Form and function in the cinema and the architecture | Jorge Gorostiza

L’action sur l’homme cinéma et télévision,
Editions Denoël, París, 1961 [trad. esp.
Fondo de Cultura Económica,
México D. F., 1967

Evidently it is not possible to treat such a complex topic, as the terms of reference in the title of this entry, in an entry – it costs the redundancy – with a limited space. I have never believed that the architecture and the cinema could be included in the “art”, something that seems to me to be in addition very dangerous. In the book which cover I reproduce there is a fragment on this topic with which I am not too much in agreement, but that I reproduce later, especially, to open a space for the polemic:

“The feature typical of the visual information depends on the fact of that his products belong at the same time to the order of the art and to that of the technologies, and that register “massively” in the daily life of the men. From this point of view, it is important to compare the works of the cinematography with other human activities that have the same characters (in comparable proportions and similarmente solidary) massive, technical and aesthetic. Only the architecture fills these requirements.

It is at the time easily to verify that, if there owe to the architecture the Parthenon and the cathedrals, San’s Pedro square and the palace of Versailles, an immeasurable number of constructions owe to him also whose ends, far from being essentially aesthetic, they are eminently utilitarian: they owe his existence to the satisfaction of the needs of housing. This way, the architecture consists, very generally, of a set of technologies subordinated to massive ends of utilitarian practice, though it surrenders in a deliberate way, in certain circumstances, to top ends of principal or exclusively aesthetic type.

It is of the major interest that some architects have tried to incorporate into his efforts, even to construct buildings according to functional criteria, a search of the harmony and of the aesthetics. But it is this one a problem in certain supplementary way, which does not change anything of the supremacy of the functional thing that characterizes the sets gives technologies mobilized by the architecture, and that they define to the own architecture while technical specific activity.

Even more, the aesthetic ends of the architecture, far from having born of the need of construction in his own movement, have added him, almost always, by virtue of a species of transcendency. What it overcomes the functional thing in the feudal castle comes undoubtedly from the natural taste of the man, but also from the fact of that the castle was the mansion of the gentleman and the manifest site of his power. It was impressive and had to be imposed; this customization was representing a transcendent element in relation with the construction of a building destined for the room and for the military defense. Likewise, what in the Parthenon or in the cathedral of Strasbourg it is properly aesthetic, he sends us at the same time to the transcendent divinity and to the customization of the cultural group, to the mysticism and to the devotion. Some of them have gone furthermore far and claimed that the beauty of such monuments resides more in the cultivated consideration that the posterity they has dedicated that in the own intentions of the builders.

The idea of not seeing in the architecture my that an art, forgetting his constitutive functions of use, would spend for untenable; such conclusions would extract that the architects would have to subordinate all his activity to exclusively aesthetic ends. Nevertheless, it is something analogous what explains certain aberrant particularities in the domain of the visual information.

Every technician who takes in hands a chamber, and even every individual who is in conditions to use her properly, he thinks his duty to do a work of art and believes itself capablly of achieving it. Using of the technical nature of the visual information, everything medical instructor is thinking about being able to give to his subjectivity a celebrated artistic expression. Far from thinking about the daily architecture and about the ends of his activity, the author or steward of movie, for definite evil that is, he thinks, before well, to enter immediately the family of the Bramante and of the Jean Goujon, of the Michael Angel and the Mansard. This way the exceptional side of the cinema and the television is excessively privileged, to the benefit of an exasperated original inspiration, and the side and massively technical is not estimated.

Now then, the production of movies in mass, to which the cinematographic industry is delivered functionally, contradicts in most cases the pretensions of aesthetic ends, at least such since them his authors conceive. It is not enough that the complex of the Gothic cathedral, as it would be said today, shelter a mobilization of craftsmen and of efforts dedicated to the common work. The cinematographic achievements not for it stop preserving, almost always, his equivocal character of compound company and of deception. Without denying the highly artistic and cultural character of such effort or of such a movie, it is necessary to consider the products of the visual information, as those of the architecture, from a technical point of view and in certain functional way, before to resorting to any other type of evaluation.

However, there it stops validates of our comparison. So if the art always has been recognizable in the effects produced by his works on the sensibility, the intelligence and, more generally, on the personality of those who are directed, necessary it is to recognize that any movie, achieved or not, ambitious or mediocre, informative or of mere scattering, it can produce effects of this kind and, which is more, effects superior to those that the works of art of the past could have provoked.

The paradox of the visual information consists of the fact that justifies, at least by all appearances, the enormous pretensions of the entertainers and the poets, of the artists and adventurers. As Bramante and Miguel Ángel, the filmmakers fascinate his admirers. As Bramante and Miguel Ángel, the filmmakers fascinate his admirers. But nearly that asks himself one to whom there belongs really the force that like that acts, will admit that the genius of Pack-thread and Michael Ángel was the condition of our contemplative attitude, while it is the own power of the movie images, much more frequently than the talent or the exhibitionism of the technical personnel, which starts the mechanisms of our participation. This way, the producer is the one that tries to dominate this power, to it submit to a properly technical ascesis, and not the “gentleman who, with the major frequency, goes where his horse wants to go”. Unlike the greatness of the architecture, which source is in the personality of the architect, the made virtues of the visual information of the deployment of his technologies come essentially neither from the individual actions, nor from his intentions.”

Jorge Gorostiza, architect. Author of the blog Arquitectura+Cine+Ciudad

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, september 2013

Doctor arquitecto, proyecta y construye edificios y desarrolla trabajos de urbanismo. Desde 1990, publica numerosos artículos sobre cine y arquitectura en medios de su localidad, revistas como Nosferatu, Nickleodeon, Academia, Lateral, Cahiers du Cinema… y en varios volúmenes colectivos. Entre el 2000 y el 2005 dirige la Filmoteca Canaria. Imparte conferencias sobre arquitectura y cine en instituciones como el CAAM en Gran Canaria, la UIMP, el CENDEAC en Murcia, INCUNA en Gijón, Fundación Telefónica, la ETS de Arquitectura y el CCCB de Barcelona, las ETS de Arquitectura de La Coruña, Sevilla, Valencia y SEU madrileña, La Ciudad de la Luz en Alicante, la UNED en Pamplona, en varios colegios de arquitectos, así como en las universidades del País Vasco, Gerona, Valladolid, Málaga, Granada, SEK en Segovia y CEES de Madrid. Jurado en varios festivales cinematográficos, como los de Alcalá de Henares (2001), San Sebastián (2002), Sitges (2003), Las Palmas (2005) y Documentamadrid (2005), y comisario de las exposiciones Constructores de quimeras. (Centro Conde Duque, Madrid, 1999) y La arquitectura de los sueños (Capilla del Oidor, Alcalá de Henares, 2001).

He publicado bastantes libros y muchos artículos, he impartido conferencias, he sido comisario de exposiciones y jurado en muchísmos festivales. Si quieren saber más no duden en consultar mi blog ARQUITECTURA + CINE + CIUDAD.

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