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Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

I believe that, since the house was so close to Taliesin, there was no resident apprentice involved. But I would have to check the book to be sure about that. When requests to FLW to fix a sagging dining area window went unanswered, and they were informed that a camera crew was going to visit to photograph the house for an article, suddenly a group of apprentices showed up and propped up the sagging window. But I cannot recall any single apprentice who was connected to the house.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Thanks. It seems that a P B "Bert" Grove contracted with the Jacobses to build the house, after declaring that he'd give "my right arm" to build a Wright design. He was the owner of one of the lots they looked at for their house. "Building with FLLW," p 6.

SDR

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Dan sends photos of the Sweeton window-wall surgery. He writes:

"There are no headers above the transoms...the rafters are supported on mullions every 4' and the two rafters between flush frame to a double 2x6 (now a double 2x6 with a flitch plate) at the fascia. Only blocking was
above the glass to allow a stop connection.

The 1/4" glass indeed took weight. When disassembling, the last transom to be removed cracked when its two neighbors were removed. That was the only breakage that occurred during construction."


Image. . . . . . . Image


Image


Image


Image


Image

JVS
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Post by JVS »

I had some fun understanding the physics of shadow casting so it could be applied to Usonian perforated boards. Here's a write-up:

https://medium.com/@TangibitStudios/sha ... 7217913be9

In particular: How is the ability to cast recognizable shadows linked to the minimum features in the fretwork and its location relative the surface receiving the shadows? More simply: How big do the openings need to be to avoid excessively blurry shadows (installation specific)?

While some beautiful mathematics can be applied to understand this, it is clear that empirical results are easy to obtain. A good simulation model does let you try new ideas more quickly.

It is interesting that the level of detail in many designs seems to support good shadow casting. I need access to accurately dimensioned drawings of the fretwork to really show this. However, estimates from the Bachman-Wilson perf seem to support the idea. Of course, correlation doesn't prove causation...


Your thoughts on this are appreciated!

-JVS

SDR
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Post by SDR »

John

I do not believe I encountered an explanation of why you chose this topic as being of importance, to yourself or to your audience, before you launched
into a description of your research and its results. Can you tell us what it was that moved you in this direction ?

Though you found Wright uttering the phrase "eye music" on page 419 of his autobiography, you do not have him using it in reference to any
particular object or source. Palli Davis Holubar may not have originated that phrase in connection with the perfs, but her use of it was the first I
encountered, I believe. Is there another place in his writings where Wright used "eye music" to refer to shadow-cast designs, in his own work or
someone else's ?

You write, "The fretwork in these design is instantly recognizable as belonging to Wright." I submit that the majority of the designs are recognizable
to Wright enthusiasts as being Usonian perfs; I challenge the notion that these designs resemble other Wright architectural decorations, from any
period of his work -- including other motifs found in or on those same Usonian houses.

You do not adequately define "umbra" and "penumbra" before incorporating them into your discussion. For me the use of the mask, vital apparently to
your experiment, was not clear. I will take it on faith that your conclusions are supported by your research; more than that I really cannot say --
regretfully, and with apologies.


"Other than that, Mrs Lincoln, how did you like the play ?" Again I apologize for writing such a negative review. Your enthusiasm for Wright's work
and for this project in particular is notable, and appreciated. Please carry on . . .

SDR

JVS
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Post by JVS »

SDR,

Good questions, as usual.

First, the motivation: In some of the discussions about the intent of the perf designs (which may never really be understood fully), there was some conjecture about their role in creating shadows. I too first encountered the term "eye music" from Palli Davis Holubar. The second reference mentions it also- some of the questions for when I visit Taliesin. In any event, IF one of the intents for perf designs is to cast shadows THEN two questions are raised:

1) What properties are needed to cast good shadows?
2) Do perf designs exhibit these properties?

If perf designs don't exhibit good properties for casting shadows, it is less likely this was an intent.

A related hypothesis is that finer details need to be eliminated in perf designs in order to cast good shadows. Was this a reason for relative minimalism of the designs?

In order to understand the properties needed to cast "good" shadows, the mechanics of shadows needed some investigation (for me at least). The use of the term "mask" can be interchanged with fretwork- it is the surface on which openings are created to allow light to go through. Simulations and the simple experiment confirmed the minimum opening size required.

Since I had access to some information on the Bachman-Wilson perfs (particularly a decent photo of a cast shadow), this was studied to see if it fit with the simulation results, which it did. Of course, this is a sample of one. Better confirmation that perf designs inherently support shadow casting would be had if we had a tabulation of:

1) Maximum distance a shadow was cast in each house
2) The minimum feature dimension for the corresponding perf

I hope this cleared up some of your questions, sorry if my explanations lack clarity!

-John

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Okay -- so a synopsis of the artiicle might read:


1) If an intention of the perfs is to cast legible shadows, they would have to meet certain requirements necessary to cast those shadows.

