" It seems to me that if I was to incorporate in my architecture all the poetry of which it was capable, then I should study the theory of volumes and analyze them, at the same time seeking to understand their properties, the power they have on our senses, their similarities to the human organsim."
Architecture, Essay On Art, Ettienne-Louis Boullee
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An approach to synthesizing Art and Architecture : The Ark & Boullee
An example of an architectural or artistic approach in defining an idea or concept for designed or “painted” environments. We are to break down the depiction of art or architecture to fully grasp what we are trying to create or portray in design and development. This exercise comes into full purpose when finding meaning, influence and proposing an educational way of thinking. Aligning ideas to develop an answer or a proposal is imperative.
Architecture is the design of a particular living system, whether it be a building, an outdoor park, a speedway bridge or in this case a boat or yacht. It is a conceptualized aspiration of a living being, synthesized then brought to life. When Noah built his Ark, it was for salvation against an apocalyptic flood. A flood that was believed to be sent by a higher power, furious with the behavior in the existing world, which led to a construction of a massive ship (I am laughing as I write this, because how holy can we get in our research for inspiration.. Can we get much higher? Hum hum hum, drops the Dark Fantasy Beat). Hence, the ark was built, in where all living were divided into salvation and unfortunate extinction. It was the clean animals, the honest civilians, and the nurturing proteins that were brought on board, leaving all else in despair. We are not to say that all of today’s yachts are designed or built with the same ingenuous aspirations or beliefs. But we are to conclude that there is purpose in all design and construction. Understanding the process of space alignment, program building and aesthetic development to create an environment or shelter is eventually the goal in every project as a professional architect or designer. From each floor level defining program and foreshadowing purpose, we as designers ultimately define organization and a system of interaction. Such as was done in Noah’s Ark, where humans and animals were separated by levels, leaving different environments at each floor. Moreover, many times we use works of art to inspire our design goals or to portray a narrative of what we are potentially trying to describe or conceptualize. When I thought of the design of a yacht, two things came to mind, what it looks like in section and what is the story behind its function. For this reason we refer to the story of Noah’s Ark and later to the works of Boullee.
And so, I will allude to these images of art describing this moment, “A means to wash away sin, without washing away the sinner”, is a critical quote to reflect on. But nevertheless, the two works of art to be observed is that of Zac Kinkade, Noah’s Ark, and that of Simon De Myle, Noah’s Ark on the Mount of Ararat, of whom there is not much information. These two juxtaposing pieces, are representing the before and after of this moment. In where, I am concluding the promise and then the disillusion of reality. Or at least that is what we can misconstrue. In Kinkade’s painting he has presented the beauty of the rainbow, the power of the sun hiding behind the clouds, the beauty of the white doves and the presence of the strong and intelligent animals waiting to aboard, while the blue sea waiting to filter the dry land. Yet, Simon De Myle, has decided to give us the contrast. In where we see the animals coming back to land after the flood has washed away to their normal habits of sin, the dragon flies counteracting in the sky, the Lion cannibalizing the other White Horse in what is seemingly a swamp, rather than dry land or a beautifully bloomed landscape. Hence, can we question salvation in the sea? Hypothetically speaking, would it be fair to say that the cruise line is imperative and that the retreat off land is actual paradise? In this search for inspiration there is a basic way of thinking and it all begins with questions, allusions and representations. Moreover, in architecture, many times we are searching for an answer, waiting to depict a normality or to identify an abnormality. In this case, I have just broken down two juxtaposing paintings to deliver a pitch of Noah’s Ark’s purpose and/or influence. Although, the paintings did not describe much of the actual architecture of the Ark, more research would be needed to understand the spatial alignments and program distributions that were developed to allow the survival of all species aboard. Again, for the sake of this blog, the purpose is to break down the depiction of art or architecture to fully grasp what we are trying to create or portray in design and development.
Cenotaph To Newton
To continue, as a sequel to this introductory post, for inspiration of a yacht design, I look forward to one of the artistic pieces by Etienne-Louis Boullee. For which I have identified for finding meaning of exploration and of what can be conceived of as an intellectual piece of work. In which Boullee, an architect, is giving tribute to Newton and science: the understanding of space, life and death in the collection of drawings, The Cenotaph for Newton. This collection of drawings presented are influential when considering spatial allusions, spatial concept and foreshadowing a moment. All critical tools when designing an environment or space of purpose. Moreover, the section displayed in this collection is one of a kind. As Boullee explores the third dimension of a sphere, hypothetically, our globe and the reactions of light upon it. But he is also identifying the human onlooker or in this case Newton’s tomb in space. In his excerpt Architecture, Essay on Art, he explains, “The unique advantage of this form (the Cenotaph) is that from whichever side we look at it, as in nature, we see only a continuous surface which has neither beginning nor end, and the more we look at it, the larger it appears. This form is appropriate to this monument, for its curve ensures that the onlooker cannot approach what he is looking at, he is forced as if by one hundred different circumstances outside his control, to remain in the place assigned to him and which, since it occupies the centre, keeps him at a sufficient distance to contribute to the illusion. He delights it in, without being able to destroy the effect by wanting to come too close in order to satisfy his empty curiosity. He stands alone and can behold nothing but the immensity of the sky.”
I get the sense that Boullee’s writing is satirical but at the same time of gratitude for Newton. Satirical when he describes how miniscule man is in the galaxy of the world as we know it, even more so, when he says “Divine being! Newton! Deign to accept the homage of my feeble talents! …. By using your divine system, Newton, to create the sepulchral lamp that lights thy tomb, it seems that I have made myself sublime. It is the only decoration I felt I should use.” But in the drawings he shows great gratitude and pays homage to an extent, depicting him as a superior force having been able to figure out the creation of the lamp. On the other hand, he is still very sarcastic, basically putting literal emphasis to the mystery of death in galaxial space by showing an enormous suspended lamp of light glowing upon the miniscule tomb. Moreover, after reading the excerpt, I get the sense that Boullee was also placing greater emphasis on the fact that he has the talents to illustrate and design the actual monumental environment of the Cenotaph at such grand scale, in which both Newton and the invention play upon a theatrical act. There is a burlesque parody between the relationship of the Architect’s work and that of the praised scientist Newton, where Boullee shouts divinity in Newton’s illumination through a massive monument that he has designed himself. But more importantly, I introduce this collection of drawings by Boullee because if we think about a yacht or a boat, or even a building in section, we become intrigued by the similar capabilities of experiencing space, the hidden nuances of light work, the description of circulation and the foreshadowed moments being created to depict a specific occasion or meaning. Hence, the following project will be that of using Boullee’s drawings as instruments or tools of reference to conceptualize a yacht or boat scheme.
This way of working, researching, analyzing and referencing work to conceptualize an idea is something I strongly believe is imperative in the creation of architecture and design. It Is one of the many ways that there is hope to introduce the study, development and invention of architecture at a professional or educational level, specifically through this outlet.