Fred R. Barnard said one picture is worth a thousand words, but as the days unfold, artists find it more effective to add verbal narrative to their creations to enhance its experience on people. Architects are no exception to the use of narrative to aid their visual creations.
“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.” – Albus Dumbledore (J. K. Rowling)
Magic, another word for our dream of a reality, or not, words hold the power of representation in architecture. Representation through any media whether it is words, images, or both can transfer the consciousness of the viewers to what the artist desires their occurrence to be.
Words and Images
To be so crude in encasing the hold of representation, take the image of wonders of the world, not only do these structures have architectural significance but at times are used as an identity to the countries they are in, if not even continents. It is now safe to say, what we as architects design in the ‘NOW’ of today may well be the ‘IT’ of the future. Images used to define the existence of architecture through time, questioning if time is leading architecture or it may be the other way around?
Time is represented through architecture with all its amenable nature as its basis. To put in simpler terms, if the image of pyramids or taj mahal is shown to a person, a part of the subconscious perhaps travels to a time when they were first built, to perhaps their holiday trip to them. The possibilities are endless of pinpointing a time same across to everyone is quite a task if not impossible. Architecture becomes the measure of time and time, architecture.
Time in Architecture
The concept of time is not a new idea, it has been and has been challenged by architects in their designs be it in the timelessness of their architecture, or a projection of a faraway form of possible future, utopian or dystopian. As Bernard Tschumi would say, “Form Follows Fiction” making architecture an escape from reality and the architect becoming storytellers just like any other artist.
Where an artist lets his expressions through a media of color or ink, an architect uses mortar and brick. Ranging from intimate experiences of spaces to wide-open interactions, the narrative of the story is not the first thing people stumble across in comparison to its visual comprehension. The paradox of having to live in a series of mundane buildings that make no impression in a world where architectural and structural wonders are marveled upon, the ones that warp everything they surround as a part of their experience, eventually becoming a representation of that place seem the two ends of a spectrum. Narratives of such magnanimous context are often set in stone, with their influence on the experience of people adding a rich layer of personality to them.
Time and Narratives of Architecture
The blurred lines between architecture and time, in the form of representation and identity, make the ‘genres’ of the stories they tell. The temporal dimension of time is also seen in the details of architecture, kinetic architecture, using the time to base its movements, can also be viewed concerning time being a measure of architecture. As small as they may seem to be these tiny movements become the pebbles that ripple across water, directing the flow in design and storytelling.
Buzz of the Future
Often, architecture is orchestrated as moving forward, to where no one knows. Of course, considering the entire world can come to a standstill of something invisible as we all wait for a restart today with the impact of covid-19, it shows the importance of interaction, with people, with nature, and even with places. Connection be it physical or visual can construct freedom to the human mind. Why should architecture be any different? To establish a link between its creator and its captivators, is that not what the world desires?
The encounters of the present make space to sustain the future. The discussions of the future in architecture in relation to its expectation have been an age-old form, majorly splitting them into utopian, dystopian, and futuristic in a broader sense. This dream of the future has been portrayed through movies, art using architecture as a medium to express it, giving architecture the power of representation. The frame of reference however speaks of architecture in a plural form as a part of urban life and not as a singularity. Does this then change how architecture is approached? To study the urban setting and its influence on how designs are made?
Or is it a part of the architecture itself? Making architecture the embodiment of time and space and its spectators the main characters of its narrative? Only time can tell.
Image references: (in order)
Image 01: Septemvri L., Hidden Words – Abstract Calligraphy Painting (2021). Available at: https://www.saatchiart.com/art/Painting-Hidden-Words-Abstract-Calligraphy/907969/3160145/view (Accessed: 13 August 2021).
Image 02: TMD STUDIO LTD., Emerging Trends That Will Shape the Future of Architecture (2017). Available at: https://medium.com/studiotmd/emerging-trends-that-will-shape-the-future-of-architecture-356ba3e7f910 (Accessed: 14 August 2021).
Image 03: Dunlap, R. Illustrator for TIME, Article by BEGLEY, S., The Mysterious Case of the Missing Utopian Novels (2017). Available at: https://time.com/4960648/science-fiction-utopian-novels-books/ (Accessed: 15 August 2021)