Archive for March, 2009

C H E S S & G O P A V I L I O N

Posted in architecture with tags , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2009 by architectcs

         B A C K S P A C E        

Y E A R    2000

Architect Neil Denari designed a chess and go pavilion as an entrance toLa Beaute
, an exhibition in Avignon’s Palais des Papes.   Though it was never built (a Jeff Koons doggie scarfed the budget), renderings and a description appear on the architect’s website.

In a computer composite, the building extends from the Palais as an airborne “Y” with its base implanted virally in the existing wall.   The chess room and a go room occupy the Y’s branches which though bifurcating, key into each other where they separate.   One thinks of the brain’s left and right hemispheres connected by the corpus callosum.  These pods communicate through the glazed marrying faces of the split so what’s anatomical in the brain becomes perceptual in the building.  Slits at the corners admit the only other natural light.  Visitors would have climbed an exterior stair to the stem and traversed into the Palais or turned away from it entering the game rooms.  A panelized skin and single supporting column allude to the airport jetway.  Downlights from the underbelly extend a levitation reference as if their beams represented antigravitational force.

The Pavilion’s elevated construction and the game rooms’ turning their backs to the exhibit hall remind me of Marcel Duchamp’s rejection of formal beauty for chess in his his search for an art of the mind.

Neil Denari writes on his site that the Pavilion is a

“comparative look at the aesthetics and strategies of the games….”

He points out that ...

“Both are played out on gridded boards, each an indication of a neutralized, original ground, yet Chess is vertical, arborescent, and hierarchical while GO is horizontal, rhizomatic, and non-hierachical. The two games, in fact, summarize the formal conditions of many phenomena in the world, including cities, where monuments and clearly defined programs (DRY or point to point) have given way to vague and exceedingly repetitious fields (WET or fluid)”.

Go is considered more right-brain, intuitive, than chess.

I add a very basic distinction: chess, which begins with kingdoms ranged against each other is a game of attrition while go, beginning from an empty board, is a game of construction, of building territory.  And the territory is built with walls of black and white stones.  Go seems closer to architecture – also played on a gridded board.  i hope that architecture becomes even more like Go, evolving into an ever-changing elastic field.

Gold Silver Lead

Posted in cities with tags , , , , , , , , on March 23, 2009 by architectcs

Street video of six downtown Albuquerque intersections

Daily Life

Posted in words with tags , , , , on March 16, 2009 by architectcs

Crossing Eighth with the light on the edge of downtown Albuquerque .  In midstreet a black sedan,  windows dark, runs the signal, almost swipes me.  Another follows close, brushing me back.  I check the light – in my favor – and arms akimbo watch the cars roll up eighth, cursing the Albuquerque style of driving.   How could two cars run the light like that?  Was I was swished by a gang chase, the lead car afraid to stop so bad dudes wouldn’t jump out behind and start a fight.  My musing’s broken  by the squeal of tires up the block and crash crash.  The street’s suddenly jammed with black cars, the sedans, a truck, a couple of suvs and one white pickup.  Guys are jumping out of the cars, guys in black wearing bulletproof vests, some faces covered in ski masks.  They train rifles on the white pickup, yelling “get out of the car, out out.”  Something’s printed on the back of their vests.  A big guy,  shaven head, is directing, waving his gun, looking all around like he’s gotta see everything. Under his buddies’ cover a masked, bullet-proofed man jerks open the pickup door and hauls out a skinny chicano, drags him away from the vehicle and throws him to the pavement.  Can’t see the intimidation through the steel.   I walk down the sidewalk for a closer look.  Some of these guys almost ran me down. I see POLICE  on the back of the vests, DEA on front.   They’re cuffing their prey now,  the chicano with sunken cheeks and tired, frightened eyes.  They start a body search, frisking him, pulling down his pants and checking in his skivvies.   An unmarked truck’s rammed an suv boxing-in the white pickup. The agents swing their guns around with quick jerks.  A female cop, all smiles and brown ringlets pops out of a black sedan at the curb and hurries to the clog of vehicles.  Who’s this chicano?  Doesn’t look like Mr. Big – too wasted.  Maybe Big stuck him in the truck as a decoy.  Or he’s a little rung on the Big ladder.  I cross the street and walk up the block.  One other guy’s watching this scene, leaning against the wall of the Silver Star restaurant.  Traffic’s backed up now.  Cars honking, heads out windows, turning around in the street.  A couple of the masked police walk away from the rest, one’s arm around the other’s shoulder.