Dissertation Week 2: Supervisor Meeting

15 word cloud. Wordle.net

Meeting time elapsed: 34mins, 40 secs

S: This is exactly how I want these sessions to work, where you talk for 40 minutes, where you leave it, and I get the chance to respond. I reckon it's been a good week, there's a lot of depth, the search has been quite broad, your ideas are starting to - at least your vague intentions seem to have some grounding, and start aligning themselves with different ways of moving forward. So maybe if I could respond;    

Firstly, I think the measured drawings are excellent, and they just need to be finished, and I agree that texture and surface will be important. Consider what else needs to be drawn, particularly the site plan has got better just by you sitting over it and drawing on it, explaining to me what's going on, because I think to get a good site plan, with all the composite parts - you might need to find a way to draw the many physical layers that exist because some of  things you've mentioned that I think are interesting - well firstly there's the site, there's it's edges, there's it's road infrastructure, there's the presence of it's landscape and vegetation, around the constructed world. I think scale seems to come across in some of the photos - the immensity of the Karri trees versus the emptiness of the paddock, the intensity of that rear farm courtyard that you've mentioned, and the over-grown cluster of the orchard, the grapevine and the bit that's out the front of the house. I think these things need to become physically manifest in drawings. You constantly refer to the overgrown and the messy. Maybe some of them are small things that are hard to pick up - you talked about a door that's now - well, a window that's actually a door, and it's never been used as a door. I don't know if any of those things will mean anything in the long run. I thought that the floor plan of the house needed - you talked a lot about reading the place through it's ceilings, and I actually think that's often understand in projects. The role of the ceiling is often - you look at the ceiling or the floor to unpick patterns or codes of whats happened before or how the space was used or where a beam's been put through or a walls been divided. So you talked about ceiling heights, lines of surface and beams and so on - so I think those lines need to be on the floor plan as dotted lines, but you might even have a ceiling drawing. I guess I add to that is the floor significant at all? Which it may or may not be. Also there are things you talked about, like codings - what was the original cottage, bits that were added or infilled, and timing associated with those and adjustments - that's why I asked you about the roof space, to see if some of that can be deciphered. But I think a plan could have, a floor plan, could have a ceiling, a plan could have a surface, could have a time, a plan-time arrangement. There might be a plan with electricity cable or small things that aren't perceptible, that somehow become present. I don't know what they are, but - also a thing that you talked about that really stood out to me was there seems to be 3 really pervasive kinds of landscape - there's the productive landscape, and you talked about - there's a walnut on the site, there's a grapevine on the site, there's blackberries on the site. I don't know if there's grain within the vicinity, but there's certainly fruit trees and orchards. There's regrowth native landscape, rather than truly native landscape. There seems also to be the ornamental landscape, you mentioned the jacaranda and other trees, jasmine and so on that serve no purpose other than an ornamental character and I think that has a real richness in it - obviously speaks about the kind of people that were given land grants, probably got off a boat from England, sent out into the blistering heat and told to go 'just chop some trees down, and you gotta make the thing work, otherwise we'll take it off you', so that land grant process, which failed, overlayed with English nostalgia, and if that land grant process was in place - and also your own Dad's connection to botany, science and whether that, the botanical - it's almost a botanical garden in some ways, that probably shows in a number of those things.
You talked also about some of the phenomenal and fleeting things; one was the afternoon sun through the Karris [against the Karris], one side of the site becomes special because of the passage of the sun through those enormous trees. I very much enjoyed your description of the site conditions as connecting to Rachel Whiteread, you think there's something there that might assist at some point - the homely quality of the place, the eclectic planting.
The past uses, labour - the labourer, the scientist, then the family of six - but I think where it starts, I was starting to think by the end, how do you start to give this some kind of context, because I think, without trying to contextualise what you've been thinking about, they're just thoughts and there can be many many many, and you can't put them into order, and I think you've actually started to do that, which I'm very pleased to see, and I think the three categories of the good death, the restoration or fermentation are going to be fundamental in some way. I think connecting 'a good death' to Rachel Whiteread might be - 'a good death' is -

