29 October 2009

Intangible tangible city

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Italo Calvino quotes the Italian poet Leopardi (1798-1837) in his book The Six Memos for the Next Millennium, in his lecture on exactitude. The quote examplifies the meticulous attention to and definition of details when trying to describe vagueness, indefiniteness and abstraction.

"...the light of the sun or the moon, seen in a place from which they are invisible and one cannot discern the source of the light; a place only partly illuminated by such light; the reflection of such light, and the various material effects derived from it; the penetration of such light into places where it becomes uncertain and obstructed, and is not easily made out, as through a cane brake, in a wood, through half-closed shutters, etc.,etc.; the same light in a place, object, etc., where it does not enter and strike directly, reflected and diffused by some other place or object, etc., where it does strike; in a passageway seen from inside or outside, and similarly in a loggia, etc., places where the light mingles, etc., etc., with the shadows, as under a portico, in a high, overhanging loggia, among rocks and gullies, in a valley, on hills seen from the shady side so that their crests are gilded; the reflection produced, for example, by a colored pane of glass on those objects on which the rays passing through that glass are reflected; all those objects, in a word, that by means of various materials and minimal circumstances come to our sight, hearing, etc., in a way that is uncertain, indistinct, imperfect, incomplete, or out of the ordinary."

Thus, the poet of vagueness can only be the poet of exactitude.

For me this meeting point of undefined and intangible with exact, defined and tangible is the perfect picture of the challenges of making architecture. It is here I start.

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