Thursday, November 30, 2006
There is a story that is a dream. The dream is a fantasy, a love story woven in the unconscious.
This is a place in the mind where all the intimate experiences accumulate and re-cumulate.
To disect the fantasy is to uncover the tectonic of the unconscious. Undoubtedly it is the structure of language which allows us this power; as is it the means by which we structure our thoughts.One may choose any of number a given languages in order to share one's ideas. As architects our language is space.
What cannot be said must drawn, and what cannot be drawn must be written.
My project is the intersection of five 'fields' of ideas. Jakobson gives the structure for speech and
language which Lacan uses to expound the theories of Freud, intersecting liguistics and two
generations of phsycoanalysis.
To these fields I add mine: the structure of the romance narrative genre in terms of Lacan's conceptions of fantasy its production through language, and a study a specific instance of this which I find in 'Gone with the Wind'
There are five parts of the story, episodes perhaps, each with a significance in their own right
as a miniture production, embodying the elliptical nature of desire as described by Lacan,
but also relating to each other by means of this same structure, as a chain of castrations
There are three sites defined by the episodes. The first and the last take place in the home outside the city, and the fourth and fifth in the urban context, the third episode: the invasion or rape takes place somehow between these two; a march.
My first task is draw up the matrix of these geneaological intersections, and the matrix of the episodes and the details of their program and site, using the structure of Lacan as a performative technique this matrix will become five drawings. One drawing for each episode.
The matrices will also be a outline for the thesis book, in terms of the section titles intersecting with the five episodes producing twenty five square. Genealogies might repeat for example.
I hope to have the major work on the book done by the class on sunday.
Laundromat, Water Treatment Facility, Garden
I have begun, but need to continue to measure and diagram the operation of water. Recently I have run a few experiments on the rate at which a specific volume of water drains through a variety of size openings. I have documented the draining of this water and its change in sound from a strong flow to a hesitant drip. I plan on doing more tests on the volume, rates of flow, sounds, speeds, splashes, drips, temperature, and the draining of water as this is necessary to facilitate the synaesthetic experience.
2. Research and Document the Site
I have done some research into the history of the site but additional documentation is needed. I plan on visiting the site again and specifically look at the performance of water on the site. A few questions I would like to answer for myself;
Where does water collect?
Where does it drain off the buildings?
Is there existing protection from the rain?
What does the site sound like when it rains?
Where are the Laundromats in the lower east side?
Are the buildings immediately surrounding the site residential or commercial?
Could their water be recycled and/or influence the design of the project?
The answers to these questions will be important to the siting of the Laundromat itself and the flow of the water and the user through the various programs.
I need to go to a Laundromat and document the organization of it and my experience. (Maybe even do a load of laundry while I’m at it.) In addition to examining the experience of the Laundromat itself, I will also document the actual wash and dry cycle.
4. Continue to write more and add to the book.
No one can deny the usefulness of sight in collection of spatial information. Any impairment of vision has an adverse impact on the reception of information from environment and prevent individual from learning about that environment, making his/her connection with the surrounding space defective. So, how can a blind person experience space? How can one understand architecture without seeing?
1. I have made an appointment to visit the American Foundation for the Blind around Penn Station area in Manhattan. On the phone they have told me briefly about the studies they have done on various topics in helping people who are blind to live independently and productively. I do not want to underestimate their capability and therefore I feel the need to really understand how blind people live their everyday lives. Hopefully I can set up some sort of an interview with them. So far, I know that people who are blind often create a cognitive map in order to feel connected to a particular space. They certainly make more use of sound and touch cues than do those of sighted people. The auditory and tactile information are important to the blind in producing those internal maps as well as wind direction, change in air pressure and temperature gradients. Recollecting information/data and reworking on my mapping notations are necessary.
2. Can architecture be heard?
Architecture does produce sound. We can definitely hear the sounds it reflects and they, too, give us an impression of form and material. I would like to investigate further in the relationship between space and sound; how the differently shaped rooms and different materials reverberate differently.
3. A mini project
I am thinking of creating a museum within a museum. I have this idea of reorganizing a path particularly for blind people based on the existing art work (selective only few pieces?) in either the MoMA or the MET (I have not yet decided on the location). I want to rethink the activities of “viewing” within the museum, hopefully I can suggest a new way of seeing and knowing to all viewers, to perceive via other senses. I will probably have to make some kind of model to further explain my idea.
4. Reformat my booklet and definitely write more.
Architectural Synaesthesia - Prof. M. Schaut and Prof. D. Bucsescu
I am interested in the cross between sound and study.
My two areas of research has been the yeshiva and the library.
In these drawing I am looking at the different the organizations of study that are found in the yeshiva and the library and how they differ from one another.
The first drawing is of the types and how they relate to one another.
The second drawing is of the types and how thy are found in context (plan view).
(I'm having issues uploading the drwaings)
The organization of the Talmud is such that the center is the oldest and most fixed, there is a hierarchy that one can only argue with one on his level. As one moves from the center there is a layering of time and restrictiveness. This being the case, the perimeter allows for mores discussion than the center.
I want to look at this condition of center/periphery, fixed/flexible, closed/open, rigid/loose as way to organize space, program and structure.
I have discussed “associative synesthesia” in regards as a cognitive tool for structuring the arrangement and reception of sensory information. In my recent example of the “musical chair” detail that I am working on, I explained how the experience of a sound is the point of departure upon a trajectory of cross modal connectivity, even though only a sound has been perceived. The announcement of a presence has been made in the reception of a sound, and upon that reception, cross-sensory connections are divulged from the memory as familiarities are attempted to be juxtaposed around the instance of the sound. The attributes of heaviness and lightness are associated with lower and higher pitches, respectively. Due to this, the solidarity of a sound as only a sound is intact only in the instance of immediate experience, for afterwards, it is internalized and networked within memory. This of course occurs with the other senses as well. My interest in primarily aligning myself with sound comes from the connection to music, and how in music there is an oscillation between focusing on what is being perceived in the moment, and comprehending and apprehending what has been perceived. I am interested in the figure/ground relationship of sound, and how the figure in the space interacts with it. The recent chair idea exemplifies some of my architectural interests in sound by producing different pitches and intensities, determined by string tension, varying by the weight of the occupant. Here, with the reception of sound, there is a notion of weight (tactility) as well as occupation (sight). This is similar to the cross modal connections that Richard Wagner and Olivier Messiaen tried to convey in many of their compositions through the dimensionality of sound (pitch, duration, intensity, color [qualitative feel of instrument]).
My interest in sound’s transition to music is in the experience of the tangibility of tone’s consistency. Musical tones can be grasped and recognized, their intervallic relationships can be understood, I am interested in developing relationships of both tones and sounds in space as to create an incidental composition from programmatic adjacencies, in the time of music, as a figure in the space created by its performers.
The relationships that make the program a place for music are between the performers, the instruments, and the score. The fourth piece is the listeners, who can transition to performers themselves.
Wind, Water, People, Birds
Reverberating bodies (the hangars amplifying sound within them as the body of a saxophone does for the vibrations of the wooden reed)
Bodies in motion (the cattails swaying in the wind, as the strings of a cello vibrate when the bow passes across them)
Bodies of contact (the percussiveness of the corrugated metal hangars)
These three pieces will be manifested as follows in the next two weeks:
The finalization of the palimpsest in site analysis, with a more concentrated scope of program and what is useful for it and what is not (dan, you previously mentioned what is obvious but nevertheless must be noted: that music will not simply be found in the site. With a better understanding of what I am doing programmatically, I can edit what I find in the site to map into the palimpsest forces that I am looking to utilize within an architectural construct, instead of looking from the outsides as recognizing totality in “composition”. Basically, in my previous ideas of how to map the palimpsest, I was not thinking of sound spatially enough.
