Sunday, November 7, 2010

Grid Life 2010

What can be the model for architecture when the essence of what was effective in the classical model -- the presumed rational value of structures, representations, methodologies of origin and ends and deductive processes -- have been shown to be delusory?
What is being proposed is an expansion beyond the limitation presented by the classical model to the realization of architecture as an independent discourse, free from external values -- classical or any other; that is, the intersection of the meaning- free, the arbitrary, and the timeless in the artificial.
Peter Eisenman, "The End of the Classical,"
Perspecta 21, (1984):166

Grids are inherently irrational. There is too much extra information, too many things attached to them. They carry the weight of logic, the burden of plain sense. This burden is too heavy to handle. The logic collapses under its own highly “rationalist”[1] position. Nothing can be quite as clear, quite as straightforward as grids are thought to be. They are linked chiasmatically with logic and rationality in an unstable relation that cannot be maintained. Arranged without differentiation, the grid attempts to eliminate decision-making. It is anti-compositional, anti-hierarchical. Each element is considered as equal. Equality implied by the grid extends into aspects of social relations. Material is presented rather than “composed.”[2] Once the grid is adopted, decisions have been eliminated. A polemic of rigorous flattening is initiated directed against High Romantic conceptions of “inspiration” and “personal vision” which presents a façade of coolness and restraint. The grid’s straight lines and logical, purposeful arrangement is easily understood, like a map. The only difficult aspect to understand is why choose a grid? What stands behind the decision to choose not to decide? : To abrogate responsibility for choice in favor of conceptual rigor. The pretense of disinterestedness is difficult to maintain. Entry into a grid is arbitrary. Beginnings and endings become irrelevant on the flat surface of straight lines intersecting at right angles. Narrative does not work in a grid structure. Grid world presents sequence and seriality instead, pattern and repetition of event. There cannot be an irregular grid. The contradiction involved in focusing exclusively on one system is a result of the tension between variation and repetition. Revolution, rotation and negation of stasis in the form of a regimented order of event and sequence drain the frame of meaning. The grid is a furious rage for control but the fury is a replica of denial. The structure holds and hides the plan for ordered living and clear actions. Intention can be determined by the adoption of the need to dominate. The grid covers control of emotion and expressive feeling. Emotionally, grids relieve the anxiety of surprise from our set of expectations. Constant, perpetual recurrence calms the viewer. The regularity of reoccurrence soothes worn nerves. Grids are not a pattern. Decorative character and repetition for the sake of motif are not part of the ideology of the grid. Grids do not spread endlessly—there is a finite limit to the breadth and scope of the structuring system. But limits can be transgressed, and all structures collapse under the weight of their own making. Because my grid is different from your grid, we will have to find a common language to compare our experiences. Leave it to the future to generate a grammar without imbedded assumptions about the real world and its inhabitants. Pure monotony of experience results from the repetition of a language generated by words twisted together to form straight sentences flowing from a frame of reference not referred to by other lodgers in the prison cages of structuring agents held together by the logic of speaking.
“ Moreover concepts of coordinates and horizontal-vertical relationships
are only learned by the age of eight or nine. Such systems, Piaget insists, are extremely complicated and unnecessary in the child’s early methods of orientation. So when Mondrian reduced the structure of the external world to a system of horizontal and vertical black lines, he was not reducing perception to its essential limits but rather to its most compatible form vis-à-vis the format of the picture plane.”[3] Plain facts such as those possessed by the designers of the frame of reference first encountered at readings of the margins of textuality form the basis of the evidence used to corroborate the story of the disappearing locus of truth. Previous attempts to imbue the grid with a reputation for reliable information-giving have failed. Replacement of the frame with expansion of the plane sounds arbitrary and flawed to those who came to witness the speaking of the truth. "Alas, I fear we still believe in God because we still believe in grammar" Interpretation of grid structures stops at the door frame of the picture plane which stands before the viewer calling for belief in an invariable system. This system will betray the viewer, raising the dead from oblivion; breaking the structure’s system into infinitesimal units and recalling each detail of its forgotten history.
[1] “There are, of course, some ‘elements’ of this rationality which, in the abstract, are transhistorical: 2+2=4 is undoubtedly valid in every society.” Philosophy, Politics, Autonomy: Essays in Political Philosophy Cornelius Catoriadis (Oxford, 1991), p.67.
[2] , “Composed upon Westminster Bridge, Sept. 3, 1802” William Wordsworth, Selected Poems and Prefaces by William Wordsworth (Oxford, 1965), p. 170.
[3] Jack Burham, The Structure of Art (New York, 1973), p. 31.

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