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(Flickr CC)
Short video interview with Jean Nouvel on CBS on his two new additions to New York’s skyline and some general thought on architecture.

 

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A bit more profound talk with modern contextual master Steven Holl on Inhabitat. Interview concentres around sustainability, however there are some bits about Holl’s design approach and his biography as well. All in all, a nice read. Looking forward to other Inhabitat’s talks in this series.

 

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Final short news: Google researches technology on translating poetry. This makes one wonder, if technology can understand meter and rhyme what other patterns do we need to teach it until we can make it actually create.

 

Just can resist giving you this link after that 🙂

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The most valuable architect’s professional virtue is the design process.

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This is an interesting find.
A floating cottage concept designed by artist Daniel Andersson.

(artist’s portfolio)

What amazes most is unusual site, context and the dictated living scenario of the scheme. To me such wonderful examples celebrate the total dependency of the resulting design on circumstances, which are the true leading force of any architectural creation process.

(artist’s portfolio)

(artist’s portfolio)

Dornob review of this concept can be found here.
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The thing I lack and miss in today’s main-stream music scene is the notion of atmosphere, some all-embracing moderated fabric of sounds, some ambient feeling that stands as a background to all the other – also enormously important – parts (if there is such thing as a ‘part’ in music).

In today’s popular (not pop but popular) music – which I understand way too little about – it seems that this act of taking your listener for a stroll to somewhere important  for the author has given its way to assertions.

It’s not a bad thing (no, really, it’s not), I just feel that in doing so it would be quite a good thing to understand what this transformation demands in return and, if the losses are important, maybe find some ways to deal with them.

As an illustration I give you a piece of energy from 1941
The Ink Spots – I Don’t Want To Set the World On Fire

(one more thing from a different topic – just appreciate how the lyrics are treated, how much technical respect is put into their rendering)

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Finding links and common cords between life and expression forms is not an easy job. However, keeping this aim in mind it doesn’t take long to find loose ends. This time – in music. Such amazingly universal and abstract patterns lie there… Contrarily to architecture, which is for better or for worse tied to the physical world (at least how I see it now, this might not be the truth), music is a total immateriality. One might question the fact, that it depends on sound waves and thus still links to our material world, and so we should, but at least for now music remains one of the most abstract expression forms. And of course, when you are so physically unfit you have to somehow cope with that and not going into decorations too much have one’s roots in the very fundamental structures – so that even without the “mass” you could still be “seen” and understood.

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So, an example from life. Love.
There are different forms of expressing love (or should I say, sharing love) (I know this will be very stereotypic and generalized but still, just to get the point across): romantic love – with walk on the beach at sunset and starry nights with falling stars, passionate love – with dizzying kisses, steamy nights…and days, philosophical love – with long talks in complete darkness, staying awake all night… Now, when we turn to music it also has very rich range of “forms” or moods: stages of deep thoughtfulness, bits of wild excitement, silences, just to name a few. And how are these bits and pieces put into a music score? – They are composed, harmonically arranged. Let’s be generalistic again: everything starts peacefully with introduction, then rises slowly, reaches its climax/culmination and then starts going down, slowly reaches the end where we look back, remember what’s happened and finish.

Now imagine if we would transfer this to life. Make an introduction, arrange culmination(s), reprises. The essence of music is flow, progress, life also flows. Music is composed with notes – points in time and pitch, life is (not?) composed out of experiences – points in time and space. Maybe it would be possible to create a harmonious and quite interesting experience, composition of life?

Let’s name the loved one Josh. Create introduction, main act, end, think of culmination (some grand weekend trip to paradise), or even few of them – compose their relationship and timing. You would not want to listen to music that has just three notes over an hour long period, make it more interesting – call Josh, talk with him, call night out, give him flowers, paint a painting – harmonize the intensity, choose when what to do to make it more exciting. Change the tempo, when approaching culmination – your trip – slowly increase the tension, send him letters every day counting down days, introduce delay, resolution, loose all contact before bigger culminations, make him want and anticipate and then give full energy. Just like in jazz – improvise; make it fun and well composed. After the main culmination – don’t drop everything but slowly start to weaken the intensity, just like in symphony – before the end remember the main experiences, just on a smaller scale. And when it comes to ending – don’t forget to put in a cadence – don’t just drop everything, finish on the right chord – call a romantic dinner somewhere, look through photos of your experience, sing songs that you sung, remember people that you met, call a toast to this great experience. (Of course, nobody forbids to have another composition already started when this one is still not finished).

