Florida/Caribbean Architect - Spring 2015 - (Page 7)
Editorial / Diane D. Greer
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Editor, florida/caribbean Architect
Diane D. Greer
As I listened to world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma in concert recently, I
watched his face as he performed. He seemed to be in a state of rapture
and I wondered if I was hearing the music differently than I might in a
recording. Was I hearing it through his obvious joy in the sounds he was
making? His feelings about the music were imparted to the audience in
such a way that I could not separate the musician from the music.
I was reminded of the famous line from Among School Children that the
great Irish poet William Butler Yeats wrote at the end of his life, "how can
we know the dancer from the dance?" The poem, sometimes considered
Yeats' finest work, has long been interpreted as a reflection on Yeats' own
life, loves and work. But, as age and experience change one's perspective
on lots of things, even familiar lines of poetry, I now wondered if the poet
might have been addressing the separation of the artist from his art.
In the creation of any art, who gets to tell the meaning? Not knowing the dancer
from the dance, whether intended by Yeats or not, could describe an inevitable
relationship that occurs in all the arts - the relationship between the creator, the
thing created and that critical third party - the observer. How can we separate or
"know" in Yeats' words - the artist, from the art, from the audience? Who does get
to tell the meaning? Who owns the meaning of the work? Can it ever be owned?
There is a shift that occurs between the concept and creation of a work of art
and the interpretation of it, whether from critical analysis or casual observation.
Literary criticism, cinematic excellence, architecture prizes - all the arts are
constantly being critiqued and analyzed, lauded and panned, accepted and
rejected. In fact, much of the art world seems driven by a desire for criticism,
good or bad. Architecture is one of the most heavily scrutinized because the
design the architect creates enjoys wide public exposure. Awards, medals and
prizes based on a variety of criteria from form to function are given every year.
Stating the obvious, it is ultimately the perception of those who would judge the
work who get to "tell the meaning." With architecture, it's the jury and even the jury
may not understand the meaning of the work as separate from its perception of it.
Remember, beauty has always been, and always will be, in the eye of the beholder.
A good photograph of a building might arouse critical interest, but ultimately it
is important to know the designer's intent. No jury, critique or photograph can
make a building great. Ultimately, it must, like any artwork, speak for itself.
As relates to architecture, the inevitable journey from concept to product is
intriguing because of potential bumps along the way. Thomas Jefferson designed
the Virginia State Capitol after a classical temple he admired. He was quite specific
about his intent. However, his design was changed, first by the Frenchman who
drew the plans and then by the builder in Virginia who made additional changes.
Jefferson was dismayed about the changes but he stated, and I paraphrase, "the
man with his hand on the tools makes the changes." Ultimately, the capitol
was the product of site constraints, finances and personal preferences.
The question of who gets to tell the meaning behind a work of art cannot be
answered simply. Is the only meaning that counts that of the creator? Or is the
true greatness of a work of art or architecture what it means to the audience? ■
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Florida/Caribbean Architect - Spring 2015
Editorial / Diane D. Greer
Marriott Marquis at Miami World Center
St. Peter’s Anglican Church
Sports Leadership and Management (SLAM) Charter School
Public Safety Training Center Palm Beach State College (PBSC)
Heavener Hall, University of Florida
Spotlight: Emerging Professionals
Florida/Caribbean Architect - Spring 2015