Collaborating with artists: Seth Clark studies
The past couple weeks, we’ve been teaming with the remarkable Pittsburgh painter, Seth Clark to create an entry for a certain well known Fall architecture competition.
Seth is interested in ruins or, as he describes it, “deteriorating architecture”. His paintings frequently feature carefully composed studies of decaying buildings. Often they resemble asymmetric cubist abstractions. Other times they recall crashed planes or Western Pennsylvania barns after a tornado.
If you know my designs, you probably understand why I’m fascinated with Seth’s work and would be eager to team with him. First of all, his paintings feature wonderful craft. Second, the compositions have a freedom my own work can only hint at. Third, I’ve been fascinated forever with the way buildings change over time: My interns and former students would no doubt claim I overuse the word, “palimpsest“, which is often used as a metaphor for the way cities develop. (Here is a link to my recent PHLF sponsored “Recycling Space” lecture that addresses this subject in more detail.)
We started in the office by studying photographs of ruins and then “recontextualizing” them by wrapping the pics around cubes and then suspending them in the air. Then we studied one of Seth’s two dimensional compositions with our 3D software. What would his paintings look like when viewed at an angle? What it be like to be inside one of his structures? Thanks to my interns, Lingfan, Shan, and Angela, we now know the answer.
As cool as all this is, still unresolved is the question of how these studies will assist in helping us create a narrative that will be a competition winner. I think it’s OK that we don’t know the answer yet. Seth agrees with us that our process has been revelatory, although neither of us is quite sure yet what has been revealed… We’ve ordered a couple books on the philosophy of ruins that we’ll be reading in the coming weeks. Hopefully, that will provide is with a rational for our process.
It will be interesting to see how this work will effect Seth’s output and mine in the future. Will we be touched by our shared endeavor? We’ll see… The answer will no doubt depend on the quality of ideas that remain to be developed.