C H E S S & G O P A V I L I O N

         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.


One Response to “C H E S S & G O P A V I L I O N”

  1. A very interesting concept, juxtaposing chess and go, two antithetical expressions of the concept of a strategic board game. I would only quibble with one construct. I’m not sure one is “arborescent” while the other is “rhizomatic”, because both move irrevocably forward; even in go, a move once played is permanent, all subesequents developments must take it into account.

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