Architecture Monday

What I love most about this new theatre building is its continuous use of a particular material, but in two forms.  Ok, that’s a bit of a word play, for a good chunk of the building is made from board formed concrete.  As the name implies, this is where planks of wood are used as the formwork for concrete, and the resulting surface of the concrete inherits the rich impression of these planks of wood.  In other words, it looks like wood planks, only in concrete.

And this building uses it everywhere.  The walls, the floors, the angular bits of the stairs, the rough and irregular texture permeates throughout.  Sometimes it’s left as is, while sometimes it’s been stained slightly black to bring out further richness. Something about this really works for me in the theatre context.

Even better is when they pair it with actual wood planks (the second form I was alluding to above), giving this wonderful play between them where there is a continuation of texture yet still a difference in colour and feel.

A couple of simple materials deployed in multiple ways, I dig it!

Theatre Squared by Marvel (who also did the St. Ann’s Warehouse Theatre that I blogged about about here!)

Wonder Wednesday

Also a bit of… Washroom Wednesday?  For this is an art project that is placed at the entrance to the new gender neutral bathrooms at my alma mater, the School of Architecture at Carleton University.  I can still picture that washroom entrance, though not surprisingly a bit different in my memory as they were separated washrooms when I attended.  But even then there was a relatively prominent concrete block wall as you chose which direction to go, and with this remodel it became all that more pronounced.  What better canvas for new art?

Watching the above time lapse is neat, and I do like the resulting art!  I find it very fitting for the building and the study therein. It’s not all that unlike a quilt, with panels being personal affairs (the panels were made by different artists) and range in medium, methods, and meaning.  From architectural molding to the tools of the trade (one made of pencil points that looks kinda… dangerous?) to carved plaster plans to interpretations of the environment to a drawer pull and beyond, it’s quite a rich tapestry.  Nicely, there are also numerous filler panels so that the art can evolve and grow in the coming years.

Very neat!  Check out the story and more pictures of the work here.

Philosophy Tuesday

There was a concept and a technique that I learned early on during my philosophical training:

Don’t look for what’s wrong.

Instead, look for what’s missing.

A clever little distinction there, for the former tends to hang us up, raise our hackles, and generally bog us down through muddy terrain as our ego and calculating self and identity and shame and all sorts of things gets involved.  It also can sometimes (often?) lead us to a dud prize: Congratulations, you know what’s wrong!  Now what?

Even more meaningful is the insight that often nothing is actually, truly, capital-W, wrong.  It may be unproductive or detracting, and may have deleterious outcomes, but perhaps Wrong isn’t actually there and/or isn’t so binary.  And so Wrong isn’t the best place to look.

Looking for what’s missing sidesteps all of that.  What’s missing looks for what, if it were present, would alter how things occurs for us and what would create new possibilities.  There are many avenues to display there, but the most fruitful place to look is often in who we are being in those moments.  When we shift our being so too do our actions shift, and thus so do the results also shift.  When we add in what’s missing the rut is broken and we get ourselves in gear in ways that may have seemed unfathomable before.  As a bonus, our experience also shifts to the better!

All of which is all great in the realm of mindfulness and philosophy.  But I also want to expand this into the realm of art, and specifically in the realm of critique.*  Because looking for what’s wrong not only can blind you to the work you’re exploring, but expressing a series of what’s wrong is often unproductive at either improving the work or the growth of the creator.**  What’s missing can provide way more valuable and actionable feedback and builds up rather than undermines.  Relate what caught your attention and was memorable, review your impressions, and express what was missing that would elevate the work and its impact even further.

With what’s missing our possibilities are opened, our art (including the art of living!) is strengthened, our excitement grows, and, above all, our spirit soars.

 

* As you might already see, this also works great for other critiques, be it performance reviews at an employment, coaching sports, and etc.

** If the foundation of the work doesn’t resonate with you, or if you think there’s something problematic, then that’s a thing too and certainly worthy of expressing, but both express it in that way and also you can still critique the rest of the work from what’s missing to elevate the craft.  Even if this particular work itself is discarded due to those primordial issues, what’s missing has helped to strengthen the creator, and the next work they create will be grander because of it.

Wonder Wednesday

I’ve just been introduced to these great works by Hilla and Bernd Becher.  There’s something cool within repetition that isn’t exact actual repetition. It’s like a harmony, where each overlapping individual thing produces a richer whole and thus a distinct experience.  On top of that, they can be truly intriguing,  inviting fascination with the collection and collectiveness and patterns and similarities and differences and organization of them all.

(Also, check out Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Seascapes series.  It is equally interesting and fascinating… especially when coupled with some great architecture and artistic placement such as at the Benesse House by Tadao Ando!)