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Heh-heh. But I take your point. As for Scott-Brown's quote, enjoyed by both be-suited intellectuals, "Apres moi, le deluge" ?
That is, the eponymous originator needn't be considered a member of the club; those are merely the followers, a different sort of animal ?
A better term than "post-modernism", I think, might be the Era of the "Meta"... Because it wasn't so much a natural evolution coming out of modernism (the way maybe post-Impressionism did..?), or even that post-modernism was simply a rejection of modernism.... But that post-modernism went down its own rabbit-hole into its own hyper self-world.
Webster's definition of "meta":
showing or suggesting an explicit awareness of itself or oneself as a member of its category : cleverly self-referential
The Vanna Venturi house, I'd argue, is "Meta-Architecture". And I'd also argue to Mrs. Scott Brown that Venturi never created a system, the way Freud or Marx or Wright did, but rather he and just about every other artist of his generation merely directed their art at precisely its own private world. (Hence, we then saw "Meta-Literature" and "Meta-Philosophy" etc etc.) At that point, the common person has lost all common reference because one must be in the exclusive club to understand the "significations" found in the Meta-arts.... Instead of Ernest Hemingway being the modernist author of the era, we found Thomas Pynchon as the post-modernist author of the era.... and then chastised common people for not keeping up with Literature....
It'd be silly to say post-modernism and the Meta-arts shouldn't have happened. Or that all of it is bad. But I find the main thrust and tendencies of the meta-arts culture to be fundamentally flawed... and if I kept going, I'd surely end up at the notion of "elitism".
Again, I follow you. Painting surely came to that point of self-reference, in the post-war period ? My education in re many periods of cultural history is sadly lacking, so forgive me. (I'm still in the dark about deconstruction, but it seems clear that the term might mean very different things to different disciplines ?)
But wouldn't any two artists working in the same medium at the same time want to engage in dialog ? And wouldn't they often develop an argot, just as a set of twins are apt to do, and wouldn't that terminology become a token of the "inside," to outsiders---professional critics first of all ? Are Scully's round spectacles a signal that his interest was architecture ? Aren't the two men, dressed so similarly, speaking the same language and comparing notes on a shared history, a perfect illustration of the insider and the outsider in conversation---the practicing theoretician/architect, and the critical historian of the art ? Isn't theory---though they specifically in this moment disavow it---the part of the Venn diagram that they share ?
I blame Michael Graves for PoMo, beginning with the Portland Building. It became an ism because a lot of lesser lights latched onto it and found it easy enough to proliferate. Isn't that the usual course of events? Didn't impressionism evolve from Manet, progress through Cezanne and run wild with Monet? Happier results, of course, but not so different a process. Overall, it seems like an argument without end, what is and what isn't. In the arts, each perpetrator is responsible for his own output.
Yeah of course. I'd frame this whole thing as a study in the "technical" mind, or the theoretical mind, the conceptual mind, etc. Professionals from various fields––auto mechanics to brain surgeons––form a specialized intellect, their minds going deep into their respective field, all of which is beyond the common mind and the common experience. From this point, the technical mind must then balance itself between two worlds––its technical world and the real everyday world.... It's not unusual to find highly technical people who have trouble relating and communicating with the common world, the 'everyday folk'. I recall reading about medical malpractice lawsuits, in which studies showed that doctors who had poor "bedside manners" were far likelier to be sued. This led to doctors getting "bedside manner" training, which is pretty funny if you think about it, these doctors doing years of med school and having some of the sharpest minds in the society, then taking classes after all that in order to learn how to simply talk to regular people again.But wouldn't any two artists working in the same medium at the same time want to engage in dialog ?
A more 'local' example for us Chatters could be when Dan gave his web-lecture earlier this week. While discussing his Sweeton restoration, he said something about steel attachments atop the mullions, and used a technical term. He instantly then said, paraphrasing, 'that's architect-talk for a really tight fitting'. To me, this is a technical person gliding between two worlds, and knowing his audience, which in this case was a more common 'everyday folk' crowd.
