There are mathematic conventions for quantifying magnitude and direction in a vector; but how can one measure fear and distress in humans running for life?
When Aldo Rossi writes about the notion of the city as a work of art and urban artifacts contained within, he begins to speak about the value of space measured by age. With a work of art being an object that is made by human, the scale of measurement begins to zoom out and refer to the larger picture of the city understood through the human dimension and the chronological mappings of artifacts. Aldo defines and urban artifact by the value it has accrued contingent on age, state of preservation, rarity, but most importantly its inflections of social patterns and behaviors to a respective context. There exists an inherent empiricist attitude that looks beyond the mere utility and function for a more analytical and multi-dimensional observation of the haptic, sensual, or spiritual.
Despite the unconventional theory set forth in Aldo’s essay, a couple of decades later the status quo had transformed and the human condition became highly defined by the information age, questioning the value of an urban artifact in the present day and allowing a search for a possible parallel. The issue with the urban artifact in our present day relates to image vs. representation and more specifically the qualitative differences that are diminished by society’s high exposure to pulsating images of noise that rarely become transmitted and read as sound. No information is put to the test of the aforementioned factors defining artifacts. Value fails to accrue from the contents of the digital age when all material seems to effortlessly bypass the test of age.
Systems have been employed that attempt to measure the value of information stored on the cyber library. Society can easily voice opinions on the comments section of an online entry while the number of hits received registers popularity. Other systems have been employed such as the “like” button, an empathetic gesture, which serves as a testament to one’s interest in material requiring more effort such as the physical movement of pointing device to a button and the actual pressing of the button. Nevertheless, the word “like” speaks to the abrupt nature of how material is presented to humans because how can one really “love” something if only encountering it for such a short period. And lastly the “share” button a system that requires even more human engagement than the “like” button and exerts a sense of ones sympathy to the material at hand. Despite the many systems, the digital age fails to meet the criteria of the urban artifact as it defies the palimpsestic nature of the city.
Value of an artifact is attributed by the idea of its possible destruction through the periods of a city. Information on the urban network has no palimpsestic merit as it never becomes scraped over and rewritten, reinterpreted, or renewed. There just exists this continual spawning, generation, and conceiving of content stored in data banks that are readily available at any given point in time. Empiricism is impossible as there is nothing to scrutinize when all is there. The city has not yet been compromised by engulfing social patterns and behaviors of these truths. Soon enough, the cities will be altered and urban artifacts can no longer hold importance in society.
|Unite d’Habitation - Le Corbusier 1947|
|CIAM at the La Sarraz Declaration|
|KOCHENHOFSIEDLUNG - 1933|
The October 18
lecture on “Plastic Expression in 2-D” and Piet Mondrian’s founding of the “de stijl” movement was astonishing for the fact that there is a clear and direct progression of neoplasticism from 2-D representations to 3-D built forms.
Architecture always seems to be a step behind art. A concept or idea is can be quickly realized on a blank canvas while architecture requires representations requiring realization in a physical built environment to then only be recognized by a culture.
I never realized Mondrian’s compositions to be so highly influential and by taking a closer look at the visual and theoretical characteristics of neoplastic ideals, their resemblance that of Alexander Calder’s dawned on me. With further research, I discovered that Calder’s abstract sculptures were in fact influenced by a visit to Mondrian’s studio in 1930.
In Theo Von Doesburg’s
Towards a Plastic Architecture
, he spoke about incorporating the fourth dimension of time, balanced relationship of unequal parts, and the importance of an all-sided development.
Alexander Calder did incorporate the fourth dimension by taking advantage of the natural currents in a room, his mobiles were contingent and continually transforming. The suspended elements literally exhibited a “balanced relationship of unequal parts” with abstract shapes composed into equilibrium.
Most importantly, Mondrian’s compositions were reduced to the most elementary and formal through the basics in geometry and color in a black framework. Similarly, Calder made use of the most primary in colors (red, blue, and yellow) and basic in shape (circle, triangle, sphere, and prism) arranged on a series of black steel wires.
With the expansion of cities, such as Milan and Turin during the industrial age, a transformation of city components initiated and Italian Futurist began to disempower historicism for guidance in layout and composition. Associated with Le Figaro’s up rise from tradition and Boccioni’s paintings of evolved cities of maximum performance, Antonio Sant’Elia manifested the Futurist ideology in detailed drawings of the city he envisioned and in an essay outlining his dogma.
An underlying belief behind Sant’Elia’s works, both in theory and in artistic representation, is that in order to evolve, cities are required to completely become disillusioned with past tradition and culture. He envisioned this new industrial epoch only realized if humans were able to free themselves from the tenure of historic classicism and insignificant decoration. For this exact reason, Sant’ Elia had embraces new building materials and technologies in his revolutionary rendering titled Città Nuova with the use of iron and concrete that had no connection to any prior tradition.
Stella, had similar beliefs but recognized that historicism was rooted in religious institutions.The ornamentation of classicism engulfed cathedrals, churches, and places of worship. Stella perceived the pace of modernism and foreshadowed the centrality of “the machine” in future society slowly releasing religious affiliation.