Ways of Seeing… Stationary images or a flow of informational bits…

Earlier, I posted about Bill Viola’s work – primarily thinking about the important effect of creating a “context” with in which to experience “art”…  Thinking further along the lines of the influences of the web and the potential collapse of context….   this series on youtube is worth watching…

From "ways-of-seeing"


From "ways-of-seeing"

The clips are worth seeing for yourself in your own context…

Don’t miss an interesting passage in the first series – an the example of the stationary image – one that you might make a pilgrimage to see – the image embedded in the walls of architecture…

UPDATE: Cover: Art Building U of Iowa

UPDATE: Steven Holl – interviewed by Charlie Rose. I was very happy and excited to see a bit of the University of Iowa’s new Art Building be a part of the noted work discussed in the interview by Charlie Rose. I have to say that having been a part of the team for the Art Building and from the architect-of-record point of view, this was one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences I’ve had. I think it is important to note how many times Mr. Holl refers to “we” or “us” when describing the process. It begins with a strong idea that a group can work upon and with.

The “we” expands and contracts of course throughout process but ultimately boils down to recognizing the power of a strong client / architect / builder – with these three willful partners in this process a lot of great work and ideas can be accomplished.

Well, it’s fun to see your work, whether it’s a photograph, or a project, or both/and – published.

Art Building – School of Art and Art History, University of Iowa
Steven Holl Architects – Design Architect (Project link)
HLKB Architecture – Architect of Record

More photo’s of the project here

A review by Blair KaminChicago Tribute architecture critic here in ArchRecord (full article in January 2007 ArchRecord magazine).

Best experienced as is all good architecture… in person…

Intersecting Images: Fragments [as seen through the lens]

Building as Camera Obscura

AIA Minnesota Announces 2006 Honor, Divine Detail Awards

Other winners
Other 2006 architecture award winners – Star Tribune December 8, 2006

“Architects Cermak Rhoades designed a life-size camera obscura as a temporary structure for the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Its cedar exterior gives way to an all-white interior, where the gardens can be seen in a new way.”

What better way to visually re-experience (a chance to perceive) a landscape than a room size camera obscura… A place to pause and ponder. Useful or Useless? It’s up to you to make it what you need. However, it does provide for an interesting distinction between looking and seeing…

An 1817 encyclopedia page from the Wilgus Collection

All the rules are there for giving an architectural form…

I think the place deserves better photographs than what I could find…. more about the architects by the architects here…. AIA Minnesota here….. other recognition for Minnesota work here….

What is the function of a window….(Raum)

Le Corbusier, “Cabanon,” Cap-Martin, 1952.
Credit: Bibliothèque de la Ville, La Chaux-de-Fonds/Fonds Le Corbusier

A photograph – overlooking the Eileen Gray House Cap-Martin…. The picture of the horizon – (can’t tell if this is from inside or outside) the Sea and the Sky – with encroaching trees. Simply a picture of the horizon framed by a wall with an opening onto the outside -supposed from the protection of the inside…

Below from:
Battle Lines E. 1027
Beatriz Colomina

Significantly, Le Corbusier describes drawing as the occupation of a “stranger’s house.” In his last book, Creation is a Patient Search, he writes: “By working with our hands, by drawing, we enter the house of a stranger, we are enriched by the experience, we learn.” [30] Drawing, as has often been noted, plays a crucial part in Le Corbusier’s process of appropriation of the exterior world. He repeatedly opposes his technique of drawing to photography: When one travels and works with visual things – architecture, painting or sculpture – one uses one’s eyes and draws, so as to fix deep down in one’s experience what is seen. Once the impression has been recorded by the pencil, it stays for good – entered, registered, inscribed. The camera is a tool for idlers, who use a machine to do their seeing for them.[31]

From the outset I am most interested in the conceptual idea of “space” as interpreted by the camera gaze…

What the word for space, Raum, Rum, designates is said by its ancient meaning. Raum means a place cleared or freed for settlement and lodging. A space is something that has been made room for, something that is cleared and free, namely within a boundary, Greek peras.

