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Barie Fez-Barringten

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Metaphor axioms of art, architecture and aesthetics
by Barie Fez-Barringten   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Posted: Saturday, August 04, 2012

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While aesthetics is a guiding principle in matters of artistic [F] beauty and taste, metaphor is the analogy to taste and is used to form works of art and architecture.
William Wilson said that "a generous Age of Aquarius aesthetic that said that everything was art” It was during this time that we conceived the theory (architecture is an art because it makes metaphors) and held the lecture series at Yale. Most definitions of aesthetics concern the appreciation of beauty or good taste including the basis for making such judgments. Without a theory of metaphors these judgments mostly deal with probability and are inductive or deductive, deductive when depending on accepted premises which is the commonplace of the metaphor or inductive using logical induction. Inductive reasoning is inductive inference from the observed to the unobserved. It was given its classic formulation by David Hume, who noted that such inferences typically rely on the assumption that the future will resemble the past, or on the assumption that events of a certain type are necessarily connected, via a relation of causation, to events of another type.
In argumentation [A] it is noted that in an induction there is no new information added. In both methods the metaphor is at their root and as such the basis of aesthetics and as such essential to understand the stasis to what makes all arts the making of metaphors and how that Wilson’s statement is true for everything as most are metaphorical as well. The matter then is one of standards, social rightness and the ability any one or another work has an explanation of its form.
Architecture as the making of metaphors not only is the stasis to why architecture is art but also explains the formation of architectural aesthetic vocabulary.
The below is predominantly developed from a study of “Metaphors and Thought” by Andrew Ortony, [1] and, is in addition to over forty years of my work about “architecture as the making of metaphors. It is my hope that this monograph will introduce to aesthetics an architectural vocabulary to appreciate works of architecture.

                              Arnold Berlant’s website states that: “Sense perception lies at the etymological (history of words) core of aesthetics (Gr. aesthesis, perception by the senses), and is central to aesthetic theory, aesthetic experience, and their applications. Berlant finds in the aesthetic a source, a sign, and a standard of human value”. It is this human value which is one leg of the art metaphor and the very basis for my view that metaphor is the foundation for both art, architecture and aesthetics, and why I have spent the past forty years researching the stasis to architecture being an art (because it too makes metaphors) it can also be shown that this same stasis is the commonplace to the works of aesthetic thought and investigation. .

                      This coincidence confirms the intrinsic nature of my study of epistemology of architecture is a study in aesthetics. The metaphoric evidence I believe will prove both useful to the creation, teaching and valuation of works of art [F] as well as their architectural off-spring. In fact metaphor is the driving parte for most creative art and orchestral works. Some contemporary aesthetic theory differs with how best to define the term “art”, What should we judge when we judge art?, What should art be like?, The value of art, things of value which define humanity itself; contrasted to Raymond Williams who argues that there is no unique aesthetic object but a continuum of cultural forms from ordinary speech to experiences that are signaled as art [F] by a frame, institution or special event. Conversations about aesthetics, metaphors and architecture reassess current and traditional issues by providing a scientific method for the way metaphors work in architecture. The commonality of all arts [F] is that they express thought in terms of their peculiar craft and thus they (all arts) are technically metaphoric, metaphors because they transfer, carry-over and express one thing (some idea) in terms of another(the craft). {Parenthetically, there is no doubt that craft itself derives from ideas and concepts and within each is a sub-metaphor}.

                    The sculptor who finds the figure as he malls the block is where the craft and the material inform the artist. The splashes of paint to canvas by Jackson Pollack even prevented any slow and deliberate cognition until the process was complete. Mies van der Rohe belittles his forms by simply ascribing his end result to being faithful to the materials and their properties. While all art [F] is not expressed as a linguistic metaphor all arts are metaphoric. Likewise, if architecture is the making of metaphors what are the linguistic, psychological, and cognition science’s commonalities between architecture and metaphors?

                         This monograph is linguistic analogy transferring from linguistic, psychological and cognitive fields to art and architecture what has been scientifically studied. This is the “stasis” (the state of equilibrium {equipoise} or inactivity caused by opposing equal forces) of the controversy of architecture being an art; that if architecture behaves, acts, looks and works like art than it too must be an art. [F] Why? Because it, too, makes metaphors, and those metaphors are varied in depth, kind, scope and context. It is the stasis because it is where art and architecture meet. The metaphor is the conceptual focal point. While many claim that the architect is the “techne” artist being a crafts man point has been conceptual and so useful as to bridge, carry-over and provide both artist and architect a common authority over the making of the built environment.

                            As stasis, Architecture as the making of metaphors enables the center of the dispute to be argued with common purpose. So this is a stasis in definition which concedes conjecture. While there may be other concepts justifying the relationship between art and architecture the metaphor is the stasis, common ground and commonality apparent to me. It not only is apparent but I have found has wide and broad applications to a variety of arts and architectural definitions, practices and contexts. There may have been a time when the architect was the “master builder” and the lead craftsman but that is only true by his skill in drawing, design and specifying and not his skill as master carpenter. Before solidifying our hypothesis about architecture and metaphors we both compared architecture to the art of sculpture reflecting Christina’s work as a sculptress and my work as an architect and designer. It soon became apparent that while we could easily agree that buildings were “sculptural”,” colorful”,” lyrical”, “graceful”, ”rhythmic” etc. these were illusive and neither a field, base, or a true commonality to all the arts, including sculpture and architecture; so what was it?

