Thoughts in Perspective

Monday, July 30, 2012

Auditorium and Library of Semnan by NWA

We must never underestimate the importance of our environment, both in terms of respect for nature and respect for ourselves. Art can be used as a tool to achieve many things, starting with aesthetic pleasure and sometimes culminating with things like political and social statements.

New Wave Architecture (NWA)  was established in 2006 and is led by Lida Almassian (MA), Gholamreza Tohidi (civil engineer), Shapoor Fakhri (civil engineer), Shahin Heidari (MA) and employs a staff of almost 45 others. The building, or should I say buildings, in question are the Auditorium and Library of the University of Semnan, a project started in 2006 and still under construction. Their modernity is admirable, yet this simple aesthetic observation is not enough to make a building immortal with the passing of time. I look forward to see the buildings finished but until that will happen we have to make do with the images bellow. I like the idea with the crisscrossed spaces on the covered facade which give a very dynamic feeling and serve a practical method to let light in while also offering protection against the summer heat, hence reducing power consumption. Overall, an excellent design and a testimony to Iranian progress in recent years.





Source: arthitectural.com

Source: arthitectural.com


Website of New Wave Architecture:  http://www.newwavearchitecture.com
Website of University of Semnan: www.semnan.ac.ir

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Equilibrium [Utopian Dystopia]

In the previous article of this series we talked about the book "Brave New World" and its relationship with the real world, now we will talk about Equilibrium, a fascistic world in which feelings have been declared illegal.

While Aldous Huxley imagined a world in which humans have only superficial emotions, in Equilibrium emotions are, as I said earlier, completely eliminated. In order to achieve such a thing people use a drug, much like the "funvax" proposed to the Pentagon which would, if used, significantly diminish the "religious" fervor of people exposed to the genetic mutation.

We will see that emotions are usually a target in most "dystopic utopias", the reason being that strong feelings make people unpredictable and encourage in them creativity, the need for justice, the need to "feel" the world. On the other hand, they are also the reason why some people do destructive things because, if uncontrolled, emotions can cloud the judgment.

In a way, "Brave New Word" is more centered around education and preconditioning while Equilibrium takes the battle on the emotional front. Humans become simple working machines however we may want to put it. In both cases, the elite, the leaders, enjoy a free and normal (for our standards) existence. Some of the elements the book (Brave New World) and the movie (Equilibrium) both have in common are: uniformity, social engineering, totalitarianism, drugs, the new world came into existence after a violent conflict, the existence of an elite which is not subjected to the same rules and laws, lack of/diminished knowledge of the past.

We clearly see the "ideal" of uniformity when the cleric (John Preston, played by the great Christian Bale) rearranges his desk after observing that everybody lives identical lives. His actions are looked upon with suspicion by his partner and facing his curiosity he says he only wanted to optimize. It's interesting how only he, who stopped taking the drug, had the need to "optimize" because it's not like he started to sing love songs or anything, just wanted to rationally improve his working environment.

Through social engineering I am referring to the act of purposefully changing the behavior of a group of people (a society) in order to achieve perfect integration with an imposed master plan. In Equilibrium this is done primarily with the drug and secondly through the use of more standard methods of manipulation like the omnipresent voice (and face) of the "Father" which acts like some sort of God for which a warrior-priest class works.

Totalitarianism, a concept which is here almost as redundant as in Brave New World (where it would make absolutely no sense). Here people don't enjoy that artificial and superficial happy life, in fact, in Equilibrium to be happy would be something illegal. It would be intriguing to have a bunch of individuals with no emotions making only rational decisions, however this is definitely not the case. Once again, the democracy where someone else tells you what to choose is not a democracy.

The drug in Huxley's book gives people intense emotions of happiness and satisfaction while the drug in Kurt Wimmer's movie does the opposite in the sense that it eliminates any type of feelings. Substances which can control people in such ways (both ways) already exist.

Global war and/or conflicts are usually presented as leading to some kind of changes. This is actually a historical and political reality and looking in retrospective with a global perspective we find links between the First World War, the League of Nations, the Second World War, the UN, the creation of Israel, conflicts in the Middle East, and so on. 


