Monday, November 03, 2008

In Bed with Architects

Sometimes getting sick isn't entirely bad. I've been fighting some sort of bug since Friday when I went home from school early, and it still has a hold on me today seeing as how I only made to one out of three classes. On one hand, I've been panicking about how many projects I have to work on. But being forced against my will to slow down and lay in bed for a while was a good idea. Why? It gave me time to watch some DVDs that I checked out from the library (you know you're getting old when you start borrowing movies from the library).

First up was Architectures-Vol. 5 (2005). It offered a look at six vastly different buildings including: The Alhambra in Grenada, The House of Sugimoto in Tokyo, Zaha Hadid's Phaeno in Germany, and Palladio's Villa Barbaro. I really liked getting a more in depth look at some individual buildings compared to the usual fly-by in my art/design history classes. It set the perfect tone for what was to come. That was on Saturday.

The next day I ended up watching Sydney Pollack's Sketches of Frank Gehry (2005). I'll admit that my only in-person experiences with Gehry's buildings has been with the Experience Music Project(EMP) in Seattle and a view from afar of his building for Barry Diller in New York. But I haven't been impressed. (I also questioned the line of jewelery he designed for Tiffany & Co.) Yet, after watching this movie I have a better understanding of where he is coming from and what he is trying to do. Does it always turn out well? Not at all! However, when it does work, it definitely bridges the ever-widening gap between art and architecture. It was nice to be able to gain a better appreciation for the man and his work, even if I still rather hate EMP.

Lastly, since I didn't make it to my art history class tonight I figured that I would at the very least make myself watch the other architectural movie I had borrowed. It was My Architect (2003) in which Nathaniel Kahn made a documentary about his search to find his father, architectural icon Louis Kahn, through visiting his buildings and interviewing people who knew him. This was the movie out of the three that I least wanted to watch. I had picked it up more out of a sense of obligation to watch it than because I really wanted to--I looked forward to learning more about Louis Kahn, but was wary of the family component to the movie. Would it take over the movie? Well, yes and no. It didn't take over the movie, it WAS the movie. But not in a bad way. In fact, I ended up liking this one the best out of the three for the way it brought the human element into the architecture. There are awkward moments, funny moments, sappy moments, intriguing moments; all of which may seem strange or disjointed by themselves. But they blended together and by the end of the movie I was won over. Good architecture isn't about something aloof and self-important, it is inspirational and becomes the backdrop on which we play out our lives.

It makes me sad that I'm out of movies now. Hopefully I'll be better tomorrow because I have an interview scheduled at 9am and I also need to vote! Can't stay in bed forever (sadly).

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