Wednesday, June 25, 2008

tick tock...revolution #28

as the annual clock completed one more turn on this life of ours, i am finding that the important things get clearer, and everything else just gets fuzzier...

to mark the occasion and to keep my own spirits up in this profession, I offer an excerpt from last month's metropolis blog interview with brian mackay-lyons [yes...him again]:

M: One of the essayists talked about this idea that you instill in the [ghost lab] participants. He says you encourage “thoughtful play” during these summer retreats.

BML: People who choose a life in architecture want to believe that it’s going to be fun. It’s like being a child all over again. If you go into a life in architecture without a sense of that, then you are really going to be unhappy. Ghost is a way to remind everybody about why they went in to architecture, even if it is a bit utopian or idealized. That’s OK. Seeing the world through rose-colored glasses has its value. I criticized the priesthood of architectural professors, and of course I am one; I’ve been one for twenty-five years. There’s a good side to the priesthood, and that’s to keep the lights on in tough times. To keep the lamp lit. The world can be going to hell in a hand basket, and the economy can be down around your ankles, and the whole thing can look pretty bad. Then it’s even more important to be optimistic.

It’s amazing what you get done in such a short amount of time. I imagine the speed with which you realize these projects contributes to the need for a hierarchy of order.

As I say in the book, teamwork is learned quickly when there’s too much to do. At the Ghost site, if you are a prima donna, you get bypassed. There’s no time for it.

How did your neighbors react to that first Ghost project?

One of the reasons we keep doing this thing is because it reaffirms that society knows what architecture is, and that they actually have an innate curiosity about it. The neighbors are intellectually curious. Some of them have PhDs; others can’t read or write, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s a natural curiosity. They want to see what the young people are doing that year and they come for the party. We start the bagpipes at dusk and they come.

I loved reading about Albert Oxner, an elder in the community who cannot read or write, and the story he tells you about how he and his father first came to shingle their barn. Our culture can tend to value those doctoral degrees, but in truth, what we can learn from a man like Albert about building and its evolution is invaluable.

Especially today when there is so much interest in issues of the environment—as if that is some kind of new fashion, which drives me crazy. There’s a tremendous amount of environmental knowledge that was in the heads of those kinds of people.

for updates on this year's ghost 10, visit pixelwhore's blog: with love and squalor.

view more progress photos on flickr by pixelwhore.


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