Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Architecture and aesthetic


Study of Architecture as a Transcendental, namely Beauty -- Exploration of the Transcendental as coextensive with Being in regards to 1. matter/material, 2. action, 3. gravity; an aesthetic -- Contrast with contemporary views of 1. material, the technological view and/or the sustainable view, 2. action, mechanical and reducible to 'energy', and 3. gravity, as dependent on 'physical science' and 'models' -- Re-evaluation of our temporal location in history along with matter, action, and gravity with regards to Transcendental Beauty; an aesthetic that does not succumb to the habits of 'science' and its offspring, semiotics -- Implications for Architecture, Infrastructure, and Civilization from the developed aesthetic.


It is the understanding and meaning of the relationship between Being and matter that I wish to study; that which contemporary society has overlooked and taken for granted. Though not seeking a strict definition of Architecture as such, the study of Architecture should lead to tangible results. The tangibility, however, is not a result of material presence, as much as it is presence in itself. Although I shall seek to delineate Architecture in terms of material, the absence of material does not bring into question the validity of Architecture in written form.

St. Thomas Aquinas and his articulation of the relationship between Beauty and Being during the middle ages has as much validity today as it did when he articulated the relationship. His work becomes the departure point whereby an understanding of how matter comes into being and begins presencing as explicit in an aesthetic. That departure point is the acknowledgment of the non-being of matter that allows being. Two other areas are of concern when we consider Architecture, action and gravity. Action and technique (techne) are required when we consider the built form, and presencing through constructing becomes imperative. Last we have gravity, the consideration and rendering of which in Architecture as comprehensible in the aesthetic needs exploration. An example of this is given in the heuristic, 'all structural (gravity) problems have a geometric solution'.

Contemporary views of matter see it as meaningless and in need of man to give/impose meaning upon it and use it for his own ends. Matter is the servant of technology. The second view, 'sustainability', is related to the first, but endowed with a moral imperative, so it continues in popularity. Sustainability, however, shows itself to be inadequate as it models reality and graphs itself to 'science' in order to further a moral agenda. The further inadequacy of sustainability when we consider Architecture becomes apparent in the reduction of action to 'energy', or 'to the ability to do work' as so defined by physical science and accepted by sustainability. It should be noted that physical science has no conception of what 'energy' is, and any exploration of Architecture based on such a notion of 'energy' falls short of Architecture. Behind the unacceptable nature of 'energy' lies the deeper habit of science to invent models about reality which is in opposition to the call for articulation; to delineate in order to begin presencing. Any exploration of Architecture that has no relation to Being is not an exploration of Architecture.

While being temporally located in history, developing an aesthetic whose actions in the use of material in order to overcome gravity overcomes temporality and manifests the eternal. Good Architecture is timeless. The 'fractured', 'lost' characterization of Architecture today is prolific, as the search for meaning takes center stage while the validity of Architecture is increasingly hard to establish. The meaningless-ness of Architecture is hard to imagine when considering aesthetic and Beauty, but the possibility of such a consideration is apparent when semiotics is applied to Architecture. By divorcing sign and signifier, meaning always lies elsewhere. If an aesthetic is to have any meaning, it must articulate what is temporal; meaning lies in the raising of matter itself, whereby an acknowledgment of the limited nature of matter allows for its raising. The striving for form presupposes the inadequacy of matter.

If we conceive of Architecture correctly, then it is a source of knowledge that should inform how we look at the cosmos. The metaphysical structure that is implied by a developed aesthetic of today points in a certain direction that meets the moral imperative of the 'sustainability' movement. While not being overly critical of the 'sustainability' movement, it should be noted that the good sought in sustainable design is not the Good. In other words, sustainability seeks well-being which falls short of the call for more being. With a properly developed aesthetic, the treatment of our 'natural resources' is altered in that our relation to our 'natural resources' is altered, in so much that the implications of using 'natural resources' becomes inadequate. The very infrastructure which delivers matter/material is altered, no longer performing in order to fulfill a monetary imperative. Civilization (and man) is cast in a new light, and takes its proper place in the cosmos.

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