“the time lag may arise because the agent of change is initially technical — like the development of the arch, oil paint, air-conditioning, digital representation — and time to experiment is required for the consequences of each new method of production to suggest aesthetic possibility” – david heymann
08/06/2012 § Leave a comment
photograph: alfred stieglitz, for the blind man, no. 2 (1917)
art: marcel duchamp, fountain (1917)
that said, it is not an empty history, and, weirdly enough, the concept has a few singular masterpieces. of these, the most familiar (in academic and cultural discourse it remains un-flushable) and usefully notorious is fountain, by marcel duchamp. prior to being an artwork, fountain was, of course, a urinal (there were four versions), never flushed, turned on its back, and visibly signed by duchamp, though not using his own name. low-flow though it may be, fountain was not, of course, conceived with sustainability in mind, but what it shares with the potential for sustainable aesthetics is pretty startling (and for the following breakdown i am indebted to william camfield’s marcel duchamp fountain).
very briefly: fountain was intended as a test of principles, challenging an existing orthodoxy not merely of taste, but of valuation. here the terms of aesthetic understanding do not arise from form alone, but from the relationship of form to a constitutional act of valuing that is essentially invisible. most powerfully, with fountain, the potential for an aesthetic arises from a carefully calculated indifference to aesthetics. is there any other consciously made object out there that is closer, as an analogy, to how a sustainable construction could potentially operate aesthetically?
– excerpt from david heymann’s essay “an un-flushable urinal: thoughts on the aesthetic potential of sustainability” (via design observer)
center for the potential of sustainable aesthetics
a young hare
[title + image] both today’s title and the image were borrowed from the david heymann’s design observer article “an un-flushable urinal: thoughts on the aesthetic potential of sustainability”.
[more] if you’d like to read more on this topic and sustainability in architecture, david’s article is actually part of a series of papers presented at a symposium this past january titled beyondLEED. several of the white papers are now available on their website, beyondLEED.