Knowledge, and more exactly knowledge of the past, is heavily controlled in most places on the globe even now with all the developments brought by the internet. This control can either be direct, like in China and North Korea or indirect like in America and Europe.

I strongly recommend you watch this movie and if you have already seen it, please leave a comment with your opinions. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Persian Lesson 04 - Adjectives

We use adjectives in order to assign various values to a noun, this may not be the standard definition but neither is this lesson the standard lesson. When we say blue water we assign to the noun "water" another word that links with it and gives us knowledge regarding that particular noun, in our case, the color blue. In Persian, adjectives are added after the noun and connected vocally through an "e". This "e" is only pronounced, not written, so we will have:

آب آبی  ab-e-abi

خوب  good

کتاب  book

کتاب خوب   ketab e chub


We know how to say good book but how to say "the book is good"? Well, this is how (here we no longer pronounce that "e") :
کتاب خوب است

For this we used Simple Present Tense which we will discuss in the next lesson. "Ast" is for third person singular.
To say "this" and "that" in Persian you say:
این  'in'
آن   'an'

این کتاب خوب است  this book is good
آن کتاب خوب است  that book is good

Now it's time for comparative and superlative. For comparative we use تر  and for superlative we add the suffix ین   after the comparative suffix. For example:

زیباتر    more beautiful (than)
زیباترین  most beautiful
or:
جوانتر  younger
جوانترین  youngest

Now let's make some sentences, there is nothing new to learn of how to write a superlative, yet the comparative needs a few things to be mentioned.
این کتاب از آن کتاب خوبتر است
"This book is better than that book". You guessed it, از  is the key to creating a comparative sentence. از  is usually translated as: of, from.

Bellow you have a short list of adjectives, read them, use them, learn them. Till next time,
خداحافظ

Short list of adjectives:

خوب  good

بد  bad

بلند  tall

کوتاه  short

بزرگ  big/large

کوچک  small

تازه  fresh

جوان  young

پیر  old

گران  expensive

ارزان  cheap/inexpensive

سفید  white
 
سیاه  black

قرمز  red

آبی  blue

سبز  green

زرد  yellow

قهوهای  brown

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cappadocia Underground Cities

There is a connection between man and the underground with a much more profound nature than we may think. I admit this is a strange thing to say if your are not a geologist, building a metro line or digging for treasure. In fact, as the name of the article says we will be in the third category yet we will not stop here. For a period I had an interest in the architecture of subway stations, mostly in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus which culminated with me searching for material on DUMBs (Deep underground military bases), don't ask me how. A couple of months and some head scratching later and here I am, talking about the Underground Cities of Cappadocia.

Cappadocia has a great number of such subterranean system, some people say 200 although more realistic estimates point to around 40, with many still not discovered or excavated. The largest are Derinkuyu and Kaymakli which are believed to date back to Hittite times. As time passed, the tunnels have been extended and ultimately served as shelter for thousands of Christians.

The Hittites were an evolved bronze age civilization which was among the first to use iron and reached its peak around the 14th century BC. Around 1180 BC the empire disintegrated and various "neo-Hittite" states were formed under Assyrian rule, sometimes engaged in wars with one another, this until ~700BC. The Persian conquest followed between the 6th and 4th centuries and then Alexander the Great and the spread of Hellenism in the 4th century. Apart from Xenophon I don't know any other ancient text describing underground homes in central Turkey. I also want to mention that the Hittites had an Indo-European language and it seems that they used the Akkadian cuneiform writing system. I don't know how Hittite texts are being translated but it seems strange that these underground systems have not been mentioned in any of them.

Recent studies have concluded that the Phrygians, a people with a language much more related to Greek than to Anatolian languages arrived in the peninsula around the time of the downfall of the Hittite Empire and so the underground cities, or a part of them, can also be attributed to this civilization. Some researchers even say that these underground cities are described in the Vendidad, in Fargard 2 (click here to read). I however am reluctant to embrace this opinion not because it couldn't be true, but because more research must be made towards this direction.

