Thursday, November 23, 2006

Patterns in a picture II

It's a sunny day on the Grand Canal, in front of the the Palazzo bought by Peggy Guggenheim, and now housing her private collection. This is a very popular spot. What's happening?

1. Semi-public, semi-private : anyone with a few euros can get into this private house turned museum. And yet, it's in Venice, and there are thousands of tourists outside, in the Dorsoduro sestiere.

2. Self-differentiation : Through access to this small collection, tourists can differentiate themselves from others, sorting themselves, albeit temporarily, by their interest in famous 20th century painters & sculptors. There's an opportunity, for example, to meet someone who is equally fond of a favorite of yours.

3. Interpenetration : this is similar to (1), but at an additional scale -- this balcony sticks into the canal, so that it is possible to interact with the endless, intimate, endlessly varied stream of boats passing by, more or less, with serenity. Something similar happens when an outdoor cafe bumps outwards into a pedestrian square or stream. The actual morphology here, on the lagoon, is quite different, but the effect is the same ... to separate yourself from the public, and yet flirt with it.

4. Handmade : Art is everywhere here: ancient, modern, architectural, sculptural, nautical ... studio pieces sitting on the balcony, marble windows and tiled gables across the canal, iron-work balustrades of the balcony, fashionable clothes on the visitors, accordion and violin melodies wafting in here and there from a passing gondola. All this applied talent simply makes you feel more like a human being, and gives you hope for the world.

5. Gathering center : it's not obvious unless you're there, but this balcony is a beautiful gathering spot within the museum, and the structure of the palazzo leads you onto the balcony, where you can sample perhaps the best vista in the history of civilization. But there are people there. It makes you want to hang out, chat with strangers, feel the sea-breeze, etc.

6. Places to sit : Balconies should always be sittable. So should railings (unless there's an overwhelming saftey issue). Benches, sculpture bases, steps ... people sit anywhere in a spot like this. Add a few loose chairs and this balcony would be totally packed all day ...


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