…after dinner with Sarah McKenzie, Jen and Jeffrey, and over the weekend, that I could not get into the 20x200 newsletter:
All of those photographers who have taken pictures from the safety of hotel room windows when they are on the road and far from home.
The World Trade Center’s architect, Minoru Yamasaki, designed the buildings with narrow office windows, 18 inches wide, to make its occupants feel secure.
Safety, defined by security of body, employment, resources, morality, the family, health and property, is second only to our physiological needs of eating, sleeping, breathing and sex in the hierarchical pyramid that defines our most base needs.
Of the seven wonders of the world, the majority, four, are architectural monuments (also included are two are sculptures and one garden). In every modern revision of the wonders, things humans have built to house, to shelter and to divide out number all the others. Except, of course, for the natural wonders of the world which do not account for the thing we humans do (though we are a part of nature, right?).
When the Spaniards conquered the Aztec Empire, they built their church directly on top of the Aztec’s capital, Tenochtitlan. To add insult to injury, Hernan Cortes and his fellow conquistadors used the very stones from a destroyed temple to the god of war to construct the first incarnation of the Mexico City Cathedral.
In describing his photographs from Architecture, Hiroshi Sugimoto notes, “Early 20th-century Modernism was a watershed moment in cultural history, a stripping away of superfluous decoration… The spread of democracy and the innovations of the Machine Age swept aside the ostentation that heretofore had been a signifier of power and wealth. I set out to trace the beginnings of Modernism via architecture…. I discovered that superlative architecture survives the onslaught of blurred photography. Thus I began erosion testing for durability, melting away many of the buildings in the process…” (We now know exactly what they cannot survive.)
The rate at which we are building, making, developing and otherwise altering the world around us now has been reason for at least one physicist to posit that since the Enlightenment, human beings are responsible to a greater extent than other forces in the universe for the current shaping of the cosmos. For example, the topography and material constitution of the upper surface of the island of Manhattan, has more to do with economics, politics, and human psychology that it does geology.
The fall of the Twin Towers registered a 2.4 on the Richter Scale. You can hear an audified version of the seismic data recorded, created by sound artist Mark Bain here.
For us city-dwellers, living below light-leadened skies, in the absence of stars, buildings are what make us look up.