I will now show you some pictures from a couple of these underground cities so you can imagine how life was in them.

Derinkuyu



Kaymakli





 Saint Mercurius



For more info:

Countdown to opening of Cappadocia's second underground city [Saint Mercurius]
arhZONA - Prodzemni Gradovi
Ancient Standard: Derinkuyu - Turkey's Underground City

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hengki Koentjoro (visual) and Nouvelle Vague (audio)

Most of the time life is described as a journey, going from one place to another, in space and in time. Alone we walk on our way, with many we walk along, whenever our feet, our destinies, will take us.

Let's start with what will be our soundtrack for this journey. Nouvelle Vague is a French cover band started in 2003 by Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux. The song "Fade to grey" is the 13th track from their second album entitled "Bande a Part" (released in 2006). As you may remember, Fade to Grey was originally the top song of Visage in the early 80s. Collin and Libaux work with various singers, many of them you haven't heard about. Marina Celeste performed the vocal part for "Fade to grey".

Her head in the clouds, a pen or paintbrush in her hand, she has always written and composed her own songs, drawn and hummed her way through life. The death of her father in her early childhood imprinted upon her the precariousness and preciousness of life. The urgency to appreciate the everyday.
- from her official blog, www.marinaceleste.com

The visual part belongs to Hengki Koentjoro. He was born on March 24, 1963, in Semarang, Indonesia. He studied at Brooks Institute of Photography, California, USA, which he graduated in 1991.
    Photography is not just a way of expressing his most inner soul but also creating a window to the world where through his pictures the unseen and the unspoken can be grasped. Driven by the desire to explore the mystical beauty of nature, he develops his sense and sensibility through the elements of fine art photography. His freedom of expression is more reflected in the elaboration and exploration of black and white.
   - from his official website, www.koentjoro.com

The reason I chose this series of ten images is that they, in my opinion, show much of Koentjoro's immense talent for black and white photography and that I wanted to create a theme about life, about our inner struggle to search for answers to fundamental questions.  We start from a busy metropolis (Home), and through "IR Train" and "Journey" we arrive at the "Sacred".

I appreciate the unclear appearance of "IR Train", nothing more is shown than the bare minimum we need to understand we are going to leave, or that someone else is going to arrive.  The man, the shadow, who stands in front of the train is acting like an intermediary, maybe urging us to come with him.

"Journey" has a rather common composition of a road, a rail in this case, heading towards the horizon. I like this photo the most because of a personal thing I went through, symbolic in most ways. I know this has nothing to do with the picture yet this is how we often make decisions and appreciate things, I am talking about past experiences and events. The train, symbolically, works like a link between worlds, for me at least and so my understanding of this apparently simple image (which doesn't even contain a train) holds some very intense feelings. Art, however we may think of it, is definitely personal and great artists know how to give you something (on a spiritual and mental level) without even thinking of you, without knowing you.

"Sacred" starting with this we escape the city and the journey yet we enter a spiritual journey. I am not an expert in water temples but I believe this is part of the Pura Bratan complex in Bali, Indonesia, built in 1663.

With "ocean 233",  Koentjoro achieved a very interesting effect, while that wave looks very menacing the image as a whole is very calm. Someone who is afraid of water might however think otherwise.

"Doing-time", is the direct opposite of "Home", there the city, man's creation, is dominating nature while in this image man contemplates nature. Here we may even be closer to our true home.   However we can also interpret this image through the sense of solitude, of isolation... but one can feel isolated even in the largest of cities.

Look at the pictures and think for yourself why you like them and then share with us your thoughts. What I feel when seeing these may not coincide with what you feel, may not even be what the artist intended.


Home

IR Train

Journey

Sacred

Sea-Spiral

Layers

Ocean 143

Ocean 233

Doing-time

Twin

Where to find them:

Hengki Koentjoro Nouvelle Vague Marina Celeste
Official Site Official site Official site
deviantART Myspace Myspace
Art Limited Facebook Facebook
Facebook Twiiter Twitter