Platonic Solid Exercise. Graphite on Paper. 2007
Happy September. Post coming late today, but it is a new month and I hope this, my birthday month (yay) will be better than the last- and all summer for that matter. Lots of challenges and growth but…they don’t call them growing pains for nothing.
In my classes today we shared links on artists, visual notes, wonderful quotes, and great books. I can’t wait to tell you all about it. Things are getting really exciting and we are all growing by leaps and bounds. Good stuff and a great feeling of accomplishment at the end of this intense summer quarter.
Few unrelated topics that I have been mulling over lately:
1. Working out shadows in axonometric settings, like solving algebraic equations, helps to solve ourselves and gives us mathematical certainties (certainties that cannot be so cleanly and clearly found in real life). I always heard math is not an opinion, and I am appreciating its impartiality, its justice even. I know now its compassion.
Still, a solution is relative to the light angle we construct a priori, a philosophical question if there ever was one.
Shadows, like math, are either ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ relative to the established angle of light; no room for fuzzyness, approximation, guessing. How refreshing. How pure the solution. These (platonic) objects exists in an utopian airtight chamber or world, and the light is absolute, the light of truth.
The ‘real’ world (and ‘real’ shadows), like all matters of architecture and design and their ’solutions’, are much more subtle, nuanced, grayscale– as opposed to black and white.
And so even truth is relative in our confounded orb.
2. I am thinking of ways to design the freehand drawing classes to transcend drawing as transposing what we ‘see’ and help it become a design tool (depicting what may be, or possible scenarios).
It is a challenge, because the basic drawing techniques still need to be mastered, but the course could be imbued with and define a research path, becoming not only a stronger vehicle for learning, but generating material for publication. Exciting stuff, now it’s just a matter of tightening up my interest areas and plan for action.
The Freehand Drawing and Rendering and Delineation classes will meet again next summer, and I have held some meetings to design its contents(more on this on coming posts) . Some words buzzing in my head are collages/assemblages, words, poetry, architecture, grayscale abstracts, visual notes/sketchnotes, inventories, data gathering quests, urban scavenging, pattern and in-formation.
3. The more I grow as a passive designer- passive because I have been in an observing, absorbing mode for a while now…just storing information until the right moment comes- the more drawings i do, I am realizing that the challenges of design are not additive ones, but subtractive.
Learning what to remove, what to take away, leaving just the essential, is the challenge. Architecture is a matter of reduction, not addition. Let me try to explain myself better. During our architectural education and pedestrian work experiences we are taught to include so many details, turn in complete drawings, complete construction documents sets etc. All of this is techniciams’ stuff. It is the drafter’s realm, or the CAD operator’s realm. It is not the Architect’s or designer’s province, which should aspire to loftier expressions. Design is abstraction of thought and ideas. It is reducing your concept to your most pure expression, cutting away all the fat and the unnecessary. Even the best art, I am finding, is painfully created by reducing your concept, feelings, ideas, to the most clear image, the prime number, the denominator. Significant work is created through ruthlessly leaving out all unnecessary data, information. Including too much is just self-indulgence; the disciplined designer pursues truth as she or he defines it and does not or cannot have time for self-indulgence. The purity of the idea is what one needs to be faithful to, everything else is interference by bureaucrats, technicians, pencil pushers.
Am I sounding like Howard Roark? WellI am in the process of defining a design philosophy and given the person that I am, this definition comes first in words , which will guide the action. As my dear friend Lamees said, one is not to do without being first. Be first–then do- then have…it all happens spontaneously.
Part of being an architect is accepting an elitist role, necessary not to set apart one from the rest of humanity, but to preserve the purity of the design idea, its drive and execution. Part of being an architect and an artist is learning to let go of many things once thought necessary and just rendering our work in the most pure, direct, potent way.
Finally, a quote that is driving my days, these days:
“What we think or what we know or what
we believe is, in the end, of little
The only consequence is what we do.”
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