October 25, 2019

Cities of Dreams

        I’ve been on a bit of an architecture kick, perhaps as a reaction to all those imaginary creatures.  One recent piece is a real building, which I’ll share some other time, but here are a couple of others, just as imaginary as the creatures, but with a refreshing dose of geometry.  There’s no particular rhyme or reason to these cities; they’re really just doodles of whatever struck my fancy, but I’ll share a few of the things I was thinking about.
     1. Variety is the spice of life.  I was enjoying trying to throw in a little of everything, but especially towers: steeples, skyscrapers, minarets, turrets, spires, from different architectural styles of different times and places…
     2. We’re better together.  I didn’t want the buildings separate, each on their own; I wanted them to be connected so that imaginary people can easily go from one to the next, visit their neighbors, attend events in any building, and really consider the whole city their home…
     3. Grey is beautiful.  I don’t have pre-made grey ink, but mix it from black and white.  For each of these pieces I had printed another black block first, and then added white ink without cleaning the plate and brayer in between.  As I printed each edition and added more and more white as I went along, the grey got lighter and lighter.  I found that I quite liked the very pale grey, like a mist (or perhaps a smog, but hopefully not!), but I also liked the variations.  You could try to make a matched set, or choose to pair different shades to keep things interesting.
     4. Everything’s better with dirigibles.  I knew right away I wanted the dirigible in the second city, partly to add a contrasting horizontal shape and partly to add a steampunk vibe, but also as evidence of inhabitants and movement.  When disembarking from the dirigible, you can slide down the long chute to the lower levels.  Or perhaps it’s got an escalator inside for those who like things a little more sedate, which would also make it possible to get up the same way.  But of course you can also use the elevator in the docking building.
        In a real city I’d definitely want trees, parks, and lots and lots of rooftop gardens, but these blocks were all about the straight lines and stark contrasts.  A major inspiration for the idea was an installation at the Tate Modern in London this summer “by” artist Olafur Eliasson, in which visitors were provided with 1000 kilograms of white Legos and invited to contribute whatever they wanted to the “Cubic Structural Evolution Project.”  Many of the elements listed above were present in this collaborative art project: huge variety of unrelated architectural styles, ad hoc connections between structures, and monochromatic palette.  But no dirigibles.

[Pictures: City I, rubber block  print by AEGN, 2019;
City II, rubber block  print by AEGN, 2019;
T at Olafur Eliasson’s Cubic Structural Evolution Project, photo by AEGN, 2019.]

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