Wednesday, March 9, 2011

the irony and the ecstasy

It is with irony that I blog on the subject of "architecture unplugged."  This blog is dedicated to all architects, designers, and creative souls who strive to craft an idea or work of art unassisted by technology.  Is your voice the one that sings solo? The hand that claps alone? The forgotten force behind the pencil which caresses the paper?  If so, this blog is for you--to linger and to share your stories about your love for a moment, a place, an architecture, and ultimately, a connection which is authentic and undeniable.

I am inspired to write after revisiting two events in my mind which occurred yesterday.  Although I created this blog five months ago, my feelings about the topic ran so deep that I could not find a way to unearth the words until now.  I consider the previous day's events to serve as confirmation to write this blog. And, now, here I am, sketchbook napping by my side, and computer keyboard positioned directly in front of me.  I blog.

The first event took place yesterday afternoon.   I, along with two other architects who serve on the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Board of Directors for the Redwood Empire were invited to judge a logo competition.  Students from the Santa Rosa Junior College architecture club had each designed a graphic  for a t-shirt.  Before the judging began, my two peers from the AIA Board introduced themselves and I did the same.  As we introduced ourselves, it was acknowledged that we all came from a strong art background and still produced many of our designs by hand.  It was mutually agreed that the act of hand drawing gave us great pleasure--a rare moment of ecstasy in our busy lives. Without hesitation, we three exchanged the "look"--which said so much in an infinitesimally small moment of time.  It was a "yes, I, too,  know that intensely deep feeling which comes from the connection between pencil and page." My one hand clapping had found two other partners.  Let the applause for architecture unplugged begin!

Event number two happened last night. For the first time in about three years, I got a call from my father.  This was unusual, not because I don't talk to my dad--we have a very good relationship.  The unusual aspect was that I traditionally called my parents.  Or, in many cases, my mom was the first to be on the phone with me.  So, last night I was surprised that my dad did both the calling and the talking.  My father, by the way, is an electrical engineer.  He is the man who has supported my path in life and shaped the way I connect to the world.  Why was my father calling me?  Well, he and my mom had just spent three days caring for my teenage son while I was on the east coast chairing an architecture school accreditation visit.  My dad, good at getting right to the point in any conversation, asked if I had thought about selling my piano which he had played while he stayed at my house.  "My" piano is actually a forty year old Mason &  Hamlin upright piano with a walnut case.  I grew up with that piano and it is, when I think about it, one of my oldest friends.  Its rich voice has nursed me through many sad times and brought me immense joy.  It has also been a pain in the neck to move--it takes about four men to get it up the stairs.  And, finding piano tuners is not always easy.  Also, I was considering moving to another location.  So--my father's question "do you want to sell your piano?" brought into focus many thoughts which had hidden themselves amongst the angst of previous moves.  

I realized today, still recovering from a less than peaceful sleep, that my feelings for my old piano and hand drawings were the same.  Both the upright piano and the pencil drawings were reminders of a previous age, before technology made things more lightweight, faster and cheaper.  As I tried to imagine a world without my piano or my handmade drawings, I started to feel incredibly sad.  I could not visualize how to say good bye to an unspoken love emitted as my fingers touch the ivory keys or the well worn pages of my sketchbook.  The energy transmitted through my hands onto the old piano and drawings are unfettered and uninterpreted by an  electronic force.  The lines and the music are purely me.  The volume and softness or hardness of my touch do not go through a technological filtering process.  What I hear and what I see--is 100% me.  There is an inner satisfaction which comes from the recognition of what I know to be the voice of my unplugged soul.  And, when I play on that old piano or when I take out my pencil and paper, I know that my soul is saying, "thank you, Linda" for giving me a voice again.  

Here to the voice, the image, the soul which echoes from an architecture unplugged--the chambers of the human heart.