Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Reading comprehension 6 question 3

Exploding the notion that modern interiors and objects were all black and white through a rendering of the Johnson Wax Building by Frank Lloyd Wright.

reading comprehension 6 question 2

In order to speculate about the implications of “machines for living” and the phrase “less is more” on design today, I chose to use can openers as the object of my analysis. The fist set of openers is a set from E.P. Hand Tools Can Openers. These tools are machines for living in that they are also machines for survival. These tool were used to open cans of preserved food stored for long periods of time. Perhaps they were used during the great depression to open the last cans of food to feed a starving family.

This set of can openers relate to the phrase “less is more” in that they are made through simple iron construction. Although architects of the modern movement would call the head detailing on these can openers superfluous, it is actually necessary in order to prevent cross contamination between food types.

The second set of can openers I chose are from the Home Shopping Network. This can opener and jar opener set first relate to the machine in that they are battery operated, and have exposed cogs to show how it works. These tools are designed using a sleek, streamline design, along with chromed surface metals, and white washed surfaces typical of the modern movement. The ribs on the jar opener also remind me of Art Deco, and its emphasis on speed, and aerodynamics. These objects can be considered machines for living in that they relate to human scale. They are sized at 7”x3.25”x1.5”, and the molded curvature of the handle is designed to the human hand, thus facilitating its own usefulness. These items also display the values of today’s society: comfort, convenience, and aesthetic pleasure.

In regards to “less is more” these tools are the best representations, they are totally absent of ornament, they have no color, and there is nothing there without purpose. Although the E.P. set speaks best about “less is more in regards to function. You don’t need a handle that fits your hand, you don’t need it to be battery operated, and you don’t need a chromed metal finish.

Reading comprehension 6 question 1

Art Nouveau, as it relates to the countries of Belgium, France, and Germany, had a special emphasis on the repetition of curvilinear lines that create a whip lashing motion. This energy is often portrayed through line and form in both architecture and fine arts. “To an even greater degree than others before them, Art Nouveau sees no separation between the fine arts of painting, sculpture, architecture, and the decorative arts, such as glass ceramics, and furniture,” (Harwood v.2 pg.85).

This lack of separation can be seen in graphic mural like ornament seen in Victor Horta’s Hotel Tassel, and the floral print on the wall and in “Desert Harmony in Red” by Matisse. Both of these display a naturalistic vine-like pattern as a means of decoration on the walls. Although both use this pattern in a graphic way, Horta makes use of this motif in a more holistic and unified way. He uses these shapes as forms for capitols of columns, banister railings, and wall/floor decorations.

Hector Guimard’s entrance hall to the Castle Beranger Apartments in France picks up on the influences from both Matisse and Giacomo Balla’s “Dog on a Lead”. The vine-like tendrils on the upper part of the gate reflect the same wall pattern from Matisse’s work, while the evenly spaced bars on the middle portion give reference to a rhythm and a sense of time, which is a key component of Balla’s work.

The work of August Endell is also of chief resemblance to the work of Balla and Duchamp. In his staircase and hall, of Atelier Elvira in Germany, Endell has a lamp that shows radiating lines for each branch on which a single bulb is placed. This reminded me of the way the legs and tail of Balla’s dog is drawn to show movement. In this same way Duchamp also shows movement through the repetition of geometric lines in his “Nude Descending .a Staircase.” This can be clearly seen in the repetition of geometric lines, as seen in the legs and knees of the model as she descends the stairs.

Massey pg.46

Harwood pg. 85

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Reflections Summary

From the reflections unit I chose to read the work of Nathen Howel, Blakeni Walls, and Dajana Nedic. These people in particular I have always admired for their work, and their ability to bring something new to the table each time we have an assignment, both in and out of studio.

Nathen Howel is a Beautiful writer. Every time I read his work I sit there in awe because I feel like I am reading a textbook. On the other hand, each sentence is worded so eloquently I feel as if it must be of a more creative genre as well. Nathen is also a wonderful digital artist. He does portraits that you would swear on your life were real photographs. So thank you Nathen for doing what you do. You are my Photoshop/IAR 222 hero!

Dajana, who is one of my classmates in studio, is also my hero in a similar way. Dajana is a wonderful artist. Everything she does is amazing, especially her handwork. It is beautiful. Dajana also has this ability to bring something uniquely abstract to the table. For instance, in her essay she talks about the “wheels of revolution”, and to illustrate it she uses this wonderful optical illusion.

Blakeni, all the while, in my mind is the Queen of unique, everything she does from the way she writes (with her left hand), to the way she dresses is unique. So it would make sense that her understanding of the material is also unique. She explains the material in terms of a clock. “In the 19th century I have observed that design is formed through the hands of time and operates like the gears that move inside a clock… working and fighting against each other in order for it to tell the right story in and of that specific time (Blakeni).” After I read this I could help but think… Bingo! Yatzee! You got it.

Alternatives Summary

From what I have read of my classmate’s (Kara Kooy, Kayla McDonagh, Abigail Buchanan) essays on alternatives, they all seem to have a thorough understanding of what this unit is all about. What I found most interesting about reading the work of others is how we all have our own individual understanding of the same basic information. For instance Kayla understood this unit in terms of a pizza, and how it can be customized and changed to suit the tastes/needs of people in other parts of the world. In this same way architecture is also changed and manipulated. “When taking from the past there is a need to make things your own, (Kayla).”

In this same way Abigail also focused on this idea of customization and alterations. When I think of alterations I usually of tailoring a dress or refitting your clothing in some way, but Abigail brought it to my attention that these apply to architecture too. If you stop and think about it, it is through alterations made to the models of the past that we get alternative solutions. “Those that do not study what was in the past are susceptible to repeating past mistakes, or recreating something that was better accomplished previously (Abigail).” This idea also reminded me of my own work on the subject. Salvador Dali was a key example of mine, and this reminded me of something he said, “Those who do not want to imitate anything produce nothing.”

