March 15, 2006

Image for Design

I have spent several years trekking to Anasazi ruins up in the four-corners area of the southwest, looking for design inpsiration for my art studio. However the light-bulb didn't go off until returning a few months back from Chaco Canyon.

On the 6-hour drive back to Arizona - assisted with a cup of hot coffee - I had plenty of time to think and generate ideas from the new information I had gleaned during the trip. I arrived home at 11 p.m. and with work the next morning you would think I would have crashed for the evening; but instead I decided to watch a movie! It was imagery and sound film by Godfrey Reggio called Powaqqatsi (Hopi meaning “Life in Transition”). The film is a montage of images about life in the Southern Hemisphere and how globalization and technology is affecting the hand-made way-of-living for these people.

In one 6-second scene in the film, an aerial fly-over view of a primitive farm in Kenya, Africa is shown (Refer to photo). Hedges in circular and curved-line shaped patterns bordered the farm, houses, outbuildings and animal pens. I was fascinated by the aesthetic quality and ‘organic’ abstract design of this dimensionality. I froze the image on the TV; took a digital picture of the screen; then loaded the image on my computer; traced the hedge outline in PhotoShop; and printed a hardcopy to plan from. Then I went to work at my drafting table with an architect’s scale, and before I knew it I had designed the layout for my studio. It fit the land; it met my space requirements and the design mirrors the architectural style of Anasazi . Most importantly, the layout was ‘buildable’ from a practicable standpoint. It was all there. All the design aspects and aesthetic details I have been struggling with for several years reached convergence and made itself known.

I think back now to the film. What were the odds that year’s ago cinematographer would fly-over a farm in Africa and put it in a film? Then I would see this image on a video and design a house based on the planting of hedges around that farm? In some way it seems random to me and in another way the saying: "Chance favors a prepared mind" seems appropriate. The whole process is like writing a poem.

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