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  • Juan Almarza Anwandter


Contemporary architecture exhibits a certain predilection for continuous surfaces. Volumes are conceived not in tectonic-additive terms, but rather as continuous, seamless envelopes without joints. These are conveniently (and deceptively) hidden, giving the impression that the transition between elements like walls and windows is just a subtle change of materiality within a continuous surface. Implicit in this fashionable trend is a certain form of “progressive optimism”: we can get rid of any form of resistance, and, quoting Byung-Chul Han, of “negativity”. But we can go deeper with this critical analysis. The Kosmos, as a whole, is phenomenologically perceived as an articulation between discrete elements defined by limits. These elements are brought together as an assemblage of parts mediated by joints. The horizon is the joint between the sky and the earth. The beach shore is the joint between the sea and the land. The knee is the joint between the upper and lower portions of our legs. And so forth. The will of suppression of tectonic joints in architecture is the will of negating a fundamental trait of Nature. It stems out from an abstract, utopian-progressive conception of a world made up of a single material, without limits, without gravity, and without time. In the end, it is the will of suppressing the tragic dimension that is inherent of our experience of being-in-the-world.

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  • Juan Almarza Anwandter

This is a collage of some paintings I´ve been doing recently. This medium has been an interesting discovery, it provides a form of creative experience which is quite spontaneous and intuitive. The format is small (normally 10 x 15 cm), so the whole process takes no more than 5-10 min. In terms of content, they are inspired by my memories of Chilean landscapes. I a deeper sense, my intention is to depict the modelling forces of Nature in action, this is why clouds and mountains play a dominant role. In them, the eternal play between formative and destructive forces becomes visible, clear and explicit...."without any moral attribution", in the words of Nietzsche.

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  • Juan Almarza Anwandter

A concept like “Eternity” cannot be verified empirically. It is just a possibility that we can infer, a construct of the mind. Pure mathematical entities like squares, triangles or circles are also mind-constructs, but these can be somehow represented and replicated as concrete objects in space. How could we represent “eternity”, in a drawing for example? It cannot be even represented. One could think of a circle, because it is a curved line with no beginning and no end. But at the same time, a circle is a limit, and it has a dimension. So, it embodies just one aspect of what we can grasp as “eternity”.


In this sense, I think that the potential degree of representation of abstract concepts is variable, and it depends both in the nature of the concept and the medium chosen. If I ask my architecture students to represent in drawings concepts like limit, sequence, rhythm, enclosure, dynamism, horizontal, vertical, the results may vary, but probably they will share some common features, and some degree of objective universality. But what about happiness, or justice? These are a completely different kind of concepts, which do not have an immediate and intuitive form of representation. If we contextualize this distinction in the ambit of architecture, the problem becomes even more patent. The matter of architecture is, a priori, non-representational and non-referential. Painting, music and sculpture are more adequate mediums for representation, in this sense. Can we conceive a building as if it was a painting, trying to "express" concepts as in a blank canvas?


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