A boundary is not that at which something stops but, as the Greeks recognized, the boundary is that from which something begins its presencing. That is why the concept is that of horismos, that is, the horizon, the boundary. Space is in essence that for which room has been made, that which is let into its bounds. (Building Dwelling Thinking – M.H.)

Strange White Fungus… Really – How Absurd

Caves in Lascaux Invaded by Strange White Fungus

LASCAUX, FRANCE.- The caves in Lascaux, which has been called the Sistine Chapel of prehistoric rock art, has been invaded a white fungus. “The figures are so modernist in design that when Picasso emerged from the cave soon after it was first discovered in 1940 he exclaimed: ´We have invented nothing,´” reported Steve Connor for Unison. The caves, which have been designated a World Heritage Site, were first invaded by the fungus in 2001 when an air conditioner was installed. Authorities tried to play the fungus down saying “We think that now there is no risk to the paintings. A few years ago we thought there would be a risk to them because of this fungus,” Dr. Jean-Michel Geneste said to the reporter. The air conditioner was supposed to protect the 17,000 year old cave paintings from heat and humidity.

Above re-posted from Art Daily (http://www.artdaily.com/section/news/index.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=15729) 2006.05.11

What a completely odd notion… cave paintings – believed to have been created some 17,000 years ago…. and now (circa 2001) we believe we can help them survive longer by using a technology nearly 100 years old.. (1902 — Willis Carrier ) “to modify the heat and humidity”… Strange… and now we observe a white fungus on the paintings. The balance upset by our own invasive species.

A lesson to learn to leave well enough alone.

Wouldn’t you think that lasting 17,000 years is a pretty good indication that rapid deterioration is not accruing. I would think the work has probably experience quite of few cycles of the natural environmental climate range – why do we come along and muck it up with “preserving” it? Perhaps we should create a very high resolution surface scan of the paintings for recreation / publication / archival purposes and then seal up the cave so that we can protect it from the environmental pollutions we spew into the air… That’s probably the real danger to the disintegration of the work… Turns out that’s what the Ministry of Culture for France ended up doing – and a detailed replica was made called LASCAUX II in order to represent the work.

Amazing. More here

Glenn Murcutt – Lecture at ISU

Went to a presentation last night by Glenn Murcutt – a burst of inspiring energy – borderline mania – an intense display of excitement where the words and pictures simply did not seem to come fast enough for Mr. Murcutt. It was thrilling.

Some paraphrased notes I came away with that I think are relevant from Mr. Murcutt’s work…

Nurture and value the Process….. a product will follow.

Know where you are ….. in as many ways of knowing as possible Culture, people, what works, basics….means, methods, economics, materials….environment – sun, wind, rain, …..spring, summer, fall, winter…..day, night, dawn, dusk…. these are the important things.

Be “in” the place where you are it’s more healthy for all of us, our children and their children….

Draw pictures – the brain…the hand ….the eye.

People understand pictures.

Architects use tools like plans, sections, elevations – to document pictures of places.

Look around you and learn to read and understand what you see from the landscape – learn why the nature you observe is the shape that it is….

It’s been said before, but it is the substance of the work of Mr. Murcutt that is way beyond the current market’s notion of sustainability and “green”. The work is beyond style and fashion – in my opinion – it is the kind of work that should be understood more fully. The basic notions he investigates are core principles that we need to understand to move beyond questions of style and fashion.

Skillful and selective photography – Finnish Modern Architectural Production


Skillful and selective photography helped establish legend of Finnish architecture
Slovenian expert studies modernism of 1950s and ‘60s

By Anu Uimonen

“Finnish architecture was promoted in foreign countries in the 1950s and 1960s deliberately and very efficiently”, says Petra Ceferin, an architect and researcher from Slovenia.
“This is not very extensively known, because Finnish architects have a reputation for ‘not talking’. In fact, these ‘silent men’ were quite successful in promoting their work.”
Ceferin became immersed in the marketing of Finnish architecture when she wanted to find out how the concept “modern Finnish architecture” was born – or made.
“When I studied architecture, Finnish modern architecture was an important model which architects in Slovenia took to heart. For instance, we studied Alvar Aalto as a modernist who managed to preserve a human set of values.”

