Mimetically Yours, Weird Buildings — CogDogBlog

It happens so often and ends up being blogged that I’ve tagged this phenomenon freetousewonders. I open a new browser tab in Chrome and the… 560 more words

Mimetically Yours, Weird Buildings — CogDogBlog

Mimesis: that old saw from my class in Aesthetics circa 1992

When I was in college I had to take a class in Aesthetics to finish out a degree program. It was interesting, one of those type classes that people “avoid” because it requires reading and writing, and occasional trips to the library to look something up. Suffice to say, it introduced me to the idea in philosophy of “Mimesis” and it’s role in art. For thousands of years philosophy has attempted to define why we do art, the motivations, etc. And as you look WAAAaay back, it’s all about representation, rooted in experience, but not always “photographically realistic”. The fantasy, the dream also are “experience” albeit, more fleeting, cursory less rooted than the “world” as we would name it. So what made me think of this was the old picture I remember bumping into, a drawing in fact made by Robert Venturi for his book: Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. In that book appears an argument that “Roadside America” type buildings, so-called “Mimetic Architecture” is in many ways tied to the “International Style” or “Modern Architecture” as extolled and practiced starting in Europe around the beginning of the 20th Century. A building as an “object” let’s say. Here’s Venturi’s drawing:


Venturi wanted to draw the comparison to say Modern Architecture or the International Style treated buildings as “objects”, almost like sculpture. Representative of “something else” other than it’s physical, actual function as a building. And the spectacle of this is made more apparent when you hastily throw them up together with an equals sign in between. This was meant to convey Venturi’s beliefs regarding the disconnect between Modern Architecture and “what it does”. And further to emphasize how big a disconnect Modern Architecture tried to achieve with its past history to pursue the original and novel as an end in itself. This is what I really think of when I see Mimetic Architecture, duck buildings and Roadside America. Novel and new might get people to stop and look. But you also have to ask yourself, “what does it do?” I think that’s the real benefit to the ideas Venturi, Scott-Brown & Associates brought to the table when they first started getting commissions and when Robert and Denise started teaching at University. It’s valuable even today.






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