Who Are You, What Do You Do, What Do You See?
It seems that these are the questions I get asked the most, especially this time of year. My relatives ask me if I'm gonna become an architect, and I tell them, "Actually, I am a historian." And there's an answer that draws a multitude of facial expressions.
But the thing is, now that I am away from my desk at school, away from my books, my files, my research, I have some time to reflect on the decision I've made to spend the next 6 or so years working towards a PhD. Not to get into application-personal-statement mode, but I will give you one of the answers I'm not
supposed to give: I absolutely love studying, reading, about architecture. I love finding out those mysteries that add to the general puzzle, those not-so-famous moments that are more significant that I even thought
. Really, we're not supposed to say that -- we're trained to say "Well, my area of expertise, while I studied under professor X, is the ramifications of historical event/aesthetic movement y on architect Z, and so on and so on." But only two days ago, while I was in the lower Chicago Loop with my brother, about to enter Prarie Avenue Bookshop
, I stood in the rain looking at Sullivan and Adler's Auditorium Building for about 10 minutes. And it was there that I realized why I am embarking on this whole PhD thing, why I am devoting a near-eternity to the study of architecture: because I love to look
. When you strip away all this theoretical/historical/aesthetic nomenclature and jargon, everything basically comes down to looking: whether it be from a worm's eye, via revisionist historicism, or even considering something from a completely different angle, my love of architecture, my desire to breathe, inhale, and devour architecture comes not from wanting to build and design something, but from looking at that something. If I am not a designer, then everything I do or think is informed, in some way, by architecture and other avenues of visual culture.
Which reminds me ... so when I logged in to archinect this morning, I saw my name all over the page. I never thought myself as a "featured blogger" type. I can't put up some of the dazzling models and drawings as +q and others; my commentary is not as witty or provocative as hasselhoff's or oana's. I can't even give you a first-hand account of studio culture. I am not sure how to really pinpoint or assign value to my contributions to this website ... I'm just trying to impart how I look at the things I see. This featured blogger stuff, plus all the comments I get make me feel like I'm on the right track.
So Thank You, and Happy Holidays to all ....