Selective Demolition: The Work of Richard Galpin

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[image via Richard Galpin]

For almost 10 years, artist Richard Galpin has been carefully excavating cities; revealing their hidden geometries and composition. The removal of buildings from their context and vice versa makes Galpin a perfect fit for the virtual pages of Life Without Buildings. His technique could be described as a form of subtractive painting. Like some bizarre combination of plastic surgeon and urbanist, Galpin artfully takes his scalpel to photographs of urban landscapes, slicing and cutting until the image loses its coherence; replaced instead by what he describes as “reconfigured cluster of partially erased cubo/constructivist form.” (A time-lapse video of this painstaking process is availble on his website.) In looking through the work on his website, it’s clear that Galpin’s work has evolved from mysterious landscapes floating in the void to fractured, designed abstractions. Curated erasure. Fractalized urbanism. Elevation, an exhibition of Galpin’s recent work is now on view at the Hales Gallery in London. Continue reading “Selective Demolition: The Work of Richard Galpin”

Architectural Tourism and the Money Shot.

Holding up the Leaning Tower

While in Italy last week, we made a quick side trip to Pisa. What was surely once a nice little town has since been descended upon by thousands of tourists (to be expected, of course) and—even worse—hordes of incredibly pushy souvenir vendors hawking everything from leaning mugs to wind-up toy cars (I still don’t understand that one). All this brought about by one simple bell tower. Despite the vast selection of tilted dishware, the most popular Pisa souvenir seems to be a simple photograph. That’s right, it’s the ubiquitous photo-album-favorite which I’m dubbing, Isn’t this crazy? I’m holding up the Leaning Tower! Ha! Continue reading “Architectural Tourism and the Money Shot.”

"Ornament is a Crime." (as is photography, apparently)

Adolf Loos’ Villa Moller. If you should ever visit this icon of modernism, whatever you do, don’t take a picture! See that little guard booth on the right? The sole purpose of that lone protector is to prevent people from taking photos of the house. (As I learned soon after snapping these) However, the guard was very apologetic and assured us that there were many books with great pictures of the building.

We ventured out into the suburbs of Vienna to find this place, and unfortunately didn’t plan ahead enough to schedule some sort of interior tour…actually, i’m not even sure thats possible for single visitors. Nonetheless, the house was very impressive. Much more beautiful in person that in textbook photos. I’ve always loved what Loos does with his interiors, but I’ve never quite been sold on the complete abandonment of exterior ornament. Until now. To drastically oversimplify, the Moller House just works. It’s beatiful, serene, balanced… Looking at the building, I felt like Loos exploited my subconscious understanding of beauty and harmony.

As we walked through the neighborhood, it was impossible not to notice the number of Loos-alikes scattered amongst the traditional viennese houses. Most were awful, and looked like they might’ve been built in the 70’s or 80’s, but it was nice to see how one architect and one building can make such an impact, especially in a city as conservative as vienna. So even though these moderish-mishaps were less appealing, they were nonethess encouraging.