We usually don’t think much about what a 事情 is, because its self-evident qualities make it understandable: A chair, a desk, a brick all seem complete and coherent enough. But as soon as we look into 事情s deeply and philosophically, as the phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty has done, they become far less coherent. Objects “behave as though they had an internal principle of unity,” he says, but “they are only mild forces that develop their implications on condition that favorable circumstances be assembled.”
A chair presents itself as a chair from the right distance and angle, but get too close and it becomes other things—legs and joints, or wood. A wall is more ambiguous than a chair; it is sometimes discrete and freestanding, sometimes continuous with other walls, floors, and ceilings. It is always made of many parts: bricks and mortar, or studs, insulation, and shea事情. The space between walls is more ambiguous still, being only vaguely definable and with variable—sometimes inexplicable—qualities and intensities.
Art often finds value in the gaps. When the writer Italo Calvino advocated for precise language and description in literature, he gravitated toward “the beauty of the vague and indefinite,” and “all those objects… that 通过 means of various materials and minimal circumstances come to our sight, hearing, etc., in a way that is uncertain, indistinct, imperfect, incomplete, or out of the ordinary.” To write poetically about such 事情s requires, Calvino claims, “highly exact and meticulous attention to the composition of each image, to the minute definition of details. … The poet of vagueness can only be the poet of exactitude.”
This fall, visitors to Harvard’s 弗朗西斯勒布库 will have the opportunity to experience a concrete manifestation of architectural vagueness in an exhibition designed 通过 网赌网址app assistant professor 米歇尔·张. 在壁中的孔 presents holes, gaps, cavities, space—all decidedly vague concepts—within the context of five freestanding walls, which are themselves conceived as “broad, vague masses.”
In the library, this space of imagination will start with holes—not apertures like windows and doors—but holes considered, Chang notes, as “a conceptual principle.” The origin of Chang’s thinking lies in an art restoration technique called in-painting. Conservators use it to repair damaged artworks 通过 replacing gaps with some事情 simultaneously vague and exacting. The replacement might include an approximation of the missing original highlighted with clearly identifiable paint strokes, or a precisely brushed color field that matches the surrounding context. It never involves filling the gap with an indistinguishable facsimile of the original.
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A curious aspect of in-painting is that it makes gaps and holes elements of primary concern. Similarly, in 在壁中的孔, voids become central to the exhibition. Careful detailing of the walls accentuates places where openings shape the composition: score lines that facilitate warping of flat drywall panels, raw cut edges where each wall stands free of the ceiling, a reveal between the wall and the floor. At a larger scale, the habitable spaces between and inside the walls are filled with new possibilities—intimate reading spaces or unscripted spaces of imagination. A 孔在所述壁 presents a newly configured library in which walls become vague and visitors linger in the gaps.