                      The commonality of all arts is that they technically express something in terms of their peculiar craft and thus they are metaphoric. However technically metaphoric, how does architecture conceptually make metaphors and is there an influence between the technical and the conceptual architectural metaphor? “If the walls could only speak”; they do! Are you listening? When kingdoms created dynasty’s iconic buildings the architect and artisans took their ques from the reigning monarch. In our modern democratic pluralistic society the free reign of ideas and opinions as to contexts and their meanings are diverse. Not only is my childhood quest relevant but the essence of the responsibility of today’s architect who not only reasons the technical but individually reasons the conceptual. It is to the architect that society turns to be informed about the shape and form of the context in which life will be played. With this charge the need to know that we know and do by reasoning what science verifies by the scientific method to know that we know about the buildings, parks, and places we set into the environment.

                    It is a public and private charge included in the contract for professional services but unspoken as professional life’s experience; to prove the relevant, meaningful and beneficial metaphors that edify encourage and equip society as well as provide for its’ health, safety and welfare. So it is critical to realize, control and accept as commonplace that the role of the architect is to do much more than build but build masterfully.

                         In 1967, during the series of colloquia [2] at Yale on art, Irving Kriesberg [3] had spoken about the characteristics of painting (art) as a metaphor. It seemed at once that this observation was applicable to architecture (since scholars have long proclaimed that architecture was an art) and to the design of occupiable forms. An appeal to Paul Weiss drew from him the suggestion that we turn to English language and literature in order to develop a comprehensive, specific, and therefore usable definition of metaphor. But it soon became evident that the term was being defined through examples without explaining the phenomenon of the metaphor; for our purposes it would be essential to have evidence of the practical utility of the idea embodies in the metaphor as well as obvious physical examples.

                                   However, since then, in 1977, a group of leading philosophers, psychologist, linguists, and educators gathered at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to participate in a multi disciplinary conference on metaphor and thought which was attended by nearly a thousand people. Our symposium at Yale was had a smaller attended and our proceedings were transcribed and later in 1971 partially published in Main Currents in Modern Thought.[4] 1979 research has been completed and documents in Andrew Ortony’s compendium book on metaphor and thought to advance this metaphoric comparison. With all the controversy around "knowing"; how do we know we know and the inaccuracy of language and dubious nature of scientific conclusions I have written over twenty monographs about architecture as the making of metaphors? This is the first with the sciences of linguistic, psychology and cognition definitions of the metaphor and there fore a set of facts by which to base our comparison.

                       It is my hope that these commonalities will provide substantive reasons to allow the metaphor linking architecture to metaphors as my theorem: "architecture is the making of metaphors”. “If art is the making of metaphors and architecture is an art then it too must make metaphors. But until now aside form this logic we have not shown the informal logic, argument and evidence of this proposition. The below is an excerpt form my monograph of paradigms and axioms about architecture based on Metaphor and Thought. In each of the below cases I have fist paraphrased the scientist's conclusions and based on a notable commonality to architecture described an architectural process or product in the terms of each finding. Out these comparisons there came topoi [5] (A traditional theme or motif; a literary convention.) which we can use to describe architecture.

                      All below sub-paragraphs (i.e., etc) reference to Metaphor and Thought by A.Ortony. [1] Roman numeral titles are the section headings for each axiom followed by 1.1.1 subparagraphs for each axioms sub-axiom [x] are the keys to the footnotes and [A} the references. II. Generative metaphor [6] and the “parte”. 1.1 Generative metaphor: A perspective on problem-setting in social policy: by Donald A. Schon [6] In his paintbrush as pump discussion as a metaphor Schon claims that by attaching to the paintbrush the way of a pump the researchers were able to better improve the design of the paintbrush as an instrument which pumps paint on the surface. By describing painting in an unfamiliar way they were able to make dominant what was already somewhat known. They then saw the brush as a pump. Before then they seemed to be different things now they were the same. To arrive at this conclusion they had to observe the working of the brush and make the observation and then apply it to the mechanism. The paintbrush was now seen as a pump and the act of painting, pumping. Schon refers to this a generative metaphor. [6] The generative metaphor is the name for a process of symptoms of a particular kind of seeing-as, the “meta-pherein” or “carrying –over” of frames or perspectives from one domain of experience to another. This process he calls generative which many years earlier WJ Gordon called the Metaphoric Way of Knowing [7] and Paul Weiss [8] called associations

                           In this sense both in interior design and architecture after assimilating the program the very first step in the design process is to develop a “parte’ (An ex parte presentation is a communication directed to the merits or outcome of a proceeding …it’s the resolution of the argument consisting of claims, inferences, evidence and warrants to the inference) .It is a “top-down” [6] approach later followed by designs which meet the parte. The parte may follow the design process and be presented to sell the product. Commercial retail shops maximize both visual and physical access to their merchandise by the use of glass and positioning entrances convenient to potential shoppers’ paths of travel. Attached or detached the idea of the shop as a flickering flame and welcoming transformed shops prior image as formidable container into which one ventured for surprise and possible revelation.

                       With this is in mind designers of malls extend this accessibility to nodes on highways to be close to their prime markets. Commercial retail is now perceived as an attractive recreational experience and as such provides shoppers with a secondary perception of the metaphor; shoppers now “carry-over” from play, rest and relaxation to fulfilling their needs and necessities. “Michael Angelo” mall in Qatar( In 2008, I was design manager of a city in Doha) was designed in a Renaissance style with a huge domed entry, shop facades and themes of the period, paintings, sculptures and decoration reminding patrons that they are as royalty and in the lap of luxury. This was also adopted by the Loews theatre chain when all of their theatres were decorated with red velvet wallpaper, huge mahogany Tudor chairs; chandeliers, plush Aubusson rugs, beatiful crystal and porcelain lamps and accessories. During the depression and recovery patrons would come and spend the day in the theater (“Palace” was not just the name of one of the down town theaters but its description) to not only see the movie, but buy refreshments and lounge in the many beatiful parlors and lounges. 

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