Sunday, May 25, 2008

The New Yorker May 12 2008

from Alex Ross's article "Song of the Earth" on composer John Luther Adams:

"My music is going inexorably from being about place to becoming place," Adams said of his installation. I have a vivid memory of flying out of Alaska early one morning on my way to Oberlin, where I ataught for a couple of fall semesters. It was aglorious early-fall day. Winter was coming in. I love winter, and I didn't want to go. As we crested the central peaks of the Alaska Range, I looked down at Mt. Hayes, and all at once I was overcome by the intense love that I have for this place--an almost erotic feeling about those mountains. Over the next fifteen minutes, I found myself furiously sketching, and when I came up for air I realized, There is is. I knew that I wanted to hear the unheard, that i wanted to somehow transpose the music that is just beyong the reach of our ears into audible vibrations. I knew that it had to be its own space. And I knew that it had to be real--that I couldn't fake this, that nothing could be recorded. it had to have the ring of truth."

[JL: "Vibrations" here reminds me of Eliot's "[The great poet] should perceive
vibrations beyond the range of ordinary men, and be able to make men see and
hear more at each end than they could ever see without his help."]


from Peter Schjeldahl's article "Many-Colored Glass" on Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke:

The Grossmunster was built as a Catholic church on the site of a fancy miracle: in the year 286, St. Felix, St. Regula, and St, Exuperantius, decapitated for clinging to their faith, picked up their heads and clibed to the top of a hill, where they dug graves and buried themselves. Charlemagne is supposed to have selected the spot for the church when his horse bowed down there.


Literary and archeological evidence dates the use of colored glass in churches to the early centuries of the Christian era. The first surviving whole examples are from the end of the eleventh century and the beginning of the twelfth, in Germany and France. The innovation of buttressed architecture enabled large windows by freeing walls from having to hold up their buildings' weight. The major theorist and first great patron of the development, Abbot Suger of St. Denis (1081-1151), promulgated a Neoplatonic doctrine: lux continua--the unbroken light. He distinguished among lux (daylight, which falls alike "on the evil and the good," according to Matthew), lumen(the consecrated light that has entered sanctuaries), and illumination (of the soul, realizing a condition described in Ephesians: "Now you are light in the Lord, walk as children of light"). "Onward from the material to the immaterial," Suger wrote. He justified the medium's sensuaous allure as a foretaste of the New Jerusalem, which will be bejewelled, as he foresaw it, citing Revelations, with "jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, sardius, chrysolite, beryl, topaz, chrysophase, jacinth, amethyst."


The loss of Suger's theological passion trivialized stained glass: the flat and lapidary mosaic forms, with painted inflections, of medieval windows gave way to artisanal imitations of perspectival and realistic painting, becoming an essentially reproductive craft. (A similar reduction befell the formerly semi-independent art of tapestry, betraying its formal propriety with tricked-out illusions of deep space.) The unitary power of Gothic stained glass, in which figures and their surroundings share the picture plane, equalizing the impacts of side-by-side colors, has haunted glass-makers, and eluded emulation, ever since.

[JL: What is said here about tapestry was what I felt about the Met exhibition.]


from Paul Goldberger's article "The Heatherwick Effect" on British designer Thomas Heatherwick:

Even before he went to art school, Heatherwick found the standard design categories confining; he didn't understand why designing buildings and designing tables should require different sensibilities. "I was just interested in the making of things," he said to me. This attitude explains why on his Web site Heatherwick organizes his work not by type, the way most designers do, but simply in three groups: small, medium, and large.


At one point he said to me, "I got interested in buildings because they were the largest objects around, and I couldn't beleive how sterile they were. if you look at an earring compared to a building, the complexity of form is all in the earring."


ram4hire said...

The peak almost mystical experience that John Luther Adams experienced is similar to what I experienced during National Service on an exercise out on a vast land with mountains.

It was indelible. The Earth was vibrating at a rate similar to my heartbeat. Almost theatrical, but the experience was enormous, overwhelming.

Jee Leong Koh said...

I hope you had surround sound!