We architects are rivals against non-places, completely uninterested in the virtual. Renderings and models have always been a challenge – if you want to see what this will be like, let’s build it and find out. The drawings are simply diagrams of the place to come, nevermind that it hasn’t been built yet.
Had a morning, maybe a week, again of experiencing the conflict of thing versus non-thing, here and not here. It’s such a familiar conflict that I’m starting to resolve that this is the norm. Maybe I’m a slow learner – maybe it’s a battle to be fought. These are basic things, even hobbies. I enjoy music and photography. Those two pleasures have been devastated by the transition of technology over the last decade.
On music, I’ve conceded and become convinced that loss-less high-res flac files could give me resolution and reality that would justify the transition from other media. Only then did I discover that I have no physical means to translate the bulky data to the speakers that point at our living room sofa. And today I downloaded a punk album, a genre defined by media, and crammed a whole virtual “box set” of rebellious angst onto my cell phone. My sense of conscience may actually self-destruct by trying to comprehend that transition. Very dangerous indeed – maybe the punks would oblige the risk.
And photography, of course, is another world now. I was entirely content and delighted with my Nikon camera, and the variety of film devices I collected. That was when spending money on gadgets was easy, a hobby in itself, and sorting slides was like collecting pieces of creation. Now, it’s hazy snaps on the phone, unique by their thoughtless snag of a second. So, then, to upgrade, is a whole series of costly devices and decisions, and at this pace I’ll probably get there in time for the world to change again, when we’ll prefer instead just to plug directly into our brains, bypassing the shutter click entirely.
I know these are not new stories. In fact, they’re pretty old. Every generation of expression, we have to invest in a new device to translate it back to reality, back to sound waves, back to colors of light, back to the receivers in our individual and characteristic heads. To listen to a cassette tape would be disappointing, except to the most eccentric purist. To sort slides again may be fun for a half hour, until my family asks me to please let’s do something else.
We’re enjoying our new office! It’s a real place. We get walk-in traffic, we watch people go by the windows, fight with the front door that hasn’t been used since the last century. We hear the buses rumble. I enjoy the wheels on my chair more than ever, rattling across the new/old wood floor that used to be in a basketball court, somewhere.
But when the phone calls start, and the “distractions,” and the impossibility of prioritizing one task in front of the other, it feels surreal again – things to do, about things to build, about meetings about future realities, about spending time to spend money to see the future happen. It’s the truth of investment, but it feels foreign, and we all resist it.