I have been doing research about the different steps in the life of the creation of musical instruments. This of course includes learning about factories and their layouts, which is giving me an idea of what is required for the production of the instruments. Right now, I am leaning towards making it a factory for instruments from the violin family (violin, viola, cello), but this will change as I read more about what is required for making the different instruments within the four families (woodwinds, brass, strings, percussion).
Additional material studies by means of the instrument chair detail. This is a means of investigating the acoustical qualities of different materials, which I have been reading about but am now looking to manifest. The produced sounds will be recorded and documented along with other recordings I have made at the site as a score of instruments and performers.
Title soon to come. Tomorrow is my last day to present my project in design before the review, so I’ll post it sometime afterwards.
On Moving Ahead
"House. Subway. Nightclub. Synaesthetic Memory Mapping and Spatial Joining."
Is the above too long for a title? Maybe I will continue to think about that.
Things I will work on from now until the final.
1. Further develop the Memory Map that I have already begun.
2. Beyond analysis inherent in the Memory Map, I will work on developing an analysis of my site and its relation to the city. Whereas the Synaesthetic Memory Map is largely about recording sensory experience along an itinerary, this site analysis will start to look at the existing conditions that will undeniably influence the way the program is intervened into the site.
3. Taking the program of the House, The Subway, and the Nightclub, I expect the design to be driven by spatial connection, or joining. With the anticipation that a more complete Memory Map will begin to yield new combinations of senses and spatial conditions (in the map, memory is the bridging of similar sensory experiences and the spaces where they occur, which are found when a past, present, and future itinerary are overlaid upon each other), I will begin to diagram, likely through models, how these new combinations could possibly join.
4. Generally edit my book and update it as new work is created.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
This is a follow up communication from both Marc and Dan. It is intended as a alarm bell memo expanding on the verbal statements we gave in our last class meeting regarding what we feel is the complete lack of acceptable performance on part of many students. We are developing a list of those students who, we think, are in major trouble and will issue appropriate letters to each by Friday. We will not allow anyone to pin up at the final review that has not developed their projects as requested by us both in writing and in class crits. We will make the decision, of who will present or not by Sunday December 10th. On that day you will be asked to submit your work for our evaluation. Those students who are not allowed by us to present will be either failed immediately or put on probation and reviewed by a school committee (us plus others) at the end of Winter break.
In an updated class schedule on October 5, 2006 you were informed regarding the work required for the Midterm Review. You were told the following:
“The student must prepare a degree Project Proposal that contains the following items:
-A well formed ‘theoretical framework” (based on synaestesia research)
-"material practice” (or performance technique) how research becomesoperational in your project-how the design activates cross modal associations.
-Degree Project definition: documentation of site and program (researched)
-Draft booklet containing all of the above.
At midterm fewer that five students had anything resembling these requirements. Through class meetings since we tried to get these items out of you without success in spite of numerous suggestions and requests that you develop your projects. While it is already too late, nevertheless we decided to give you one more chance to go into high gear and produce what is required. This is the last call before we either fail you or put you on probation as described above.
Anyone without these items well developed will not be allowed to present on December 12
On a more personal note we, Marc and Dan, fail to understand your lack of focus and lack of passion for what should be the most important project in your work at Pratt. Obviously the school is wrong to entrust you with independent thinking in the fifth year. Many of you appear confused, inarticulate and obsessively preoccupied with your own head and being (identity) and unable to look also at an exterior reality, out there in the world. In other words some of you seem trapped in an introspective private world of “false poetics” unable to connect with others, both people and things outside of yourselves. This is manifested both in your writing and drawings as well as in your inability to develop a factual and analytical base for your projects in addition to the theoretical content. Another demonstration of this is the fact that in spite of all the rich synaestesia research, readings and class presentations that all of you did, almost nothing came through in your work to date. It is as if you went there and came away with nothing, unable to make use of it. To some extent this also reflects negatively on your education at Pratt. It is very depressing!All this is not to say that you are not all talented and intelligent students and that the class discussions were not at times quite wonderful. This is the mystery of it all: Why such a good group is so muddled and not performing. I hope you take this in the constructive manner as it is intended.
great connection...do it...by first writting a complete conceptual (abstract) program for your workshop...all you have to do is to
1. establish a list of instruments that will be manufactured at this place.
2. research and document the functional requirements (size of workshops,storage, delivery of raw material and finished products, truck access and docking (etc.) for each of the instruments (all of this you should research and at the end establish the approximate sixe and functional layout diagram
for the whole workshop facility (site plan, plans and sections diagramatically)
3. The remainder of the aditional functions, like, lobby, work shop visitors, retail sales, waiting area, coffe shop etc. will be the subject of your "sound/music producing building as instrument.
4. like your example of the chair,
you have to develop immidiatelly (in addition to the above program)
conceptual ideas for how various parts of the architecture become
instruments (chairs, walls, windows, roof. You must draw to scale in plans and sections abstract diagrams (not rendered)
indicating how your building might produce sounds. The list must be
complete:( 1 wind, 2. strings and 3 percussion) You must identify for each a list of sources of sound, such as natural winds on the site through the building, local birds reverberated by the building envelope, human voices and foot steps on stone,airoplane noise fro LaGuardia, or vibrating steel wire (variable lenght and thickness on your chair etc. Your list amd sketches indicating how the building will act as an instrument must be complete and clearly stated and shown. Anything short of that will not do!!!!!!!
This is the last time I am asking you to perform in this class!!!!
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Here are some suggestions for your work.
You must consider the spatial and visual data of experience above the narrative ………this is not an either or towards the word or the image. As an architect your artistic orientation must be towards the eye (plus othes senses as our topic requires) as a mode of knowledge. Again not instead of the story, but as a primary vehicle of expression in support of the narrative.
In your presentation so far you have privileged the story line, the plot, the human drama. That is great but, as an architect YOU MUST GIVE PRIORITY TO THE VISUAL not the INVISIBLE. So, as your degree project critic I feel compelled to push you towards a faster translation of your “story line” into it’s material/spatial/physical/visual support base.
First you must quickly identify the series of events taking place in the story, locate and describe them and their factual need to take place in space and time. Describe the stage set as if you were a stage set designer the concrete physical/visual attributes of each scene/event and diagram showing the placement of characters and their surroundings:. DESCRIBE IN WORDS AND DIAGRAMS EACH SCENE.
OK: If you want architecture as theater than go all the way!!! Choose as your program the design of a theater space, lets say for the famous 60’s group “the Living Theater” (research it….), You might also find links to Camillo’s “theater mundi” concept of place in Donald Kunze’s description of Vico and in Francis Yates “The Art of Memory”. I will give you these on Tuesday.
This should help you in locating the role of the narrative in the work of architecture
The hermeneutic question ! (look up the word if you need too)
Two different strategies for interpretation-hermaneutic and phenomenological
1. hermaneutic strategy-the use of story devices and (metaphorical naming)
in order to create an immidiate noetic(thought) context. The story creates a condition that immidiately sediments the perceptual possibility. Perception takes shape within and from the power of suggestion of a language-game.
2. phenomenological strategy-centering on the subject , the way in which perception functions is made thematic -the instructions of how to look, rely on certain knowledge of the mechanisms of perception and on a turn to the subject as active percievers.
