Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Shellshifting #1

The shortest blog entry of my life is this experimental image of shells - one of many to come, I hope. If printed with best resolution I want it to be 26" x 28." The original was made with Adobe Photoshop software at 300 dpi / sq. inch.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Museum of Image and Sound in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Museum of Image and Sound, Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, 2011 *

The museum is scheduled to be complete this year, and it is definitely a Modern design, though I’m not sure it is Metamodern. Diller Scofidio + Renfro is a much acclaimed 46 person interdisciplinary architectural design firm, noted for its design theory. The firm’s philosophy claims that all designs are so site specific as to be based metaphorically in the DNA of the location. and the designs do seem extremely suited to their location. The Museum of Image and Sound (hereafter MIS) folds itself into a crowded section of Rio’s Copacabana beachfront between two fourteen-story high-rise buildings. In fact the museum looks like a rectangular metal box that has emerged somewhat crushed from a 1970’s trash compactor. Yes, I know, that is a rather scathing comment. I could have said instead that it appears to have been warped through a 4th dimension. However, I find that I have a slightly uncomfortable reaction to many of the firm's architectural programs, which almost always are jammed into crowded metropolitan sites. According to the firm, the design of the building is meant to be a vertical extension of Roberto Burl Marx’s beach promenade stretched and folded through various venues and open-air spaces to the building’s rooftop theater. The concept is marvelous, and I do appreciate the interior and exterior views of the spaces despite the criticism above. Perhaps if I visited the actual site of the MIS I would have more enthusiasm for the building. After all, Diller Sofidio + Renfro won a competition to design this space. I am struggling here because I often find it a stretch to appreciate the wisdom of competition judges and committees.

In conclusion, I don’t find that the MIS design meets the criteria for a Metamodern approach. It does not achieve the fantastical and surreal aspect that seems to be part of so many Metamodern architectural works, nor does it possess an organic quality, despite the metaphorical DNA theory of the firm. Neither do I find the presence of oscillation between and among oppositions claimed by theorists Vermeulen and Van den Akker for the Metamodern. Finally I do not claim that this is a bad design, only that it is a bit awkward, and that it is not Metamodern.


Much of the notation of this article is achieved through the linked items above.

Dezeen Blog Archive, “Museum of Image and Sound by Diller Scofidio + Renfro,” August 14, 2009, viewed 10:26 AM EDT, October 15, 2011.

*EVolo, "Museum of Image and Sound in Rio de Janeiro / Diller Scofidio + Renfro," August 10, 2010, viewed 10:26 AM, EDT, October 21, 2011. It is known that one time use of images for intellectual purpose is legal under US copyright law.

Arcspace, Viewed 10:30 AM EDT, October 15, 2011.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Just a short five day visit to south Florida, then we travel north again. My partner and I went to the beach and the water was still about eighty-eight degrees Fahrenheit, crystal clear and calm. I did a good bit of swimming and sunning. However, as usual I had to take some photographs. So, just before the sunset I shot these shells on the beach. Because of the low angle of the sun the detail in the shells and sand is phenomenal, and the long shadows make all that detail pop. Because of the light quality, I find early morning and evening are the best times of the day to take photographs, and this photograph demonstrates the authenticity of that belief.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Santiago Calatrava

Part of the series of entries on Architecture of the Twenty-first Century


Santiago Calatrava, WTC Transportation Hub, World Trade Center, New York, (Designed 2007)

His designs often look like spinal cords suspended by cable. The Ground Zero transportation Hub appears to this writer like a chunk of human spine transmogrified into a flying crustacean complete with Superior articular process, though these last are long pointed extensions. The Turning Torso in Malmo, Sweden twists like a human athlete preparing to throw a discus as it rises 866 feet into the sky. The Milwaukee Art Museum, though designated Postmodern looks like a Cubist rendition of birds in flight. He has designed a planetarium that is like a human eyeball complete with hydraulic eyelid. He is an architect with an engineering degree, and all his structures are engineering marvels based at least in part on skeletal structure, which makes them organic, and coincidentally Metamodern rather than Postmodern

Calatrava, born in Valencia, Spain in 1951 was known early on in his career for the bridges he designed, the first of which was built for the Barcelona Olympic Games. During the 1990’s he designed many large public facilities and more unusual suspension bridges including the City of the Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain, the railway station, Care de Lyon Saint-Exupery, Lyon, France, and the Alamillo Bridge (Puente del Alamillo) in Sevilla, Spain. At the same time he began to exhibit abstract sculptures based on the same engineering techniques as his buildings and bridges.

