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In the first paragraph of the first chapter of the first book of his architectural primer, Vitruviussuggests that construction is a meditated carrying out of buildings.

Then he advances the idea that theory is a graphic illustration devised to explain cunningly

constructed objects. Sollertia, an act of cunning judgment, is an essential intellectual

procedure required to build any construction.

SOLLERTIA, A CLEVER SENSE, IS THE

CARDINAL VIRTUE IN BOTH THE PRACTICE AND THEORY OF ARCHITECTURE.

SOLLERTIA IS THE FUNDAMENTAL VIRTUE

FOR A PRUDENT, RESOURCEFUL, WELL EDUCATED AND INGENIOUS ARCHITECT.

GOOD ARCHITECTURE IS POSSIBLE ONLY

WHEN AN ARCHITECT IS EXPERT

(PERITUS) AND GIFTED WITH A QUICK

AND DEXTEROUS INTELLIGENCE (INGEGNO

MOBILI SOLLERTIAQUE) (VITRUVIUS V,

6, VII). HAPPILY (FELICITER)

CONCLUDING HIS TREATISE, IN THE LAST

BOOK, THE ROMAN WRITER GENERATES A

REMARKABLE PROPAGANDA LI NE FOR THE PROFESSION. IN THE LAST PARAGRAPH OF

THE BOOK, V ITRUVIUS DECLARES THAT.

DURING WARS, CITIES CAN FREE

THEMSELVES FROM ENEMIES BY RELYING ON

THE CUNNING INTELLIGENCE OF THEIR ARCHITECTS (ARCHITECTORUM SOLLARTIfS

SUNT / LIBERTAr) (V lTRUV IUS

X,16,xrr).

Sollertia iJ the Roman tr an slario n of what the Greek» caLLed metie,

Tbis quick-wit iJ a crucial mental operation for any compaJJed architect who burries up ,!lowly. Aldo Manuzio, the great publiJher of the late Venetian Ren aiss ance, printed hiJ book« under the logo of an ancient Latin Jaying: FESTINA LENTE, hurry up Jlowly. To mark hiJ productiOnJ in a meaningful way Manuzio uJed an emblem taken from an illustration of the "Hyp nerato m acbia Palifili" (Polip b ilo 'J Strife of Love in a Dream) printed in Venice in 1499. Tbl» iJ the most mYJteriouJ book printed by the Venetian p ub lis ber, a book that readJ very Jlowly but whoJe narrative developJ at a dreamlike Jpeed.

The Hypnerotomachia Polifili emblem is composed by a sinuous dolphin quivering around a heavy anchor. The books published in Manuzio's printing shop are characterized by a slow elaboration anchored to a tradition of printing accuracy while their reading will quickly stimulate quivering thoughts. The book art of Manuzio proves the discovery of slowness is essential for the discovery of speed. To discover speed, it is necessary to discover slowness. Unless they are reached through a slow elaboration, human outcomes turn out to be utterly convulsive efforts.

The objects equipped with speed can only derive from slow and meditated construction. Meditated construction is a building event quickly executed while the construction of an object for speed is slowly executed. This polarity of execution is to be found in the measuring unit that switches from a spatial to temporal condition.

Sollertia is mobility of thought and caution of execution, or seeing in the past and in the future at the same time. This mUltiple dual nature of sollertia is essential to any craftsperson in producing contrivances that will become significant attributes for those who possess them.

On the one hand, sollertia is a particular kind of intelligence which is based on a compassed prudence. On the other hand, sollertia requires a quick mind, able of presaging the problems of artful constructions. Accordingly, sollertia is a wily knowledge which dwells between slow formulas and quick metaphors. For instance, the Orders are defined by metaphoric references to female and male bodies, and by formulas defining the proportion existing between the diameter and the other dimensions of the column and the intercolumnation. Sollertia is forewarned prudence, meditated procedure of construction enlightened by flashes of intuition.

We can represent speed metaphorically through the swift movements of the hands of a mason building a brick vault destined to be eternal, while we can represent slow execution with the slow construction of a racing car which will allow us to speedily move from one point to another. Both processes yield a saving of time since they give us time to lose. On the one hand, we no longer have to build dwelling space daily because our dwelling is now eternally lasting, and so we have time to move around as much as we want. On the other hand, our mov-

~2 ing from one place to another is nearly immediate nowadays, and as a result, we can spend our time contemplating the eternity of a swiftly built brick vault.

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Sollertia is potentiality. It is the power of one "who can take in a situation at a glance" and can solve problems which could not be forecast in the plotting of a project. Sollertia's bipolar nature is part of the rhetorical chasm artfully used by Vitruuius to define architecture as a prudent profession. The practice of construction is based on a reflective (meditatio) labor whereas the theoretical demonstration is based on craftiness (sollertia),

Daedalus is the one who invented

the glue-paste, the fish-glue (isinglass), the saw, the axe, the drill and the plumb-line. These tools speed up the work; thus we can spend more time in contemplation of our artifacts. Daedalus' sollertia reveals itself as constructive thought balanced between organic metaphors

of the artificial and inorganic vision of organisms, between what is humanly perfunctory and what is intricately human.

Daedalus is remembered as the builder of amazing statues who would move by themselves and could not stand still. To prevent them from running away, they were chained to their pedestals. A criminal, Daedalus murdered Tbalos, his sister's son who was also' his apprentice. The young apprentice invented two fantastic tools, the compass and the metal saw. Out of envy, Daedalus killed TbalosCircinus by throwing him down from the highest point of the Acropolis.

