Ján Pernecký doctoral study hypothesis, 2011

models of art and models of architecture: relationships, influences and mutual constituting
The presumption of this paper is based on empirical observation of a widely spread reductive notion of architecture. The topic has been investigated by the architectural theorists1 before and since the notion still dominates the architectural mainstream, it seems important to continue the research. Current architectural mainstream in the western countries seems to be based on the two-thousand years old triadic vitruvian definition of architecture as a harmony of utilitas, firmitas and venustas2. The notion has been revised many times and currently consists of several features. The architecture usually has to be legitimized by its content and supplemented by beauty. In the recent past the stress has shifted from the beauty (venustas) in the late 80s and early 90s to the content that has dominated until now. So far the content was legitimized by the function (utilitas) and in some cases by the aesthetic function (mostly to make the building iconic in the Venturi's “i am a monument”3 way), recently the focus shifted to ecology and energetic efficiency, which are purely technological (firmitas). Even though this paper intends to prove the vitruvian definition insufficient (if not utterly wrong even in the ancient roman era) it might help to work with its terms to demonstrate the current nature of architectural practice. Unlike any other human / cultural activity except religion, politics and charity (which will be significant later), the architecture still seeks for general good and ultimate beauty. There is a belief, that the role of the architect is to serve the man kind, making the man's life better, easier, healthier, safer and more beautiful4 – it ought to have a strong social function5. The tools architecture supposes to use are the function, technology and beauty. While the function and technology are merely improving what has been invented during the era of functionalism, the aspect of beauty was brave enough to question it. Therefore there are apparent two dominating tendencies in architectural mainstream: 1. The first one is based on the expectation that what is natural has to be also beautiful. It is narratively demonstrating the content (either it is a function or a technology) in the form in the Venturi's “duck” way6. It is considered a functionalist way even though the Le Corbusier's free facades were not only physically but also semantically detached from the building's inside7. Rem Koolhaas also claims that current buildings are so big in dimensions and layered in the section, that only a small part of the interior is adjacent to the outer skin, therefore it's impossible, thus redundant, to demonstrate the content in the facade8. These two examples are dealing merely with the facades and the form exists on more levels, it is possible to apply on the entire form. 2. The second tendency is based on the need of an aesthetic function. These buildings are trying to achieve beauty through compositional rules or through their denial. It is surprising that the entire formal discourse is either non-existent or deals with a search for beauty. There seems to be no doubt about the necessity of the beauty – for example there is no attempt to achieve intentional ugliness in architecture. The seek for good and beauty makes the current architecture embarrasingly naïve comparing to the business (architecture is trying hard to become a relevant part of the real estate market) and art. In contemporary mainstream every imbalance in the vitruvian categories is being damned. Only the domination of utilitas is being accepted as pragmatic, rational, modest and therefore good. The domination of firmitas turns architecture into a mere building. The worst case – domination of venustas (or a form in general) – turns architecture into a sculpture. In this triadic understanding or architecture the contempt seems legitimate, since an object with non-existent content yet some form seems to fail achieving the wanted harmony. However, it might be offensive to the sculptors to define their pieces semantically empty. There are different, mostly more sophisticated mechanism of art than the simple architectural vitruvian triade that make the content or general reason of an existence to the work of art. An architecture with no stress on function or structure yet a strong form is considered bad and also called an architecture for architecture's sake. However, this principle is legitimate in art and it occurs when the art ceases to have the social function9. Peter Eisenman traces this phenomenon in the modern art which he describes as self-referential. The object is not a representation of reality or a mimic of authors understanding of the reality but it is concerned with it's own objecthood. However, even the most modern architecture of Le Corbusier is being analyzed by Colin Rowe in the classical terms – as a polemic about architecture and man rather than in modernist terms as architecture about architecture 10. It might be an object of investigation whether the architecture can give up on it's social nature and if it ever happened during the history. If it is possible to even converge to such a state, it would make the architecture no different from any art and then it is interesting to expose it to the artistic tendencies. It is also a crucial condition for Eisenman's essays and for this research. There is also a notion of architecture as a shelter – something that has been created from a need. The art is a product of mysticism and later of religion11, rather than a fulfillment of an aesthetic (or other) function. The art is a tool and an expression of culture and the same could be applied to architecture – the first building was a temple rather than a shelter – a tool for a cultural growth. Even contemporary buildings possess the culturally determined / determining quality, however way less tangible. Peter Eisenman is defining the conceptual architecture as intentionally possessing conceptual qualities (received by perceptually and processed by mind). Each building could be read by the conceptual qualities, however since not each is conceptual intentionally, the traces could be hidden, misleading or false12. He admits this approach is not new nor unique and he only applies it to the modernist architecture. It is possible to extend the principle to a more general level, where the vitruvian triade would be one of many equal architectural attitudes 13 of which none would aspire on being generally valid.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Eisenman, Peter - “Notes on conceptual architecture: Toward a Definition” in Eisenman Inside Out – Selected writings 1963-1988, Yale University, 2004 Vitruvius - “De Architectura libri decem”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitruvius, visited in March 2011 Venturi, Robert - “Learning from Las Vegas: The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form ”, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1978 Gebrian, Adam - “so you think it is not a role of architect to create anartificial environment where everybody could feel happy and satisfied?” and “Isn;t the commission of architecture the same like the one of the medicine? To prevent diseases?”, from discussion on Facebook, 27 Feb 2011 Benjamin, Walter - “The Work of Art In the Mechanical Age of Reproduction”, Penguin, 2008 Venturi, Robert - “Learning from Las Vegas: The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form ”, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1978 Rowe, Colin - “The Mathematics of the Ideal Villa and Other Essays”, MIT Press, 1976 Koolhaas, Rem - “S, M, L, XL”, Monacelli Press, 1995 Benjamin, Walter - “The Work of Art In the Mechanical Age of Reproduction”, Penguin, 2008 Eisenman, Peter - “Aspects of modernism: Maison Dom-ino and the self-Referential Sign” in Eisenman Inside Out – Selected writings 1963-1988, Yale University, 2004 Benjamin, Walter - “The Work of Art In the Mechanical Age of Reproduction”, Penguin, 2008 Eisenman, Peter - “Notes on conceptual architecture: Toward a Definition” in Eisenman Inside Out – Selected writings 1963-1988, Yale University, 2004 Zervan, Marián – Otázka „Čo je architektúra?“ a tri podoby odpovedí na ňu.(Učebný text), Filozofickáfakulta TU v Trnave, 2009

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Therefore it would be beneficial for architecture to lose this weight and learn from art the ways to develop to become yet again a vital tool and expression of culture and civilization. There are however many similarities of architecture and art (or architecture could be considered an art). It is being explained in two ways – either that architecture invoked the existence of all (other) arts or that to master architecture one has to master all other arts (and crafts) first. Art. Both explanations set a deep relation of architecture and art. 2011 The notion of architecture as a mother of all arts is very common too.Ján Pernecký doctoral study hypothesis. is not weighted with the (historical/traditional/virtual/deliberate) need of rationality. 03/01/11 .page 2/2 . usefulness and function that lets it develop further. comparing to architecture.

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