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2000.02.04 17:23
Re: [looking glass] the old masters
I very much question the widespread opinion that being able to design well is dependent upon being able to hand-draw well. Such thinking basically means that someone without the use of one or both hands could never be a good designer. Let's hear it for all the **digitally** impaired designers out there that can now fulfill their design dreams because of CAD.
Anyone hear any more about the new voice activated drawing software that is working on? last I heard they just about finished their deconstruction language version, and next plan to develop several dead language versions.
ciao 4 now OR volare sursum deorsum pedes!

2000.02.16 10:54
Re: quondam and chronosomatics
Chronosomatics is my theory (just as the word 'chronosomatics' is a word I've coined). The genesis of the theory came in the summer of 1981, while I was contemplating the possible meaning of a 15th century Annunciation painting that hangs in The National Gallery (Washington DC--I lived in Washington the summer of 1981 and went to the National Gallery many evenings). I didn't begin writing about the theory until October 1994, however. Most of what I've written is in note form (almost 500 notes). The chapters at are my first attempt to write out the theory as a book (albeit far from complete). My most recent 'chapter' of The Timepiece of Humanity, entitled "Chronosomatically Contemplating the Navel," is at xxx.htm .
I have yet to write an introduction of how the theory came into being and evolved, although the notes as a whole do indeed tell that story.
The application of chronosomatics to architectural history is an outgrowth of the original theory, and has genenerated a seperate set of notes. You can say my latest notes regarding chronosomatics and architecture are being written at design-l and architecthetics.
The full definition of quondam (which is on Quondam's home page is:
from the Latin: once, at one time, formerly; at times, sometimes, once in a while; some day, one day (in the future)
--It is the past/future ambiguity of the meaning of quondam that appeals to me, and it is that ambiguity I hope Quondam manifests.

future work
...compose books that are completely cathartic, spontaneous, and indeed schizophrenic. Essentially, they will be a large set of web pages, but the pages will include text, images, dxf files, large scans, web art, virtual places, virtual tours, notes, letters, copyright free texts and images, digital collages, poetry, designs, etc., etc...

the right direction (finally)
...a great title: Towards a New Product Placement, and this can very easily and literally be a catalogue of any art and anything else I want to sell. Yet, it can also be about predicting the nature of 21st century site analysis (or actually the lack thereof). In any case, commercialization is the key theme and motif (and pathos?). Alter captured TV commercials, billboards, bus ads, magazine ads. As much as it will be about commercialization, it is about digital manipulation. Is there something new to say about hypersurface? Is the subtitle “the future architecture of advertising”? or “the future advertising of architecture?”
I just thought/realized that every page of the book can be an advertisement, eg “this is an advertisement” as parody of the Venturi “this is a monument” (my Stanza AIA Bookstore ad idea). Tattoos as paid advertising, logo endorsement, wearing designer labels as a paying job (instead of doing essentially free advertising).

Unthinking an Architecture [book]
...Unthinking an Architecture [book] . . . the act of unthinking architecture allows . . . [a] free, spontaneous, and facile . . . modus operandi . . . utilize all the resources . . . as freely as possible.
...scale-rotate manipulation of the model collection . . . (the title could be Arbitrarily Unthinking an Architecture.) ...extrude portions of building plans that have been arbitrarily moved around in 3d.
An architectural Ulysses?

UaA... ...begin with an outline of what notes pertain to what volume. Go through all my material, i.e., photographs, notes, letters, web pages, sketches, drawings, photocopies, artwork, poetry, V80s, books, yellow trace and drawings, flatfiles, magazines. UaA will comprise all activities from the last 20 years. Manipulate or change anything, especially if it makes for a better presentation or narrative. Architecture design and theory, will always be present. The future is to be present--"The Present Future"--a motif to always bear in mind as a guiding principle... ...the notion of "illustrating" the future.

Quondam as a hypermuseum -- turning Quondam into a place that takes the notion of (architectural) museum a step beyond. The possibility to use Quondam in the generation of something other, i.e., not just a virtual museum that reenacts the museum typology, rather a museum that generates its own unique (original) collection, and indeed its own existence.
This idea then quickly turned into the exhibit idea: "What to do with museums." ...taking advantage of Quondam's own museum model collection. The possibility of not only using the various museums as "actual" sites for exhibits.
...collecting, displaying, exhibiting, curating, but also creating "museumpieces" that are altogether new.

