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Builtculture logo. Digital Manipulation. October 2013.

Happy November!

If you have been wondering what I have been up to, I have been here.
Builtculture is a project I have started last year with a graduate student, Samar Sepehri. It is finally taking off.
(If you are so inclined, and feel like Liking our page, please do so!).
I designed our logo, starting from an image of bukhoor, and overlaying over an image of San Diego.
The creative juice have been applied to community outreach, still I was happy to be making something art-like.

Related to this, I have been working on bringing speakers and workshops in the field of community and activist design, such as this:


postermilenko_web

Also related to this, I went over the border, to Tjiuana to work on an international project, make connections and do a bit of wine tasting and cultural sightseeing.

I also went to Deer Park Monastery for a Day of Mindfulness.

Photos coming soon.

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The process…

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The story behind the collage base :

When starting a new collage, I find I always need a catalyst, an incipit.
In order to tell the visual narratives of my collage I always like to continue an imaginary dialogue started by another artist, graphic designer etc.
The base of this latest collage is the very sparse cover of current San Diego Museum of Art Magazine. I knew the wooden carving was of a monk of sorts and I was immediately drawn to the work’s piety and devotion. I only found out the identity and the story behind the sculpture once I was ready to post the collage…it held unexpected surprises and even reinforced in my mind some of the creative choices I made while composing the collage ( the heart held in the sculpture’s hands).

Excerpts from the San Diego Museum of Art Membership magazine:

The sculpture depicts San Diego de Alcala’, otherwise known as Saint Didacus, who was born around 1400 near Seville.
He became a lay brother in the Franciscan order and worked at monasteries in the Canary Islands, Spain, and Rome, before finally.settling at the Convento de Santa Maria de Jesus in Alcala’, where he lived until 1463. He worked in the infirmaries of these monasteries and is said to have brought about miraculous cures to those in his care. Accordingly, the earliest depictions of San Diego following his canonization in 1588 show his healing miracles.

The San Diego Museum of Art has acquired this remarkable sculpture by Pedro De Mena (1628-1688). Mena worked in his native Granada and in Malaga, and from there produced works that were sent to.patrons around Spain, including the Royal family in Madrid.
Although relatively little known today outside of spain, Mena was the most prominent sculptor of his day. It has been said that he is unsurpassed both in the beauty of his woodcarving and in his ability to capture the expressions of religious emotions.

Mena’ sculpture depicts a miracle that came to be the standard form of the saint’s iconography. Diego was devoted to the poor and often took them bread from the monastery table. During a shortage of food at the monastery, Diego was forbidden to do so, but continued to take bread to the poor, hiding it in the folds of his monastic habit.

On one occasion, the superior of the monastery caught Diego in the act of taking bread and challenged him to show what he was carrying in the bundled robes. When Diego looked down, the bread was transformed into roses, a miraculous confirmation of his charitable works. As was often the case for sculptures depicting this miracle, the roses are not carved, for the faithful would place real or silk flowers in the lap of the sculpture.

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You have to keep breaking your heart
until it opens.
Rumi

Without the use of a camera Portland-based artist Jim Kazanjian sifts through a library of some 25,000 images from which he carefully selects the perfect elements to digitally assemble mysterious buildings born from the mind of an architect gone mad. While the architectural and organic pieces seem wildly random and out of place, Kazanjian brings just enough cohesion to each structure to suggest a fictional purpose or story that begs to be told.
Reblogged from here.

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Drawing by Jackie McDowell.

I am posting the first of a series of samples of student work from the exhibit  History of Architecture: Analysis and Synthesis Through Visual Notes. Moving chronologically, today we start with the Beginnings of Architecture.  This body work was completed for the Graduate History of Architecture sequence, comprising of three courses, which i taught during the 2011-2012 school year.

I will also post some photos from the Exhibit.

These visual notes are by Jackie McDowell.

Drawing by Jackie McDowell.

Drawing by Jackie McDowell.

And here is the  paper abstract summarizing the project objectives and research purpose.  The full paper will be presented and published next Spring. 

