Flatpack 1

We can estrange any work of contemporary architecture by seeing it as the sum of its nails, its drywall and ducts, the bags of concrete emptied into it. That the architect is a curator (another master figure hopefully approaching the end of their vogue), buying and arraying, putting produced assets in a place and hoping for them to mature together. Such an architecture is not a readymade, because it is multiplicitous and because it conceals its assembled quality; wandering bored in one of these places, and fixing upon a detail of a stair, or a threshold, or a light fixture, you will be unable to quite reason it back to the overall body of the building. It relates as a toenail does to a beautiful person, being neither quite necessary or unnecessary in of itself, and certainly not any good reflection of the greater whole. We are disappointed if it is in poor repair. It is neither on, in, nor of, but some other preposition; I suppose it is part-of. Partof?

Extend this to a maple growing in a lawn. It does not come from the lawn; it is trucked over with a tag hanging off its branch. It is uncanny to see any naturalistic landscape being constructed, and to think it similar to the flatpack landscape of bespoke furniture on square turf. The designed landscape is an assemblage of materials, most often simply ordered and put into place. If the elements of that landscape are changed (poured into a mold) or expected to change (as the plants will), they do so in an orderly and consonant fashion. They are not grown but bought.

image of roses
Entry from the 1913 Biltmore Rose Catalog.

(October 2016)