Operational rules in a phenomenological approach to architecture/visual arts
1. attend to phenomena as they appear. A parralel rule, which makes attention more riorous, may be stated in the Wittgensteinian form:
describe, don't explain.
2.carfully delimit the field of experience to avoid a confusion of immidiacy with non-experienced elements presumed or posited in explanation
3.horizontalize or equalize all immidiate phenomena. -do not assume an initial hierarchy of 'realities' -This procedure prevents one from deciding too quickly that some things are more real or fundamental than others
In the meantime I realize that I have not answered your last question.. I still strongly feel that for your specific degree project approach the “performative technique” can be based on the Goodman categories of architectural means of representation. I don’t feel you understand yet the usefulness of his examples. Try again and to apply those to your work on developing a stage set for your story. Those terms should be your tools !!!!! Lets talk about that.
Goodman (How Buidings Mean)Jacobson (Six functions of language)
(1)Denotation Denotative Function
(2)Exemplification Poetic Function
(3)Expression, Mediated reference Connotative Function
Again, lets talk about how, operationally these types of references work in atchitecture and how you might be using them in your project. Again, they are your performative techniques…….
Here is a quick reference to Donald Kunze”s description of Camillo’s “theater mundi” :
Ch. 5. Theater of the world
Camillo: Fearing death, Camillo hastily dictated an outline of the idea of a theater, which was published in 1550. in this work, he described the inverted architecture that placed the solitary observer on a small stage overlooking an auditorium filled with a mock audience of images drawn , in part from the Myths of Homer……..
“The most significant feature for the interpretation of Vico and Camillo is that this inversion of ordinary relations portrayed a gradual process of embodiment, a decent of the soul through the succession of planetary spheres. At each level, the soul forgot more of its eternal nature and acquired the qualities of the ruling planet. Macrobious describes this passage of the soul in terms that strikingly anticipate Vico’s symmetry of the “true” and the “made”, connected by an “ideal eternal history”:…..
page 156…Camillo’s conception, though elaborate in the extreme, may seem to some more than artful arrangement of the ready-made materials of classical literature. In an age where “theater” was used to describe any comprehensive treatment of a subject, Camillo’s real theater may even be a literalistic attempt to find a spatial structure to all humanistic loci. But, the deceptive ease with which the vast array of gods, planetary attributes, myths, images, other commonplaces found their place in the seats of the Camillo’s auditorium belies the fact that he had found , in the form of a traditional building type, an uncanny congruence between architectural form and thought….Camillo’s theater is, as theater, forcefully present as an ordinary place turned liminal. The locus of theater is an active presence. We are forced to consider the classical universe it contains from the point of view of the traditional “ironic” disconnection of the viewer and the viewed , as well as in light of the Camillian irony whereby the viewer and the viewed are reversed.”
Up to now, no particular significance has been attributed this story other than its service as an illustration of an artificial memory’s method of places……Elsewhere, Serres has shown the connection the idea of noise as interruption with such liminal places as crossroads, wells,bridges, and boundaries…………….. The middle term for Serres’ spatialized philosophy is the chi (Chimera, or a monster in three parts in the Bellerophon myth)..The Chi is a special form of monster or sign. Two motions are crossed, and their intersection is defined in terms of a catastrophe. The logic of myth is crossed with the logic of men, who cannot decipher the metaphorical riddles of things arranged paratactically, that is
side by sidewithout logical mediation. Hypotaxis , or the subordinative ordering, signals the destruction , or “interpretation,” of the monster as sign: the riddle answered…….
In Vichian terms, one may “make” the myth for oneself by finding a necessary order in the apparently casual details of the anecdote. For us as students of the humanistic theatrum mundi , this making involves themes of division, , interruption, and opposition found in both the story’s narrative and its spatial ordering. ………
Your proposal to map three distinct places/domains/territories is very promising.
I have a few methodological suggestions for you. To map and compare anything one has first to establish a set categories - each map must be internally homogeneous as to the aspect of reality it proposes to map-capture, describe, locate etc……..
So the first question is : What aspects, attributes, properties of the three places you are capturing at any one time. You are in search for categories of experience that the thre places share or not, relationships, similarities and differences.
It might be useful to organize your work in the three Worlds of Popper:
Karl Popper’s 3 Worlds
World 1(the world of physical objects)
(0) Hydrogen and Helium
(1) the Heavier elements: Liquids and Crystals
(2) Living Organisms
Mapping this world would mean to capture the material reality: density/quantity of people over time, temperature, humidity, smells, light levels, dimensions of 3D space, color, sound levels, or any other physical attributes, objective, quantitative descriptions of the three places you have chosen.
World 2 (the world of subjective experiences)
(3) Sentience (animal consciousness)
(4) Consciousness of Self and Death
Mapping this world would mean to capture your own impressions (as you have already have done in your memoirs) of the three places. But you also might want to collect impressions from others- recorded interviews etc. Your sketches from these places would also fit here as your drawn impressions. All these are anecdotal, qualitative mapping
World 3 (the recorded products of the human mind)
(5) Human Language. Theories of self and Death
(6) Works of Art and of Science(including technology)
Mapping this world would mean would mean a review of the literature, theories about the three places : home,subway and night clubs. This means anything written about them anywhere, architectural theory, sociology , psychology, geography etc.
Once you have lets say, the raw data, it will be helpful to
Friday, November 24, 2006
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
John lee, I have a quote from Moby Dick for you. It speaks from an 'objective' viewpoint of the futility of the noble journey, and suggests that (of course) that which we seek is, ironically, with us from the start of our quest. The quest is the mechanism by which we reveal that thing... Might be nice to inform your narrative. Also - I think I suggested to you before that if you have not read Joseph Cambell's thoughts on mythology and the "hero's journey", then you are a nincompoop, and you should do so right away.
Because I am also an occasional fool, I suggest that we make a party out of B Jones' exploration of his site. I haven't broken into a structure for a few years, and would relish this opportunity as it clearly serves the greater intellectual good. From my experience you should think about a daytime incursion becasue flashlights are a major giveaway at night. You should also have an exit plan. We should talk.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
like I said, if anybody else wants to meet up or has any other ideas of how we can raise the bar a bit please comment...
Monday, November 20, 2006
A Statement on the Synaesthetic Crossing of Memory and Physical Senses in Architecture
A landscape exists as the overlaying of comparatively momentary inhabitations that accumulate over time. As they rise and fall, these inhabitations imbed traces in the topography that become enigmatic clues as the amnesis of time overtakes the topographical memory. While physical sensuality of place may inform a deep understanding of the moment and uncover these clues, it is not sufficient to interpret these amnesic traces and place the moment within a greater context time. To find this understanding, one projects his own memories, suggesting distant places and experiences, upon the void of forgetfulness, and the clues become receptors for the dialog of experience and time, opening their enigmatic qualities. Thus assuming that landscape is understood through input gathered by the senses, and it is apparent that memory is also essential to that understanding, memory becomes another sense. Within this framework, an opportunity for synaesthetic experience, the crossing of senses, is opened to the inhabitant of place in that the physical sensations recall memories of other places and events, creating a blurred experience of inhabitation that exists as a near-fictional narrative between the physicality of the present moment, and the suggestion of experiences beyond.
Following the Method of Loci, which links memory to the landscape, urban or otherwise, one uses a mental map to place memories in specific sites.1 The Act of Walking, which imparts upon the Body an understanding of place and becomes the method for uncovering the intimate knowledge of the city that informs the creation of the mental map. Through the Act of Walking and the creation of the mental map for the Method of Loci where one will find the site for the architectural synaesthesia of physical sense and memory.