F: yeah I hadn't thought of that connection

S: But the house is actually no longer there. You burn it like a viking funeral - you fill it full of spray-on concrete and you strip it away so it's ghost remains - in fact I think that project for that house is called Ghost

F: There's one called Ghost and there's one called House

S: Matta-Clark would have a much more aggressive way of affecting that thing so it changes, or Formalhaut send it off, a bit like a viking funeral, they drill three thousand carnations into the fabric of it, they see it off into it's next life and they take it down and rebuild, the new. But I guess there's something in the good death that the thing is no longer there - it's not that it's transformed, it's actually a complete death, it's no longer in existence. Something else happens that's possibly - that sense of it lingers, because I think for me the Formalhaut house demolition process lingers in my mind as something just utterly poignant - the Rachel Whiteread house lingers because it's physical substance and it becomes a sort-of ponderous thing -
The viking funeral maybe because of ceremony, so that there's something about those things, about it being not there the house is gone that there's something that's kind of a trace, a lingering of that somehow. The restoration one of, tweaking it somehow, of just making it into a smart cottage is an intriguing approach it's the least glamorous, and potentially the least adventurous intellectually, but I'm not sure if that's the case, it could be a sleeper - if you start to do small things, but they build up to be things of quite [unclear] substance.

F: Sometimes I think 'okay, I'm doing this project now, but afterwards I do plan to do something with the house', so the restoration seems the least adventurous, but is also the most realistic.

S: I don't realistic needs to mean less conceptually rich

F: I agree with you, in the restoration process there needs to be a lot of small architecture happening - re-skinning a house in a meaningful way, I don't think there could be any finer architectural thinking than that, in a way you would have to come up with something that works for the house, something that means something - because I think that's what we do, and it's 100% site specific, every millimetre counts in the sense that the exactness of the building would inform what you came up with.

S: Restoration in one sense could mean that someone rocks up, rips the roof off, replaces it, pulls the gutters off, puts PVC gutters up, paints the house, tarts it up and there's absolutely nothing - removed it's soul, so somehow there's a connection to the thing - an example is SN and I are working on a workers cottage in [near Fremantle], and the clients are both artists and very sensitive to the existing house and they love it, despite the fact that it's got some fundamental problems, and they said whatever you do, you cannot lose the sense of it being a worker's cottage. So there's something there that's a line that you cross. I really liked the term you use, 'small architecture', which I think opens a conceptual door and a rich loaded project, which isn't necessary - well it just becomes an investigation on that, on what that might mean. And I think that human need, and just health, make sure it doesn't leak -

F: and keep the rats out!

S: - Keep the rats out! Make sure there's no mould and mildew and something about building up on the nature of what it is. Anyway, I think that is a bit intriguing, equal to the 'good death', which I think is just beautiful as well. And the fermentation one I think is equally so, is just very very evocative, and I think you should study the process of fermentation, to know what that is, to know what actually occurs because clearly something undergoes transformation - you need ingredients, whether that's grain and water and sugars and yeast or whether it's wine and grapes and x and y and z, you set up a certain condition, and it fundamentally changes, and becomes something else - it's not 'a good death' where it's lost, it remains something, but is somehow -

F: I was a cellar-hand in a winery for a while.

S: Right! [Laughs] So you probably know a bit about it!

F: Yeah, they have their ferments and they have what they called 'wild ferments', which is where a wild yeast gets into the wine, and unexpected things happen.