2) Shadows get fuzzier with distance; fine-textured patterns might be too fuzzy to "read" at distances found in the typical Usonian interior.

3) Usonian perfs are found to contain openings large enough (a characteristic the author describes as "minimalist") to cast legible shadows.


Is that an acceptable "Reader's Digest" version of the work ? A precis as lead-in to published research is normal, I think, and might have helped me get into the piece ?

SDR

JVS
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Post by JVS »

SDR,

Your summary is correct, I'll update intro section to include this abstract.

JVS

JVS
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Post by JVS »

I recall reading that perforated board designs were conjectured to be influenced by Southwest Native American communities around Taliesin West (O’odham, Piipaash, Hopi, Yavapai, and Apache). Can anyone point me to published articles on this idea?

Thanks!

-John

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

FLW liked the blankets of the Navajo very much. Their geometry would have struck a chord with him, just as the much-assumed pre-Columbian Mayan architecture may (or may not) have inspired the block houses.

On all counts, however, it must be taken into account that the final analysis is invariably conjecture. The sources of FLW's designs have been traced to just about everybody who ever owned a T-square and triangle.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Heh-heh. Le mot juste . . .

S

JVS
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Post by JVS »

Thanks Roderick. I agree these discussions are conjecture- even if FLLW was alive today, we might not get a clear answer (his penchant for self-promotion sometimes resulted in denial of being "influenced" by others- only Nature).

A few weeks ago our Taliesin guide pointed out the petroglyph on the site that "was the influence" for the Whirling Arrow logo. So they are making some connection with Native American art.

Nonetheless, I find that hearing such conjectures sometime helps me appreciate the work in a new way. Even if "correlation is not causation", seeing commonality between independent works can lead to better understanding of more general principles. For example, the principle of constraint:

On the same trip to Taliesin, I found several papers in the Heard Museum library showing how the constraints of basking weaving lead to the "southwest motif". This motif was then carried to pottery, even though the constraint was lifted in the new medium.

It is interesting that Wright's constraint of square and triangle lead to similar designs (either independently or influenced) in perforated boards.

In any event, if anyone can point to any articles exploring this (alleged) connection it would be appreciated.

-John

JVS
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Post by JVS »

I have been wondering if an underlying grid system might have been used in perforated board designs. It seems like an intrinsic grid would have been useful in layout of such highly geometric designs. Of course, all conjecture on my part- no real evidence for such a grid to exist (except house floorplans often used a rectangular, triangular, or even hexagonal grid).

I had partial success applying a variant of the classical armature system used in compositions. Even if there is not an intrinsic grid system, it is an interesting tool for future designs.

Here's the write-up:

https://medium.com/tangibit-studios/com ... f34de0c5a2


-John

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

FLW's work was intuitive, based on the way his brain interpreted what his eyes saw. He literally SAW geometry in Nature. It may be why he related to the Froebel system so easily; it was less that he learned from it, than that it confirmed his own perceptions of his environment. It is just as likely that the floor plans of his buildings derived from the abstractions that appear in his art glass and perfs as the other way around. Exploring FLW's geometry in any form without taking this into account will, in all likelihood, lead to a dead end.

Nor is it unusual among artists. Look at the abstractions of Picasso, Mondrian, Klee, Calder, Nevelson, etc. Their work looks right, and the works of imitators don't. It should be easy for a skilled artist to mock work they can look at and study, but it isn't. Even those close to FLW had trouble imitating his work.

One curiosity is that FLW didn't explore the pentagon, which is the underlying geometric form of all things in nature. Why is that?

JVS
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Post by JVS »

Thanks Roderick. I just got access to some study image of original drawings from the archives at Columbia (out of respect for copyright, I can not publish them). You can get a sense of the intuitive design process from these. For example, the Sydney Bazet perf drawing shows hand sketching modifying an original design into something much closer to the final. The underlying construction lines are visible in many of these drawings, along with numerous erasures modifying designs along the way.

While rectangles, triangles, and hexagons can tile a 2D plane, a regular pentagon can not perform such tiling. This is because its 108 degree angle is not a divisor of 360 degrees. Non-regular pentagons can do the tiling, but strangely (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentagonal_tiling). This is probably why FLW designs didn't explore this.

It has been interesting applying image processing techniques to Usonian perforated board designs to help quantify their characteristics. As I mentioned earlier, it has given me a much deeper appreciation for these beautiful designs

As a "final" (until some other thought strikes) article in the series, I took a look at these designs, along with other types of perforated boards, in the spatial frequency domain. As expected, Usonian designs have a set of identifying attributes. The design comparisons are here:

https://medium.com/tangibit-studios/spa ... 5c4d9e17fc

More details on spectral analysis are here:

https://medium.com/tangibit-studios/2d- ... 88f255cc59

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