against fuller

I happened to see the Fuller show at the Whitney on Saturday.

The drawings were intriguing—although hardly signifying anything—and some of the models ·(particularly the one of the suburban development of Dymaxion houses) were nice. What struck me, however, was the utter impracticality of his work. Fuller had an obsession with the outsize: the Dymaxion car, the Dymaxion House, the geodesic dome, all enclosed much more space than was necessary for their functions. He also had a fetish for geometry which he has passed on to a new generation of architects that seems to misunderstand design as the production of "novel" geometries. Not only did the show point out how they have done little to develop what Fuller had already done, it pointed out the pointlessness of it all.

For if the exhibit makes noises about how Fuller was a visionary, the viewer can’t help but come away with an image of Fuller as an eccentric tinkerer, convinced that the strength of his vision would assure its realization (like Corbusier at his worst). But of course Fuller’s ideas were unworkable. Returning to them will hardly solve any problems. Its always disturbing when I agree with Philip Johnson and here I did. The point of Fuller is no more clear in 2008 then it was in the early 1980s when I discovered him while in high school and found I couldn’t make sense of his rambling texts (somehow the covers make me think of Scientology).

Architecture is periliously close to being irrelevant today and novel geometry is as doomed an enterprise as cool form. I was too busy to attend the panel talk on sensation at school yesterday, but maybe someone who went can tell me if anything of interest was said by the LA contingent.

Speaking of that sensational city…a reminder: I’ll be in Los Angeles to talk in the seduction panel at the Hammer tonight. I’ll be speaking about Philip Johnson’s Glass House and seduction, focusing on Philip’s encounters with Mies van der Rohe and Andy Warhol at the Glass House.

I happened to see the Fuller show at the Whitney on Saturday.

The drawings were intriguing—although hardly signifying anything—and some of the models ·(particularly the one of the suburban development of Dymaxion houses) were nice. What struck me, however, was the utter impracticality of his work. Fuller had an obsession with the outsize: the Dymaxion car, the Dymaxion House, the geodesic dome, all enclosed much more space than was necessary for their functions. He also had a fetish for geometry which he has passed on to a new generation of architects that seems to misunderstand design as the production of "novel" geometries. Not only did the show point out how they have done little to develop what Fuller had already done, it pointed out the pointlessness of it all.

For if the exhibit makes noises about how Fuller was a visionary, the viewer can’t help but come away with an image of Fuller as an eccentric tinkerer, convinced that the strength of his vision would assure its realization (like Corbusier at his worst). But of course Fuller’s ideas were unworkable. Returning to them will hardly solve any problems. Its always disturbing when I agree with Philip Johnson and here I did. The point of Fuller is no more clear in 2008 then it was in the early 1980s when I discovered him while in high school and found I couldn’t make sense of his rambling texts (somehow the covers make me think of Scientology).

Architecture is periliously close to being irrelevant today and novel geometry is as doomed an enterprise as cool form. I was too busy to attend the panel talk on sensation at school yesterday, but maybe someone who went can tell me if anything of interest was said by the LA contingent.

Speaking of that sensational city…a reminder: I’ll be in Los Angeles to talk in the seduction panel at the Hammer tonight. I’ll be speaking about Philip Johnson’s Glass House and seduction, focusing on Philip’s encounters with Mies van der Rohe and Andy Warhol at the Glass House.

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