History of Architecture: Analysis and Synthesis Through Visual Notes

Miti Aiello, Full-Time Faculty

NewSchool of Architecture and Design, San Diego, California

The need to update and make relevant the study of History of Architecture in an evolving profession and academic environment has never been more urgent: our discipline demands not only an expanded scope (mandatory inclusion of global or ‘non-western’ traditions and architecture of the vernacular), but new methods of delivery and course projects that are interdisciplinary, that bridge the divide between studio courses and history and that educate the young practitioner in reading history utilizing the same
methods learned in design practice.

Spiro Kostof, the legendary UC Berkeley architectural historian, advocated giving students “something tangible to carry away to the drafting table”.

It is possible to adopt an educational methodology that questions monumental architecture of the past and the traditional, vernacular “architecture without architects” in the same way as students approach a design problem in studio. Hans Morgenthaler’s “Chronology versus System: Unleashing the Creative Potential of Architectural History” – which served as this paper’s catalyst- denounced the inadequacy of relying on the chronological organization of history and suggested designing the History course as a series of design problems or buildings/events, illustrated through architectural drawings (the language of our profession) and not photos. History of Architecture instructors are encouraged to “occupy themselves simultaneously with the study of the past, with critique, and with invention”.

The argument for learning history through drawing, in this case in the form of student-generated visual notes based on textbook reading is related to the ‘invention’ mentioned above and supported by Morgenthaler: “This approach derives from the understanding that a drawing is capable of communicating information about buildings impossible through other means. In addition, as a subjective record, drawings could become part of the history of ideas, as opposed to photographs, which are only evidence. Moreover, drawings express the “belief in architectural precedent and typology which gave relevance to history.” Rachael McCann in her “Exploding the History Survey” also introduced ‘graphic summary pages’ as active inquiry in her course at Mississippi State University, breaking down her large lecture course in smaller sections which would investigate a question brought forth by a particular building, through visual analysis. It is clear that History of Architecture lecturers are seeking novel, more critical models to articulate the course, and better narrate “a story of architecture”.

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Another month rushed by, seemingly accelerating towards the end, as though sprinting to the finish line. The year’s end. Another year.

This past month brought also new beginnings and renewals. Just like accountants, professors measure years differently from the general public.

So this, other, new year that starts with the fall -the harvest- brought Spring in October : experimental mixed media and history courses, new energy, enthusiastic and curious students, expanded involvement, new projects and many welcome social occasions…and always, the company and camaraderie of my gentle and wise kin.
I love my job and feel so blessed. (I have just been given a Service Award for Five Years of outstanding contribution to the school, celebrate good times..)

I hosted my very first reception for my Graduate students’ work in the History of Architecture course this last week. The title of the exhibition was

‘ History of Architecture: Analysis and Synthesis through Visual Notes’.
My past students’ critical, and sometimes lyrical and poetic work –their beautifully rendered drawings, sketches and diagrams–have been gracing the halls of my school and received much acclaim. This body of work and research into this alternative method for teaching history is the topic of a forthcoming paper, which I will present in the Spring.

I am also launching a project called Builtculture, which I will be editing. This is something I have been working on for few months along with a stellar Graduate student of mine, Samar Sepehri. Builtculture is a repository for lectures and cultural events happening in San Diego and the So-Cal region, for the architecture and urban design discriminating aficionados. It exists in form of a facebook page for now, but will soon morph into a simple yet useful calendar site–as soon as I can catch my breath.

Planning to post photos of the Visual Notes Exhibit next week -need to scan few more examples and ‘teasers’- and to share Builtculture when it is ready too. I am thinking about adding an Academic section to my work site, Archistdesign, for such endeavors.

All of this to say, really, is that my full-time job and volunteering [ for community build and garden build projects , I have learned to build a deck and plaster, aka architecture for social purpose … yes!] have taken ahold of my heart and days  lately, and my art has had to wait.
I also (also!) will have my poetry published. New poems have been brewing and blooming, maybe I will share one later tonight.

