Creative Juices flowing... : LUSENET : Aeon Flux : One Thread

Peter - I read your responses to the 'Sounds of Silence' topic in the AF bulletin board a few days ago. I found them as interesting as your commentaries always are. Then, last night, something went "Ping" in my head - a very loud ping, like discovering you're sitting on a large armed bomb. Your comparison between Lynch and Spielburg was incredibly nifty stuff - and it was stating clearly something I've been muddling towards for a long time. I've struggled a lot to understand the full depth of modern architecture - like any other body of creative work, it can be staggeringly complex - and your comments finally lined up something inside my head. Just as there are good movies that you can watch passively and great movies you have to strive to understand - so too are there buildings you can appreciate instinctively and buildings that call you to study.

From the outset, architecture would seem to be mainly tied up with making the abstract more concrete. (Changing an idea into a building is about as concrete as you get, no?) This is where the Spielburg part comes in. This is something every architect does by definition - and there are a lot more architects than great architects. But that's only part of the story. Architecture is also all about investigating the concrete and extracting abstract concepts from it. This is something great architects do - and especially the moderns and postmoderns. This is the Lynch-like aspect of architecture. It's an esoteric and intellectually demanding task, and this, at last, explains why architecture has drifted so far away from the appreciation of the everyday man.

What must be recognized, I think, in architecture (and perhaps other creative fields as well?) is that extracting abstract concepts from reality is entirely mental - but to communicate those concepts requires a return to the concrete. Whether constructing a building, or merely presenting drawings, an architect is producing some fixed material to communicate what he has learned. Thus the two different processes combine to make a loop - abstraction from reality, and creation from those abstractions. The very greatest architects are those who understand this - those whose works clearly express both what the viewer already understands and the architect's own, new ideas on the subject. This was the kind of stuff Wright and Corbusier produced - something at once familiar and surreal. Other works demonstrate a mastery of one or the other parts of the loop (For instance, the Chrysler building as pure abstract-to-concrete, or Rem Koolhaas's works as concrete-to-abstract) but it is only when the creator embraces both halves of this cycle that truly great work is born.

Whew - that's a lot of stuff. Curse you for making me think so hard! Just kidding - your comments have definitely helped me understand my own craft a little better, Peter. Thanks once again. I really respect your differentiation between making the mundane surreal and the surreal mundane, but I just can't denounce one side or the other. I can appreciate movies even when they're blatant eye candy with no higher calling. Plus, hey, c'mon, I LIKE Indiana Jones. 'Till next time, -Charles

-- Charles Martin (, August 10, 2000


For a long time I considered becoming an architect, but then I found that the potential of the medium of film allows me to express many of the same concepts in the same ways. For example, I always loved to create new buildings in drawings and design interiors, but cringed at the thought of actually, physically working out how to create the building itself and the technical aspects of its engineering. I found that filmmaking (especially animation) would be a good medium for me to explore things like this in "simulation", so to speak, instead of in reality. A 3-D design teacher I once had, upon my telling her I was considering pursuing film, remarked that film is a way to create space, just like sculpture in a way, and I've always agreed with her completely. In this way, I think all art, including architecture, is essentially the same.

As far as the worth of "Lynch-style" media versus "Spielberg-style" media, I think the latter has some purpose, if anything, to provide a break for the mind. Escapism has its place, I guess. I'm still trying to figure this all out for myself, so I can't provide a clear opinion yet.

-- Matthew Rebholz (, August 10, 2000.

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