S: Oh I imagine sometime good, and sometimes very bad. I think that the grounding in these things in precedent, like the 'good death' in Rachel Whiteread, Formalhaut, the viking funeral, but I think they don't have to be just art and architectural projects, I think the viking funeral is actually more than just a throwaway comment, some sort of sense of what might've been done previously, in terms of 'small architecture' in this restorative project for the restoratory project, and fermentation with the Alhambra, the picturesque ruin, the infrastructure as landscape where you make a change and the change is aligned with the idea and moves the thing along - well, I don't actually know what a lot of those things actually turn into. It seems to me that Heidegger may or may not come to bear on each of those, because he's talking about dwelling, dwelling in a particular way. And I agree that the video cutting might be a very convenient way for you to visually and phenomenaly connect us with what's at play, whether it's a surface or a junction or a room or a landscape or a piece of infrastructure or an idea, as long as it doesn't become so time consuming that you don't actually do any projects.

F: Oh no, they can be made quickly and - much like a sketch model, I think a video can be cut roughly together.

S: And I think that's also nice, that the roughness of your work in the wildness of the landscape, the purposefulness and the inexactitude of the house and it's landscape - and I think that touchstone image of the jasmine climbing up the swing, as a really romantic thing but the stillness of the swing is what strikes me - if that jasmine's going to stay alive it's not swinging it becoming grounded and halted.
So I think in a way what you should do is start this process of creating that broad tapestry of collected things, measured drawings, this chart, objects, photographs and so on - not to overlay an order on it yet, keep it under control but have it speak back to you somehow. Pursuing these three ideas is where you should start to go, but I think grounded in the site, the idea, and precedent works - because those things, your spatial history, the site conditions, possible futures and these precedents under each of these three possible scenarios of working is a good direction.

F: Yeah I think those three things, I can probably organise a new chart with those three things - things feeding into those three things, and things feeding out of those three things

S: You might find that this charting thing is the way you start to make sense of lot's of things that swim through your [unclear]. They're not dissimilar to Leon van Schiak's ideograms, and he constantly draws a stage setting, it's his way of trying to quantify what is in front him, whether he's talking to you about your project, or some analyses of a whole -

F: I do find those very strange, those one's that he does - I don't actually find them all that helpful - they're better than nothing -

S: I guess -

F: I probably haven't spent as much time studying them as I might've.

S: They are probably helpful if they help the practitioner, so I think-

F: This helped me a lot, because I felt like I was in a chaotic cloud of ideas, and I just needed to organise it, and it took time, but it was worth doing.

S: Yep, okay I think that's your next week, is to continue pursuing the drawings, I'd like to see more landscape, and some of those traces in your measured drawings, site plan, so get that background information up, so by looking you're starting to find - I just always think that when you're drawing you're constantly thinking about the project and what it starts to suggest.

F: Absolutely, to me nothing's more important than the drawings, and I have been frustrated by the slow pace of the measuring.

S: But I reckon that slow pace - well my own personal opinion is, I do all the measured drawings of the projects I'm working on, SN does his - we could get - HG could go and do them, which we would if she was doing the project, but we find if we do them, we start to get connected to the place.

F: I completely believe in the process of crawling over the thing with a measuring tape - trying to draw it, and thinking - I sit there, with my computer in the house, and I go out with my measuring tape, and I go and find the bit that I'm working on - I draw it, while I'm standing in front of it, I measure it, I go back to the computer, I put it in, somethings not working, I go and check - if I suddenly realise, 'hold on, how does that work?', I go back and look. It's been a good process, I'm definitely understanding a lot about it.

S: So I think that's what you should start the process of, you've basically got three starting points, you've got three manners of handling - specifically I think they call out for a different way of handling a project, they're grounded in different precedents, I think you probably need to do all of them, and then find out what your thesis then becomes, do you continue to do three and describe those processes, or do you abandon two and go along one - We can't know that yet.

F: yep

S: Okay?

F: yep

S: Good.

S: Well done, thanks.

F: Thanks S.

S: Bang on ten o'clock.

Meeting time elapsed: 55mins, 46 secs.                                                     


AJH said...

wow that is a really interesting meeting! It all sounds so clear, these three ways (methodologies) for the house. Good job

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