Things Set in Stone

It has been over three months since I despaired with my computer and decided to abandon the blog. At the time, it seemed like the correct thing to do. My brain ached from the intensity of the work period and it had become apparent that some changes needed to come about. Since then I left Athens behind, quite disheartened by what I had seen there, to Paris. With my brain still tripping I attempted to relocate my interests which were running around chattering about studio spaces in Glasgow. Only I hadn’t been to Glasgow yet, I hadn’t found a studio, and I didn’t know whether I really wanted to be in England.

Paris is a beautiful place, perhaps idyllic too, but this beauty hides a certain banality that it is hard not to become bored with. It is not that there aren’t people who are trying to do things, it is more that Paris holds a certain sort of safety or predictability. Perhaps this is an atmosphere that is manufactured, something that is used to enshroud visitors with a false sense of security, but even after walking through some of the suburbs with an Artist who wishes to expose the true nature of living in the suburbs this is unlikely. This artists work would look at the sad docile reality that sits behind the often commercial image of the suburban estate area. Such an image is present all over the world and is often used politically as a sort of scapegoat for criminal activities that might procure during a parties residence in power. If an image hadn’t been created for those suburbanites, it would have been created for another group of people, typically those who have recently emigrated to the area.

In reference to the title, such identities are not set in stone. Perhaps they are cast in plaster by the general public media, but such imagery and such ideas are prone to crumble over time. Human ideas are only temporary fixtures.

Whilst in Paris I decided to move to Malta, to look for a studio there. During a brief excursion to the UK I began to realise that there was a lot of material within my family that I myself wanted to address and will continue to work upon. Then, I broke my flight from England to Malta via Romania where I met an intriguing scholar of architecture.

Since arriving in Malta I have been looking at the landscape here. The population is very small in Malta and much space is simply left empty which within the urban spaces resonates with the feelings of isolation that one might find in Giorgio De Chirico’s and M.C. Eschers cityscapes. Many of the building here in Malta are beautiful and Valletta harbour is sublime. The expanse of water that breaks huge rock faces and walls, the squared designs of the cities that arrive at the foot of the sea, the continuity of colour, of blue and gold, make this an enchanting scene. As such I am spending some time drawing it, this is because whilst it is very beautiful and photography could make a good job of the landscape, the age and the character of the scene would lend themselves to pen, paint and paper to a much grander extent. Through these mediums the landscapes character can be reflected upon whereas photography would take the form for granted.

Since we are on the subject of landscapes and the architecture that is present here I thought it would be good to look at this project that was forwarded to me. The video work is fantastic, it makes the locale seem completely unreal, digital even. But despite the beauty of the film and the way that it compliments this structure, there is an underlying feeling that there is something quite wrong with the building.

For a while I wondered what it might be, is it because the building is apparently giant, that it so empty that it looks sterile? Or is it because the building is so transient that it looks purposeless as though it were created purely for fancy and not for people at all? Is it a material problem? Is it that the white surfaces and metal are too unnatural? But that would be strange because metal is natural… but then not in such quantities?

 

 

As a form it is certainly sublime. It does not fit with it’s environment at all, it is very much an alien to its landscape, yet within this contrast lies a great deal of its’ beauty. The contrast between the natural and the unnatural is exaggerated in this film through the use of the horse and shabby looking man. Whilst they are at home outside on the dunes, the structure is an uncanny foreigner who bears significant resemblance to a sci-fi spacecraft. This relationship between environment and belonging is flipped with the animals adventure into the building. Once entering it is clear that the architecture is attempting to mimic organic forms but despite this retains a very artificial and digitally calculated character that makes it feel as though it were a building designed by or for Apple. Which might be great, Apple are a great and powerful company, but then it (the building) does feel gimmicky. Perhaps this is also great, perhaps contemporary society is going through a sort of adolescent stage in its development where the “cool” of graphic design must filter through all levels of being.

But I meant the previous paragraph to be my compliment, the well done bit. Because in reality the logistics of this building and the practical applications that it serves to provide people in their everyday lives don’t actually seem to have mattered during the design of the building. Right? Am I wrong? What is this building being used for? It is undeniably beautiful but wouldn’t it be better of placed somewhere where it won’t cost more money than it earns in order to maintain and sustain it? Given that the site is considered a kind rurality, shouldn’t that be borne in mind? I mean to say that, if the population is not so high and the practical usage of such a building is not going to be so high if it is specific to a particular cause? shouldn’t it be developed so that it has the maximum practical use for the local populace? So that it will attract people to live there to work? I mean how much employment can a museum provide? Isn’t that going to cost the state lots of money to keep it running?

At the moment though there are number of places in China (including Ordos), huge urban developments that are not populated nor look like they are going to be populated. Why?

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