Posts Tagged ‘books’

Manaugh’s booklist: one half of a literarchitectural conversation

In Excerpts, Thoughts on March 15, 2011 at 2:34 pm

More books.

This time, they come from Geoff Manaugh’s cache, which is worth browsing just for the opening image, a rendering of a proposal for the Stockholm Public Library. In true BLDGBLOG fashion, his interests are incredibly broad.

“In all cases, these are books about architecture, landscape, and the built environment, albeit in an extended sense, encompassing paleontology, marine biophysics, space archaeology, geopolitics, infrastructural anthropology, museology, how-to guides for architectural design, and more.”

The list seems to go on and on—he’s included more than 30 books in this one post, with a substantial description for each. Concerning those shown above, he writes:

“Three books about walls: architecture and urbanism used to separate and to neutralize the lives of a city’s human residents…”

And, paraphrasing the author of second,

“The ongoing construction boom in border walls and other peripheral fortifications is actually a panicked response to the loss of power on behalf of the nation-state, not architectural proof that the nation-state has experienced a sovereign renaissance.”

But maybe he’s missed something here. Or rather maybe I can be Manaugh back to himself: what about the architecture of the book itself? What about the mysterious, elemental attraction we have to the book as an object? What might be hidden within this layered construction, not in its words, but in the physical folds of its pages?

Brian Dettmer has one idea.

The richness and depth of the book is universally respected yet often undiscovered as the monopoly of the form and relevance of the information fades over time. The book’s intended function has decreased and the form remains linear in a non-linear world. By altering physical forms of information and shifting preconceived functions, new and unexpected roles emerge.

Here’s what he means:

The artist describes his process as a “meticulous excavation”:

In this work I begin with an existing book and seal its edges, creating an enclosed vessel full of unearthed potential. I cut into the surface of the book and dissect through it from the front. I work with knives, tweezers and surgical tools to carve one page at a time, exposing each layer while cutting around ideas and images of interest. Nothing inside the books is relocated or implanted, only removed.

A book as a granite block, with a form inside, waiting to be uncovered—an odd thing to write since just this morning, I read the following:

“It looks like the words have always been here, waiting to get uncovered,” she said. “They look revealed. Like old marble sculptures—like the art was hidden inside the stone and all the sculptor did was chisel away the stuff covering it.”

Which is to say I uncovered the art hidden inside the black block of text the publisher printed on the page. We need not cut a book to find that it is rich with undiscovered truths. But that doesn’t mean it is not still a meticulous excavation.

Genuine vs. superficial

In Excerpts on March 14, 2011 at 11:27 am

I’m apparently craving a new book, despite the fact that I’m waist-deep in The Instructions. I already wrote about new books on read::zebra, but here I go again. [Note my increasing brevity.]

Book One: Fast-Forward Urbanism, by Dana Cuff & Roger Sherman

From Princeton Architectural Press:

For them, the future of the American city lies not in modernism’s large-scale master plans or new urbanism’s nostalgic community planning. Instead, they favor working with the realities of urban space, finding hidden opportunities in what already exists in our cities.

Book Two: Reveal, by Jeanne Gang

A compendium of recent work from Studio Gang Architects. My interest in this one is purely superficial. As my friend wrote to me about five seconds ago, “Don’t judge a book by its contents.”