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This is very generalized but still the idea is there. And when you think of millions of different rhythms and keys you can apply to your composition of life it is just mind-blowing. So what do you think, would this “composed” life work? Maybe this is what we are missing in today’s hectic world?

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Does architecture liquidate time? It definitely reflexes time: one glance at a medieval castle and you can see those ideas, feel that time pulsating from it.
Architecture is a frozen music and music is a servant to time, thus architecture – so can we say – really freezes time. Interesting point, isn’t it? Architecture – if that is the case – freezes the flowing? The process? Now that is a strong statement. Time is process, however is the process only time? Could there be process that is not interconnected with time?

This?
But this process also depends on time. We are able to see the change commencing only then when we look at this sequence as an animation – frame after frame. If we look at it as a whole object – it is just one unchanging stagnant object, with no motion, with no process. Very architecture-like, isn’t it? – No time included.

It is quite strange. I have always said (ant not only I) that architecture has so much in common with music. And now it seems that architecture is a servant of stagnancy and music is the servant of time and process – the opposition of stagnancy.

(Source)

I will start with an artwork. Profoundly sorry for this cheeky use of ancient masterpiece by Fra Filippo Lippi, it is not an artwork in question it is just here to accentuate the notion of continuity.
The artwork that I have in mind is a contemporary piece of land-art created somewhere around central Europe (sadly, I cannot remember neither the author nor the venue of it – but it’s not the most important bit). There was a gallery and there was a river meandering nearby. The aim of the artwork was to divert the stream of the river so that it will flow directly through the gallery. Now it is quite astonishing sight on its own but what the artists tried to achieve was by diverting the path of the river and making it longer and wider to slow down the flow of it so that visitors can stop by and behold it. It is the idea that one has to slow the flow of time to really appreciate and comprehend pieces in life. It is quite hard to do that by just perceiving them in the flow of time in general mass of other concepts.

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So to stop the surrounding world for a bit, take out a piece of it and have a closer better look at it. You know what that reminds me of? – Us. We people just do that. Not so many people appreciate things in flow of time, usually it such case we rush, we cannot be bothered to comprehend the whole flow. It is much easier to take out everything piece by piece and comprehend the whole in such way. On the other hand, there is this saying that one can never become bored by watching fire burning or water flowing. And that’s…well it’s flow, thought probably not requiring to comprehend it.

All this babble reminds me of two other extremes in similar scale – Music and Architecture. One embodied flow as a core of its existence, the other having similar kind of relationship with statics, both employed by people at overwhelming scale. Of course, at this point I cannot leave unmentioned probably the catchiest (and maybe the most accurate…?) quote about these two:

“I call architecture frozen music”
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Referred about the exciting frozen curves of the Baroque period, could this thought be presumed to be universal connection instead of just a catchy phrase? A post in Archidoze mentions this notion of wide range of personal interpretation concerning both sides. Could this be the main link? Or is it the structure? Or the proportions in composition? If this is true, so in order to examine music we stop it and give it a form – a sort of superficial time frame (because there’s no music without time). But then again, if this is true then it is true both ways…so how would:

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Church of the light, 1989,
Ibaraki, Osaka
by Tadao Ando.

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St. Anne’s Church, ~1500,
Vilnius, Lithuania
by Michael Enkinger/Benedikt Rejt

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or

Jewish Museum, 2001,
Berlin, Germany
by Daniel Libeskind

would sound like?

I leave you today with this fragment from sunny Malta:

Charles Camilleri: “Do you think of architecture as frozen music?
Richard England: “
Do you think of music as melted architecture?

Isn’t it strange how everything relates to humans in our world? It sounds natural but it also seems as if we lose a bit of essence in all our activity limiting ourselves this way.

Here’s an example. Human eye is capable of seeing light that has a wavelength fitting between ~380 – 780 nm. A whole spectrum of colours fits in it. But is this universal? Of course not. Even here on Earth other kinds of species can see different light levels. It just so happens that the Sun (our main source of light – artificial illumination was engineered to mimic it) emits light that dramatically peaks at precisely this area of spectrum – over millions of years humans have evolved to be able to “read” precisely that part of spectrum that gives the most information.
So bearing this in mind, it becomes obvious that for somebody who has evolved in completely different environment (thus possessing different capabilities to interact with the environment – vision included) our Mona Lisa would not deliver any pleasure – or at least not like we see it.

Would it be wrong fallacious to say that The Essence (whatever that might be) lies underneath the form? And if the form is just an adjustment to what is most fitting for us, so by not attaching (and limiting ourselves) so much to it, learning to trans-form – change the form of our creations it maybe it would be possible to finally understand the core patterns lying beneath the surface?