KCAI Response // Mary Kuvet
The HIghline, NYC
I have read and reread your blog post several times now and you had several interesting points. The comparison of the social responsibility of architects and artists I found especially interesting.
Architecture also bears a certain implied burden of a social responsibility and problem solving. Architects are tasked with pragmatic problem- solving, though the best architecture supercedes this. Artists are tasked with seeing the world in a unique, highly personalized way.
I agree with you that Architecture bares an intense burden of social responsibility. Among many things, you must ensure that the roof above my head does not cave in; and for that I am grateful. You are also tasked with creating the framework in which I experience my life, whether indoors or outdoors a building will frame the landscape. The image of James Turrell’s SkySpace that you closed with stands as a great example of the marriage of art and architecture. Turrell’s work often responds directly to the existing landscape or architecture around it and the aperture that allows for light to enter his structures seeks to manipulate experience from the elements already present in the natural space. I would argue that Turrell does not want to enclose the viewer in a space of his own personal experience, but by utilizing architecture, the manipulation of light over time, and geometric forms he seeks to create an engaging experience for each viewer by emphasizing how a space changes over time.
In your post you wrote that the point of departure in the intentions of artists and architects was in how we considered space and the manipulation of it. The work of James Turrell seems to be in direct opposition to this. I agree that in the case of some artists this is where we began to differ, but to apply that to the group of artists as a whole would be inaccurate. If our time together truly gave you the impression that our intentions for the space where “typically more self-expression than a reaction to place and user”, then I apologize for the selfish impression we must have given you of artists that week. Artists too have a social responsibility that should not be ignored. Though our task, in most cases, does not imbue a responsibility for the lives of others, we cannot ignore the potential we have for influence and social change.
During our time together, I focused on the landscape and the group spoke extensively about Robert Irwin’s gardens at Dia Beacon as well as the highline in New York. When considering the landscape, I attempted to understand and implement changes that would be best suited for the place and user. The proposed individual plot spaces were meant to give the residents an opportunity to grow their own plants or food and add to an individual sense of ownership and responsibility for individuals within the space. Additionally, when I drafted proposals for the placement of objects within the landscape, I took into consideration the position of the viewer that both the residents and the on lookers from the surrounding neighborhood would have. The landscape, as I see it in the Restart space creates an opportunity to begin a sense of comrade1ry between the residents of the existing Waldo neighborhood and the residents of the Restart project.
In all honesty, the work I presented for Restart is very different from the work I do in the studio, stepping into a role that is closer to a landscape architect was an interesting and engaging challenge for me. However, the work I do in the studio begins with preset systems of restrictions and is allowed to grow from there. I would ask you to reconsider the perception of artists you gathered from that week. It should be noted that only one of the students from our time together asked you to “abandon all logic”. Furthermore, I believe he made this request not to prescribe a literal way of thinking but to open up a conversation about the multitude of possibilities that a space can hold. Though some artists endeavor to produce work from highly personalized space that statement cannot be applied to artists as a whole.
ABOVE: Robert Irwin's gardens at Dia Beacon
KCAI Response // Sebastian Thomas
In what way do you think that artists have showed a tendency to have a personal reflection and identity in their work?
In what ways is there a contrasting perception of space between the artist and architect?
In what ways is including art in the apartment building less about context and more about drawing on unique inspiration?
What is the difference between context and unique inspiration and how are they related?
How is the art based more in self-expression than a reaction to place and user?
In what ways are the artists also constrained to the background and understanding portion of the design process?
What is emotional design?
How is it being utilized in our projects?
How is art allowed to divorce itself from logic and in turn relieve clarity and practical reasoning?
How is art more of a central experience that seeks direct reaction and what does this mean?
How is architecture more tightly bound by constraints?
How does the best architecture supersede pragmatic problem solving?
How are artists tasked with seeing the world in a highly personalized way?
How is the work of an artist its own self-justification?
How does abandoning the need to rationalize every aspect of a built project elevate and humanize architecture by creating intentional interaction with the people it serves and what does this mean exactly?
