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a PhD in live projects and architectural education

A flying pigeon interfering

On Wednesday I began the long journey home. For three short days I’d been in the south-west and south of England meeting with academics at schools of architecture to talk about live projects and architectural education. I began this research trip – which covered six meetings – with an early morning flight from Glasgow to Cardiff. The journey home would be much slower, this time by train. After my last interview in Portsmouth, I turned north and headed for home, all the way from the south coast towards the central belt of Scotland.

For the first leg of my journey, the cheapest train ticket to London was also on the slowest train. So I had some time to begin transcribing the interviews I’d conducted in the previous days. Upon arrival at Victoria and with a couple of hours in hand before my connection from Euston, I skirted around the livelier distractions of London town and went directly to Tate Britain. Until 16 January 2011 you can catch the excellent exhibition on Eadweard Muybridge here, and I strongly recommend that you do so. As you may be aware, my previous research investigated the intersection between the sequential art of comics and architecture. Were it not for William Hogarth, you might say that Muybridge created the comic strip: a sequence of frozen moments, each presented graphically in a sequence that could read, releasing the narrative into a user-controlled recollection.

Most striking for me was this print,  Head-Spring, a flying pigeon interfering, exhibited courtesy of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC (who, it seems, have sadly not permitted a postcard or poster reproduction to be sold by the Tate). Muybridge set out to capture, from two angles, the human form as it performed a head spring. As part of a long lineage of such sequential photographs on show at Tate, it is nothing special, but for the interruption in the images of a pigeon meandering and then flying through the set naturally captivates the viewer. The print has become not only a sequence of a human but also a bird in flight. No matter how hard you try to establish the scientific conditions for your research, something fuzzy from the real world will always creep in. And it will usually surprise you with something quite beautiful.

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