High Modernism

2014 February 03, 2014 20140203-DSC_7708 High Modernism - I. M. Pei

You would think that having University Village in the neighborhood, with three towers designed by I M Pei, and a colossal statue designed by Picasso would be a treat, but it is a desert, an empty arid wasteland that I avoid walking through and photographing.   Nothing happens on the street there, despite vast plazas, and people scurry away into the more vernacular parts of Greenwich Village as soon as they can escape.

    This rationality is based on the belief that nature is inferior and needs to be conquered by introducing scientifically superior systems and mechanisms that are based on geometric order. High-modernism reduces nature from a multi-functional use to a single one in the name of efficiency. In the words of one of last century’s most relentless high-modernist, Le Corbusier,

“an infinity of combinations is possible when innumerable and diverse elements are brought together. But the human mind loses itself and becomes fatigued by such as labyrinth of possibilities. Control becomes impossible. The spiritual failure that must result is disheartening… Reason…is an unbroken straight line. Thus, in order to save himself from this chaos, in order to provide himself with a bearable, acceptable framework for his existence, one productive of human well-being and control, man has projected the laws of nature into a system that is a manifestation of the human spirit itself: geometry.”   –Kathryn Scott