An ancient Greek text of unknown authorship, the Ad C. Herennium, suggests that the best sites for storing memory in the Method of Loci are “deserted, solitary, unfrequented buildings” and in the context of New York City, these sites will not be found in the city’s abandoned ruins because while their physicality may be faded, their memory has not as they have become contested icons of New York’s industrial past.2 Rather, the Act of Walking reveals these sites in the forgotten, overlooked in-between spaces in the city fabric. In their spatial amnesia, they are primed for the projection of memory.
To propose architecture for an in-between site that connects it the larger experience of the city, and a larger territory for the Method of Loci, one looks to the daily narratives of the essentially New York City in-between experience: the subway system. One walks from an event or place to the subway station and the Act of Walking is extended into the subterranean system. At the end of the ride, one then walks to the next event or destination. The ride, the space and time between events, largely detaches one from the city and becomes a timeline loaded with the possibility of reflection upon the memories of the previous place or anticipation of the near future. A synaesthetic memory map documents this experience by creating a timeline of the present experience of subway ride in terms of the sensual experiences of the ride. Similar maps are created for the events before and after the ride and are overlaid upon the sensory map of the ride. When similar sensations bridge the layers of experience, multiple spaces are recalled and synaesthesia occurs through this cross of physical sensation and memory. The combination of the present space with the remembered space proposes the creation of new conditions that, while not yet realized, are characteristic of the city.
The suggestion of program for this in-between space follows the suggestion of Bachelard, who writes:
The house we were born in is more than an embodiment of home, it is also an embodiment of dreams, each one of its nooks and corner was a resting-place for daydreaming…If we give their function of shelter for dreams to all these places of retreat, we may say…that there exists for each one of use an oneiric house, a house of dream-memory, that is lost in the shadow of a beyond of the real past.3
Thus the program starts with the house, but as a site within the Method of Loci’s mental map of the city, the house must remain connected to the event and the in-between experience. The house becomes the Loci, the event becomes the sensually visceral destination, such as a nightclub, and the in-between experience is found in the subway. Yet while these three programs can string together in a clear narrative, their overlapping suggests spatial conditions at odds with each other. The critical detail of the design becomes the joint between programs, or the party wall, where the disparate programs push against each other, allowing the sensations of one program to bridge to the next. In the physicality of this detail, one finds the synaesthetic spaces of inhabitation that link physical sensuality and memory.
With the mindset of a detective, enigmatic sensual clues are uncovered within the synaesthetic memory map and as the clues slowly reveal themselves, a narrative of spatial experience begins to unravel in a way that will ultimately reveal the physical resolution of the program. Through a mastery of the technique of memory mapping, beginning with drawings of his own memoirs, one learns a new way to exam a site in the context of city and design architecture for it. Importantly, these fragmentary clues posses an inherent amnesis, “which freed from theories and fictions of official histories, can spur a greater fulfillment of our potential.”4 To understand place through the clues of physical experience we project our memories and to project into this blurred realm of synaesthetic experiences is also to dream and to create.
1. Lindsey, Bruce. “Topographic Memory.” Re-Envisioning Landscape Architecture. Ed. Catherine Spellman. Actar, Barcelona, 2003. p. 42-43.
2.Lindsey, Bruce. “Topographic Memory.” Re-Envisioning Landscape Architecture. Ed. Catherine Spellman. Actar, Barcelona, 2003. p. 43.
3.Bachelard, Gaston. The Poetics of Space. Beacon Press, Boston, Mass. 1964. p. 15.
4.Suárez-Araúz, Nicomedes. Amnesis Art: The Art of the Lost Object. Lascaux Publishers, New York, 1988. p. 30.
I looking for the site I have been fascinated with a text I read about the Method of Loci that references an ancient Greek text that suggest the best sites for it are those that are "deserted, solitary, unfrequented." Riding past many abandonned industrial sites, I realized that in the context of this city I should not take the reference so literally. The implication of the text is that the best sites for the Method of Loci are not exclusive abandonned ruins, but rather forgotten sites that have been primed for the storage of memory by the amnesis of time. New York's abandonned industrial sites may be faded in their physicality, but they are hardly forgotten. Rather they are cliches of the common history of the city and their future is often hotly contested by those with interests in the real estate that they stand upon.
So I decided that rather than picking an icon of abandonment, I wanted to look for a forgotten urban imbedded in the urban context. This is what I like about the site I found in Queens. It is essentially a space left over by the diagonal cut of Jackson Avenue. Further riding through the neighborhood I discovered that it is actually full of left-over forgotten spaces as the are is cut up not just by jackson avenue, but also the midtown tunnel approach, and the emergence of the 7 train from its underground lair.
Here is the specific site I looked at
Here is the aerial of the area. The site is highlighted in red. The yellow are a few other sites that piqued my interest.
i believe i'm close to my site. the images shown are zooming into an existing play area at 188th st. and amsterdam ave. in washington heights. high bridge park is on the eastern side and is considered one of the most neglected parks in the city save for university woods in the bronx.(the white line in the first image runs the length of the park) within it though are meandering pathways, tunnels, cliffs, and the intersections of washington, alexander hamilton, and high bridges. i think if sited here the park experience could be integrated into the project with also the benefit of the washington heights community. the corner shown in the closest image stands 187 higher in elevation from the harlem river to give an idea of the topography.
when i ventured into the park on saturday i came upon a small shanty town of "homeless" under an overpass to the washington bridge. i did some brief research on the history of the park and found an article in the new york times from 2005 discussing neglected parks of the city. there in was an account of a woman who'd been living there for thirteen years. apparently they've established their dwellings by driving steel tubing into the earth and enclosing the shacks with sheet metal. i'm sorry to say i didn't get in close enough to now offer my own observations.
so i'm feeling like the park's personality has a connection with the orphanage and the neighborhood itself has a sensitivity that also relates. i honestly didn't experience the park via amsterdam ave. - i travelled the whole way through the park itself....so i need to go back and further investigate what exactly is happening there on the corner of what is laurel hill terrace/ amsterdam ave./ 188th st. this is where the existing play area is with an unknown building.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
I know we have a very short class, but next class, would it be possible for us to present our precis along with our new synaesthesia work?
Maybe I'm just speaking for myself, but I think it would be very helpful to recieve much needed criticism on the precis statements. This need for criticism has become clearer as I've been finalizing my book and trying to make strong connections between all of the things I've made not to mention all of the research I've done.
Friday, November 17, 2006
(Sorry, am in kind of a rush at the moment and didn't have time to add the footnotes to the blog entry)
Topography, a word used to describe the human understanding of the shape of the world, stems from topos, meaning place, and graphein, meaning to write, which charges its definition with the idea that to be understood, a place must be marked. Yet upon marking, topography becomes landscape: place overlaid by the moments and events of human occupation. Ann Whiston Spirn writes:
“The language of landscape is our native language. Landscape was the original dwelling…landscapes were the first human texts, read before the invention of other signs and symbols…verbal language reflects landscape. Up and down, in and out – the most basic metaphors of verbal language—stem from experience of landscape, like bodily movement through landscape.”
Thus as language comes from the experience of the landscape, one can conclude that thought does as well, and in that, in addition to physical experience, landscape is understood through projection of memories of many places onto the present moment, the opens to creative thought. (Clearer in context of the précis.)
