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2005 04 03
Empire of Bricks - 5
imageWhen I worked with Peter MacCallum on his photographic documentation of the Massey buildings and a few smaller documentation projects for local architects I learned that brick veneer didn’t necessarily mean fake brick. I had thought brick veneer meant ‘insul-brick’. When I showed interest he went on about balloon frame construction versus platform framing. When he showed me a few examples of brick veneer I couldn’t quite see it, especially when the brick went right around the whole building. The examples that were patently obvious once pointed out were the ones which seemed to have real brick fronts and fake brick or clapboard sides. I started to see the brick as simply stacked against the façade. This was something that I wished I had never learned. It seemed to make the world that I had perceived as a child to be solid and stable to be fake and worse, shakey. Later when I worked collaboratively with an architect buddy on a few projects I learned a how to spot really masonry buildings by noting the type of bond. Flemish bond being the most obvious, English bond a little less so, and the local variant being a quite subtle mix of ‘stretchers and headers’. I would look closely and count the courses, in fives, hoping to see that course of headers that would help make the world a little more stable. I also learned to spot the little drainage voids between the vertical mortar lines that signaled ‘rain shield’ brick work. I still don’t quite know where to fit this masonry innovation on the scale of solidity. Recently, an odd development, I have become nostalgically attached to the look and even the smell of ‘insul-brick’. I associate it with cottage life. It is slowly creeping up the aesthetic ladder from irony to a truly post-modern appreciation of representationality. Perverse!

The kind and degree of literate experience of the Greek was not intense enough to enable him to translate his audile-tactile heritage into the ‘enclosed’ or ‘pictorial’ space that was only widely available to human sensibility after printing. Between the extreme visuality of perspective and the flat planes of Greek and medieval art there is a further degree of abstraction or dissociation of our sense lives which we quite naturally feel to be the difference between ancient-medieval and the modern worlds. Since new, empathic methods of art and cultural analysis give us easy access to modalities of human sensibility we are no longer limited to a perspective of past societies. We recreate them.
[email this story] Posted by Bernie Miller on 04/03 at 08:43 AM

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