Thursday 1.28.10

A Clear Bright Winter

50F cold & clear. Rowing is the calmest part of the day. The slowest, most focused and always the most rewarding. Going through that thick darkness to the south side where things move, where the houses & planes & boats & barges move. Where the wood bobs. Where the birds watch. Where the weeds float. Where the air brushes down. Casting off is as satisfying as tying up. A real accomplishment, both.

Nook #2

Spent 4 hours writing in the 2nd floor nook at NBBJ. Sent an office-wide email letting people know about the sharks, who had made them and why and how to fully experience them. So many similar questions. I felt the need to announce them all, flatten the information out in space so that a large and shared space users might all know. So everybody has access to the same information & invitation.

Visual Culture

Attended another crit today. It lasted +2 hours. I was struck by the amazing amount of time that goes into studying the flow of people within building, pleased by it. While watching the slideshow presentation, I got to feeling about the emotions of the figures in the computer renderings. How will they use the space when they’re sad? How will they use it when they’re quiet? How do we experience buildings emotionally? What part to emotions play in designing spaces? All the while, I had a growing feeling that I was witnessing an exhibition of the love affair we have with images. Pointed out, in these images, was the wind moving on the water and the light on the building. Ahh, our fascination the image! I thought back to a course I took in college called Visual Culture. I wonder how the world is changing because of this attraction and, is it really, or does it just look as if it is? I wonder how images might be hampering us. I’m most interested in the critique with the stories I’m told. There are stories about men and women who use Legos to show the flow in a building and about an old battleship with a cargo of information no computer will ever hold. As the images disappears, the stories calcify. I do believe this is what Christian was talking about when we first spoke in December, about the architect as storyteller.

At this crit, as at the last one I attended, a few people talked a lot and a few people didn’t talk at all. I wonder at the fear inherent in this model and about the humans collected in the space--a group of workers from different projects, different departments, some young, some veterans. It got me wondering about the walls that contain it and what is responsible for open communication. At this last crit, I was asked my opinion about thing outside the room when the crit was over, but not in it during the critique. The notion of collaboration and the flat discussion of a thing is all about putting it out under the eyes of the many who will think about and see it differently so that it might be fully illuminated and carefully turned.

There are times we go off into the world with a polished thing seeking affirmation. Look at this beautiful stone of mine! I do it with my poetry. No doubt we do it with ideas. I wonder how collaboration and creation fit together, at what stages the two are possible? Do they coincide? Can they coincide? Does collaboration require that we meet before a thing is formed in our minds? Until what point exactly are we open to input? At what point is a thing set in stone? And, as far as the arts are concerned, what would we not see if collaboration were the model? And what would we see?

The notion of collaboration keeps coming up, so I’m sensitive to it, looking around for it. I wonder about the kinds of collaboration possible in one space verses another. What is allowed in a hall? What is allowed in a conference room? What on a stairwell? At the door? By the coffee machine? Collaboration has roots in space, yes, but it’s also got roots in sound and in the intensity of an activity and in the work culture and the profession and the individuals themselves. It’s like a willow spread out at the edge of a lake, needing protection from the winds of our desires and fears.

The Long Way Home

Tonight was the night I rowed home with Thomas. We planned to meet at 6pm and walk to the lake together. I offered Thom the oars. He wished to row. Shortly after pushing off, he asked what the bright lights on the eastern shore were. Looks like a boat in dry dock being worked on. Can we go see? Absolutely. We took the long way home, rowing the entire eastern contour, curving into every marina and around every piling, right up alongside the cozy honey-lit houseboats. We were surprised by outriggers silently passing. Just as they are passing they let out a hOH! I think they do that on purpose, to startle you with their stealth. Gotcha! We met two geese at the end of a pier, sitting together in the red glow of the pier-end light. When we crossed over from the east shore, we met a man in Gas Works Park on the concrete pier. We asked him, “What city this is? We’re lost.” He asked, “What are people doing in boats at night?” We countered with, “What are people doing in parks at night?” It took us 2 hours to get home, but we had a nice tour of the lake and the moon was high and full with clouds all around.

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