Style Again
In light of Paul's "it's "la plus ça change, la plus c'est la même chose"--or "here we go again," the Fall 2000 issue of October 97 is a special issue on The Independent Group (the Smithson's, Hamilton, and more). So far I've only read Mark Wigley's "The Architectural Cult of Synchronization". Here's the opening of the essay:
"There is much talk of memory loss in architecture today. The symptoms are clear. Bodies now last longer than the buildings they occupy. Buildings no longer hold memory. Their memorializing function has been displaced by images. Buildings are at best fragile images, props in heterogeneous publicity campaigns. Digital archives have taken over the role of storing memory from solid structures. Collective memory is diffused across an invisible electronic landscape rather than concentrated in singular monumental objects.
Perhaps. But it should not be forgotten that the point has been made for a very long time now. The current apostles of the new faithfully but unwittingly reproduce old arguments. Remarkably little is added to the discussions of the 1950s and 1960s. . ."
The other articles include:
Beatriz Colomina, "Friends of the Future: A Conversation with Peter Smithson"
Julian Meyers, "The Future Fetish"
Isabelle Moffat, '"A Horror of Abstract Thought": Postwar Britian and Hamilton's 1951 Growth And Form Exhibit'
William R. Kaizen, "Richard Hamilton's Tabular Image
I also have to mention that Robert Venturi wrote "Diversity, Relevance and Representation in Historicism, or Plus ça Change. . . plus A Plea for Pattern all over Architecture with a Postscript on my Mother's House" in Architectural Record, June 1982.

crystal ball
Perhaps one way to judge the feasibilities of predictions of the future is to try to remember what you thought in the past. For example, if you are doing today what you thought twenty years ago would be your future, then the chances that what you think you'll be doing twenty years from now might just be somewhat reliable. On the other hand, if you are doing things today that twenty years ago you had no idea you'd be doing, then the chances of you're not knowing what you'll be doing twenty years from now are likewise somewhat reliable.
Whoever thought twenty years ago that he or she would be doing a lot of communicating via email is probably a person that is worth listening to as to what they think they will be doing twenty years from now.
There's an interesting aspect within the movie Brainstorm (1983) where the hi-tech equipment (which recorded human thoughts) went from a large and bulky apparatus through successive design changes where the equipment progressively got smaller and smaller, until it was minimal, sleak, and refined. I remember when I first saw the movie, just days after it was released, that that progressive reduction in size of computer equipment was a definite future reality. At the time, the computer that was running the cad workstation I worked on was the size of two small refrigerators.
But I was already then using obsolete equipment that was initially developed to design and draw the Space Shuttle, which makes me now conclude that the world at large fifteen or twenty years from now will be readily using equipment that right now is being used by very few people probably at NASA or in the Pentagon and like agencies around the world.

definition quondam
quondam (CONDAM, Inscr. Rein. p. 543), adv. [quom=cum, with the demonstr. part. dam]. I. At a certain time, at one time, once, heretofore, formerly: verum tempestas, memini, quondam fuit, cum, etc. Plaut. Truc. 2, 4, 29: olim, olim isti fuit generi quondam quaestus, Ter. Eun. 2, 2, 15; cujus illa quondam socrus paulo ante uxor fuisset, Cic. Clu. 66, 188: omnia quae sunt conclusa nunc artibus dissipata quondam fuerunt, id. de Or. 1, 42, 187: po pulus Romanus qui quondam in hostes lenissimus[?] existimabatur, hoc tempore, etc., id. Rosc. Am. 53, 154: ut quondam Marsaeus, Hor. S. 1, 2, 55; 2, 5, 21; Curt. 3, 1, 12; 3, 4, 3; Ov. F. 2, 547. --Of those desceased, the late, former, deceased (post-class.): OPTIMAE MEMORIAE VIRO QVOND. FILIO AELII, etc., Inscr. Grut. 389, 8: Valeriani quondam centur onis testementum, Cod. Just. 6, 21, 3: matris tuae quondam mancipia, id. 7, 33, 8; 8, 57, 2; cf.: Cyro quondam rege, Curt. 10, 1, 23. -- II. Transf. A. At certain times, at time, sometimes : quid, cum saepe lapidum, sanguinis nonnumquam, terrae interdum, quondam etiam lactis inber effluxit? Cic. Div. 1, 43, 98: stomachum, cujus tu simileum quondam habebas, id. Fam. 2, 16, 2: quondam cithara tacentum Suscitat Musam. Hor. C. 2, 10, 18: quondam et am victis redit in praecordia virtus, Verg. A. 2, 367; Ov. M. 9, 170; Lucr. 6, 109: senatus quondam legatos decreverit, Suet. Caes. 24; id. Dom. 7. -- B. Of the future, one day, some day, ever (poet.), Hor. S. 2, 2, 82: nec Romula quondam Ullo se tantum tellus jactabit alumno, Verg. A. 6, 877: haec tibi vir. quondam, nunc frater, mittit, Tib. 3, 1, 23.

