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)