Saturday, November 27, 2010

Subject: themes of numbers, quality, measuring successful work, and embracing change...

Numbers count in everything
and account for everything;
how does one actually, objectively measure the evaluation of enduring quality when a creative object is made in :
 A r t 
A r c h i t e c t u r e
Industrial D e s i g n
M u s i c ?
If it is a new Francis Bacon painting 
a new piece of Architecture by Morphosis,
a chair, how does one judge?
notes of Jazz in an unfamiliar tempo...
In  all four categories, individuality counts- right?
One must recognize a unique flavor, language, or sound.
And with exposure to numbers then acceptance comes with use, marketing or production.
individual authorship is what can brand the identity of success.
The process of making art while inspired by personal complexity is ultimately an act of solitary activity, originating from one individual.
And its success can be from a  patron comission, or a gallery acting as the cheerleader or a mass production for the consumer market,
or a critic writing a review in a virtual blog or piece of paper.
Architecture is a social act created by teams of people at inception like the process of biological differentiation:
from genetic material that is passed into the first two cells that subsequently multiplies into a breathing organism 
that lives, and eventually dies, only to become recycled after time invokes it into hibernation and pentimento.
The industrial designer of today is marketed by comissioned designs in an "Ikea" fashion of pandering to a mass market
similiar to when Raymond Lowey designed washing machines and vacuum cleaners and trains.
In music, today's success relies on a viral distribution in the virtual medium of the internet
(I like to refer to this as "computer waves" ).
In this time of inflated information, when too much overwhelms one instantaneously and
many folks just long for a simple time to relax and discover balance,
the arts and the quality of inspired architecture counts more than ever.
And I wonder how to measure this with success?
Do  ancient ruins standing  thousands of years count more from the longevity of withstanding earthquakes and war?
Does the temporary shelter of cardboard count for the homeless individual
more for this person who endures one more night because that cardboard
acts like a lifesaver?
Perhaps it is in the relationship of the individual's perception
that connects with that piece of art, the space and experience of the architecture,
or the comfort and  positive emotional connection with the Prouve chair, or the associative
memory with the Chopin sonata, that measures success.
We can agree on a scale where "universality of appeal" demonstrates success.
If a work of art, architecture, industrial design or music appeals to many folks over time
then it carries a measured stamp of approval.
"Pentimento" ( the term penned by Lillian Hellman ) will subsume function and
cause it's form to be reshaped by the builder or the architect over time.
In a culture that has a sense of longterm "cultural stewardship" I pray that we
have the collective strength and awareness to build with the imagination and openness
that Thom Mayne is delivering now globally in Shanghai and soon in Paris.
My interest lies in the pushing of the envelop where my eyes connect
to the novel implementation and connection of disparate, elegant beautiful things, inspired
by flow and collision simultaneously; where the ebb of the tide will bring a new impression
and yield another layer of awareness; I live in the world that Albert Frey told me "A building is not complete unless it can change with the person."
and where  my dear friend Julius Shulman mentioned his banana peel theory, "Don't slip on the banana peel."  Meaning that we get in our own way
and must learn to just go and flow.
You gotta think outside the box unless you want to live in one!
Welcome to the evaluation of an artful planet in the world of art...
Maybe it is time to be less comfortable having the answers and learn to ask the precise questions?
Martin Roy Mervel  AIA
Practicing thoughtful design with integrity and intuitive discovery to lift the human spirit skyward.

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