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Intensity of Architecture

In short, emotion is creative (first, because it expresses the whole of creation, then because it creates the work in which it is expressed; and finally, because it communicates a little of this creativity to spectators or hearers). 
From Gille Deleuze, Bergsonism (English translation 1988, New York: originally published in France as Le Bergsonisme, 1966, Paris)

With reason, one can explain something good; however, one cannot explain something beautiful.  With reason, one can create something good; however, one cannot create something beautiful.  Anything beautiful can create reason, but reason, in essence, cannot create anything beautiful.
Certain things are just so attractive that verbal expression is suspended and left powerless.  Whenever one encounters such impressive things, the body automatically responds earlier than making logic for words.  It is sure that there is something beautiful to move many peoples beyond nationality, even though, according to Marx, human senses are more or less infected by history, society, or culture in each nation.  The same goes for architecture.  And I believe, what we contemporary architects try to do is to realize such kind of architecture.

Meanwhile, what is the essence of architecture that can impress peoples beyond their backgrounds?  As one possibility, it is relevant to a human body with five senses, because the body has not been very much different in terms of functions and dimensions among peoples since the ancient times.  It is also profoundly related to a human spirituality from the standpoint of researches in today's brain science.
Something impressive stimulates a human emotion, by which one can create a certain image full of delightfulness.  Indeed, in the past, the emotion used to be regarded as something inferior, and it should be an object controlled by reason.  In thinking of emotion, we may refer to Deleuze's words in the same book above, in which he described that emotion is like the God in humankind.

Only emotion differs in nature from both intelligence and instinct, from both intelligent individual egoism and quasi-instinctive social pressure. ...  Emotion in fact precedes all representation, itself generating new ideas.  It does not have, strictly speaking, an object, but merely an essence that spreads itself over various objects, animals, plants and the whole of nature.  "Imagine a piece of music which expresses love.  It is not love for a particular person ...  The quality of love will depend upon its essence and not upon its object."  Although personal, emotion is not individual; transcendent, it is like the God in us.

Most recently, in any way, the emotion is considered as an essential brain function for building one's view of world.  And I think that it is worth while to notice that the emotion works, by and large, "unconsciously;" because the unconscious impulse arises beyond conscious reactions of making logics or whatever concerning a human reason.  What is important is that the unconscious impulse is deeply tied up with a human intuition.  According to the advanced brain science, the unconsciousness gives birth to something creative.  Therefore, the human intuition is essential for creating something new; in other words, creativeness of humankind.
Intuition often deviates from logical thinking.  In the course of modern history, we have, more or less, been educated that the deviation from logics is bad or wrong.  Such study field as theory or planning is, in a way, to guarantee the logical development in human thinking.  They both belong to a system of knowledge, and therefore, they are always verbalized.  Here, what we have to be careful is that the knowledge does not produce something creative, but only systematize it.  Great theories in science, for example, have often been come out from intuition, the history of which tells a lot.  And about arts, it is more obvious.
Now, thinking back upon architecture or creation in architectural design, I think that we architects should go back once to our human nature, and esteem our emotion, rich emotion, out of which intuition, the source of creativeness, springs.  Architecture in reality has definitely a particular condition; such as site, client, budget, design requirements, laws, etc., any of which could be an element for giving an effect upon emotion.  The creativity of you, an architect, is ascribed to your personality for extracting what kind of element from those conditions.  What is important here is to foster the first impression, even if it is too small, at the initial encounter because it is the intuition that you should root and expand your specific images to ideas.  You should not rush towards theories of planning, or any doctrine tainted by so-called "how-to."  For a while, you should keep company with a vague image floating around the intuition; and at last, you could reach a sharp image of what you should do for design.  Of course, you must be required a certain leaping from your first intuition to some concrete shape of image, and the leaping itself is supported by a human creativeness.
To create something is to jump from nothing obvious towards something clear even though it is not yet anything evident.  Creativeness is, by nature, sustained by the leaping for no reason.  In that sense, I think that an architect's talent is, more or less, relevant to the degree of leaping provoked by the intuition.  Whereas, Deleuze mentioned that creative emotion is a genesis of intuition in intelligence; in this context, the leaping is essentially related to the creative emotion, which we architects should revaluate its significance for architecture creative.
Incidentally, what is the creative emotion by Deleuze?  He defined as follows: "A what is this creative emotion, if not precisely a cosmic Memory, that actualizes all the levels at the same time, that liberates man from the plane or the level that is proper to him, in order to make him a creator, adequate to the whole movement of creation." 
As the word, "cosmic Memory," sounds, the creative emotion was still mystic in the mid 1960s, and today, the problem of emotion has not completely been cleared even in the advanced brain science.  Thus the leaping with the creative emotion is not yet authorized in the system of the human knowledge.  The same goes for those things generated from the creative emotion.  They have always been treated as indispensable things to be pushed aside.  Indeed, sometimes in history, some lucky things of beauty have been discovered after a long time passed, but mostly, we have abandoned them as something mysterious, eccentric, unique, or insane, in other words, something that the human reason failed to analyze or explain with words.  As a result, we must have lost a diversity that humankind has by nature.  In architecture, too, we have probably left lots of fascinating buildings unknown somewhere in the past.  In essence, a truly superb art is never to be categorized in such context as fashion, style, or movement.

I am thinking that we should respect something enigmatic intuitively to your emotion.  It directly tells you whether it is factitious or not.  At least once in your life, everyone would have experienced something enigmatically spiritual to your senses.  On such an encounter, you might have touched the essence of thing, which now I am focusing on.     
In my practice, as a matter of fact, I have been captured by the curious power of such attraction, ever since the involvement with designing "villa man-bow" in 1997.  In my quest for architecture as an existence that suspends a human logic in thinking, I named the nature of this enigmatic attraction "intensity of architecture."  I feel and have felt that intensity might be a key to approach the essence of an object of architecture and any other arts.
The intensity has no relationship with politics, aesthetics, thoughts, or whatever of human thinking, but it relates to momentary senses of a human body.  And I am thinking that a human potential of intuition is even more important to create architecture rather than knowledge or theory to which verbalization is always required, for such verbalization always tends to limit human images.  Architecture of intensity must be seductive all the more because it is beyond expression by human words.

Written by Satoshi Okada, architect, Tokyo, Japan
First writing on 10th September 2007


On computer age
In our age, it is true that we are getting a lot of benefit from computer technologies, but it is absolutely false if we think that computer can do everything and computing is creative.  Computer is NOT creative.  It is apparent simply when we think of the fact that even our advanced sciences failed at making artificial brain supported by computer.  Computer might generate interesting or agitating architecture in terms of expanding its possible way of existence, yet it could never realize an impressive architecture to human soul.  Why?  Because, in reality, regrettably enough, both construction technologies and materials have not yet caught up with an imaginary architecture produced in monitors.  In that sense, we should suspend such an optimistic fiction around a computing until the time comes.  All the more because we are now exposed in the world of computers, I think we should once reconsider an intrinsic potential to humankind for creativeness.

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