So Scully and Venturi having a discussion, sure, you'd expect a technical conversation. Tradesmen talking about the trade... But what I'm driving at is the work itself. And Scully's endorsement of the work itself....
With the "meta-architecture" of Venturi, his building(s) aren't made for the common folk. He hasn't used his technical and intellectual skills to craft a building that is supposed to appeal to regular people. Instead he has made buildings as an architectural statement, works to be interpreted, intellectually, for those in the know.... Meta!
On the flip side, there is no art without a technical and conceptual framework. I'm not arguing that art should be simply 'folk art' (or that philosophy should be simply 'folk wisdom'). But I am arguing that there must be some form of a return from the technical to the common––the synthesis of the two worlds.... Wright's work is undoubtedly very technical and conceptual––hell, he even founded an entire system of 'organic' architecture––and yet he returns each of his works to a 'humanistic' or 'biophilic' level that is easily understood by the common man. Maybe not everyone "likes" Wright's works, but I've never heard anyone say they don't understand it.
So perhaps intellectualism isn't its own worst enemy, so long as it's used as a tool. But when it's used as the point of entry to an exclusive club, well that just leads to a tearing in the social fabric, where we hear terms like "being talked down to", "condescending", "elitist".
We can even discard "organic" from the discussion, as there really is no "organic system," just a series of choices of form and material that every architect has to make. That we even today sometimes believe in such a construct is evidence that his PR ploys were a success, one of a series of attempts to create an aura of "genius" which because they worked so well can now be dispensed with as unnecessary fluff, leaving behind the drawings and the buildings, which together more than adequately fulfill his mission.
Whether we call that "organic" (which was Wright's term) or not I could care less about. But yet we have to call it something. And if I just said "the Wright system", then it could imply Prairie designs which are not the target of my comments.
Steve, is there a preferable term you wish me/us to use? Usonian? Later career? Intrinsic?
Of course, almost as soon as he had assembled the first Usonian Standard Detail Sheet he began to modify it, experimenting with perhaps a dozen or more different grids (plan "units") and over time the original formula was largely superceded, though pieces of it---the use of brick, block or stone masonry on a radiant-heated slab, the simple yet fully-customized millwork details, the unusual roof fascia, the corner window and sometimes the board-and-batten partition---persisted to the end.
More important than these to his work by far was something that couldn't be reduced to a formula: the endless variations of plan geometry, of floor level and of roof form and pitch, all responding to the unique nature of each building site and to his restless imagination, resulting in spacial magic, his vital contribution to the art.
The Wrightian system perhaps is more than just Wright's personal method; I wonder if it lays the groundwork for a pedagogical system, particularly as a means to translate his architectural theories to other architects? As I'm not an architect, I wouldn't know how much merit there is to that claim... Yet even as a non-architect, I can read a Wright set of plans like it's a form of literature, and not so much a technical document, whereas just about all other architectural plans I've ever laid eyes on remain but a set of technical documents (excluding Wright admirers and apprentices, of course).
I haven't seen "meta" used in the way I did earlier. Wouldn't be surprised if it's out there in some capacity though.
As to the Usonian plans, the means of deciphering them for the purposes of construction has been pared down to an interesting minimum: instead of conventional dimensioning, surrounding the building object with multiple indications in feet and inches (this being America), Wright substitutes the very planning grid---in its simplest form a checkerbord---that he used to design the building, lettering and numbering the successive lines for subsequent reference to a particular portion of the plan and indicating, somewhere on the sheet, the dimensions of a single unit.
"Two seemingly contradictory ideas or facts can exist at the same time; it's perfectly natural, even universal, but it can make definitive conclusion difficult."
Contradictory ideas exist everywhere in every context, but facts, at least hard, proven facts, as distinguished from "jump the gun" statements of facts, cannot be contradictory. Definitive conclusions cannot exist among ideas, all of which are fluid.