The process of creating architecture from the experience of landscape begins with The Act of Walking (referred to in the précis), which one learns about place through visceral experience that synaesthetically blends physical senses with memory. This is well alluded to by Peter Zumthor who writes, “When I concentrate on a specific site…I try to plumb its depths, its form, its history, and its sensuous qualities images of other places start to invade this process of precise observation: images of places I know and that once impressed me.” From there, writing, drawing, and photography are employed as a means to document the sensations experienced during The Walk as a “memory map,” an analytical collage drawing that means to qualify experiences in a way that they can inform the creation of architecture through the discovery of new spatial possibilities found in the overlap of physical senses and memories.
In the urban landscape of New York City, the pedestrian Act of Walking extends into the experience of riding the subway. One walks to the station, down the stairs to the platform, travels, largely detached from the city above, through time and space to another part of the city, and then walks from the subway to the final destination. Arguably, riding the subway is essential to a contemporary understanding of everyday life in the city and proves itself as a particularly rich site for the execution of the “memory map” technique. As the sense of sight is greatly reduced in the dark realm of the subway system, the other senses are heightened in order to understand place. In the example of a familiar commute, the body knows the route by the number of times it feels the resistance of the train’s brakes. As an “in between experience,” the utilitarian experience of riding the subway happens between seemingly more significant events in life, which opens it to the possibility of becoming a time for reflection upon the events previous to the ride and the projection memories forward to create expectations of what will occur at the end of the ride. This synaesthesia of physical sensation and memory in the subway propose an experiential realm of near-fiction, or “daydreaming” as Bachelard would describe it.
As a performative technique, the “memory map” of the subway examines a specific itinerary through the subway with particular attention to the physical sensations felt during the itinerary and maps each category of sensation (touch, sound, smell, etc) as a layer of the overall time-based notation. Simultaneously, a similar examination of the Walk to the station, or the Walk to the final destination is overlaid upon the “memory map.” Considering each moment of the subway ride as the present, when sensations in the subway are found to resemble situations experienced before or after the ride, the experience becomes infused with memory. Synaesthesia occurs and the qualities of the two spaces overlap and penetrate each other, the daydream surfaces in the consciousness as a new image, and in its newness, as Bachelard proposes, one finds poeticism.
Clearly, the “memory map” of the subway ride can become the analog for creating architecture in New York City. As the notation of an essential aspect of life in the city, it reveals spatial conditions that, while not necessarily yet realized, are characteristic of the city and the understanding of it as a landscape, making this sense of place accessible and even welcoming (?) to its dwellers. As Peter Zumthor writes to this idea:
Architecture has its own realm. It has a special physical relationship with life. I do not think of it primarily as either a message or a symbol, but as an envelope and background for life, which goes on in and around it, a sensitive container for the rhythm of footsteps on the floor, for the concentration of work, for the silence of sleep.
The “memory map” proposes that in recording the Act of Walking (and riding) the spatial characteristics need to create these realms can be found.
Above: An early experimentation with the technique of “Memory Mapping” a subway itinerary from Inwood Hill Park to Pratt Institute. November 2006.
this first image is of an existing orphanage in east islip, located just below center in the aerial. the intervention in this case would be by renovation, although the piece of land just below the train tracks is enticing to me. maybe there could be some dialogue between the two?
the next image is from northern manhattan. i think this may be the site you use for your boat club program, though, Dan. i was looking in particular at the peninsula/island.
i intend to look more on foot and bike today in haarlem and north. both of the sites so far have a connection with water and train tracks among other things. the train with its motion and connection to time mean something in the way of relating transience and one's fixed location relative to its travel. water, whether it is as dominant or not in both of these prospects will find its way into the project for its element.
while the idea of using a site isolated in the forest, mountains, or on a remote waterway also appeals....i think some reference point (urban) in the context of the orphanage program would be beneficial. maybe i'm wrong..................
Here the asylum for orphaned children enters into an opportune juncture. Let the orphanage present, as a construct, conditions for the parentless child that stimulate on the highest of levels a sense of Being as they are, wherever they are. The orphanage is not to be a transitional element, in the life experience of the child – but it is to be an entity of its own. The child is an entity of its own and the two relate to each other in this way. Here, the child is a Being and with this re-cognition may continually experience life in a perpetual state of presence – not transience.
The orphanage as envisioned will nurture through the inter-sensory experiences of synesthesia a present awareness of self. This subjective consciousness offers a disconnect from the objectified state and encourages their apprehension of themselves as personal entities that may Be wherever they are. The cross modal associations of synesthesia provide a subjective experience wherein one does become aware of inner thought (consciousness), of particular place and duration, and further reveals memory, making it a purely self-experience. It should also be said that all people experience synesthesia in their early development, when the mind has not yet configured its way of filtering stimuli. This is a great openness, and as an orphan may be too quickly introduced to maturity, synesthetic experience may also allow them to revisit this beginning and reconcile their foundation and place in the world.
Hegel “claimed that the only sense which can give a sensation of spatial depth is touch, because touch ‘senses the weight, resistance, and three-dimensional shape (gestalt) of material bodies, and thus makes us aware that things extend away from us in all directions’”.1 The haptic experience is a phenomenological event that situates us in space and time and relates Being. Therefore to take it further, synesthesia invoked through the sense of touch will help to provide a more meaningful and therapeutic orphanage for the child.
Pallasmaa "Eyes of the Skin" p. 42
Thursday, November 16, 2006
I think I found my site...
It is an abandoned sub - station / powerstation in New Jersey. At this point I am looking at the building itself as a site for multiple interventions of many scales...
The reason why I chose such an isolated building was to be able to have access to it without causing any sort of problems. I really want to be able to study it rather than just viewing something from the outside.
I have not gone inside yet. It was somewhat of a journey finding how to get to the building, so I got there right when it was getting dark and Im not brave enough to explore an abandoned building in an abandoned section of New Jersey at night alone. I did go into a few rooms and up a beautiful stairwell and it seems pretty promising. It has windows that go up the entire side of the building, so I'm hoping that there may be one large main room amongst the smaller rooms. I have a book of old sub stations in manhattan and they appear to have a layout like this. Another interesting point is that there are also many foundations from previous buildings directly adjacent to it.
I think that this may be going in the direction of multiple programs that might create something like a semi "urban" condition within one large building. I'm not really sure, I don't want to project any ideas onto the building before I actually go inside.
Synaesthesia drawings will most likely be the first step of documentation. I'm picturing unfolding the building into a sort of map that can then be notated. This may be a start for performative technique coupled with what I have already learned from the obelisk drawing.
Sorry, just a joke. I couldn't help it.
I found the actual sheet i was looking for diagraming the stucture of a romance novel from a previous teacher of mine. This diagram descibes the logic of the romance narrative and how explanitory links are solved in progression as the novel unfolds. For example the first conflict is that the herione's identity is put into question in order to set up the plot of the story. At the resolution, the herione's identity is restored, the question of whether the identity is a transfigured one or not is posed. In terms of a Lacanian reading of this logic, it is the protagonist's creation of the 'object of desire', a fantasy, it is Rhett Butler for Scarlett, the pin-up for the soldier, and Marylin Monroe for me. In reality, these characters do not exist and are unconcious productions of unatainable unatainable things. Their purpose is to give impetus to the protagonist's quest or quest for knowledge. This is the architect searching for a true syntax or the knights quest for the damsel in distress. For me, this means each of five parts of a narrative must not only pose a question about architecture but also foreshadow my resolution. The resolution's success is its existance.
