Lian already wrote about Thom's lecture, but there were a lot of items I wanted to elaborate on (feel free to chime in Lian).
"My work is loaded with purposeful accidents"
Thom returned to the subject of "Quasi-autogenerative" techinques in his work over and over again. He talked about how he was "interested in developing an architecture that is beyond [his] own capabiliites" - that he wasn't interested in any form or architecture that he could imagine - because if he could imagine it, it wasn't new. He talked about how this was in part a self serving agenda as he aged (he is 65) so that he didn't get caught in a style that became outdated. I think this idea of only being interested in what you can't imagine a very interesting line of thought. I recently re-watched the documentry on the painter Agnes Martin where she talks about 'painting with her back to the world' and waiting with quite mind for inspiration to come to her. Though wildly differnent both Thom and Agnes are after images/ideas/forms that are outside their experience base. I need to think more on this, but Im interested.
An expanded exchange between Scott Cohen & Mayne:
SC: Why do you lift your skirt at Cooper but crumple under your own weight at Caltrans?
TM: You are way more analytic than I am. I don't analyze during creation.
SC: If you weren't you and you visited the Cooper - What do you see when you look at it?
TM: I see a 1000 problems that weren't solved.
SC: No, but really, what does this (drawing on screen) shape mean to you?
TM: I have very little interest in analyzing it now - it just is - its over.
SC: I'm asking you what it means as a building.
TM: I don't care what it means.
-----Mayne absolutely refused to talk in any way about what his work signified or what his forms meant. Yet his presentation was totally differnt from Ghery's. Frank essentially stuck to the "aww, shucks" kind of pseudo-humility and pseudo-anti intellectual character whose business analysis was sharp but whose architecture analysis ended at "funny buildings" & "wavy buildings". Thom, while refusing to talk about meaning, was very deliberate and engaging when it came to discussing intent - hyper programmaticly driven. His process was "working with the mechanics that are appropriate for the problems that need to be solved." Im sure there is more to unpack here...
Other quick notes:
- The first question was a long rambling archi-speak assemblage of words that I didn't understand. And neither did Thom - he sat there in silence for a bit and then looked at Preston and said "I don't know what he is talking about." Preston said "hes talking about FIELD CONDITION" (in an amused tone). Thom then responded with this gem- "Field condition....that's a very hip word. What was the question?"
- I knew of Thom's work only in a limited capacity before the lecture. I knew the general story of his work and had seen the Diamond Ranch School in publication but that was about it. I was never that impressed with the ideas or the work. But this was one of the best lectures I have seen here at the GSD so far. Also, I don't know who he uses for his photography but the work shown in the presentation was fantastic.
- "If you don't set goals which are unattainable, then you need to ramp up your goals." -TM