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Architectonics of Music

Columbia University Student Group Show


September 7–November 30, 2013

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Music, like architecture, is an immersive experience; it surrounds you. One can turn away from a painting or a work of sculpture, while music and architecture engulf the body in space.

The Architectonics of Music records the sixth in a series of studios taught at Columbia University on music and architecture. They are part of a larger project to develop cross-disciplinary, inspiration-provoking work on new architectural languages.

Taught with architect Dimitra Tsachrelia and composer Raphael Mostel, this studio began with a four week experiment translating a music excerpt into space, material, and form. In the first half of the studio, six teams of two students selected works of 20th century composers with an eye to the geometric potential of translation to architecture.

The second half of the studio focused on transcribing the language experiment at the Center for Contemporary Music Research in Athens, established by Iannis Xenakis. The students chose from three potential sites for their experiments.

Research into music and architecture moves forward at a time when architectural pedagogy is diffused, worn out. Schools of architecture today seem directionless. Postmodernism and deconstruction have passed into history, while the euphoria of technique in “parametrics” promises a lack of idea and spirit, and neglect of the importance of scale, material, detail, proportion, and light.

Yet we continue to see potential in future architecture as open to experiment and as connected to spirit. While we ask, “what is architecture?” we also ask, “what is music?”

– Steven Holl, 2013

I first encountered the idea of architecture originating from music in 2008 as a student in the “Architectonics of Music” studio where I did the project, Metastaseis. I was inspired by expressing Xenakis’ glissandi in spatial terms, making light integral to the materiality, and questioning the linear perception of time.

Reflecting back on this project, and knowing intimately the works produced in this exhibit, reveals to me how the multiple objectives of the studio unfold. The studio asks students to explore qualities of space and material that generate connections to musical concepts, and vice verse. It begins with the question: can structure, proportion, scale, detail, light or time be meaningful in both architectural and musical terms? Thereby, it encourages a creative stretching of thought in two streams simultaneously.

The studio provokes an open-minded approach, challenging students to enter a sphere of yet-unexplored ideas, and taking risks outside their comfort zone – with the hope of producing authentic ideas.

The projects live within the realm of not yet architecture—an abstract, transitional zone between the clearly defined limits of music and architecture—where the potential for poetic expression and novel experimentation may flourish.

— Dimitra Tsachrelia, 2013

About to be music

the silence listens.

– Robert Kelly, 2013

Sound is to music

as light is to architecture

— Steven Holl, Stretto House Concept, 1988

A composition is like a house that you can walk around in

— John Cage

I constantly refer to music in referring to architecture because to me there is no great difference – when you dig deep enough in the realm of not doing things but simply thinking of what you want to do – that all the various ways of expression come to the fore. To me, when I see a plan, I must see the plan as if it were a symphony, of the realm in spaces in the construction of light.

— Louis Kahn, 1969

It is perfectly true that music and architecture flower from the same stem.

The composer has his score. The architect has his … system on which he works, and the minds are very similar, practically the same.

My father was a musician… he taught me to see a great symphony as an edifice, an edifice of sound…

So never miss the idea that architecture and music belong together. They are practically one.

– Frank Lloyd Wright, lecture, Detroit, 1957

CONTRIBUTORS

Yun Shi and Yiqing Zhao

Shu Yang and Yang Xia

Adriana Koutalianou and Lanxi Sun

Wenlong Yan and Sang Hyun Lee

Khan Shibly and Lo Chong Chan

Margarita Calero and Alfonso Simelio Jurado

Accompanying Events

Exhibition Catalogue

The Architectonics of Music

2013

An exhibition catalog featuring a group exhibition exploring the relationships between architecture and sound.

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