During this century Calatrava has continued to create buildings and bridges based on skeleton-like structures. These include The Athens Olympic Sports Complex, Athens, Greece, The Turning Torso in Malmo, Sweden, and the Liege-Guillemins train station in Liege, Belgium. These structures often look like some fantastical creature - at once impossible, wearing its skeleton on the outside and surreal - has landed in the middle of the cityscape. They immediately meet the two most important criteria for a Metamodern designation. They are both fantastic/surreal, and organic. That they are often mistakenly called Postmodern fits in with Vermeulin and Van den Akker's notions of the Metamodern as oscillating between oppositions, and this author’s idea that a model for the Metamodern would look like pairs of oppositions moving and colliding with and among one another in a three-dimensional space.


Documentation for this article is established through the links above with the exception of the following two notations.

*1 "Santiago Calatrava Shows his WTC Transportation Hub at Queen Sofia Spanish Institute," Art Knowledge News, The Art Appreciation Foundation, Viewed Saturday, October, 8, 2011. One time use of images for intellectual purposes is acceptable within United States Copyright Law.

*2 Tzonis, Alexander, Santiago Calatrava: Complete Works, Expanded Edition, New York; Rizoli (2007).

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Digital Artwork for Steve Jobs

I've been an Apple fan since 1984, and I can't imagine the world without my Apple laptop and my iPod. I'm a product of my times, and Steve Jobs is responsible for my love affair with technology. All my artwork on this journal is prepared with the use of my MacBookPro. So, I'm placing this image in the journal which is part of the current mixed media distressed painting I'm working on. It's a fitting tribute because none of this, the journal, the artwork, nor the computer would exist without Steve Jobs.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Jean Nouvel:

A Metamorphosis of the Modern into the Metamodern

Jean Nouvel, Torres Algues, Barcelona, Spain (2003) *

Born August 12, 1945, the architect is this writer's contemporary, which would place him in the Postmodern according to the time he began producing. Looking at his oeuvre, however, his work is Modern and/or Metamodern in character, and I’m sure there are those who would place him among Modern architects, though I question that judgment. Let me explain.

The Torre Algues de Barcelona (Agbar), Barcelona, the ultimate expression of male vanity is also Jean Nouvel’s only adventure in true blobitecture. *2 He has designed other curved structures like the Louvre Abu Dhabi (a flattened flying saucer-like dome with a transparent tree branch latticed structure), and his barrel vaulted (Paulo Soleri Arcosanti-like) Winery at Chateau la Costa in Provence. However, these structures use modern forms that unintentionally echo ancient Roman architectural devices. Additionally, Nouvel’s design for the master plan and megalithic main building for the Port of Vigo in Spain (2007) has nothing to do with curves, but instead looks like a giant rock complete with plant growth that suggests time etched sedimentation. After searching for current status of the project on line, it appears to me that the economic crash of 2008, spearheaded by our own illustrious Wall Street has prevented the consummation of the project.

Jean Nouvel, Port of Vigo Spain, Office Tower (2007 design winner)

Of all the structures I’ve listed above, the first and the last are most indicative of a Metamodern disposition, though the others relate more closely to a 3rd quarter 20th Century Modernism. It would seem that Mr. Nouvel himself oscillates between a Modern and a Metamodern position, though the Port of Vigo project and others indicate that he is ever more invested in a fantastical surreal and organic nature that is typical of the Metamodern. For anyone interested in the ways Modernism metamorphoses into the Metamodern, a closer look at Jean Nouvel’s work is clearly warranted.


Goodman, Lanie, “Starchitects on Parade,” The New York Times Style Magazine September, 25, 2011, p 102-105.

Admin, “Jean Nouvel’s Granit Monolith Covered with Vegetation Overlooks the Port of Vigo,” eVolo, July 31, 2011, viewed 4:41 PM EDT, Friday, September 30, 2011.

Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Corporate Website at Viewed 4:30 PM EDT, Friday, September 30, 2011.

* Nouvel, Jean, Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, “Jean Nouvel,” image, "The Torres Algues," Last modified 7:52, September 30, 2011, viewed 10:00 AM EDT, Saturday, October 1, 2011. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.

*2 That the Torre Algues is blobitecture might be desputed because it is not entirely curved. However, Frank Gehry's buildings (for one) are often sighted as blobitecture despite the presence of straight lines and trapazoidal form mixed with curves.

*3 Admin, “Jean Nouvel’s Granit Monolith Covered with Vegetation Overlooks the Port of Vigo,” eVolo, July 31, 2011, viewed 4:41 PM EDT, Friday, September 30, 2011. It is known that one time use of an image for intellectual purpose is legal under United States copyright law.