This week I’d like to introduce you to some books I’ve come across while traveling the city. This first one is CLIP STAMP FOLD, an encyclopedic compendium of radical little architecture mags from the sixties and seventies. More than just clip stamp fold these were also draw cut paste scribble slash ink. This brick of a book is a portable archive and you don’t have to wear latex gloves to handle. These small, independent publications curated the contemporary and collected what may have been the disposable present. The challenged the orthodox historicism of architecture with a hippy slant. I would have stolen some images for you, but alas it was wrapped in protective hygienic cellophane.
More after the break.
ARCHITECTS’ SKETCHBOOKS is one of those rare books that reproduces and collects what is never seen. On the one hand there was a slight anticlimactic sense upon opening it because the sketches seemed well –produced and edited. My sketchbooks are messy agglomerations of scratches and scribbles and notes to pick up eggs on the way home; calculations, phone numbers, bits of poems, stains. There isn’t much of this here, but it is nonetheless revealing of some of the more insane sides to otherwise functioning architects.
Dystopian, melancholy, claustrophobic. Pills needed. Were these done with the conscious of a future audience? Many architects meticulously collect their own work for future inclusion in the archive. It would be interesting to examine sketchbooks from the pre-marketing era, when architects were not so exposed and did not expose themselves as much. Is there more self-conscious identity production in present sketches? Is there the automatic assumption that they will ultimately be published?
Meat is murder or some such shenanigans. Very creepy and disturbing. Again, very clean drawings. My notebooks look nothing like this. They are not intended for an audience and I rarely look back at previous pages. If I do it’s usually to retrieve a phone number or some note that seemed important at some time.
Many of the sketches are just extraordinarily beautiful. This reminds me of Rio and maybe it should be Rio. Should be my city. I almost can’t believe this was pulled out of notebook. If it was it was a very protected and obsessive notebook.
I can’t tell if I’m looking up or down in this one. Very eighties, I think. But also like timeless science fiction where architecture takes the form of grafting onto the existing. At least this is what it looks like to me. There is room for interpretation in such personal visual dreams.
Weird stuff I’d like to see one day while lost in the desert, thinking I must be hallucinating.
It takes you out of the everyday and into the mind of another—whether you want to go there or not.
Vidler always amazes me with his reach. He knows how to reflect upon and make the mundane significant. He always has much to say about things that seem obvious. After reading him you realize the obvious is not so stable.
Oddly terrifying engravings. What happened to all the people? It’s like the plague struck everyone down and the buildings remained, sealed and waiting. I think that is part of Vidler’s style. He makes things seem a little darker through the language of a distant lack of romanticism.
And another Vidler book. This one is important as a record of how modernism and modernity were conceived and disciplined. Whenever people start arguing over Mies and Corbusier, just mention this book. Chances are they haven’t read it. Chances are you haven’t either, but not you at least know it exists. A smart punch in the shoulder reminding us to not take the trope of modernism too seriously or with inflexibility.
The Indicator, a weekly column focusing on the culture, business and economics of architecture, is written by Guy Horton. Based in Los Angeles, he is a blogger for Metropolis and frequent contributor to GOOD, Architectural Record, The Architect’s Newspaper and Architect Magazine. He is also a contributing architecture critic for The Huffington Post. Follow Guy on Twitter.
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