T3XTURE No.3: Pattern is Maddening
Edited by Lynda Burke, Randy Sovich, and Craig Purcell
Mr. Nikos A. Salingaros,
Mr. David Getzin, Ms. Mónica Belevan, Mr. Fabrice Clapiès, Ms. Chaitra Sharad, Ms. Tina Tahir
Photographs by Ms. Kate Purcell and
Mr. Sanket Mhatre
The word “pattern” contains multitudes. In Webster’s Third New International Dictionary the main entry for the noun “pattern” has 15 definitions. Many include several “subsenses”—both abstract and concrete. Almost all definitions are familiar uses of the word “pattern”, and since one rarely is juggling several meanings at once there is normally no confusion.
However “pattern” can be maddening when several different takes on what constitutes “pattern” are in play as in this issue of T3xture. On the other hand, it is just this exercise that expands our ability to perceive the deliberate or inadvertent patterns that pervade our environment and to appreciate their importance. As Nikos Salingaros explains in our featured essay all of nature is the result of pattern processes. Thus people have a visceral need for patterns in their living environments and respond with a sense of wellbeing.
Professor Nikos Salingaros’s "The Patterns of Architecture" introduces the concepts in Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language, and proceeds to expand on pattern types and to explicate some of the mathematical, scientific and humanistic justification for the pattern approach to Architecture. The pattern method, as Salingaros demonstrates, echoes nature’s process in the creation of biological and cosmic forms. By contrast, he argues against mainstream design practices in his essay’s must-read criticisms of Modern Architecture and Urban Design.
In "K]now You See" Architects David Getzin and Mónica Belevan analyze the subtleties of perception as the mind “selects” pattern from crowded fields. Field and pattern can be interchangeable—and selection is subjective. Instinctively people are influenced by preconditions in their effort to “sort pattern from chaos”. The effort’s reward is knowledge—another reason standardization is misguided.
"Geo-Graphique" presents several of Fabrice Clapiès’s watercolor schemata—created from his imagination inspired by different kinds of maps. In the process, Clapiès finds resemblances to real-life arrangements and raises questions about the legitimacy and prerogatives of land claims. Viewers are irresistibly drawn to imagine these designs as figurative. The insights of “[K]now You See” could well be a guide—as we look at Clapiès’s work what do we select?
"HACKED!"—In this satire Randy Sovich imagines patterns that were rejected in the editing process of A Pattern Language and then lifted from the office trash can and leaked by a disgruntled employee. Mimicking the language and layout of A Pattern Language, Sovich casts a gimlet eye on contemporary architects’ infatuation with formal and stylistic trends which bear no relation to the needs of the client, user, or occupant in these “scrapped” patterns.
"City and River"—Chaitra Sharad quotes in her essay “Kashi [Varanasi]… the city where supreme light shines”. The truth of this statement is apparent in the resplendent sunshine that bathes the Ghats (the monumental riverside staircases in Varanasi, India) in Sanket Mhatre’s photographs. Climbing up or down these horizontal stripes of risers and treads must be a unique experience of immersion in a pattern. In Sharad’s text we feel a sense of other types of patterns formed by living in tune with spiritual traditions on Varanasi’s ghats.
An ancient Siberian rug defaced by “the tooth of time” inspired the “temporal rugs” in Tina Tahir’s "Impermanent Arrangement." Tahir speculates on the causes of time’s ravishment and viewers’ interaction therewith.
Craig Purcell begins each morning with a painting. "Guidelines to Nowhere" documents the layering of ideas and strokes as they become a painting and, similar to [K]now You See, considers the role of the observer in the creation of pattern and order.
"In Praise of Manhole Covers" gives these ubiquitous, usually ignored features of Baltimore and other cities their due. Lynda Burke’s text and Kate Purcell’s photos show how certain pattern principles described in Salingaros’s essay are evidenced in Baltimore City’s manhole—or “hatch”—covers. Hatch covers often display sophisticated patterns and skilled ironwork, as well as inklings of both the mighty infrastructure below and the history of the City above. It might be more appropriate to refer to these mundane objects as “objets”. Ι
6" x 9" (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Full Color Bleed on White paper