Saturday, September 20, 2008

Manly Men

Kuusamo Airport, with taxidermy

Had another nice visit with my friend Vesa, beginning with our arrival to the Kuusamo airport, which has a stuffed reindeer in the middle of the baggage claim area. We always have interesting talks, and this time was no exception. Got somewhat deeply into the questions of art (including for our discussions, music and architecture), what makes it good, where the  line between high design and vernacular acceptance lies, how to make high art more accessible, dealing with the elitism of high design, and the apparent erosion of quality related to marketing and selling of the arts. 

Some interesting ideas that came out of these discussions: maybe there is a potential to develop more ideas related to the connection of art and marketing. Perhaps some art projects that blur the line between marketing and art. Like the yes men, etc. Also, a variety of thoughts about the experiential nature of art, perhaps projects could be developed that are devoted to orchestrating experiences for participants. Additionally, gets me thinking about whether to place my efforts in this grass roots community design approach, or to spend time on the marketing side of things, promoting good architecture, making it accessible, etc. Well my main inclination has been towards the former, but it does have my mind going.

Besides these discussions, we had a nice time listening to music, going to Ruka, and eating Jettimunkis! Big round cardamom spiced doughnuts. Mmmm. Also picked berries, made pie, went on some good long hikes, had sauna, cooked good food, lived it up! Also went to a concert in Helsinki called Deathfeast which was lots of fun. Everyone was very loveable, in black t-shirts and friendly moshing.

beard and laplands meadow

Went around and saw some great Aalto buildings and also wandered through the connected buildings and underground of Helsinki – such nice and interesting public spaces there. Connected courtyards and covered walkways. Aalto’s work is very nice to see in person. Quite basic in some way – like not overly articulated or fussy. He seems to be comfortable with the existence of mistakes and idiosyncrasies.  Localized variation and expressed connections, without being as complex in articulation, like you might find in the work of Scarpa for example. Went to see his town hall at Saynastalo, which was so very nice. Such a great public building for a small island town. Somehow the brick and scale fits just perfectly in the tall pines. 

Academic Bookshop, Helsinki, Aalto

Aalto's house

Saynatsalo Town Hall

Saynatsalo Town Hall

Otherwise, I’ve been realizing how moved I am by the older buildings around Europe. They have a kind of gravity and a certain display of rigorous care. These days it seems we don’t make much that feels so well grounded, like it’s really a part of the city, part of the geography of the city. Hope I can get some of that gravity into my own work. Stockholm and Helsinki have both been inspirational in this way. And Uppsala still blows me away.

Helsinki, Academic Book Shop in Middle

Helsinki Main Terminal

coffee at the Swedish National Theater in Helsinki

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