holdengräber: one tries to make the subject forget and yet remain on guard. It’s a mixture of both, trying to nurture what socrates said, ‘to give birth to a thought and make people feel at ease; and yet make them anticipate the next question.’
one must keep the urgency alive. i speak of the euphoria of ignorance, the notion of approaching things through non-knowledge of the subject and the skepticism of knowing too much. in some way one must carry the desire for openness and not be afraid of where it might lead you.
when i was 18 and went off to the university, my father said, “don’t ever forget that the word university comes from the word universe. the less interests you have, the less interesting you are. if you study law, you should also study philosophy. and don’t forget that across the street is a medical school. and in the medical school is an anatomy class. and you should go and learn about the human body.”
WRR: in many ways, you’ve created a sanctuary for interdisciplinary conversation and collaboration.
holdengräber: for me, the program is reflective of certain moments in high culture in vienna where people had serious discourse in the coffee houses and their ideas fed off one another. there was a culture of curiosity and I feel my role here at the new york public library is to be the curator of public curiosity.
WRR: that can pose a curatorial challenge.
holdengräber: yes. my challenge is that everything interests me, such as the example i shared earlier about exploring sports. i’m thinking, why not? when i was in los angeles, i read about the basketball coach phil jackson, who had his players meditate and read books on zen and plato. why not create a series with great sports figures?
but, i like to play with various genres and pair people together who will enhance one another’s work or bring out some aspect of the other. for instance, i worked with william claxton, the photographer who created the iconic images of chet baker. claxton said that photography is “jazz for the eyes.” so i said, let’s recreate that jazz. so we brought claxton together with the drummer billy higgins and his musicians. while higgins and his band played, claxton took photos that immediately appeared on the screen.
for me the thought process that goes into bringing people together is an art form in itself.
to use the language of psychologist adam phillips, “we can’t tickle ourselves. we need the gaze of the other. we need to be together.”
jose parla (1973) kubanski slikar iz bruklina koji je 2013. napravio mural u biblioteci james b. hunt na north carolina state university… mural se zove “nature of language”. arapska kaligrafija i crveno. oh, kakav spoj… priroda jezika, priroda pisma… ok., shvatam ja da smo mi ovde siromašni, da je kultura na dnu liste prioriteta, ali ponuditi projekat poput ovog nekom mladom (ili starom, svejedno) slikaru zaista nije veliki trošak, pogotovu ako se zna da mnogi likovni umetnici bi i sasvim besplatno uradili to sa zadovoljstvom (samo uz obezbeđen materijal tj. osnovne troškove). i šta nas onda sprečava da ne sprečimo da naše biblioteke ne ostanu bez oslikanih enterijera? ja ne razumem. a ti?
parlá describes the mural as a “written painting for and about the nature of language.” he goes on to say:
“although illegible at first sight, the juxtaposed characters, gestures, hieroglyphs, and words become readable through feeling, as it is my hope that the work evokes the language of your own inner voice — of your own history. in an era where technology is taking over as the driving force of communication, art reminds us of our roots and our need for face-to-face communication. this nature is our mirror, as art allows this bridge to be possible through the language of calligraphy, i pay homage to this nature; to our selves, and the history of languages, which are the mirrors of our present condition.”
parla: “this is a written painting for and about the nature of language, an abstract landscape of words, phrases, names, and poetic thoughts inspired by drifting through raleigh while on walks and visiting unexpected places through a playful survey that eyed various historical resources on a psycho-geographical exploration of the city. the painting is a reflection of my awareness – a diary of these experiential observations that form the syntax of its visual vocabulary.”
a ovaj mural dole je u belgijskom gradu namuru uradila naša slikarka gala čaki. mural najavljuju biblioteku koja je u nepostednoj blizini. ovo je u prilog gore iznete teze da bi naši umetnici rado ulepšali i naše biblioteke. i ostale javne prostore, naravno. samo treba neko da ih pozove
jednostavnost istoka me pod must ostavi bez daha. zamisli da dane provodiš u ovom prostoru. biblioteka tama art univerziteta u tokiju. arhitekta toyo ito (1941), prestižno ime japanske i svetske arhitekture. pod filozofskim uticajem zen budizma i dvojice filozofa: minesuke mita i gilles deleuzea. po njemu je arhitektura odeća za stanovnike urbanih sredina. ali, uvek u skladu sa prirodom. isprepletanost javnog i privatnog prostora u savremenim gradovima. oh, ova biblioteka ne mora da nas zove, ljudi ka njoj hrle. lepota jednostavnosti. kao da hodaš kroz pećine i šume pune bibliotečke, primamljive građe. ovaj čovek, toyo ito je maestralan!!! jedna apsolutno kreativna biblioteka!
architecture in electronic age is figuration of vortex of information from the primitive age.
the human body has been linked with nature as a member in which water and air circulate.
people today are equipped with an electronic body in which information circulates, and are thus linked to the world through network
of information by means of this other body.
this virtual body of electron flow is drastically changing the mode of communication in family and community,
while the primitive body in which water and air flow still craves for beautiful light and wind.
the biggest challenge for us is how we can integrate these two types of body.
the same applies just as well to architecture today.
our architecture has traditionally been linked with nature through figuration of movements of vortices occurring in water and air.
with contemporary architecture, we must link ourselves with the electronic environment through figuration of information vortices.
the question is how we can integrate the primitive space linked with nature and the virtual space which is linked with the world
through electron network. Space which integrates these two types of body will probably be envisaged as an electronic biomorphic one.
for, just as the figure of a living body represents the loci of movements of air and water, the virtual space will most likely be figured
as the loci of human activities in the electron flow.
you envision architecture as media-clothing.
I compared man to ‘tarzan’.
tarzan in the jungle creates his body and develops it in contact with nature, in relation to the surrounding environment.
modern man is a sort of tarzan who lives in the world of media, within a very developed technology.
architecture should be a sort of media-clothing, which is necessary in order for man to have a relationship with and integrate himself into the environment.
the idea of media-clothing is a metaphor. (laughs)
in 1960s, m. mcluhan said that our clothing and shelter are the extended form of our skin.
from old times, architecture has served as a means to adjust ourselves to the natural environment.
the contemporary architecture needs to function, in addition, as a means to adjust ourselves to the information environment.
it must function as the extended form of skin in relation both to nature and information at once.
architecture today must be a media suite.
people, when clad in a mechanical suit called automobile, had their physical body expanded.
people clad in a media suite have their brain expanded. architecture as media suit is the externalized brain.
in the whirlpool of voluminous information, people freely browse through information, control the outside world and appeal
themselves to the outside world. instead of appealing to the outside world by armouring themselves with a hard shell-like suit,
people do so by wearing a light and pliant media suit which is the figuration of information vortex.
people clad in such media suit are the tarzans in the media forest .
(toyo ito za designboom)
photo iwan baan