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  5) Design Relay: Coco Chanel. Design is electrate écriture (konsult is designed). Design in general and in its various specialized applications is a resource for composing wide image since there is a legible continuity relating the memory event with the gesture defining the designer’s style. Coco Chanel is a case in point. In her account of the life and career of the designer Coco Chanel, (Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life), Justine Picardie explains the origins of Chanel’s Logo as alluding to the arabesque patterns of the stained glass windows in the convent that took care of destitute children, the Cistercian abbey at Aubazine, where Chanel lived from the time she was 12 years old, until age 18. This match between a detail from a childhood memory and the adult career is a signal that an image of wide scope is at work. It is worth noting in this context the archetype that is latent within and no doubt deliberately invoked by Chanel’s design: the sacred geometric figure known as   the Vesica Piscis 

Chanel created the Little Black Dress (so accepted in popular culture that it is known by its acronym LBD). Perhaps the most famous LBD was worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but it has been present in numerous other films. The correspondence between the nun habits of memory and the secular fashion of the liberated woman creates a hybrid in popular erotic fantasy.

2018-07-17T14:15:35+00:00 July 17th, 2018|Categories: Design, Memory, Mystory, Wide Image|Tags: |


  4) Childhood Memory: Renzo Piano.Hal Foster was in Gainesville to give a lecture for the Architecture School.  The theme was Neomodernism, focusing on Norman Foster and Renzo Piano.  I had not heard the story before about the role that childhood memories played in Piano’s aesthetic.  It is another example of an image of wide scope, the formatting of an imagination in specific childhood experiences.  There are two memories that reinforce one another in Piano’s case:  one of watching sailing ships in the port city of Genoa, his hometown; the other of laundry blowing in the wind on the roofs of the city.

The notion of a ‘light modernity’ is suggestive. ‘There is one theme that is very important for me,’ Piano remarks: ‘Lightness (and obviously not in reference only to the physical mass of objects).’ He traces this preoccupation from his early experiments with ‘weightless structures’ to his continued investigations of ‘immaterial elements’ like wind and light. Lightness is also the message of his primal scene as a designer, a childhood memory of sheets billowing in the breeze on a Genoese rooftop, a vision that conjures up the shapely beauty of classical drapery as well as contemporary sailing boats as architectural ideals. For Piano lightness is thus a value that bears on the human as well as on the architectural – it concerns graceful comportment in both realms.

The talk of not struggling is all very well, but in order to be where he is today, Piano has had to work very hard, with great purpose and commercial nous. (His point is that it is a question of balance.) Piano’s outlook is heavily influenced by two things: having been a child in postwar Italy, and growing up near a port. “A harbour,” he says, “is like an imaginary city where everything keeps moving.”

Every Sunday his father would take him to Genoa’s harbour and Piano would watch the ships, which he thought of as “immense buildings that move”. When they sailed, he watched them cross the water and imagined that they were flying. These notions converged in his mind to form an idea of buildings as structures that “fought against gravity”, as “miracles”.

  The 95-story skyscraper Piano designed for the Shard Quarter in London expresses the sail as its Idea or parti. Architects are good relays for this translation of wide image into hypothesis since their Idea (parti pris) is precisely a materialized gesture unifying a complex program. Every wide image is a “compass,” we could say, generalizing from Einstein’s case, in that the idenification of true north allows one to go in any direction. Similarly we may generalize from architecture to say that any wide image provides the parti pris of Konsult.

” This thing came very quickly,” architect Renzo Piano has recalled of his first thoughts about the building that would become the Shard, in central London. Piano apparently sketched his idea on a restaurant napkin while meeting property developer Irvine Sellar in March 2000. According to Piano’s architectural firm, RPBW, Sellar keeps the famous napkin in his offices. “He saw the beauty of the river and the railways and the way their energy blended and began to sketch in green felt pen on a napkin what he saw as a giant sail or an iceberg,” Sellar recalled in a recent interview. Piano, for his part, has sometimes sounded squeamish about the legend that has built up around his off-the-cuff sketch. “I don’t want to create a mythology,” he has said.

