The van Eyck´s ear | Luis Gil Pita – Cristina Nieto Peñamaría

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Aldo van Eyck in ca. 1964 | Photography: Pierre Alechinsky

“For then we had turned already into two venerable elders. As the years went by I had remained as deaf as a post and he was losing the sight up to turning into a deep near-sighted person. It wants to say it that, while we were united, we were living in a species of symbiosis, since these plants without scarcely it knew that they take advantage of the one of other one. Sat everyone in his armchair, in an angle of the wide lounge and closely together of the window that was giving to the garden, I was served his ear and that of my sight. That is to say, I (applying ear-trumpet of silver to my right ear) was asking him about the rumors that were raising to ours around and he, in turn, was asking myself him to remember the colors and the profiles of the things”.

Javier Tomeo. Problemas oculares. Cap Simbiosis. Edt Anagrama 1990. Barcelona

I would like across these lines to meet a too evident topic, that one that it has to see with the sense of the ear (and the scout) opposite to that of the sight (and the look). The obviedad of this approximation, not scientific at all on the other hand and for that I wait be able to excuse, only I can confront it bearing in mind the words of the teacher Cornelius van Eesteren on having said to us that

the elementary beginning must be constant redisclosed”.

It is not a question of confronting two ways of dealing, but rather of his coordination to rethink before today flagrant inflation of the visible thing and the imaginary thing opposite to other facets of the perception, and between them the tied ones to the sense of the ear. To stop to think why to see and to hear, every day more, disagreement and difference are in Franc.

The man, as being perceptive, judges principally across the eyes, being orientated and trying to succeed, in proportion so much seemed like deceiving itself and wandering on his environment. But this judgment has been done every more coercive and intensive day, without having in it counts other consultants who were accompanying to the visual thing in a more global reading of the phenomena to dealing.

This change as well as great part of the alterations in the balance of the pace of the perception originated and prepared during the century that many have named like of the cinematograph. The 20th century – that began putting in movement the still image of the XIXth, the photography, to be lightening it of content in three successive phases: the cinema, the television and, more recently, the new systems of telecommunication, managed artificializar and to mechanize to look, turning it into an intensive and controlled process that takes possession every day of a deeper way of our way of understanding most of our habitual behaviors and for ende of the architecture.

It does not stop turning out to be, nevertheless, a paradox that the contemplation of the royal phenomena across the means of the image, which reproduce movement and acceleration, presupposes and demands a quietude, one to be stopped and sat, controlled in the darkness of a private enclosure (before private and collective, the cinema, now private and particular, any room of the house). It is a question of an observation that it is required, opposite to the appearance of reality in movement, a static and neutral look. A quietude also moved to the world of the reason and the ideas, provoked by the dynamics of voidance originated in the control of the image.

The means of information despliegan his functioning taking a part isolated of the reality that later they send to a passive subject that he her contemplates, and that so much as observer is a very probable client. In this scheme the described situations are isolated of his environment, of his precedents and consequences, organizing, as was making clear Pierre Bordieu, all his movements I half-close to a vision “deshistorizada and deshistorizante, atomized and atomizante”, that avoids any global perception of the phenomenon taught (we might say captured).

Before the media revolution taking place, the knowledge (not the information) was demanding a physical or intellectual trip. An effort that was needing the approximation of our conscience to the objects or ideas looked. A movement of the individual forehead and towards the investigated and an attitude in which they had to inform almost all our senses.

“Seeing is to understand. Since there is not understood màs that with the reason”

Ignacio Ramonet says. Deepening and knowledge demand to be, stability, a sufficient time and a tidy reflection. A process which development demands approximation, trip towards the interior thing as fundamental argument. This approximation, as way of dealing, seems to be more next to what despliega half-close to the sense of the ear and the phenomena that from him stem: dialog and scout. Not conflicting but coordinated with what the sight and the eye could reach.

The ear and the ear, the sense and the exterior part of the physical system that allows it, works, opposite to the rapidity with which the image travels from the eye, of much less fast form in the transfer of information from the exterior to the brain.

The sight works from the retina that is a prolongation separated from the encephalon, and the optical nerve that communicates them is considered to be, more than a peripheral nerve, a real intercranial route that assures an instantaneidad that does not exist between the exterior system of the ear and the brain. Almost a metaphor I concern of the vital pace of the oir, not of to listen – we all listen-, since it is a movement that demands calmness and personal silence, time delayed to allow that the exterior thing could accede and be analyzed.

