Monday, September 13, 2010

Sonntag aus licht

How sure of themselves yet how entirely fictional most monuments are. If one inspects the memorials of Washington, for instance, what contradictory messages one receives. the desire to symbolise something towers over the specific content, yet small incongruities collect and make their commentary on the blankness, tallness and monotony preached in such enclaves.

The two poles of a monument are the personal and the impersonal, a confiding saint's or great man's cell - the relic monger's haunt - against a battlefield memorial, biting its tongue, imposing silence. Even among anti-monuments once can set the garrulous Oldenburg against the mute Christo. One of the latest monuments brings the two ends of the scale somehow in touch. the Vietnam Memorial in Washington is all words not images, embarrassed not assertive, using no rhetoric hollow or otherwise, yet speaking exhaustively. It forms the universal utterance these structures usually seek without finding.
Harbison, Robert.
The Built, the Unbuilt and the Unbuildable :
In Pursuit of Architectural Meaning.
London: Thames and Hudson, 1991

Yes, yes, but how does the World Trade Center Tribute in Light manage to be so utterly kitsch?


Stephen Stratford said...

Yes re the architecture.

Re the music: I bet I am the only one of your readers to listen to that all the way through. I like Stockhausen's operas but sadly I have only Montag, Donnerstag and Samstag. The old DGG sets (the latter two) were affordable; the ones on his own label less so.

Grace Dalley said...

You know what would be cool? Instead of using electricity to make light pillars, install sunlight-focussing mirrors so you could see them in the daytime. And possibly generate electricity at the same time :-)

Paul said...

Stephen, I am delighted that at least one reader has listened all the way through.

Grace, are you thinking of lasers?

Grace Dalley said...

I was thinking of something like this: (scroll down to first picture) only more vertical and without the tower.

Paul said...

That would be something. My objection to the Tribute is not just that it reminds me of the searchlights in Triumph of the Will, but that it is a Son et Lumière for an event which happened in daylight.