Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Heroic Modernism of High Technology and the Mystical Union of Art and Life in the Tower

Like the Two Towers of Tolkien, polar antagonism is the result of good and evil forces seeking dominance over the other.  Which will prevail determines the color of an age.  As the (evil) wizard Saruman says, "The World is changing. Who now has the strength to stand against the armies of Isengard and Mordor? To stand against the might of Sauron and Saruman ... and the union of the two towers? Together, my Lord Sauron ... we shall rule this Middle-Earth."  We have come out of a particularly dark period, where towers have risen and fallen.  The Twin Towers hang like phantasms around a rather sober looking single tower taking their place in New York City.  In essence, the two have become one.  It is arguable that from an architectural standpoint, the Freedom Tower is deficient in design to make New York City nothing other than like Paris before the end of WWII.  Examples of more prevalent visionary ideas are exemplified in towers like the Burj Khalifa or the Petronas Towers. The fact that Antonin Gaudi's Grand Hotel for New York was supposed to be built at the World Trade Center site is also interesting.  That is another aspect of this conversation however.

Paul Laffoley defines the Bahauroque as more or less a fusion of both "the heroic modernism of the German 'Bauhaus,' with its aspiration toward a technological utopia, and the exalted theatricality of the Italian baroque, in which an exuberance of form and illusion serve to express the mystical union of art and life."  I think he means a resolution of opposites, perhaps resolved in the destruction of the Twin Towers, and being rebuilt both physically and spiritually in one symbolic tower representing the age of technological advancement which is happening at high speed.  Perhaps these opposites were not so diametrically opposed after all, and their fusion promises a great future of aesthetic potential.  Reconstruction takes place out of postmodern ideas of absence in the sculptural field, like Rachel Whiteread's creations demonstrate.  As with Humpty Dumpty, the broken entity is pieced back together again.  The nature of design will naturally change in lieu of this reality based on a new aesthetic perspective and paradigm.  

The oppositional resolution is not in some highly intellectualized, decentralized way like in Postmodernism, but in a new way that has a mystical foundation in form.  Art and architecture may be able to speak their own psychic language again and we can envision formality in a way that is dedicated toward beauty in order to bring about a higher dimensional reality.  

This is the heroic modernism of high technology, building on ingenious creations of great engineering potential, like for example the work of Antonin Gaudi, and in some respects the Deconstructionists.  It is also mystical, yoking together realities that have become divorced from each other as a result of the cold intellectualism needed initially to usher in this technological age.  Now the shift in consciousness is possible and the understanding transformative.