Kara on the other hand took a more appreciate stance on the subject. Recalling her love for gothic architecture, and describing it in a way that let me see it through her eyes. In this she also showed a thorough understanding of the material by brining in quotes from the text and other outside material such as the bible. “There really is nothing new under the sun. Whenever and wherever there have been rules, there have been rule breakers (King Solomon).”

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Point: Reflections

When we first began our study of reflections I immediately thought of water and its ability to return light from its surface and project a rippled representation of the world around it. This is similar to the way in which architecture has the tendency to reflect the culture of the society that built it. In this same way water in its liquid form has the candid ability to change, shift, and move in response to the environment in which it exists. This is why we often use architecture as a means of studying revolutions within society and the world. Like water, architecture also changes and shifts as taste and technology change within a social group. In addition to examining architecture within the terms of social revolutions, we have also examined it in terms of thinking outside the box v. a holistic view of architecture, revivals from around the world, and Japanisme as examples of these revolutions within the architecture of society.

As a continuation of our allusion to water and its reflective qualities, reflections can be defined in several ways: the act of reflecting or the state of being reflected, an image, a representation, a counterpart, a thought occurring in consideration or meditation, the return of light, sound, etc. after striking a surface.

Speaking of reflections in terms of an image, or a representation, the impressionist artist Claude Monet comes to mind. Monet’s water lilies are some of my favorite paintings, and I was thrilled that Monet related to our study of Japanisme. As I examined the work I realized that it not only literally shows a reflection of the subject, but also symbolically reflects our entire unit. The reflections in the water reminded me of the hall of mirrors in Versailles. This space is a prime example of a holistic view on architecture. There is design at every scale. Everything from the gilded molding to the color of the floors was carefully chosen to emulate and capture the glowing light of the sun, and the power of the sun king Louis XIV. We were also able to draw connections to this from music. The floating melodies, and the structured rhythm of the Autumn movement from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Suite reflects the fluidity of parts to the whole within the formality of the axial layout of the space. This seamless flow of space make the hall appear to go on forever. Monet’s painting also demonstrates this feeling of floating boundless space. The shore of pond is not shown on the canvas, but its trees are reflected on the water so it is as if the land continues below the surface.

Impressionist painting as a whole was a revolutionary movement within the art world. Rejected by most, impressionist art stepped outside the box o f an ideal representation of a classical subject and instead aimed to paint the essence of the subject. In many ways this is similar to the revolution that occurred in England and France when the new trade routes to China, Japan, and India opened in the 16th-19th centuries.

In general, a revolution is the ending of one cycle and the beginning of another. In England, a period emphasizing purity of architecture came to an end in favor of the Victorian “anything goes” approach. This brought about the existence of Classical revival, Gothic revival, Moorish revival, Indian revival, Japanisme, etc. all existing in architecture at the same time. Making the home a fantasyland, an escape in which you could travel the world and never actually leave your home. Needless to say there were many ideas about what style was appropriate for the period. Perhaps these architects could have used a walk along the thought paths found in Japanese gardens. Western take on these were very popular in England and France. Monet’s water lilies resemble the ponds often found in these meditative gardens. The painting style is also based on a Japanese technique. The short strokes give the subject a light, rounded feel. Which gives it the appearance of existing in another world.

dictionary.com, reflections

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reading comprehension 5 question 1

Harwood pg. 28

I believe this cast iron chair shows a revolution across style periods. Specifically the movement from the Middle ages and Gothic architecture to the Renaissance and the rejection of Gothic architecture because of its primitive nature (classical architecture had been temporarily lost). Now during the industrial revolution, and the Victorian style period, Gothic architecture is one of the many styles revived during this time. That is, in a more romanticized version than that of the past.

Reading comprehension 5 question 2

Artifact: Scarf

This scarf responds to design influences from the east in its use of a dense, naturalistic, stylized pattern. This scarf also makes use of the colors green, gold, and blue, which have associated symbolism within the Asian culture. Wearing this scarf in the 19th century would show good taste, because it was during this period that Asian influences appeared in fashion as well.


Space: John Maciejowski interior

This room, according to the 19th century way of thinking, would be interpreted as showing good taste, wealth and worldliness. This room displays the owner’s wealth through the dark, exotic wood furniture. Worldliness is shown through the collection of eastern goods such as: the Middle Eastern rug, the sofa whose shape incorporates lines often found in Asian architecture and design. He furniture is also carved with Asian figures in a landscape, amongst other patterns associated with that culture.

Building: Brighton Pavilion

Brighton Pavilion was renovated to its current state as a private escape for King William IV of England. The new design for the Pavilion features Indian Mosque architecture to the extent that it looks like western take on the Taj Mahal. This can be seen in the onion domes, the minarets, and pointed arches. This building seems a little misplaced being in England. It feels as though it should be in India, but that is exactly the point. It was meant be a wonderland, an escape from the city. This relates to the Victorian idea of the home as a place to escape from the bustle of the city.

Place: Kew Gardens

Kew gardens in London England is a perfect example of a western take off of Japanese gardens and the gravel though paths that intertwine within them. Kew Gardens is also dotted with Japanese structures such as Pagodas, and man made Koi ponds. And because it is a garden, it also features exotic plants that feel as if they are from the orient. For the people of the 19th century the Orient was a new and exciting place. Gardens like these helped to bring a piece of the exotic home to the people who couldn’t go to experience it themselves, thus creating a romanticized image of what it would be like.