As already noted in an earlier post, this was an understated yet utterly fascinating paper. It took listeners to some interesting places, if post lecture conversations and reflections were anything to go by. There’s such a lot that can be followed up, explored, and deepened.
“To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric” – Theodore Adorno, who for a time even resisted the use of art to depict the horror.
Follow up – Samuel Beckett’s play: The End Game.
In times of tragedy, particularly following 9/11, we have increasingly looked to architects to help us approach tragedy on a large scale; to help us give physical expression to what it is we’re feeling and experiencing.
See also discussions around “re-building Christchurch” following the Sept / Feb / June earthquakes.
Architects have to work with spaces, with voids, and with emptiness in their work of design.
To mend the world we need to be willing to engage at the level of brokenness; whether within culture, or even within our own lives and relationships.
US Architect Daniel Libeskind whose design for the “ground zero” site won the competition that had been organised. His story and insights were fascinating, and well worth further exploration. He designed the Jewish Museum in Berlin. Again, fascinating to hear about that project and to see photographs from inside and outside the building. He broke Adorno’s silence.
Artists help us see reality; to see what is before us. For there to be healing we need to first look at and engage with the brokenness without and within us.
“Descent” is the movement of grief; of repentance; of chastened humility and of endings; and of fall-eness.
In the plan for “Ground Zero” you descend into the footings of the building which were not destroyed.
Nicholas Ourousoff, Architectural Critic (ex - LA and NY Times) has written of the changes to the (urban) landscape; to urban architecture post the Oklahoma bombing. Buildings become “bunkers”. Instead he advocates for an urban landscape shaped by openness, hospitality and vulnerability to the “other”; instead of an architectural approach the preferences paranoia, invulnerability, unassailability and closedness.
Was reminded throughout the lecture why good architecture and design evokes something significant in me – especially if I can understand, or am able to gain insight into the creative process and conceptual journey that permeates the design.
“We shape our buildings, then our buildings shape us…” – Winston Churchill. What a wonderful insight!
We need to recognise that sometimes; indeed oftentimes the healing is in our brokenness; is in not trying to fix what has become broken.
Julanne Clarke-Morris: “Multi-Media Art: A Liturgical Approach”.
Concerned with the creation of “immersive environments” / immersive and “contemplative” environments that open up possibilities… She wants to create “windows” through which people see, as if for the first time.
We enter into flow of the “never-ending worship of God” – reinforced for me by the projection of a fast flowing river.
Significant for Julanne in terms of her journey was the “blue windows” at Chartres Cathedral, France. Leading edge ‘technology’ of its day. A “new” means of bringing people into conversation with the gospel and God.
“Orthodox” are so there with their art!”
“I want to make people feel so deeply that they have to think…” “Creating art of often about ‘ditching things’…” - Peter Majende, Christchurch-based artist.
Multi-media art installations / works are open to multiple perspectives and interpretations, and that’s a good thing.
Mentioned Rowan Williams and his understanding of the “prophetic understanding of art, as distinct from propaganda” [I thought of this statement from Rowan Williams, “What is the world that art takes for granted?” He continues, “It is the one in which perception is always incomplete… there is constantly more response evoked… the religious vision [and one could also add, the artistic vision] [is] not a shortcut of any kind… [Artists are concerned with creating art] that is more than functional, more than problem solving… the artist looks for the ‘necessity’ in what is being made”… “Imagination produces not a self-contained mental construct but a vision that escapes control, that brings with it its shadow and its margins, its absences and its ellipses, a dimensional existence as we might call it… [there is] the sense of alternative space around the image…” – from Grace and Necessity, Chapter 4 “God and the Artist”, p. 135-170.]
Art has to be done in a way that offers a way (or oftentimes ways) of approaching reality. Typically these ways are “non-linear”.
Use space in a way that is congruent with that space, its shape, edges, stories, architecture etc. “Don’t fight the space”. Go with it – see where it takes you. See what emerges.
We need to exercise aesthetic rigour. Make good decisions, not pragmatic functional decisions about the aesthetics of the installation… we don’t simply make do for the sake of making do.
The artist doesn’t “take their feet off the ground”.
Alt-worship needs to be occasional and temporal, not always. [I had an interesting conversation on the way to the airport with Mark Pierson and Mike Riddell, who see understood what was being said but see things slightly differently particularly when questions of scale are considered].
Forests and trees are metaphors for “self”.
Alice Walker’s poem “Torture” was referenced.
There is more to reality that what is seen. “… Of things seen and unseen…[things visible and invisible]” (Nicene Creed)
These made their way into my notes but weren’t part of Julanne’s presentation – “Just keep going - no feeling is final.” “Most events are inexpressible, taking place in a realm which no word has ever entered, and more inexpressible than all else are works of art, mysterious existences, the life of which, while ours passes away, endures.” “A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity." (Rainer Maria Rilke).
In the midst of the mundane we can glimpse and discover the extraordinary, the Divine. BUT we need to take the time to stop; to be still; to wait; to be open, with our senses engaged.
A footnote to the conference. For those within the Reformed tradition grappling with theology and art, an additional resource recommended to me by Carolyn Kelly is Randall C. Zachman’s book Image and Word in the Theology of John Calvin pub. University of Notre Dame Press, August 2009.
Part One of this series can be found here.