Ceferin’s curiosity was awakened, and after graduating in Ljubljana in 1995 she decided to go to Finland. She enrolled at the Department of Architecture at the Helsinki University of Technology in 1996.
During seven years that she spent in Finland, Ceferin wrote her doctoral thesis Constructing a Legend: The International Exhibitions of Finnish Architecture 1957-1967. Now the material used in the thesis has been set up as an exhibition at the Museum of Finnish Architecture. An important part of the exhibition architecture by Roy Mänttäri is in the posters and structures of old exhibitions.
“I am very happy that the exhibition is at the Museum of Finnish Architecture, because it was this same museum that organised the exhibitions of Finnish architecture in other countries that I studied.”
In other words, it is the museum that established a legend.

In the ten-year period that Ceferin investigated for her thesis, the Museum of Finnish Architecture organised nine overall exhibitions of Finnish architecture which were on display in 36 locations in different countries.
“The head of the museum Kyösti Ålander was efficient, and the result was an excellent set of exhibitions.”
“I was interested in what kind of an image of Finnish architecture the exhibitors wanted to project”, Ceferin says. “It was always very carefully planned.”
Each of the nine exhibitions had a jury, whose members were named by the museum and the Finnish Association of Architects. However, each year the buildings to be exhibited were very similar to one another.

A total of about 50 buildings were on display, about 30 of which were shown several times. Each of the nine exhibitions got 11 buildings.
“It is clear that if you want to have a strong exhibition, you have to make choices. In Finland the choice was to emphasise modernism, which was much appreciated.”
“At the same time it was clear that most of the architecture produced in Finland was excluded from the exhibitions. Many important architects were not a part of Finnish architecture in any way.”
Ceferin also studied buildings that were not included. The production of Alvar Aalto in the 1950s was represented well in all exhibitions, but his output from the 1960s was hardly on display at all. The Porthania building at the University of Helsinki, by Aarne Ervi, who is now highly esteemed, was also not on display.
The decorative architecture of the 1940s was not accepted; Kyösti Ålander dismissed it as a “swamp of subjectivism, from which we got back to the narrow but strong path of progressive development”.

Photographers had a very special role in the creation of the image of Finnish architecture. The magnificent black-and-white photographs show their subjects detached from their surroundings, almost as abstract compositions of form, light, and shadow.
It was sometimes difficult to say on the basis of interior photographs what the purpose of the building was, because they were clinically clean – with no people or animals. The pictures of facades did not reveal how the buildings were linked with the older urban surroundings. Only the building itself was brought out, and neighbouring structures were cropped out of the picture. When necessary, bothersome details were eliminated by retouching.

The idea was to present the buildings as “absolute architecture”.
“But the relationship between architecture and nature was important for Finns”, Ceferin says.
If nature was not appropriately available, the photographer’s assistant might have held the branch of a tree in front of the camera in order to achieve the right kind of effect.
“The Finnish promotion activities were very successful”, Ceferin says. She has read many articles on the Finnish exhibitions in foreign architectural journals.
“There was much written about the exhibitions. At first the focus was on traditional Finland stereotypes: distance, easterly location, quiet lakes, endless forests, dark winters, and the summer midnight sun. But gradually the tone changed, and people began to write about Finland as a modern, technologically advanced country.”

It is just this kind of a raising of the image of Finland that was the aim of the state-financed architectural exhibitions. Finland’s international reputation in design had been achieved somewhat earlier with the famous so-called “Miracle of Milan”, and now it was architecture’s turn.
The timing was perfect.
“In the 1950s, there was a yearning in the centres of international modernism for some regionalism – a different kind of modernism. Finland was a magnificent case in point. One can say that Finland was needed”, Petra Ceferin laughs.

Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 14.9.2005

The exhibition of Finnish architecture as seen in foreign exhibitions in 1957 – 1967 will be on display at the Museum of Finnish Architecture in Helsinki at Kasarmikatu 24. Opening hours Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Wednesdays 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM.