the rigorous m

bits and bobs, quotes and catching up

Manaugh on Lebbeus Woods

Posted by rigorousm on November 20, 2016

Architecture, if you will, is a Wile E. Coyote moment where you look down and realize the universe is missing—that you are standing on empty air—so you construct for yourself a structure or space in which you might somehow attempt survival. Architecture is more than buildings. It is a spacesuit. It is a counter-planet—or maybe it is the only planet, always and ever a terraforming of this alien location we call the Earth.

Geoff Manaugh on Lebbeus Woods


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on Hartoum

Posted by rigorousm on November 20, 2016

If dirt/disorder spoils pattern, … it also supplies the source materials for pattern. [Extended description of Recollection, wherein scattered hairballs define organized ‘smooth space’ and regularly hanging hairs define entangled ‘striated space,’ invoking the difference between optical and material arrangement and the logic of weaving.] … Because order always indicates limitation, disorder has by implication limitless potential for patterning. A destructive force for any existing pattern, dirt also has this potential and therefore symbolizes both danger and power. One of the most fundamental principles for organizing space is the grid, which originated in the plain weave with its horizontal-vertical intersection of two separate systems of thread: the weft and the warp. …
.. the grid structures in Recollection allude to corporal chastisement; its ‘hard lines’ paradoxically evoke the sadistic impulses of the blank space, trapping the viewer in disorientation. While the grid can potentially provide a sense of security, its rigid structure also implies the compulsion to master three-dimensional space and to define both the land and the body as territory or property. Through the beholder’s movements, Hatoum’s regular tracings seem to dissolve or dematerialize. A careful phenomenological reading of her work even compares to the finely drawn grids of Agnes Martin’s canvases or Gego’s kinaesthetic wire structures Reticularea (Ambientacion) and Dibujos sin papel (Drawings without Paper) which reveal transformations in materiality as the viewing distance changes. The fabric of the grid, the very weft of the work, distorts, shifts or fractures, leaving the subject-viewer without a singular vantage point to provide a sense of control. Hers is a haptic rather than optical perception; the artist is unwilling to provide a precise focus for the eye, a unique locus from which to observe the other. Drawing on the grid and its obsessive structure of repetition while subverting its logic of organization, her works embody multi-directional relations to a world where ‘threatening’ difference is mitigated and negotiated.

Catherine de Zegher, “Hatoum’s Recollection: About Losing and Being Lost” pp 99-100.

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Posted by rigorousm on November 20, 2016

Knowing how to live is the fundamental question before modern society, everywhere, in the whole world. An ingenuous question and one that could be considered childish. How to live? Do you know how, reader? Do you know how to live soundly, strongly, gaily, free of the hundred stupidities established by habit, custom, and urban disorganization?

Le Corbusier, introduction to When The Cathedrals Were White, 1946.

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living in vs using space

Posted by rigorousm on November 20, 2016

The idea of living is easy to define.
You use a hotel room, you live in the room in your home.
It is therefore obvious that to live implies extending your own personality into space, and marking it out and shaping through your own choices. It has not always been possible to do this freely, especially in the past. Our choices (in terms of arranging objects and featuring the space) have often been condition by fashionand by the desire to imitate models… more or less handed down…. But… society was … moving towards forms of eclecticism which I have defined as “neo-eclecticism,” and in this sense the use of instruments for organising space was freed up, without taboos. … there are still ways of “defining” the way we signify our lived space. These are directly linked to different sense of belonging … more than the possibility otherwise of buying specific objects.
The idea of living, however, is not only linked to domestic space, but also to collective space. In the 1950s, the Situationist International argued that “to live is to be at home everywhere,” a slogan which marked out collective space as a place where individual or common social personalities could be mapped out and expanded.
Living the city allows for the expansion of your own identity and for experimentation with various kinds of socialisation which leads us towards an idea of the city which is not that of architects (who make buildings).
“If you think about it, your city is made up of the people you talk to and communicated with everyday,” I wrote in 1978. Following these guidelines, we can start to rethink the city as a place not simply made up of houses and streets, but of places to live in.

Ugo La Pietra, arbitare 532, “reading the designed environment,”  7/2013.  

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Categories of public space

Posted by rigorousm on November 20, 2016

Fear is a primary force driving the proliferation of socially homogenous and controlled enclaves, gated communities, and theme parks. And it is fear that determines the definition of what is left of public space.
To keep fear– all the various forms of fear that have possessed us– at bay, we have resorted to remedies such as the illumination of public space, its enclosure and segregation, and video surveillance. According to Steven Flusty, certain characteristics are introduced into urban spaces in order to make them repellent to the public. Flusty’s discouraging list includes: “stealthy spaces” (spaces that cannot be found); “slippery spaces” (spacaes that cannot be reached); “crusty spaces” (spaces that cannot be accessed); “prickly spaces” (spaces that cannot be comfortably occupied); and “jittery spaces” (spaces that cannot be utilized unobserved). … urban space ought to be shaped by the concept of “mixophilia,” to favour and encourage the possibility of “living peacefully and happily with difference, and taking advantage of the variety of stimuli.”

Mirko Zardini, “Toward a Sensorial Urbanism,”Sense of the City: an alternate approach to urbanism, p 20.

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On privacy and garbage

Posted by rigorousm on November 20, 2016

Prosecutor Mark McDonnell says that once you set your garbage out on the curb, it becomes public property. … “She placed her garbage can out in the open, open to public view, in the public right of way,” McDonnell told Judge Jean Kerr Maurer earlier this month. “There were no signs on the garbage, ‘Do not open. Do not trespass.’ There was every indication…she had relinquished her privacy, possessory interest.”

