The Ecstasy of Influence?

a tide

Collage, Influence, Originality, Plagiarism

Jonathan Lethem’s essay, “The Ecstasy of Influence”: “Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent.” — Jim Jarmusch

“In the grand collage that is Dada, past and future are equally usable.” — Andrei Codrescu

“Every idea is a juxtaposition. That’s it. A juxtaposition of existing concepts.” — Steven Grant

My hobbie (one of them anyway)…is using a lot of scotch tape… My hobbie is to pick out different things during what I read and piece them together and make a little story of my own.” —Louis Armstrong

Pablo Picasso’s first act of collage-making in May of 1912, in its conceptual, material, and technical originality, has profoundly influenced numerous artists and architects throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. Collage inherently emphasizes process over product, offering the potential for a multiplicity of readings while re-conceptualizing three-dimensional space. This ambiguity creates opportunities for multivalence in the architectural design process and the resultant work of architecture, responding to the richness and complexities extant in sites and cities. Collage can be considered in the following ways in its relevance to the field of architecture: collage as autonomous work of art, collage as analytical and/or design tool, and architecture as collage. The richness and potentiality of collage as a tool for analysis and design lies in the diversity of media and techniques. This paper will address the efficacy of collage as a representational medium integrated into the design process in the work of Le Corbusier and Eduardo Chillida, whose work proves a lineage of the Cubist conception of space through the translation from collage to built form. Considering collage as an instrument for analysis and design, drawing on decades of relevance in art and architecture, offers a diverse set of material, technical, and conceptual precedent for designers.

Keywords: Collage, Architecture, Representation, Cubism, Le Corbusier, Eduardo Chillida
The International Journal of the Image, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.85-106. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 5.503MB).

Marble Mural by Point Supreme Architects: A partition wall at the Interior Design Show 2010 in Athens, Greece.

At that time, I was responding to an urgent situation in Sarajevo, Bosnia—a city under a sustained terrorist attack that, in the West, was considered a siege, as though it were part of a normal war, which it was not. Snipers had turned streets into lethal shooting galleries and artillery gunners had turned ordinary buildings where people worked and lived into incendiary death traps. It was clear that architecture was part of the problem—the killing of thousands of innocent men, woman, and children—and I felt strongly that as long as the attacks continued (it turned out to be for more than three years) architecture also had to be part of the solution.

Beate Gütschow’s photographs irritate. In her “S” series which stands for City (“Stadt”), Beate Gütschow’s newly conceived utopias live off their contradictions. Within montages of her analog black/white photographs she creates utopias of disassembled visions, where architectural symbolic language has been overwritten and all but eliminated, where the master-plan has been diminished to a random collection of unrelated objects, to a post-war city scenario.

While using collage as her technique it seems to me that in the end, removal is the larger effort of composing the photographs. Erasing the symbolism, erasing the people, erasing a the idea of a city, erasing the moment, erasing time. All we see are traces of a society gone empty, at a time when cities like Chandigarh and Brasilia are starting to crumble and parts of them (lamps and library tables etc.) are being auctioned off and sold on the art market, as a testimony of a failed idea.

Other names on my mind: Matt Wisniewski, David Thomas Smith, Kike Besada, Samuel Johnson, Teddy Cruz, and Nils-Ole Lund.

These are notes of mine and pieces I’ve collected while working on some collages. I will be posting more soon.


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