A-4 X 4 X 21
The “A-4” has two origins – the purposeful sketches that accompany any design process and the purposeless, free drawing that fills the time of involuntary idleness. In the beginning it was an object of “personal use,” a form of conversation with myself. After some time the number of accumu- lated “A-4’s” reached a critical mass and gained an independent existence.
Technical drafting and presentation rendering belong to the realm of dig- ital technology. Hand and pencil have been pushed out into an increasingly limited niche of a free flowing architectural composition and thinking. Yet to think by hand is often easier, faster, more reliable, more versatile, and more affordable. The hand remains the computer’s teacher. A computer is still not capable of ambiguity, insinuation, uncertainty, nor mystery. Despite its constrained parameters, “A-4” possesses information capacity compa- rable to that of a monitor screen. Thanks to the efforts of the Byzantine and Russian icon painters, who discovered reverse perspective, as well as to the achievements of Cubists and Futurists, a flat sheet is able to contain not only a third dimension, but also time. A two-dimensional sheet of paper allows for space to be turned inside out, to show an object simultaneously from the inside and from the outside, to look behind, to demonstrate movement and transformation. The open-ended, free composition fills the growing gap between architecture and art. It hearkens back to architec- ture’s locus within culture – exacerbated by architecture’s increasing social obligations, its dependence on technology, and other external forces. “A-4” is evocative of the dramatic visions of the 10's-20's and 60's-70's of the 20th century. It is a memory of my teachers – Russian Avant-garde archi- tects, creators of Rationalism and Constructivism. It is a dedication to my colleagues and friends from the 60's – the time of the second Avant-garde, practically unknown outside of Russia.
Digital revolution has not resulted in a paradigm shift in architecture com- parable to the one of the pencil epoch of early and mid 20th century. Architects still use the means and methods discovered at that time. While the terms and slogans that accompanied these discoveries have been forgotten by now the visible and the visual still exists. The imported mean- ings, adopted by or imposed on architecture free it from its disciplinary duties, reducing the role of space. Architecture is self-sufficient, autono- mous, able to communicate on its own – the ability that ensures both its survival and value. For physicists and astronomers space is a given. Archi- tects create space on their own. Man-made space, the space of culture, is formed by points, lines, planes and volumes. The language of spatial arts is the language of geometric structures and figures that communicates stillness and movement, weight and lightness, enclosure and openness. The language of architecture is more strictly defined than the language of painting or sculpture – like the Bible scenes for medieval masters. The space of architecture is the space of a city or a house. Points, lines, planes, and volumes, which organize that space, take on the guise of “archetypes”– units that represent a sustained, indivisible combination of geometry and meaning. Archetypes – border, road, wall, street, intersection, roof, corner, gate, square, tower, top, bottom, etc., exist in our consciousness, but, for an architect, those are motives and themes for inspiration and interpreta- tion. Interpretation is a form of existence for an archetype, including the most significant ones, such as a City and a House. “A-4” is an exercise in these eternal archetypes. Its purpose is to demonstrate that the number of interpretations is infinite.