/ATMOSPHERE/ THE ORIGIN OF AIR GRID

Watson, V.A. 2018. /ATMOSPHERE/ THE ORIGIN OF AIR GRID. London School of Architecture and the Built Environment, University of Westminster.

Title/ATMOSPHERE/ THE ORIGIN OF AIR GRID
AuthorsWatson, V.A.
Abstract

The book is based on my original thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, University College London, 2004

The thesis was an exploration of the sensibility of modernity, focused through a dualistic study of the work of Mies van der Rohe and aiming to critique and revise post-modernist readings of the Modern Movement in Architecture. The work of the thesis was conducted through discussion of analytical texts, including Mies’ own writing, through architectural propositioning and through the invention of a new material, namely AIR Grid. The research began as a response to the art critic Rosalind Krauss, who had reservations about the post-modern Mies, suggesting there was still much about the old one that remained something of a mystery. Krauss followed up her warning with a fascinating reading of the grid paintings of Agnes Martin, suggesting that there was something to be learned from Martin’s painterly grids about the architectural grids of Mies. Through work on the AIR Grid the thesis showed how the three moments of experience, through which Krauss read Martin’s paintings, were reproduced in the experience of Miesian architecture, but with one important difference: while the middle moment of the painterly sequence is the optical effect of the painting becoming like mist, in the architectural sequence it manifests in the gravitational effect of the building becoming weightless.

In order to think about why the phenomenon of weightlessness might be an antidote to positivist modernity, the thesis turned to the thought of another character from the not so distant modernist past, namely the philosopher Henri Lefebvre. It attempted to apply Lefebvre’s ideas about architecture, as opposed to his criticism of the Modern Movement, to the architecture of Mies.

KeywordsModernism, Painting, Grid, Mies van der Rohe, Agnes Martin, Henri Lefebvre
Year2018
PublisherSchool of Architecture and the Built Environment, University of Westminster
Publication dates
Published23 Jul 2018
Place of publicationLondon
ISBN9780995589384
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