These are the ideas I'm working on using to inform my 'performative techniques'
We do know this of course from history. What then is our neurosis; a war in the mind between our emotion and logic, unescapable for the creative mind. For the mind to be at rest is to gaze at the pin-up three by three inches taped in the bunker and painted on the bombs. For the soldiers, the knights in shining armor ,the object of desire is the damsel in distress, to find her is a quest for battle which brings him across strange lands and unexplained mysteries. It is the architect's quest too, we seek battles to engage in the mind, our quest is for knowledge, and our damsel in distress... Well, you just have to find her for yourself.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
The basis of these two drawings was to create something out of quantifiable data. As I am dealing with water and fluidity, I found it appropriate to research the average precipitation by month in New York City. The first drawing depicts both a graphical and volumetric relationship over a 12 month period. There is a link, month by month, leading to a final volume that represents the total precipitation for the year. There is continuity in that each month in turn effects the next month and subsequently the total.
The second drawing is of a stair. In essence it is a water stair made up of 12 treads cantilevered off a series of water canals. The treads are reservoirs that can hold a specific amount of water, any more than the desired amount will travel/spill into the following stair below. (The volumetric relationship from stair to stair correlates with the first drawing.) As I said, the stair is designed for a specific amount of water; as the water in the first stair meets its limit, the additional liquid travels into the next one. Once each stair is full, the design meets its capacity, any additional fluid constitutes flooding. The last basin is the measure of flooding.
The user (if ascending the stair) would place the heel of their foot on the front edge/nose of the tread and their toe on the back edge, straddling the water. It creates an experience of concentration if one is not to get wet.
A couple questions…
What does it mean to step in the water? The interaction of the user would cause accidental or intentional flooding. This in turn affects the specific amount of water desired to complete the sequence. What is the temperature of the water? What if the middle stair is emptied of water? The lower ones would be left undisturbed until the middle stair was refilled. How does the sound of the water change when it is flowing between two stairs or 10 stairs? Does the successive flow of water increase the speed of the water? And finally, does this represent a performative technique?
Dan, your thoughts about the word précis are absolutely correct. The English use of the word comes from French, where the word means precise, accurate, or defined. 1
Precis: [French. Substantive use of précis adj. cut short, condensed, precise.] A concise or abridged statement: a summary: and abstract. 2
2. The Oxford English Dictionary
Monday, November 13, 2006
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Photography, film or the idea of a collage are affective ways of pulling these frames out. More like defining moments. We can follow one’s gaze, or we could be drawn into the frame. There is always a gaze within another gaze.
For me Shirin Neshat’s frames of Tooba, really separates this idea of the male and the female gaze. With in the frame there is a story that we don’t have to hear about, the relation of the figures tell us the story.
The frames are open to interpretation. For me it is about the escape of a woman, where she really is by herself. The frames evoke all sorts of emotions, they are boundaries for boundaries, they reveal the way a woman moves, seeking a moment of disguise, or a place to hide.. She chooses a mass, to hide in.
She is this object for the male gaze, once she reaches to the tree, the tree disappears for her, and she disappears for herself. Than we see the men beyond the adobe walls looking at her, almost like a facade of men clothing, looking at the same direction. They can’t resist this object, this composition, and start falling into the boundary, and once they are within the periphery, they make a circle around her and the tree. There is this force created by her marriage to the tree, a force that creates gathering, pulling the gazes closer. It is the men’s horizon, their boundary.
Through a black veil, which only has one cut, the woman apprehends , senses , recognizes the world. She is already in a room, or behind walls. Her understanding of nature, man, social divisions, and relationships occur always behind a wall. The wall allows light, and it allows her to communicate through sight. I find this beautiful in the sense that, she could even conceive more than most of others, using only her vision to communicate, to relate, to show hatred, or love..
She is the private space for thought, and understanding, where as the male figure is the public space. He is more free in the sense that he doesn’t evolve in a physical boundary like the woman in the veil.
My question is how does one veil something in architecture in a way that there is the same type of provocation the female figure evokes for the male. How does a veiled object, a facade, a mask become this sort of force that allows us to break the boundaries. We break the frames, we start connecting them in such a method, that things will be still veiled, the secrets, the mysterious. How does one resist this type of force, and compose, enclose the imbalances. How do we bridge disconnections? Why don’t we reveal things in architecture, like the veil does for the woman, for purposes? For aesthetic reasons. It is beautiful, when we look at objects or buildings how many metaphors we can think of or recognize a building as only a metaphor sometimes..
I realized that night, and in my future visits to my "former" home, that what I had considered home had changed for me, and that seeing my original home, in its unaltered state, had changed me. This same room, that I had called home for most of my life, with objects I knew as well as my own body, ceased to be of any comfort, any meaning. I remembered the fights I used to have when I was young, slamming my door shut and holding it closed with all of my might, stomping on my floor and banging on the walls as hard as I possibly could, and I wished more than ever that I had indeed destroyed it back then, that I had made a hole on the floor swallowing my carpet, my desk, my chair, everything in the way of my eyes that night. I wanted to destroy everything in front of me, these objects of mine that would never talk to me again, to knock down my room, my house.
I’m not bothered by my memories; I can still recall myself as a child in this room and smile inside. But to have my memories exist quite ostentatiously in my current presence, to see my past existing so happily right in front of me, unmarred, unruined, was too disturbing for me to comprehend.
This then, was my new home, this feeling of the absence of memory’s truth in the reality of physical existence. I suppose a home that dwells in my mind could, then, be comfortable anywhere in the world, but there I was, this house of mine in College Point, I had to deal with its presence. Time echoes, grows all the time, yet the physicality of certain spaces and objects remain, relics in another world, offering only an image of what I once needed. How does one break out of this repetitive infinity, to live by an ever-changing definition of oneself in the machine?
Precis: Infinity Scaffold for a Mechanical Echo Field
With the physical persistence of artifacts of ritual in one’s memory fading to an absence in the development of the ritual, a synaesthetic removal necessitates from the repetition of a mechanical world through an echo machine specifically created by an infinity scaffold. The ritual, although an act of repetition, inherently develops through its retracing an echo of absence from its own permanence. These permanent remnants of an act that repeats itself so infinitely that its identity grows past recognition are themselves an impermanent resonance. One dwells in the present image of the past that is contrary to a spontaneous mobility drawn from the echo. Echo, never precisely reproduced, is a screen between transition and inertia of ritual. The image is sustainable through the infinity scaffold, a construction of temporal nature that succeeds permanence in its mutability, collapsibility and growth. The scaffold exists always for the construction of permanence; it lives to sustain another being. Yet its constitution also recognizes permanence as owning a lifespan, a decaying body that it must revive, infinitely. The building supported by the scaffold suffers many continuous deaths, yet the scaffold, as a mechanism of temporal parts, lives and breathes forever. The many reincarnations of the building as evidence of the existence of ritual become a temporal absence to its own ritual, whose voice is always echoing.
The infinity scaffold, as an apparition of ritual, is the basis of the echo. In its permutations a synaesthetic language is possible, derived from an assemblage of materials that permeate sound in this field of reincarnation, an act of cleansing, washing. Movement inspired through stagnation, stagnation derived through movement. The echo screen asks, what ceases to live and what is to live forever?
So she was turned away
To hide her face, her lips, her guilt among the trees,
Even their leaves, to haunt caves of the forest,
To feed her love on melancholy sorrow
Which, sleepless, turned her body to a shade,
First pale and wrinkled, then a sheet of air,
Then bones, which some say turned to thin-worn rocks;
And last her voice remained. Vanished in forest,
Far from her usual walks on hills and valleys,
She’s heard by all who call; her voice has life.
