- Published on June 21, 2012
In the consideration of things prevalent and subjective, perhaps no things are more prevalent, more subjective than architecture and music. They are pervasive influences in our lives, entirely subjective to personal sensibilities. One person's dream sonata can be another's sonic hell.
Ask any ten people their opinion regarding a building and you'll likely get ten distinct responses. Yet when we blend music and architecture our impressions tend to play one off, or with, the other. Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, for instance, views them in similar wavelengths: "I call architecture frozen music". Well said, sir. What is it in our human nature that can commingle the sublime play of sound waves with the bulk of solid structures? Though they each incorporate rhythm, space, imagination, and mathematics, that doesn't quite seem to explain it. Sacred geometry posits that there is a divine mathematical plan in play, both in natural and man-made forms - golden ratios, numbers with esoteric importance. Frank Gehry's design for the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles has the appearance of undulating sine waves. Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Rick Wright were architecture students prior to comprising 75% of Pink Floyd.
Another dynamic is the effect sound waves impart to solid material. We can witness the transformational nature of sound via Cymatics, the study of wave phenomena and vibration. My fellow Light & Sound traveler Jeff Volk is a recognized expert in the field. I've personally enjoyed over 20 years working in recording studios, structures designed specifically for the creation, production, recording and archiving of music and sound. The stream of sound waves washing over me all those years has had a profound impact. Where else do we look? I recently discovered the work of Marcos Novak, a self-described transarchitect. His work and vision are unique and amazing; he's an architect, artist, composer; a theorist who employs algorithmic techniques to design actual, virtual and hybrid intelligent environments. Marcos has expanded his definition of architecture to include electronic space, and refers to his creations as 'liquid architecture', 'navigable music' and 'archimusic'. The concept according to Marcus: "If we described liquid architecture as a symphony in space, this description would still fall short of the promise. A symphony, though it varies within its duration, is still a fixed object and can be repeated. At its fullest expression a liquid architecture is more than that. It is a symphony of space, but a symphony that never repeats and continues to develop. If architecture is an extension of our bodies, shelter and actor for the fragile self, a liquid architecture is that self in the act of becoming itw own changing shelter. Like us, it has an identity; but this identity is only revealed fully during the course of its lifetime." Perfect - essence defined by the doing, no hype, no fluff. I know of only one soon-to-be structure on the planet imbued with Novak's evolving paradigm: Graft Tower in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Its concept is truly breathtaking; many thanks to colleague Amber Keenoy for bringing it to my attention. Necessity is guiding us to a new, repurposed human future. Perhaps sooner than later, we'll live, work and play in smart buildings that evolve along with us.