I know that there are few of you who follow these ramblings of mine , who gently coax me when I have not posted for a while, and wanted to reach out and declare that I do not want this to be a ‘ travel blog’ , a dalliance…but that I also have to make peace with the fact that I am nor cannot be a a full-time writer, poet or artist, (although I would embrace these lives and crafts in a heartbeat, teaching is my calling) and that I cannot post or work on my art everyday. Life itself needs to be explored, precious work completed, books need to be read, and body, soul, and spirit nurtured daily. Perhaps, I have been given too many passions for just one life. These are heavy gifts and Chet Baker sings ‘I fall in love too easily’…

Before biding my hopefully brief adieu, here is a poem that I recently found among old correspondence.
It is nice to be old enough to have that.. Speaking of correspondence, see ‘ Young Goethe in Love’. I died.


The Undertaking

The darkness lifts, imagine, in your lifetime .

The darkness lifts, imagine, in your lifetime .

There you are — cased in clean bark you drift through weaving rushes, fields flooded with cotton.

You are free.

The river films with lilies, shrubs appear, shoots thicken into palm.

And now all fear gives way: the light looks after you, you feel the waves’ goodwill as arms widen over the water;

Love, the key is turned.

Extend yourself —it is the Nile, the sun is shining, everywhere you turn is luck.

Louise Glück

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‘Habana is very much like a rose,’ said Fico Fellove in the movie The Lost City,

‘it has petals and it has thorns…so it depends on how you grab it.

But in the end it always grabs you.’


“One of the most beautiful cities in the world. You see it with your heart.”

Enrique Nunez Del Valle, Paladar Owner

Habana’s real essence is so difficult to pin down. Plenty of writers have had a try, though; Cuban intellectual Alejo Carpentier nicknamed Habana the ‘city of columns,’ Federico Llorca declared that he had spent the best days of his life there and Graham Greene concluded that Habana was a city where ‘anything was possible.’

ARCHITECTURE

Habana is, without doubt, one of the most attractive and architecturally diverse cities in the world. Shaped by a colorful colonial history  and embellished by myriad foreign influences from as far afield as Italy and Morocco, the Cuban capital gracefully combines Mudéjar, baroque, neoclassical, art nouveau, art deco and modernist architectural styles into a visually striking whole.

But it’s not all sweeping vistas and tree-lined boulevards. Habana doesn’t have the architectural uniformity of Paris or the instant knock-out appeal of Rome. Indeed, two decades of economic austerity has meant many of the city’s finest buildings have been left to festering an advanced state of dilapidation. Furthermore, attempting to classify Habana’s houses,palaces, churches and forts as a single architectural entity is extremely difficult.

Cuban building – rather like its music – is unusually diverse. Blending Spanish colonial with French belle epoque, and Italian Renaissance with Gaudi-esque art nouveau, the over-riding picture is often one of eclecticism run wild.

Brendan Sainsbury


















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The funambulist. Ink drawing + digital collage. August 2011.



Nets

To Rietta Wallenda

Tightrope acrobats dance above safety nets

(or not)

Nerves taut like violin chords

Pulsing on neck, tendons stiff.

/

The fisherman spreads his father’s nets

Repaired a thousand times, damaged again

He sews his wounds on the beach

Fastens the corks

The old man with the young eyes

who listens to Mina and

–faraway look toward his sea,

a cigarillo in his mouth–

dreams of America.

/

Or, once a young girl

with a butterfly net

out to catch impossible sprites on hilly fields

Between highways

On the outskirts of the city.

You don’t know where I have been

and what I have seen.

/

The spider crochets his architecture

His gothic cathedrals

With divine geometry

With infinite patience

Behind the mirror.

 August 2011

From British Pathe':'This 1931 video shows a woman dancing on a high wire suspended 300 feet in the air. We think this was shot in an American city possibly New York. Click to vertigo.'

 

Addendum September 5, 2011:

A search on the term ‘funambulist’ and inquiries about Moussavi’s “Function of Ornament” led me to find an incredible blog and post:

 The Funambulist [Architectural Narratives]: Computational Labyrinth or Towards A Borgesian Architecture

The editor is a fellow ‘literary architect’ interested in theory, film, art, books.

Won’t you join me down the rabbit hole of Borgesian architecture for a read of ‘Aleph’?

This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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