Monday, July 25, 2005

For the most part, geometry has always been considered as something classical, as something timeless, as something divorced from the social landscape, as something ahistorical. In fact, geometry is often described as an a priori structure of human thought—that we naturally think in terms of geometric configurations or organization. I felt the need to challenge these assumptions based on my own growing intuitive perceptions of the city as a functional machine.

I wanted to redefine geometry as something that was in the world, that had a history and that was tied to issues of power and control. I wanted to show that geometry was not simply classical beauty, but that the use of geometry, in the space of our culture, was fundamentally linked to the goals and objectives of certain groups at certain times.
from Peter Halley, "Geometry and the Social"

6 Comments:

Blogger Steven Moore said...

The most interesting geometry since Euclid really is fractals. A fractured space of self-similarity. Everything is a mirror. And the reflexions rub off. We each shed about 3 million flakes of skin a day. A dog can recognize its owner from just one flake. Shows the power we have as connected entities. And the responsibility.

Words are equally living beings, enriched through entrapment.

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, not fractals.

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An instance of geometry that occurs to me is Hausmann's imposition of wide straight-line boulevards on Paris in the mid-nineteenth century. This entailed lots of displacement of poor people, and was about the exercise of power in at least a couple of ways: creating visual perspectives emphasizing buildings identified with the State, and also making it easier to get troops anywhere quickly to put down insurrection.

hugh thomas

12:07 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Thanks, Hugh. I was still taking Halley's "in the space of our culture" somewhat metaphorically (i.e., as referring to something like social consciousness), but your example is quite literal. Wow.

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another instance of geometry is the development of perspective in painting. I feel like there's probably a lot to this that I'm not aware of (and that other people have written about), but my feeling is that its effect is to immobilize the viewer, in that the painting is now organized as a view from a particular place. The frame of the painting is the frame of a window -- and in some cases it might be the window of a tour bus.

This can be contrasted with paintings where the whole surface of the painting is full of detail, so that the observer of the painting is engaged in something like a walk through the space of the painting. (Think Bosch, for example.)

hugh

3:20 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Yeah, this is more along the lines of what I was thinking (though I sure appreciate your other example). I wonder if this ties in to my comment about film and photography above, with someone like Brakhage as a counterexample.

8:35 PM  

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