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7) Howard Gardner: Definition of Wide Image. Gardner references Howard E. Gruber, who also studied creativity in science from the point of view of the wide image. Gruber’s examples cited below are cases of memories translated into wide images, applied as guiding figures (analogies, metaphors, allegories) used to structure otherwise unshaped archive of data.

The creative individual pursues (or is pursued by) a number of dominant metaphors. These figures are images of wide scope, rich, and susceptible to considerable exploration, exposing the investigator to aspects of phenomena that might otherwise remain invisible to him. Often the key to the individual’s most important innovations inhere in these images. In Darwin’s case, the most fecund metaphor was the branching tree of evolution, on which he could trace the rise and fate of various species. Gruber’s students have uncovered other such metaphors of wide scope. William James had a penchant for viewing mental processes as a stream or river, rather than in terms of the associationist images of a train or a chain. Any consideration of John Locke should focus on his falconer, whose release of a bird symbolized the quest for human knowledge. Finally, in conveying his own emerging view of the creative process, Gruber finds himiself attracted to the Mosaic image of the bush that is always burning but never consumed. (Howard Gardner, Art, Mind, and Brain: A Cognitive Approach to Creativity).

–Memory Glimpse. There are many more examples of memories from early childhood that resonate retrospectively with a career. It is important to note for our Exercise that these early memories do not always present themselves so clearly to the maker as was the case for Einstein or Darwin. The memory may first appear as a glimpse, an intuition, an endocept rather than a concept. The first lesson is just that the way to a pedagogy of creativity passes through childhood experience, involving eventually both memory work, and historical research, as well as some ethnographic field work. All of that comes later. For now it is enough to retrieve a memory and save it in an illustrated anecdote. Here is one more example for now.

  –Steven Spielberg. Sarah Boxer asked Steven Spielberg to recall his earliest visual experience. He found one from the age of 3.

“My parents put me into a fluoroscope, a big, horizontal X-ray machine. My parents were very friendly with the doctor, and he tested his fluoroscope on me.” They laid their toddler down “in the machine, a kind of coffin, and closed the lid on me. It was all green in there, a white-green light. That was one of my earliest and most scary memories. I guess they were looking at my bones. But my point of view was that they put me in a box, and it was all green. And I couldn’t get out. I think that might have been the beginning of ‘Poltergeist’ and ‘Jaws.'” The connection between the light and “Poltergeist” was clear. But how do you get “Jaws” from green light? Spielberg didn’t miss a beat. “Just being abandoned, you know, set adrift, in the middle of the ocean, my ocean of green light.”

Before the green light came another light. “The first thing I remember was the eternal light.” He was only 6 months old at the time and was in a synagogue in Cincinnati, the city where he was born in 1946. “I didn’t know at the time that that’s what it was. I remember seeing people with long beards, handing me crackers. And a red light.” The crackers were called Tamtams, and “the red light was the eternal light, the Ner Tamid,” the light that never goes out. Given all these extraordinary encounters with light — green, red and eternal — it’s no wonder that Spielberg became obsessed with alien abductions. “I’ve been dealing with abduction ever since ‘Close Encounters,'” he said.

(Gainesville Sun, December 7, 2002).

2018-07-18T14:16:04+00:00 July 18th, 2018|Categories: 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: , , , |