The question of whether your trash is private might seem academic. It’s not. Your garbage can is like a trap door that opens on to your most intimate secrets; what you toss away is, in many ways, just as revealing as what you keep.

There is something about poking through someone else’s garbage that makes you feel dirty, and it’s not just the stench and the flies. Scrap by scrap, we are reverse-engineering a grimy portrait of another human being, reconstituting an identity from his discards, probing into stuff that is absolutely, positively none of our damn business.

Willamette Weekly’s RUBBISH! Portland’s top brass said it was OK to swipe your garbage–so we grabbed theirs. (original article link)

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Livia Llewellyn on writing horror and self

Posted by rigorousm on November 12, 2016

I know nothing.

Except when I write.

…I write about myself and for myself, as a form of obscene self-exploratory surgery, as a desperate archaeological attempt to find some vestiges of the woman I once was and discover what happened, what went sideways, what went wrong. I open my flesh and stare at my entrails, move them about and arrange them on the paper, wait for the signals and signs. I am a multitude of disintegrating fragments, and therefore must be monstrously singular and selfish in my writing. Every day I wake up knowing less, further from my last self, further from my Ur-self than the day before: the mountains are the same and the city is the same, but the void inside my mind has grown.

Livia Llewellyn, “The H Word: The Mountains, The City, The Void” for Nightmare Magazine August 2016 (link to article).

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penny on writing and productivity

Posted by rigorousm on April 11, 2016

There’s a thing that happens somewhere between starting a long project and arriving, knackered and sweaty, at the finish line. It happens a few days after you’ve gathered your resources and excitedly sat down to begin whatever it is that you’re excited to do. Suddenly, you get tired- your muscles are starting to burn, but the finish line is way, way away. You won’t even see it until you put in a whole lot more gruelling work. This is the critical point. It’s the point where self-doubt and distraction set in. It’s the point at which most people give up.

I have a name for this stage. I call it the schmoop.

The schmoop is more than creative block, and more than procrastination, although it can involve both. The schmoop is wily: it tends to manifest as whatever your particular weakness is. Often it disguises itself as something worthy: a pressing practical commitment, a friend you haven’t called in weeks, or – my particular weakness- a sudden idea for a totally different, wildly interesting project that you simply must start right away.

The schmoop is boring, and it is gruelling. It’s the point at which you’re bored with your work and convinced that it sucks, but it’s not  yet finished enough to make it worth your while showing it to someone else. You can barely remember what it is you were excited about, because the nature of the schmoop is that it strikes before the thing attains its basic finished shape. You are stuck together, you and the schmoop, staring one another down across a gap where your best dreams are yet to take shape.

I was part of a conversation recently where a young writer (not me) asked a much more eminent writer (also not me) how to retain the sense of fun and delight in creativity, how to make the writing the unmitigated joy it was when he was doing it less seriously, rather than toiling relentlessly to produce and edit his weekly wordcount. The older writer’s advice was simple: ‘find a different job.’ 

The schmoop is hellish, and acknowledging its hellishness is the first step to defeating it. Wrestling the schmoop is not fun, so you get to be nice to yourself while you’re doing it. Take care of your body. Eat properly. Work out. See your friends, and not just for co-working. Treat yourself as much as you’re able whilst getting the thing done. Build specific, non-exhausting fun into your routine- so don’t waste time on Netflix- but do reward yourself with a trip to the cinema once you’ve done your quota of thing for the day, or the week. Get your nails done, or buy yourself some stupid toy you can afford, or whatever it is that you like to do for a private treat.

The trick is not to make the schmoop fun. The schmoop is never going to be fun, no matter how much you love your work, no matter how excited you are to get it done. The trick is to make the schmoop bearable. Because  the schmoop is the hidden pit between you and the end of your project. It’s there to confuse and bewilder you.

Whether or not you can beat the schmoop is the single biggest thing that separates professional artists, activists, journalists and freelancers from mere hobbyists. It’s whether you are committed enough to your art that you are prepared to let it bore and exhaust you.

There is shame associated with the schmoop. You aren’t supposed to be bored and stressed out. After all, aren’t you doing the thing you love? Didn’t you always want to be doing the thing? This misunderstands the whole point of loving art, or writing, or music, or technology, or whatever it is you’re weird about. A lot of people love making art for one night, or even a brief affair. 

The true test of commitment is whether you can stick with art through the boring times, the doubting times, the stressful, shitty bits that are hard to share with anyone else. If you can’t get through the rough bits and give your art what it needs whilst also taking care of yourself, you don’t really love making art. You’ve just got a creepy crush.

Laurie Penny, “Singleness, Tory Scum, and Schmoop Wrangling for Beginners” on the Penny Red newsletter for 3/9/16 (link to archivelink to archivelink to archive).

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turin on luxury vs chic

Posted by rigorousm on April 4, 2016

”Chic is when you don’t have to prove you have money. Chic is not aspirational. Chic is all about humor, which means chic is about intelligence. And there has to be oddness. Luxury is comfortable, expensive and conformist. But chic, which, of course, must be polite and not incommode others, can be as weird as it wants.”

Chandler Burr, “Sniff, and Scratch Your Head” for NYT, 2005. (link)

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abbott on believing in love

Posted by rigorousm on March 31, 2016

Love is quicksand. You move and you sink, you move and you’re swallowed, you move and you escape But it’s never stationary. It’s never one clear line of forever…. I think the space between magic and bullshit is the space of a sigh. And even if it is all bullshit, I am going to pick magic anyway. I want to pick magic anyway. I pick magic anyway.

“Palmistry” in Elinor Abbott’s  Is This The Most Romantic Moment Of My Life, p 12. Published and distributed through Banango Edition’s echapbooks (link).



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