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the sympathy of things. Ruskin and the Ecology of Design | Lars Spuybroek | 9789056628277

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the sympathy of things

Ruskin and the Ecology of Design

Author:Lars Spuybroek

Publisher:NAi Uitgevers, V2_

ISBN: 978-90-5662-827-7

  • Paperback
  • English
  • 400 Pages
  • Sep 8, 2011

‘We have to find our way back to beauty,’ writes Lars Spuybroek in the introduction to The Sympathy of Things. In this book Spuybroek argues that we must ‘undo’ the twentieth century – the age of minimalism, abstraction and genocides. This leads him to the aesthetical insight of the nineteenth-century English art critic John Ruskin, from which he distils pointers for our time.

In Ruskin’s work, Lars Spuybroek has discovered a treasure trove of concepts in which the beauty of things is determined by a combination of variation, imperfection and fragility. Through these qualities, things once again earn our sympathy and friendship. A sympathy, Spuybroek argues, that not only occurs between human beings and things but also between things themselves: “Sympathy is what things feel when they shape each other.” Like Ruskin, Spuybroek seeks a world that is dedicated to composition and beauty, where things are governed by what Ruskin called the “law of help.”

‘We have to find our way back to beauty,’ writes Lars Spuybroek in the introduction to The Sympathy of Things. In this book Spuybroek argues that we must ‘undo’ the twentieth century – the age of minimalism, abstraction and genocides. This leads him to the aesthetical insight of the nineteenth-century English art critic John Ruskin, from which he distils pointers for our time.

In Ruskin’s work, Lars Spuybroek has discovered a treasure trove of concepts in which the beauty of things is determined by a combination of variation, imperfection and fragility. Through these qualities, things once again earn our sympathy and friendship. A sympathy, Spuybroek argues, that not only occurs between human beings and things but also between things themselves: “Sympathy is what things feel when they shape each other.” Like Ruskin, Spuybroek seeks a world that is dedicated to composition and beauty, where things are governed by what Ruskin called the “law of help.”

Step by step, Spuybroek addresses Ruskin’s five central dual themes: the Gothic and work, ornament and matter, sympathy and abstraction, the picturesque and time, and ecology and design. He wrests these concepts from the Victorian context and compares them with ideas of later aestheticians and philosophers. The Sympathy of Things is the log of an exploratory journey into beauty. Spuybroek writes in a clear, accessible language that is by turns precise, elegant and moving, zooming in on the fascinating details of Gothic architecture, complex African textile patterns and the wallpaper designs of William Morris. The Sympathy of Things will leave no one unaffected. The book is not a mere critique but rather the first fully thought-out, positive aesthetics of a new generation who face the task of sustainably designing the 21st century.

Lars Spuybroek is Professor of Architectural Design and holder of the Thomas Ventulett Distinguished Chair of Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. He is the author of The Architecture of Continuity (2008) and Research & Design: Textile Tectonics (2011).

Watch the stream of the presentation by Lars Spuybroek on The Sympathy of Things at the Architectural Association, London: http://www.aaschool.ac.uk

Lars Spuybroek
The Sympathy of Things: Ruskin and the Ecology of Design

Date: 29/11/2011
Time: 18:00:00
Venue: Lecture Hall
Running time: 124 mins
Lars Spuybroek will be talking about The Sympathy of Things, his recently published book on John Ruskin. He will discuss why Ruskin’s notion of the Gothic is a much better candidate for digital architecture than Deleuze’s Baroque Fold. Lars will advocate the return to Ruskin’s 'vital' beauty, while steering away from the Scrutonian call for harmony and 'typical' beauty. The lecture will be followed by a discussion with architecture critic Charles Jencks.

Lars Spuybroek is an architect/artist-pioneer of digital design. He has been a Professor of Architecture since 2001, and the last five years also the Distinguished Ventulett Chair of Architectural Design at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. His published books include NOX: Machining Architecture, The Architecture of Variation and Textile Tectonics.

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