Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sketches of Frank Gehry

This documentary by director Sydney Pollack of non-documentary fame follows Frank Gehry. From sketches, physical models, computer models, and finally to the actual building, we see how Gehry creates some of the most whimsical, fantastic structures around.

Where to start? Let's pick the lowest fruit and eat what's easiest. Frank Gehry's process begins with a simple sketch and model. Then, he will continuously tweak his models from every angle until he likes how it all looks. Watching this tweaking is like watching doves (or pigeons) mate. At the end you're a little disappointed, thinking, that's it?

I'm disappointed because that's my process too. I take one thing, like a living room, or a patio area and expand, adjusting as I go. And there's something about that method I don't like. Where's the inspiration? Where's the crazy, artistic madness? Where do you get those shapes Gehry?

Ah, the redemption! Gehry's answer to this question of inspiration turned a lackluster film into a real joy. His response, "everywhere. I find inspiration everywhere." Frank Gehry gives an example which I'll expand on: trash cans. In NYC trash cans are pretty well looked after but sometimes, after a street fair or something, they'll be overflowing. Inside there may be drink trays, banana peels, apple cores, cardboard boxes, ruined clothes, used florescent light bulbs (the long type), fast food paraphernalia, and so on. To me, that's rubbish. But to Gehry, that's structure.

Imagine viewing the world through those, architecture spectacles. Now every shape, it's relationship to other shapes, become the building blocks. They become the vision. Leonardo Da Vinci acquired the first 3d depiction of the brain's ventricles by filling them with a hardening goo. He later cut the brain away and had a perfect cast of its juicy insides. That's partly what Gehry does.

He explained this using another example. A Renaissance painting of Jesus and some other people inspired him. He said the way the silhouettes and outlines of different people and objects flowed together, just worked. That ability to see those relationships and imagine a beautiful, physical structure from that is...wonderful.

Well thanks Frank. A new perspective and a new way to view the world is a great thing.

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