Oir demands an attitude of predisposition that also can exist to see, but unlike the sense of the sight, the ear puts us more distantly in touch with the world of the sensitive thing in all that it forms, and nevertheless it us brings over much more to the persons who live and construct the life to ours around. Those that become “visible” by means of the dialog and the rumor.

The neoliberal world that we live not only rests on an imaginary inflation but also on an absence of dialog, a species of monologue that avoids the presence of the voice of other one and that easily has been transported to the living space of the architecture. A space in which for tradition the results always have seemed to be more visual and imaginary that organized by the attentive scout and the dialog.

Opposite to traditional this one and lately sharpened and propositada lack of dialog, almost of deep deafness, turns out to be recomforting to remember those other attitudes born in the nature of to listen and oir, of to speak and also of to be quiet opportunely.

For it, not by chance these words started by mentioning those of a Dutch teacher, we resort to the social constant experiment, that of the Netherlands. Holland, as territorial common conquest and as urban space par excellence, from the polder to Spuy Plein. Fabric made to any scale that tries place for the political claim, for the movement Provo, the kabouters and Constant’s Utopian city.

Holland like place of social deliberation I continue where the complaint, the rumor, the chat, the shout and the social claim become effective of way nearest to the heard and not to the seen.

The Holanda in whom the world construído of Aldo van Eyck represents this spirit of the balance between the seen and heard, formulating ideas, positions and works, in a company, that of the 60 and 70, in crisis and very removed from the perspective simplificadora with the one that today is presented that time.

An ear, that of Aldo van Eyck who prospers of the speech and of the round table, where they inform the individual and the community, to attend to all including to the minorities. Including East that of the children was going not only to the politically profitable minorities, but to others that like always you present, also were forgotten always. To listen even those that they seem still not to have what to say.

There exists in his vision of the world a conscience of the value of the collective thing that is increased by means of the anarchy, as respect of each one of the individualities, the minority of the minorities.

Van Eyck Dutch demonstrated always beforehand (not of another form it is possible to survive in a strongly adverse space), that the attention to another born architecture of parameters of quality different to the reserve guard, visual and commercial is possible.

It knew that to deal only across to look, obvious the problem of which the eye beside guiding of fundamental form, also cheats us, so much as architects or creators, as constant or circumstantial inhabitants, since the look is accustomed to look for the resource of the form to explain.

His work was avoiding the voidance of conscience of the public thing to the search of a space for the made critique, but also received, that is consubstantial to this way of understanding itself across the ear, of which it must turn out to be a common place.

A looked and created place, where paradoxically the city and the country of the ear manage to turn into one of the most beautiful for the look. A paradox, as one of Aldo’s twin phenómena, who in our case is summarized in the vista-oído, to continue teaching us that “we have the power to reconcile the opposite ones”.

Luis Gil Pita-Cristina Nieto
Texto incluido en el Nº1 de la revista Laura de la Facultad de Arquitectura de Guimarães, DAAUM,2002.
Guimarães, 2002


Bordieu, Pierre. Contrafuegos. Edt Anagrama 1999. Barcelona.

Delgado, Manuel. El animal público. Edt Anagrama 1999. Barcelona.

Durán, Mª Angeles. La ciudad compartida.Edt CSCAE 1998. Madrid.

Ramonet, Ignacio. La tiranía de la comunicación. Edt Debate 1998. Barcelona.

Strauven, Francis. A. v E. The shape of Relativity. Edt A&N. 1998 A´dam.

Luis Gil Pita

Arquitecto por la ETSA de A Coruña en 1997, desde ese año colabora en el estudio de Manuel Gallego Jorreto hasta 1999. Becado de investigación en Holanda en 2000-1, con un estudio sobre lo fronterizo y liminar en arquitectura, por la Diputación de A Coruña, fue posteriormente Profesor invitado en el área de proyectos de la Facultad de Arquitectura de Guimaráes, Universidade do Minho, del 2001 hasta el 2007. Desde el inicio de su carrera ha publicado asíduamente artículos y ha participado como editor en diferentes publicaciones alrededor de la arquitectura.

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