creating to the point of stupidity

last week i attended a conversation with frank gehry, hosted by kelvin shawn sealey. the conversation was held at columbia's low library as part of the citizen project, whose previous guests have included bell hooks, gloria steinem, and cornel west. gehry's visit was titled "architecture in the public imagination." i had little knowledge of gehry's work beyond the guggenheim extension in bilbao, spain and the experience music project in seattle, wa. (i later learned he was the architect behind one of my favorite buildings, located on the mit campus.)

during the course of the hourlong conversation i gained more insight into what i have written about earlier as trying to "break my eye open" - according to gehry, he tries to find ways to create movement through inert objects, hence the fluidity and almost falling-like nature of many of notable buildings. (there's also the significance of the fish as a source of design and inspiration, but that is a slightly longer story better told by frank, himself.)

in a clip that was shown from a recent documentary that his friend sidney pollack made about gehry, his life and his work, we see gehry note that a design he is working on is "so stupid looking it's great." he laughs to himself and the camera and at the cardboard mock-up of a building that has since been built.

as a young man, gehry was taken by his ceramics teacher, who, he noted at the talk, "must have seen something in me," to a house that he was working on and soon afterwards, seeing gehry's face light up with a mix of awe and enthusiasm, the teacher enrolled him in an architecture class. as he put it, "that must have been the beginning of that."

"that" turned out to be some of the "stupidest" looking buildings that make people stop, talk, listen, wonder, and question. if that's stupid, we should all be so lucky.

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