow or a little
to low. it’s great that we get to experience these things everyday. ”
Perhaps this neatness of being able to see how one thing led to the next is something that comes with the perfection of hindsight, of looking backwards to find the unifying thread of moving through space?
I really do relate strongly to this description though, because too often I feel that we are expected to be just one thing: only an artist, or a banker, or a dancer, or that we have to undergo radical retraining to be something different when maybe it is more important to just go and do that thing. Perhaps that is the most radical transgression.
For a feast of acconci studio design, visit www.acconci.com although be warned the flash design is a bit odd.