A big day working at Mildam today – drawing from 7.30am to 9.00am (finishing the section/elevation above), then building all day until 5.30pm. Yesterday we had been taken around by Peter Brinkman to our respective sites allocated to us by the King (Le Roy). Today Sieber, our Latin and Ancient Greek co-worker took us around too. The orientating point was a pile of blue stones that was next to the big modern pile – the last area that Louis worked on.
Its worth explaining that Louis has plans for us and much of our meetings have centered around those plans. They involve Thomas coming up from one side. Me from another and both of us meeting Occa in the middle. This is foundation work for the 200m skyscraper. I have concerns about the status of these things as objects. That is I think there is an obvious Phallic aspect to this – boys building erections. I find myself more interested in making surfaces or landform, and I like the objects best when the forms make up a surface, that still has some architectonic quality. Thomas suggests that this is because I am a landscape arechitect and Peter Brinkman would think this too. I think that this “man making huge thing with his own hands” is a bit macho. My attitude would be that certainly, I want an identifiable thing too, but also I think that any bit you do is a small contribution, and that the whole is a mosaic of actions that are cumulative but where an individuals moment of work is juast another small piece in this process, no more important than any other. It is the process itself that has primacy. To return to Louis plan, both Thomas and I have a resistance to the sites we have been given and also the direction. We are told that we can ”make our own form” BUT it must be here, it must meet, etc. I think that both Thomas and I are now pursuing little projects that we are using to improve our technique. He is “laken maken” (making a layer?), a piece of paving, and I am working on a platform and some steps down from it. Both sites are at the entry, and come from a subtext of clearing space from the stock pile for more trucks to deliver at the middle, where our dedicated sites are.
Thomas and I have been joking around this notion of “ecocathedral terrorism” that is taking principled action on the ecocathedral which would involve modifying the clear intentions of other peoples schemes. Doing things like pitting a triangular peak on a space that was clearly a table, or changing the direction of a wall. Part of the reason that we are thinking about this is that we have been discussing whether the Stichting is the supreme voice of the ideas of Le Roy of whether those ideas are autonomous and bigger than this organization. Perhaps the organization itself is against the ideas of the ecocathedral. I am attracted by this free space idea but think that this seems far from free according to the Stichting ad Louis: its all hard work. So how free is it? Peter said today that the project was not for tourists – its for workers who make a contribution. I think this is interesting and telling. I will think about it some more. I think Thomas and I find that the martial arts aspect of this is a bit full on: old guys telling you to be free but just so. Its like the Karate Kid: you cant fight until you can catch a butterfly with chop sticks. So thus the idea of the ANTI-ecocathedral… Its just being provocative, but also noting that the liberation of the ecocathedral is not just the idea of self-determined creative free energy, but the reality. You can refuse planning but accept another sort of planning without thinking about your position on this issue.
The fact that the trucks have not arrived, that there has been accommodation hassles, and that Louis has not been able to make it to orientate us mean that at least I will not be starting work on this area, though I will finish this platform and steps. I have 4 more days and then go to Germany for some art shows and to meet with Lisa Diedrich to escort her to a SCAPE meeting and share my joint birthday. I had been planning to stay longer, but now realize that this visit is only the first in something I will do annually if I can for a long time. What I need to learn will take years and so, weirdly, I have enough for my research now. Its also important that I see some more new things on t his trip and so I will visit landscape projects in the Ruhr, the IBA projects.
I am drawing (see below the finished drawing of the pinnacles) to try to unpack the craft of the project and its formal language. I think this project is a mega-structure and that it is an interesting study in how individual objects can make up a rich landscape. They also become the ground. I discussed this yesterday. Today I thought more about this in terms of an idea about formlessness and the ad-hoc. How we can talk about this as form and as a compositional language. There are some nice accidents that arrive from it. If I can unpack it it will open up a range of terrain for discussion to do with these self-generating spaces. But I don’t want to fall into the problem that Krauss and Bois’ “Formless: a users guide” had of just talking about the discourse of art in terms of how it dealt with things outside of composition. This is a valuable language. Louis is the key because he was formally self-conscious but also choosing not to be. I think its about spatial vision and imagining and incremental adaptation. I am more and more seeing the link between Christiania and Nimbin and the Ecocathedral. I also think that if you look at the work of Peter Cook in his early 1990’s period he was seeing a language in ad-hocism that was chucked out with post modernism. It’s a language that is about the decisions made on site – I will talk more of it when I have done more.
ETO 6. The Ecocathedral is a history of Friesland paving
The ecocathedral, at both Mildam and the Kennedy Laan is made up of mostly pavements, so presumably the contractors are paving contractors rather than demolition contractors. Correspondingly Le Roy and others have adapted what was a surface module to suit a (near vertical) use. When one observes the structures certain pavers have certain uses. By far the most important paver is the 300 x 300 x 45 paver which is used as the main pedestrian pavement material. Because it is flat and large it can bond across a number of brick pavers, and also covers a lot of space with little risk of overturning. These pavers also give a very local connection because they can still be seen in the streets of Heerenveen. Correspondingly the ecocathedral is a history of Dutch paving.
As I have been riding all around Heerenveen I have been both fascinated and horrified by the way that space is segregated (combinations of bike lanes, service lanes, pedestrian lanes, cars, trees, planting beds, all in very tight strips), I have been saying to myself as I try to perform normally on a bike, “hey, there’s that brick” “ and there’s another”. I think that there is an important cultural dimension to this connection between bricks used for strict control of functions in space and the same cricks becoming somehow mis-used, or mis-interpreted. I have also started drawing sections of some of these paved spaces in the town and thinking about an exhibition at QUT when I get back of these drawings of the Ecocathedral and the streets side buy side and some prose interpretation. I am thinking 5 drawings each, that is 10, but I have only done 2 so far and the rest might have to be with photos and measurements.