2018-07-18T14:19:03+00:00 July 16th, 2018|Categories: Memory, Mystory, Wide Image|Tags: , , , |


  3) Memory: Frank Gehry.In their book about the architect, Frank Gehry (best known for his design of the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain), Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan (Frank O. Gehry: Outside In) describe the connection between Gehry’s childhood memories and his career in a way that resonates with the principle of the wide image.

    • Gehry’s grandmother was his best friend. He says she believed in strange, magical powers and superstitions. “When somebody would look at me funny, she would lick my face! I hated that, but I loved her a lot.”

Young Frank often spent the night at his grandparent’s house. They had emigrated to Canada from Poland, and although they slowly adopted the ways of their new country, they observed their Jewish traditions. On Thursdays, Frank went to the market with his grandmother. Each week she bought a live carp to be made into gefilte fish for Sabbath supper. They carried it home in a heavy white paper bag filled with water.

“We’d put it in the bathtub, and I would watch this fish for a day, this beautiful object swimming around. Then the next day it would be gone,” he says. Those beautiful disappearing fish, still vivid in his memories, appear over and over in Gehry’s architecture. . . .

In Timmins, Frank ran into his first experience with anti-Semitism. A group of bullies tormented him at school, beating him up and calling him Fish, an insult suggesting that he smelled. it was humiliating to be punched and taunted because he was Jewish. During this painful time he pulled back from his family’s religious beliefs. . . .

Many artists use autobiographical images to work through their conflicts. For Gehry, the shape of a fish repeated over and over in his designs represents his mixed feelings. On one hand, the fish echoes the anti-Semitic slurs of his childhood. On the other, it symbolizes the comforting religious rituals observed by his grandmother. The giant fish sculptures elevate memory into art.

2018-07-16T21:59:16+00:00 July 16th, 2018|Categories: Memory, Mystory, Wide Image|Tags: , |


 2) Childhood Memory: Einstein’s Themata.

A heuristic rule is: any hermeneutics may become heuretics. Holton developed the Image of Wide Scope as hermeneutic, a mode of analysis and interpretation of the completed careers of productive people. The gambit of mystory shifts focus to the thematic, to discovery, as a rhetoric to generate a hypothetical wide image. Since the wide image is fully formed by the time students reach college, the mystory assumes that it may be composed and designed speculatively. One feature that recurs through these biographical studies of creative people is the importance of a scene of memory from childhood. Prototype is Albert Einstein, studied in depth by Holton, and we will refer to his history as a template to test for ourselves. It is possible with completed careers to observe the correspondence between the childhood scene and the disciplinary invention (between the compass and the physics of electromagnetism).

We can go back even further when searching for the point where the thematic commitment to the continuum was formed. It is well known that as a child of four or five, Einstein experienced what he called a wonder when his father showed him a simple magnetic pocket compass. It was an experience to which Einstein often referred. His friend Moszkowski reported him in 1922 to have said, “Young as I was, the remembrance of this occurrence never left me.” His biographer Seelig wrote in 1954 that the compass to this day is vividly engraved in his memory, because it practically bewitched him. In his autobiography, written at the age of sixty-seven, we read: “I can still remember –or at least I believe I can remember–that this experience made a deep and lasting impression on me. Something deeply hidden had to be behind things.”

This scene is most suggestive. There is the mysterious invariance or constancy of the compass needle, ever returning to the same direction, despite the fact that the needle seems free from any action-by-contact of the kind that is usually unconsciously invoked to explain the behavior of material things; despite the vagaries of motion one may arbitrarily impose on the case of the compass from the outside; and regardless of personal will or external Zwang or chaos. If Einstein remembered it so well and referred to it so often, it may be because the episode is an allegory of the formation of the play-ground of his basic imagination. (Gerald Holton, Thematic Origins of Scientific Thought).

  –Exercise. There is no need to understand all the features of mystory, wide image, heuretics, popcycle, before beginning the discovery and design project. We may begin with a memory exercise, to notice what scene remains in memory. The instructions are just to reflect for a few minutes on one’s early childhood, to observe what may appear, to take note, to save the scene for development later on. Record the memory in anecdote form (300-word flash fiction) illustrated with found images. The exercise may also be applied analytically to biographies of interest. We will inventory a number of cases of such early memories.

2018-07-17T13:12:55+00:00 July 16th, 2018|Categories: Memory, Mystory, Wide Image|Tags: , , |