irony and feeling
And I think you assume too much that I'm being "post-modern". I was speaking about architecture [and] using other terms for convenience. Everything you said was about broader cultural issues, but you said nothing about the architectural issues I raised. You changed the subject.
I am not seeking apologies or ways to change the past. I just don't want to see present or future architecture's succumb to further "Western" theoretical dominance, especially against diversity.
You bring up assimilation, but you don't mention that the assimilation of colonialism was a forced assimilation. In architectural terms, the 'purism' of early modernism was/is a form of assimilation in the extreme, namely purge. Global assimilation is one of today's dominant cultural aspects, but extreme assimilation like that of the last century is not a lasting aspect of humanity.
Part of my thinking is also given as a kind of preparatory warning. With genetic engineering becoming more and more a common science, humanity will find itself in the next century or so having to think real hard about diversity and individuality. Some forethought in this area is certainly not going to hurt. Imagine what might happen if the genetic engineers of tomorrow were trained to design like today's architects.

2001.03.10 10:48
Re: George Washington's Presidential...
I recently read four chapters on the 'preservation' of 'historic' Philadelphia (temporary capital of the United States 1790-1800) in L. Mumford's Highway and the City. I actually found out about these texts from John Young vis-à-vis 'talk' about reenactment and "re" words. It seems that Mumford was lecturing at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1940s and that was when the historic districts around Independence Hall (actually the Pennsylvania State House) were being newly planned and 'preserved'. I was surprised at how unprecedented American historic preservation was at that time, and then how the preservation actions taken in Philadelphia in turn set America's historic preservation precedents and standards. Growing up in Philadelphia in the 1960s and going to architecture school here in the 1970s (the Bicentennial and all that, like Legionnaire's Disease) made one hyper aware of historic preservation; I didn't think then at how 'new' it all was.
Another interesting factor I found out is that half of Philadelphia's historic district is run by the Federal government and half is run by the State of Pennsylvania--I'm pretty sure Independence Hall is still owned by Pennsylvania, and the ruins of the Morris House are within the part run by Pennsylvania as well.
Like Franklin Court (a few blocks away) designed by Venturi and Rauch in the early 1970s, the Robert Morris House is just another example of Philadelphia's great collection of premiere virtual houses.
You'd think I'd seen it all here to many times already, but the truth is that with each recent visit to Philadelphia's Historic National Park (the area run by the Federal government) I become more impressed by it each time I'm there. Maybe it's because I'm getting older myself and like to see things that endure time, but I also think it's because a nice job was done in the first place. Independence Mall (the area run by Pennsylvania) was oddly dear to me as well, even though most didn't like it because it really was lifeless, thus it is now being redone. Maybe the best plan for the Mall now is for it to be redone every twenty years or so--American [metabolic] Dreaming at its best?

2001.07.23 11:57
Koolhaas reenacting Kahn/Tyng?
There is an striking resemblance between the Koolhaas/OMA Seattle Public Library and Louis Kahn's and Anne Tyng's Municipal Administrative Building project from 1956-57, a designed for downtown Philadelphia.

Could it be that Koolhaas has moved on from reenacting late unbuilt Le Corbusier and American Mies, and is now finding inspiration in early unbuilt Kahn?
And, what's the next big inspiration, maybe early unbuilt Venturi & Rauch?



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