The Times is buzzing this morning, people talking out loud, lots of conversations. I’ve started seeing Red Hat badges, assuming it’s a sign of things to come with the new HQ a few blocks away. Today, I see boots, hats, plaids, headphones – these could be eccentric software designers, but not all. The room is chatty! People I don’t know, people who have their own plans for the day.
Basic questions this morning – two of my favorite hobbies, thinking back to those days when I had hobbies, are music and photography. And, by music, I mean pop. By photography, I mean walking around town with a piece of glass.
In high school, when music mattered most, I walked across the street from a Circuit City into a niche high-end audio salesroom. I didn’t say much, and the salesman didn’t have anything else to do. He pulled the glass door to the listening room, put a disc into a Pioneer Stable Platter player, where the CD had to go in upside-down – – I have no memory of what the song was, the genre, or even where the speakers were.
What I remember vividly is this emotion of suddenly being somewhere else, or being inside my own experience, or swimming under a waterfall, or, who knows what it was, but it was new. The clarity of the sound, and the resonance of the space was so right, that suddenly sound and space were tangible and important. It was better than live, because there were no expectations, no distractions, there was nothing else but the sound. I didn’t even pay for the experience, the salesman new I couldn’t afford it. I hope I said thank-you.
And photography – – mostly used to be about buying equipment. Always looking for a lower F-stop or better glass, or less interference between the light and the media. The difference between what you could afford and what you only admired in magazines was a tiny level of clarity, and wondering if your subject matter would ever be worth it. And nothing was more pure than the pinhole, but the right lens could control the sun.
What matters in music now, is wherever you can hear it, from the phone to the car, to the laptop speakers, to the clock radio. Listening to music now is about remembering when it sounded better, when I had a CD player, when I wore headphones in the snow. New music is useless, because I can barely hear it through the fuzz, and the tonal range is lost in the limits of the MP3, and the artists don’t bother with creating more than an ipod can reproduce.
Photography is instagram, it’s whatever’s in my pocket at the time. No more cropping, general focus. I’ve stopped looking for details because I can’t capture them.
Of course this translates to architecture: formless houses, exposed substructures, demolition instead of construction.
It’s not minimalism, and it’s not modernism. Modernism is that pursuit of clarity – it’s reduction to form, it’s a belief in the existence of a clear thought, it’s detail as ornament (we remember you, mr. Kahn, even if you talked too much), and it’s a fight against fuzz, against convenience, against an answer without contemplation.
It’s a rant and a reminder. We believe in the Perfect while we live in the world. It’s a memory of that music, and we imagine what’s beyond it. And the phone is ringing, and I have a Chinese Buffet to turn in for permit. It’s like listening to jazz, with improvisation and memory of other experiences. Happy Friday – thanks for reading.
Andy Osterlund AIA | LEED AP
Andrew Osterlund, Architect, PLLC
GREEN | URBAN | SMART ARCHITECTURE
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