What does programming mean with regards to the consideration of artists and the impact of their art through general understanding of placement?
In what ways does collaborating with artists reaffirm (who’s?) inclination towards designing with restrictions?
Why is architecture not a direct extension of the architects mind as art is too the artist?
In what ways is there still room for self-expression?
KCAI Response // Bo Hubbard
James Turrell's Skyspace
I want to thank you and your peers for being patient with helping us understand the spacial renderings and satisfying our many questions. Working with a group of architects challenged my notion of functionality within art and architecture. I began looking at my surroundings and placing value on architecture similar to how I would approach art. I still cannot wrap my head around the intricacy of architecture or of even just the intricacy of one building.
Language has been a barrier throughout this collaboration. At the first session, as you mentioned, I challenged the architects to temporarily abandon logic. After reading your essay it seems as if this comment has heavily affected your understanding of an ‘artist’, and for this I apologize. I failed to consider your knowledge of art history (e.g., Contemporary and Modern Art) but also failed to consider my opinions from the perspective of an architect.
You mention frequently in your essay that the artist works from a place of ‘self-justification’. I would agree with this statement, but prefer the term ‘self- fulfillment’. I have the option to create anything I choose. I no longer have any material requirements or specific assignments; I am the architect, contractor, owner, and consumer. Managing these different roles requires concentration and pragmatism. I asked what part of the design was ‘your own’ because as a critical thinker, ‘self-fulfillment’ must be constantly evaluated. Your answer of ‘spatial sequencing’ was not strange; but, instead it reminded that there are many conceptual devices within the architecture itself. I then asked the group why contemporary architecture was influencing the ‘bird’ design. This, again, was my attempt to understand the function, necessity, and source of specific decisions; much like I would within my own studio.
Artists and Architects are both a part of a visual community that can no longer be precisely understood. It is important to return to the idea of ‘self- fulfillment’ and make sure it is not understood as ‘self-indulgence’. A ‘self- indulgent’ artist is an artist that is incapable of seeing their work outside of themselves. There artwork is self absorbed and void of discovery. All people have internal and external forces influencing their decisions. It is our job to try to understand how people come to these decisions. The only way is to begin is to attempt to understand this within yourself. I challenge myself, all artists, and all architects to continually question and revaluate the sources from which they are arriving at decisions.
KCAI Response // Molly Dillon
It is accurate to say that we both, as artists and architects, possess a shared desire to heighten human experience. But I think that some issues you address need to be reconsidered.
In this blog, you seem to make a separation between creative acts and rational ones, because as you have stated “sometimes it can be difficult to make a creative approach while also considering these factors”, the factors being pragmatic problem solving. In this way, pragmatic problem solving may be approaching the issues that ensue when trying to affect the way people interact with space while still keeping the roof from leaking water or collapsing.
Here are some of the ways that we understand your approach to making. There are mathematical solutions to predict how much load bearing weight can be placed upon material, but when considering how a person interacts with space, there are also a series of tests to use. There are studies and models to be made, specific resources to look at, etc.
I would like to propose that the making of site-specific art can be equally as pragmatic. As you have seen, most of our art student participants have been addressing structural concerns but are also trying to think about the way people interact with our structures. We have the additional problem of trying to enter a space using our own studio practice, and finding a place to meet halfway. Are our concerns any less pragmatic?
The language being used in this blog also creates a hierarchy that is based in both of our backgrounds. The concerns you are taught largely support the merriment of function and form, placing high design in priority. But there could be room in this blog for a broader conversation, like the one we experienced during the jump in meetings. This approach could allow your concerns to expand also.
From working with you, I hoped you would see the role of an artist as a player that would rationally push the bounds of your thinking. Creative thinking follows a sense of logic that also responds to facts, but people who make art are also close to pragmatists and epistemologists. We follow logic through directly working with material, and try to find grounds for that material through context. So, I would argue that although we were trying to create our individual incentives for making intact, we were also trying to find placement and specificity for our studio practice within yours. We were players within the same machine of equal importance.
Written by Mary Kuvet, Sebastian Thomas, Bo Hubbard, Molly Dillon