-The Metamorphoses, Ovid
Stage and character.
We feel space
Between two points there is a distance. This distance separates one point from the other. It is what allows two points to exist. If there is no distance, there is only one point. What then is this distance, this space between?
Space separates and distinguishes. Through the act of separation, a figure is not only created, but emphasized. As a figure, an isolated element, certain traits are inherent. These traits, or characteristics, establish the figure as a unique entity. When one element shares a space with another, they instantly become characters. A dialog is created. I use the term character because a narrative ensues. One relates to the other.
This is the power of architecture, because it is spatial, it celebrates the occupant as a point in space. However, this space in which one is contained is not merely void. As Foucault explains, “We are living not in a homogeneous and empty space but on the contrary, in a space that is laden with qualities, a space that may also be haunted by fantasy”(1). True magic lies in the power of the mind of the occupant. This is when characters perform.
In addition to spatiality, architecture’s other great force is time. Time allows experience. It allows the observer, as a point, to become a line. Movement. This is the moment when one is truly able to relate to (or with) architecture. Time allows for space to unfold, narrative to unravel, and for dreamscapes to be traversed. Through this experience, one is able to become familiar with the characters contained within a space. One comes to know them for what they are, a figure within the space, as he/she is. A grouping of characters do not in themselves constitute a whole. As a group, they are able to extend beyond as a part of a greater whole that may or may not exist. Space is felt.
- An architecture of characters.
“Now the painting is looking at me” – Paul Klee
1. “Different Spaces” Michel Foucault
Friday, November 10, 2006
In the synesthetic experience of seeing colors in various forms, color then is the primary cue. In the process of experiencing the landscape of forms, color is the indicating factor that these forms have been recognized and meanings are understood. In other words, the understanding of individual alphabetical letters, their subsequent organization in words, sentences, then paragraphs etc, is first evoked or ‘expressed’ through the emergence of colors on their forms, then meanings follow. The generalized metal picture of the exterior physical world that is held by an individual is an important link in process of navigation. The internally generated color is the important link in the sequence of binding itself to external form and meanings. Therefore while color can be defined as a part of a spectrum of infinite monochromes, color can also be considered as a canvas of forms, the context of the landscape.
If hypothetically, a synesthete loses the ability to see color would it stir in him/her a sense of confusion or ‘lost’ in recognizing the landscape of forms and meanings? The equivalence of the confusion or lost arises in a navigator, not only in the geographical displacement sense but even more dramatic in not recognizing a familiar landscape in which a familiar element is disappeared or changed in character.
One of the familiar landscape alterations we have seen is the white-silencing intrusion overnight of falling snow. As it comes, it wipes out all the recognizable paths and merges all the elements of the landscape onto a canvas of white. In this regard rather than adding elements to stimulate a certain architectural experience, what if we take away elements, altering the landscape so that as one moves though a familiar landscape, there is a need to re-evaluate, questioning the whereabouts existence of the old fabrics, the seemed un-altering memory of this familiar place. The evolution of the urban landscape is an undeniable and natural process, the sudden, subtle yet dramatic alteration of a very familiar landscape is what I’m interest in. The frame of time therefore is an essential element in this alteration process. As Paul Virilio puts it “the lost of material space leads to the government of nothing but time.”2
The alteration to the physical project is achieved through the evaporation of the external skin through light. This transformative nature of the material not only dissolves in light but through light emerges from within a new identity, a new color. Whether that can be the skins of the sky, the surrounding contexts and profiles which adhere and replace the walls and ceiling or simply this new screen is distinguishable membrane from the surrounding.
1 Kevin Lynch’s “Image of the City”
2 Paul Virilio’s “The Overexposed City”
i am interested in exploiting figure/ground relationships in sound, where figures come out of the ground and can dominate a composition, as in the example that I have presented before of scarpa’s querini stampalia with its many different sounds of water that change intensity as the listener approaches or leaves, as if they are walking through the different sections of an orchestra. but what happens when someone isn’t just walking through the orchestra, but pushing their way through? pertaining to the flushing airport site that i mentioned at my review, due to wildlife and tidal waters, there are many different sounds at different points of the day.
I am interested in how music and rhythmic sounds have the ability to penetrate into our minds and into the rhythms of life. because of this, I have considered doing something programmatically that involves people spending a lot of time there, like housing or a monestary, etc. however, I have also considered simply making it a soniferous garden, a place for the re-appreciation of sound in the city. I have also been thinking about the relation of materials to sound.
Our life, our work and our buildings are a progression, evolving and changing. There is hope, success and failure, but always a direction. We learn, we adapt and we move forward. There is an eagerness to explore and discover what is unknown. There are surprises, rewards and hopefully a level of recognition in the end.
Architecture has to be experienced dynamically by moving through it. The plan must be a sequence of discovery, so that each space would contain within it the anticipation of other spaces. Views would be hidden, partially revealed or held in reserve. There is a desire to set up expectations then confound them, or in a sequence; arouse, confuse and reveal. One must bring the observer to the heart of the plan in a state of increasing anticipation.
Fluid: tending to flow or conform to the outline its container
Fluidity: the process of flowing easily
It is my goal to create the fluid space; a space where the materials, the observer, the architecture and the function must be interrelated in order to perform. Each piece of the puzzle affects the whole. In my program; the observer, the water, and the garden are the elements that transverse the architecture with various moments of rest and motion. There is a simultaneity of mutual dependencies between the elements where the interaction exploits the greatest potentials in each individual element. However, only through the experience of the circulation and the fluidity of the observer is it realized. There is expectation, anticipation, confusion and understanding.
 Merriam-Websters Collegiate Dictionary
Précis – A Rough Declaration of the Act of Architectural Creation Through the Memoir and the Memory Map
The architect can learn a great lesson in the visceral physicality of walking through topography or place. The pace measures distance in relation to the human body and develops an understanding of elevation as the topography shifts beneath the feet. Over a long enough walk, the ambient light changes overhead and the shadows change shape. Materials of varied textures brush against the skin and emit varied smells. Under the feet these materials produce distinct sounds that rise to mix with the ambient soundscape of the place.
The physical sensuality of place may inform a deep understanding of the moment, but it is not sufficient to place the moment within a greater context. Rather, memories, traces of other perceived experiences, are called upon to bring further understanding to the moment. Thus assuming that space is understood through input gathered by the senses, and it is apparent memory is also essential to that understanding, memory could be considered another sense. Within this framework, a great opportunity for synaesthetic experience, the crossing of senses, is opened to the inhabitant of place in that the physical sensations recall memories of other places, creating a blurred experience of inhabitation that exists between the physicality of the present moment, and the suggestion of a different place.