To meditate is to construct a plot; a plan is woven. A physical expression of sollertia is the use of a "line" which allows the cutting of beams and planks absolutely straight. The lines

and the plumb-lines used by master masons in laying the bricks during the building walls are all expressions of metis. Used to comment on the proper accomplishment of something, an Italian saying "executing something following the line and the mark" (per fila e per segno) is a

. snappy language codification of sallertia. It is derived from the use of a line or strong string deepened in colored dust by masons and painters to mark by a snap, walls and floors.

Probably, this phenomenological derivation explains why the majority of architects prefir to use parallel-bars instead of versatile drafting machines during their designing. A parallel bar is just a portable loom for weaving the lines of a plan or of an elevation by running a square back and forth as a shuttle, waitingfor a design occasion.

The tracing on the ground of the future building shows clearly the textile origin of construction. On a construction site, pulled between battered boards, the tracing lines mark the plan of a future building. This site-marking looks like a huge horizontal loom, showing that a plan of an edifice is woven just as a fishing or hunting net. The plumb-line also derives from the weights used to keep in tension the woof in the loom.

Although the different versions of the myth do not say anything about it, it is evident that Daedalus was upset because his nephew, in showing the use of the compass, was revealing the secret of the statues: the legs of the compass were the legs of the figures.

Sollertia has its origin in the art or tecbne of weaving. All the "lines" used in other crafts requiring metis derive from the "lines n used in a loom.

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. (,vf'S ~~ 0/' ~ experimentation, of a determined, desperate loosening of social relations. There was a wave of release that followed the (\I'O~,\ ~~ ~ I end of the Second World War - some of that energy went into home and family, and some of it went into doubt and a f-41S' ~ClS'r flf'!" • wish for new ways of life. Small groups of experimenters - artists, mostly: painters, poets, filmmakers, novelists - came I.OlIIb e ·teA~ • ~- together in pockets all over the Westem wand. Networks formed; ideas passed quickly from one spot to another.

ht-TlES People again began to say no, and in strange ways.

In San Francisco there was an unnamed circle of people who made art out of trash, out of junk. stuff they found in the streets; in Paris there was a more organized group. which named itself the Lettrist International. The Lettrist International followed a similar tack to the San Franciscans', though as a directive: art could only be made out of what they called "pre-fabricated objects: The whole idea of originality, the whole mystification, had to be smashed.

One of the San Franciscans was named Bruce Conner. In 1959 he made an assemblage, a sculpture of found objects (as one critic put it more incisively, of "lost objects"), as a protest against the execution of convicted rapist- not murdererCaryl Chessman, whose case was the focal point for a mass movement to end capital punishment in California. With wax and nylon stockings, metal and hair, Conner created a hideous, mutilated child in a highchair: one enormous, awful scream. One day Philip Johnson walked into a gallery in New York and bought it for $250. You can imagine that if Johnson was no longer willing to scream in his own voice he'd take his noise where he found it.

Across the Atlantic, the Lettrist International was pulling away from anything even this specific. The more they pressed their conviction that art had to be made out of what was already there, the more it became clear to them that making objects, out of no matter what, was not the point. The point was to recognize the possibilities of creation that were right before their eyes.

The group was formed in 1952 and it lasted until 1957; it was always tiny, with a shifting membership. Perhaps the easiest way to describe the Lettrist International is to say it was a group that formed in order to play with its own setting - to play with architecture, which to them meant the design of cities, the layout of streets and the zoning of neighborhoods, as much as the details of any building. One member said they were engaged in "the science fiction of urban planning."

In their teens and twenties, they thought of themselves very consciously as a youth group. They believed it was their purpose to destroy all the phony ideas of rebellion and fun that everyone, they no less than anyone else, carried in their heads. They believed they had a leg up on the future. They said their mission was the "creation of a new civilization." Here is a recruiting ad they ran in 1956, loosely translated:

SATISFACTION GUARANTEED OR YOUR MONEY BACK This air of having seen it all. This smug thinking. So:

WHAT IS TO BE DONE?

The group laid out what was then available on the cultural market:

Art gossip columns you for whom the name of the famous art critic religion drugs the opium of the people

Communist Party card royalism play the score is two to one love and its crimes quickness James Dean good business

Suez crisis looking for trouble

No room to move there. they're saying: the idea of play is just a box score. They came up with a slogan-

THE LETTRIST INTERNATIONAL REFUNDS LIFESTYLES,

Green Architecture JAMES WINES

Speaking Stones Sllently SYLVIA LAVIN Architecture as Speech ALBERTO PEREZ-GOMEZ

On the Fringe and in Between: Storefront for Art and Architecture KYONG PARK Sollertia ,MARCO FRASCARI ~

Jfuch Ado About Nothing: The Production of Space RaiJited AARON BETSKY Perceiving Action KELLER EASTERLING

Out 0/ Place i.J the One Right Place ERIC OWEN Moss Jfeet me at the Hacienda GRElL MARCUS

Rooftop Urban Park Project DAN GRAHAM WITH MOJDEH BARATLOO AND CLIFTON BALCH essay by ANDREA KAH", The End of Architecture Coop HIMMMELBLAU

A Studio and a Playroom SCOGGIN, ELAM AND BRAY comments by MERRILL ELAM edited by George Epolitc

LiJtening to the City curated by MARGARET CRAWFORD comments by MORRIS NEWMAN and ANN BERGREN edited by Caryl Kinsey When the Bedroom i.J the Family Room JOE RAUCH-SMOKE

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