Writing in Architecture: Poetic Metaphor Gone Wild

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Let’s take a look at what happens when an architect tries to use the metaphor as a concrete descriptor; AKA obfuscation through poetry.

Taken from an article on the website Dezeen.

A variety of spaces are contained within this Sydney yoga studio, each designed by architect Karen Abernethy to offering visitors a different sensory experience. How is it a different sensory experience, you ask? Because every change in environment is a different sensory experience, by definition; my senses tell me that the experience has shifted because I changed rooms.  In other words, she is stating the obvious.

The Humming Puppy studio is split across the two floors of an industrial building in inner-city suburb Redfern.

Architect Karen Abernethy wanted the space to feel noticeable separate from the street outside. To do this, she created a series of distinct spaces that could together offer an “immersive experience”. Immersive experience, you ask? Why yes, she immerses in you the experience as opposed to…nothing. Every experience is immersive.

“The design of the Humming Puppy studios is based on an immersive experience that starts from the moment when you walk in the front door,” said the architect. See note from previous paragraph.

“The anonymity from the street is intentional, so that the first step you take within the space has an immersive effect.” Anonymity from the street? Is the building anonymous with respect to the street? Is the street unknown, now that the perceiver is in the building? If anyone can decipher this, please let me know what the hell it means.

On arrival, visitors step into a stairwell that is deliberately neutral to allow a moment of calm and separation before they enter the building. The first reasonable description in the article

They then move on into the main space, which includes a changing room with lockers and a lounge area.

Both these zones are separated by an angled screen that is lined with a dichroic filter, which appears to shimmer and changes colour as a visitor moves around it.

A white wall at the back of the lounge leads through into the Shala area, which is where yoga classes take place.

Here, black plywood floors and black ceiling panels are intended to absorb both light and sound to enhance the humming yoga practice that the studio is known for. Absorb light (reasonable) and sound (!?!). Plywood absorbs sound? I don’t care what color it is painted , plywood does not absorb sound. Ever.

“At Humming Puppy Sydney the materials and fitting were selected based on a conceptual framework about light and reflection – fundamental elements of spirituality,” said Abernethy. Fitting chosen by a conceptual framework about bullshit. Is conceptual framework another way of saying ‘a hankering’? AND! Light and reflection are fundamental elements of spirituality? (I find myself getting angry at the writing)

“The concept also enabled us to create a project where the beautiful existing building shell could become the protagonist.” I am not sure which concept she is referring to, but it does not matter because a building can only be a protagonist in a science fiction movie. A building, a room, a toilet, are settings, not characters.

Despite the bold interventions throughout the building, the architect was keen for the original architecture to maintain a strong presence.

“This was achieved in two ways,” she explained. “Firstly, wherever possible, we have avoided making the new and old surfaces collide. Secondly, the material and fittings have been selected so as to reflect the existing building elements wherever possible.” Wherever possible, wherever possible. Similar to the repitition of “immersive” in three consective sentences, above.

I am a fan of creative writing, but let’s try and say something when we write. By using adjectives and metaphors from unrelated fields, we become dimmed to the twilight of the choreography, if you know what I mean.

Some of the paragraphs (which are one sentence long, at times) are separated by a photograph. Are the paragraphs captions for the photographs, you ask? No. Without the photos to separate the text, it becomes painfully clear how horrific the writing is.

Old concepts and new words

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Kellyanne Conway, the counsellor to President Trump defended the very first White House press conference by the Press Secretary who accused the press corp of distorting the truth by showing a sparsely attended inauguration. The press secretary, Sean Spicer offered verifiable numbers:  He referenced the number of people that used the Washington D.C. mass transit at the 2009 inauguartion and the one a few days ago. But, he lied, the numbers he gave were inaccurate. She claimed that the press secretary was giving ‘alternative facts.’ This implies that it is possible for 2 different things to be true at the same time. That it can be both raining and sunny (it can, but it must be in 2 different locations). That it can be both night and day (dusk and dawn are poetic, not scientific terms).

There is no such thing as an alternative fact. It is either right or wrong. True or false.

In the same vein, fake news is propoganda. Some will argue that propoganda is created by governments for political ends. I would argue that this definition was true when private citizens and corporations did not have access to the public as they do now with the internet and social media. The definition has evolved with the methods of mass communication.

source: Kellyanne Conway’s interview

How to voice your opinion

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With the just-completed Trump inauguration, it is worth taking a moment to look at how we handle voicing our opinion in the face of those who disagree. Each method has advantages and disadvantages and should be considered carefully, depending on your desired outcome.

1. Join a protest and carry a sign.

This method is useful because it shows the quantity of people who are unifying behind a common cause. For those who might believe that they have a universal mandate on a certain path, when they see a large number of people in disagreement, they might pause and consider.

This disadvantage is that there is no discourse and so cannot convince anyone that they are incorrect. Because I began this post referring to the Trump inauguration, I will continue to use the present political framework to explain. For those on the left that believe that millions marching will cause the right or those in power to look within, ask yourself if the sight of hundreds of thousands of tea party protesters 4 years ago caused you to reconsider your moral compass.

2. Rant on Facebook

The advantage here is that you are able to reach many more than you can by shouting in bar or at your friends in your living room.

The disadvantage is that if you use this method frequently, those who don’t share your ideology will stop following you. Eventually the only ones who see your rants are those who already agree with you. They may learn a new argument or clever phrasing, but nothing will change.

3. Have a rational conversation

The advantage is that you and another are engaged in discourse. If you get heated in your responses or behave in an aggressive manner, your co-conversationalist will let you know by responding in a like manner. This is truly the only one of two ways to change someone else’s opinion because the other person will actually hear your perspective (if you frame your perspective in a thoughtful and courteous manner). This method also gives you the opportunity to hear the other’s opinion and respond. A word of warning: some view this method as an attempt to ‘win’ the discussion by proving the other person wrong. It does not work because they othe person will feel attacked and defensive. We are never able to consider an alternative viewpoint when we are feeling defensive.

The disadvantage is that you are only able to reach one person at a time.

4. Write an article/book or speak to an audience

The key to this method is to be respectful and rational. Any other approach will ensure that the only people reading your work is those who already agree with you or are seeking ways to undermine your perspective. Any other approach than respectfulness and rationality ensures that those who disagree with you will not hear your point of view.

The disadvantage is that unless you are already famous, no one will see your words or hear your speeches. This is the approach for the already-established.