Yale School of Architecture (Enrique)

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    Scandinavian Modernism vs. Buddha Machine

    By Smokety Mc Smoke Smoke
    Feb 2, '06 10:29 PM EST

    There is an eerie, yet comfortable silence in the A+A building these days. It's primarily because all the post-pros and 3rd-year M.Arch I's are travelling with their advanced studios. This past Tuesday, the building was a literal and figurative transport node: students were rushing to and fro, carrying their luggage (and in some instances, models), getting reaady to board their charter buses en route to JFK, EWR, or whatever airport they were headed to.

    It's interesting, because my desk is on the fourth floor, right next to the Greg Lynn studio, and honestly, I miss the hustle and bustle that they provided. One girl (I don't even know her name) has a desk that looks directly above mine, and it's weird not having people stare down at the MED pit these days.

    But there are some intersting develeopments in MED land. For example, while visiting my brother in Chicago over Christmas break, we both walked into this teeny record store. The proprietor (who is good friends with my brother) motioned to us, wanting to show us his latest toy: a buddha machine. I am not sure how to describe this little gizmo, but perhaps this tidy little diagram will give you an idea:

    So, think of this thing as a pre-programmed iPod. But instead of having your favorite Hawkwind or Motorhead tunes, it contains 5 or so pre-programmed "drones" that are suppose to provide some type of neo-siddharthian aural bliss. And it's hot pink, to boot. With a headphone jack! I thought that I would take it to school in lieu of my trusty (but ageing) iPod for musical stimulation. Well, it was good for about 10 minutes, then the thing started to creep me out. I would switch to a different drone, and that particular drone would creep me out as well. Now, I am a fan of drone music. I could listen to Growing, Sunn O))), or even the Conet Project all day. But there was something about this drone, being played through a plastic, vibrating speaker, that was, well, a little off. I remember one time when I was 10 or so, I went to my grandfather's ranch with my Dad to help "shoo" away a group of bats that had nestled inside the walls of our ranchhouse. My dad had this tidy little thing he bought at Western Auto which would generate these high-pitched signals that would drive bats away. That's what the Buddha Machine was like. Except, this thing reminded me of the Hypnotoad drone on Futurama. But, all things said, you should buy one. It is an interesting little gadget. And yes, it does have a teeny little buddha inside. I checked.

    And next week, I will be giving my first lecture. As you may well remember, I am a teaching fellow for a History of Art course called Architecture Since 1945. Well, as a teaching fellow, I am responsible for delivering one lecture to the class, and the powers that be have decided that I will be lecturing on (drum roll please) .... SCANDINAVIAN MODERNISM.

    Well, I am supposed to cover Alvar Aalto, Jørn Utzon, Arne Jacobsen, Erik Gunnar Asplund, as well as the Marimekko Corporation. I am a little mortified, because never in my life did I ever imagine that I would ever lecture on Scandinavian architects, nor be in a situation where I would be in a position of authority regarding said architects. Welcome to academia!!! In any event, I've been hitting the books, and I am finding that Giedion's and Frampton's writings on Jørn Utzon are particularly helpful, as is Demetri Porphyrios' book on Aalto. Also, there is a particularly snazzy little article in Perspecta 37 regarding Aalto. Good stuff. Anyways, I will post again to tell you how my little venture into lecturing fared.

    But, it has been really interesting conducting section with Yale undergrads. Sometimes they ask the most interesting questions ... like, for example, "What is an I-beam?"

    Until next time .....


    • AP

      good luck with the lecture. great material.

      Feb 2, 06 10:51 pm  · 

      You should check out the text "acceptera", which was the manifesto of the Swedish modernists. Don't know if english translations are available though. Published in 1931, Asplund is one of the main contributors.

      Feb 3, 06 1:53 am  · 

      Good luck with your lecture. Be sure to pronounce all the names correctly, even if you have to quicklearn some Finnish phonology. It may be a small thing, but if someone in your class knows the correct pronunciation, nothing will make you look like an amateur faster.

      Feb 3, 06 5:22 pm  · 
      miss chief

      I never realized that inside the Buddha Machine was a little Buddha. Who knew!?

      Feb 5, 06 8:34 am  · 

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