Historically, there is a long precedent for a “topographical system” of memory that ties it to the physical world. The ancient Greeks proposed the Method of Loci for connecting the structure of thinking to the spatial structure of the world, extending memory into the landscape. The technique “described by Cicero, consists of using a mental image of a city, building, and room as the locations for information to be remembered. Ordered in time and space the information could be remembered by traversing the space of the imagined city in sequence and recovering the stored information. Used to memorize public orations, the technique was taught as part of the art of rhetoric…Through the Method of Loci, the artificial memory could be improved and the whole of the architectural world could be used as a structure for memory.”1 In another Greek text, the Ad C. Herennium, its anonymous author suggests that the best kinds of architecture for the Method of Loci are deserted, solitary, unfrequented buildings, or ruins, and that new combinations of information could be generated by different itineraries through the memory space.2
Clearly, this opens the door for the architect to not merely understand place, but to also find new ways to create it. It is interesting that the Ad C. Herennium suggests ruins as the ideal physical locals for storing memories because they are the remains of an aspect of culture that has lost its value and the history that they carry can only truly be read through archaeological investigation, which itself is often no more than a hypothesis. However ruins are fascinating because they are enigmatic objects that speak more of loss than of memory thus they are able to capture the imagination. To understand them, one must project his own memories upon them because this is, as Nicomedes Suárez-Araúz suggests, “the tendency of our minds to fabricate when confronted with forgetfulness.” 3 He continues, “when we find ourselves unable to remember a particular word, we are compelled to seek out instantly an approximate synonym, metaphor, or metonym to stand for the word…a mental process akin to the basic associative act of poetic writing.” 4
Bachelard writes, “We are never real historians but always true poets,” 5 which implies that the projection of memory onto the physical experience of place writes a semi-fictional narrative that characterizes the experience. The translation of this idea to the creation of architecture then begins with the documentation of the synaesthetic crossing of memory and physical experience. Through drawing, a subjective map of the memory landscape is created through overdrawing the memories projected upon the physical place. With the mindset of a detective, enigmatic clues are uncovered within the subject map and as the clues slowly reveal themselves, a narrative of spatial experience begins to unravel. Through a mastery of the technique of subject memory mapping, beginning with drawings of his own memoirs, the architect learns a new way to exam a site that allows him find fragmentary clues. Yet these fragmentary clues posses an inherent amnesis, “which freed from theories and fictions of official histories, can spur a greater fulfillment of our potential.” To understand place through the clues of physical experience we project our memories and to project into this blurred realm of synaesthetic experiences is also to dream and to create.
1. "Topographic Memory" Bruce Lindsey
2 "Topographic Memory" Bruce Lindsey
3. "Amnesis Art" Nicomedes Suárez-Araúz
4. "Amnesis Art" Nicomedes Suárez-Araúz
5. "The Poetics of Space" Gaston Bachelard
The rituals surrounding death, particularly the process of cremation, begin to alter the perception of space, as bodies form new relationships. As living (animated) bodies become dead (inanimate) bodies, they begin to form new relationships with those still living and influence the relationships between those who are living. This shift is perceived as the living bodies are made more aware if their occupied space. The dead body becomes a fragment of its former animated state. This inanimate fragment becomes a new object which is involved in a specific series of ritual practices, from spreading the ashes in the ocean or sending them into space, to displaying them in an urn on a book shelf at home.
It is crucial to reinterpret the past, to work in and create a memory for the present and future. In designing this memory, one must account for the body, its functions, its senses, and its rituals. As these rituals change over time, so must the architecture which they inhabit. The memory and history of the transformations of the ritual contained within the ritual over time should be contained within the architecture.
In building, there is a relationship between the construction of the building/its practiced space and the occupied building. The scaffolding used to construct or repair a building becomes a wrapping of the practiced object in another practice. The precocity and variations of this re-occurrence of wrapping depend on the history of the space and its decomposition over time.
The relationship of the body in the space of the scaffolding to the bodies in the building and to the outside becomes a mediator of spaces. It is both inside and out; it forms a porous boundary between the fixed and the fluctuating. The visual connection between inside and outside and the practices that occur in each now become apparent to the observer. The new space offers a fragment to be understood as part of the interior and exterior. The experience of looking through the screen to reveal a silhouette gives a level of understanding of the other. The new structures are based on the memory of the work done to the permanent buildings; they begin to take the memory of the scaffolding and incorporate it permanently. New additions serve as an added layer of information and an added layer of experience and memory. Through the building up of these fragments of memories, the meaning and understanding of the space will begin to change.
In understanding space as the fragmentation of memory formed through the overlaying of processes, on the process of ruination/decomposition of the constructed both physical and spiritual, one can begin to perceive the layers creating the experienced space. This reveals the relationship between the connections remaining and those revealed through the process of decomposition/forgetting over time.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
2:08 am. Cigarette, Coffee. Marylin’s eyes temping me and I gaze back into them, a black and white photo I ripped out of a magazine years ago, a solo piano trickles through the backround, the orchestra fills the room.
I wonder if every generation doubted as we do the future of their art and saw in it a crisis. So is the nature of our education; the jacketeers and their prolific quest to solve all our problems, myself, weary, finding impetus in those same unsolvable problems. Looking for it I find it again in Marylin’s eyes, her story unfolding to the ecstatic frustration of Rachmaninoff’s concerto no. 4. Largo-attacca subito ...1
Two Types of Architectural Disturbances
Architecture is a love story between seeing too much and not seeing at all. In the mind of the practitioner, the story unfolds as the two meet, become aware of the other’s strengths or scars and struggle for dominance. There is rape, scornful affections and intrigue. In a near mania, a cyclothemic rythme of meaning and action the two collide and embrace. Their differences are their compliment during the turmoil brought by war, but the architect is not content with solutions, only the problems they structure; is their future doomed?
When love leads to suffering it induces a mental disturbance in the architect’s mind. The syntax of architecture breaks down and slips into aphasic dominance.The aphasic architects embody the hero and herione, once beholden as actors on the stage of contemplation, the nature of their romance is now revealed on the scale of body-event.
When the two meet, they are unaware of the impending war which will in time drive them apart but ultimately bring them together. It is a time of prominece and the herione takes full adavantage of a structured formalism that is her geneologyand her supposed fate. For her the image is the literal, her charm and beauty conquer all save the one she desires, she cannot understand why...
The hero enters as foreign occupier who he sees only in context. His aphasia blinds him to the beauty projected by the herione. He sees her struggle in the world and is intrigued by what he measures as his opposite.
A move, and the consciousness of war sets in. The aphasics takes to their poles. Sherman marches towards the sea and destroys all in his path. Her imageis no longer, his contexture ever changing.
Reconstruction is mimesis, re-producing the form of a nature that was lost. Survival in this time proves their dependence on the other. He is the guardian of “nature”, her resourse for giving form so that they may appropriate it for themselves. The answer lies not in her mimesis or his reflection, but in their crossing.2 As characters in the mind of the architect, this is their stuggle.
2Ingaray, Luce. “The Power of Discourse and the Subordination of the Feminine”
Synesthesia is an unusual state where there is crossing of the senses, when one can smell colors, see sounds, and feel tastes. Gail Martino and Lawrence Marks, in an article titled “Synesthesia:Strong and Weak” bring evidence that weak synesthesia exits as well , “that one can create, identify and appreciate cross-modal connections or associations”. The important implication is that many can experience synesthesia, at least on a weak level.
Those tested with synesthesia have shown to have a strong memory, which indicates that memory is an aspect of synesthesia.
Memory plays a very important role in Jewish tradition. Customs were established for the sake of memory. For example, eating matzo, unleavened bread that is eaten during the holiday of Passover, reminds us of the hasty departure of the Jews when leaving Egypt.
The Talmud was only recorded from memory so that it would not be forgotten. The recording of the Talmud was done in a way to re assure the continuation of the memory.
Since the destruction of the Second Temple the Jewish people have had no sense of place. They have been persecuted and set to wander ever since (law of house building). The strong customs, rituals and the studying of the Torah is the only reason the Jewish people exist today.
Design a space for the enhancement of memory. Design for a people who don’t have a place.