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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Last words from Hejduk's Such Places as Memory


from Prayer for a House
        "matrix like a painting fool
         And blessed is the school"
 
from Orpheus's Memory
        "her heart burst red roses"
  
from Bacchus
        "seepage is inevitable"
  
from Florentine Grey
        "kept from descending
         by a pull of a heart"
 
from Without Interior
        "triangles shift as in a sea"
 
from On a Bridge
        "which reflects the graphite"
 
from Oslo Room
        "eyes
         might be kissed"
 
from The Metronome
        "densities silently implode"
 
from Outside Rome
        "the photos bled"
 
from Venice
        "voices
         bird and man"
 
from Lampasas Square
        "endless twirl of fan"
 
from Helsinki Warehouses
        "slip out while you can" 
 
from Berlin Looms
        "the plan had been
         erased"
 
from Arcadia
        "the sculptor knew
         the northern architect"
 
from A Monster Slain
        "there were such things"
 
from Vicitims-2
        "The past is not past"
 
from Atomic Light
        "their terror
         of abandonment"
 
from Parallel Implosions
        "Einstein laughing
         to an infinity"
 
from the Sleep of Adam
        "crystallization
         of the lament"
 
from The Breath of Bacchus
        "sigh
         silencing all sound"
 
from Where Irises Once Were
        "the tears of blood"
 
from A Journey of Two
        "stone
         aging simultaneously"
 
from Eros
        "a blush that made
         desire wait"
 
from Weightless Heart
        "the earth
         fell"
 
from Soundings
        "made
         for birth
         and you?"
 
from Whispers of Prague
        "your building stones entomb"
 
from Munch's Night Crossing
        "the
         photograph he had taken himself"
 
from Electra
        "the chambers of her heart"
 
from Seville Blue
        "the skin
         explaining night"
 
from A Dead Oak
        "the silence of the bull"
 
from A Distant Breath
        "a distant breath"
 
from A Dark Plum Room
        "in a dark plum room"
 
from Abduction
        "the night sky"

from Under the Granite Arches
        "dragged from the light"
 
from Obsession of Dürer
        "left her
         content"

from A Lament
        "to a point
         celebrating a sadness"

from Chartres Dusk
        "the ancient dust"

from Hymn to a Sculptor
        "your signature of roughness"

from An Evening Conversation
        "to begin?
         We have already"

from Investigation of a Museum
        "in such a place"

from Archaeological Museum
        "their reality"

from Acropolis
        "Exit implies entry's lament"
 
from Medusa

        "your mouth and eyes
         open
         simultaneously"

— a selection of last words from John Hejduk's Such Places as Memory: Poems 1953-1996 (MIT Press, 1998); in other words, archi-poetry begets archi-poetry.



Thursday, October 8, 2015

but a step from sublime to ridiculous

"The 'center' of the picture is not spatial but is the focus of interacting forces.
     The definition of [mirror] symmetry in static terms is the exact correspondent of the error by which rhythm is conceived to be recurrence of elements. Balance is balancing, a matter of distribution of weights with respect to the way they act upon one another. The two pans of the scales balance when their push and pull on each other is adjusted. And scales exist ... only when their pans are operating antagonistically to each other with reference to reaching an equilibrium. Since esthetic objects depend upon a progressively enacted experience, the final measure of balance or symmetry is the capacity of the whole to hold together within itself the greatest variety and scope of opposed elements.
     The connection of balance with stress of weights is inherent. Work in any sphere is performed only by the interworking of opposed forces—as by the antagonistic systems of the muscular frame. Hence everything depends in a work of art upon the scale attempted—that is the reason it is but a step from the sublime to the ridiculous. There is no such thing as a force strong or weak, great or petty, in itself. Miniatures and quatrains have their own perfection, and mere bigness is offensive in its empty pretentiousness. To say that one part of a painting, drama, or novel is too weak, means that some related part is too strong—and vice versa. Absolutely speaking, nothing is strong or weak; it is the way it works and is worked on. It is sometimes surprising in an architectural vista to see how a low building rightly placed will pull together surrounding high buildings instead of being annihilated by them.

    The commonest fault in works having some claim to be called works of art is the effort to get strength by exaggeration of some one element. At first, as with temporary best-sellers in any line, there is an immediate response. But such works do not wear. As time passes it becomes every day more evident that what had been taken to be strength signifies weakness on the part of counterbalancing factors. No sensuous charm, however great in amount, is cloying if it is counteracted in relation to other factors. But in isolation sugariness is one of the most quickly exhausted qualities. The 'he-man' style in literature soon wearies because it is evident (even if only subconsciously) that, in spite of violent movement, no real strength is displayed..."
 

— John Dewey Art as Experience [1934] (Penguin 2005) p187-8.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Make the community of experience delightful

"There is no need for me to go out of my way to condemn the insincerity of using adornment to conceal weakness and cover up structural defects. But it is necessary to note that upon the basis of esthetic theories which separate sense and meaning, there is no artistic ground for such condemnation. Insincerity in art has an esthetic not just a moral source; it is found wherever substance and form fall apart. This statement does not signify that all structurally necessary elements should be evident to perception, as some extreme 'functionalists' in architecture have insisted they should be. Such a contention confuses a rather bald conception of morals with art. For, in architecture as in painting and poetry, raw materials are reordered through interaction with the self to make experience delightful." (132)

To this I would just add the caveat that, like all the arts, architectural experience is always to some extent social (even if one imagines their experience to be solitary): "works of art are the only media of complete and unhindered communication between [human beings] that can occur in a world full of gulfs and walls that limit community of experience." (109)


— John Dewey, Art as Experience [1934] (Penguine 2005)