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Sustainability, Vanguard Art and Pop Music Two Trailers and a Music Video Share Time and Space

One: My Green Journey Trailer (2:30)

Two: Jasper Johns and Vanguard Art Today Trailer (2:30)

Three: My Believer Music Video (3:21)

The connection of three short videos on sustainability, vanguard art an pop music is time and space. They were all three produced during May 2018;  all three share space here. Why?

The trailers and posters for My Green Journey (17:48) and for Jasper Johns and Vanguard Art Today (35:34) were done in connection with my submission to several film festivals, as part of the required press kit (both films on Vimeo Private for now). My Believer, a music video, was produced in connection with an advanced video editing class that I took at Golden West College.

  1. My Green Journey

This documentary is a brief “autobiography of a vision.” It tells of Ruth Meghiddo’s path from architecture to urban farming and shows how sustainability can be improved by using the principles of permaculture design. Combining earthy pragmatism with futuristic visions, she shows how her concepts of permaculture and eatable gardens within our habitat may help to transform the world we live in.

2. Jasper Johns and Vanguard Art Today

What was supposed to be a short video reporting on Jasper John’s exhibition at The Broad evolved into a short documentary that illustrates Johns’ path from being an unknown artist in New York during the 1950’s to becoming one of the leading artists during the 1960s and 1970s. My research lead to the questions “what is vanguard art today? Who are today’s Jasper Johns working within the present reality? Is there an equivalent in architecture?” The documentary tries to establish a link between one of the most important artists of the 1960s avant-garde, and some of today’s avant-garde artists in multiple disciplines and media: painting, sculpture, film, video-art, choreography, architecture. It provides a stimulant example for the young generation of artists.

3. My Believer

My Believer is an experimental music video, my first and so far only one covering this genre. It is the result of my explorations during an advanced video-editing class that I recently took at Golden West College, taught by Thien A. Pham, a professional editor.

A long story short. In taking care of my “continuous education” in filmmaking, I enrolled in the class during the Winter semester of 2018. There were about students, out of which I was one of the few older than twenty years old and the only one above the teacher’s age. During the classes, we reviewed films’ techniques and special effects, and edited trailers, commercials, and segments of feature movies. Thien A. Pham, originally from Viet Nam, also gave us some insight on Chinese and South Korean filmmaking, which rarely reaches the American Public.

One of the assignments was to edit a music video. We were given the original music of “Believer,” created by Imagine Dragons, and also some clips produced by Adam Henderson, winner of the Adobe Creative Cloud’s Grand Prize.  We were asked to re-edit the visuals freely while covering the entire original recording. Although neither the music nor many of the clips on violence were “my cup of tea,” I took the opportunity to experiment.

Advanced Video Editing Class “selfie” by Thien A. Pham. May 22, 2018.

The Wright Way Hint A Teaser of a Future Documentary

How can Wright’s ideas and principles help a young generation to create better livable cities and human settlements? This is the central question that motivated me to start the production of a feature documentary, The Wright Way, as a transformational film that may benefit people of all cultures around the world. I know that when young people begin to study Frank Lloyd Wright, a better future will be invented based on the laws of nature, which includes human nature.

Wright’s iconic works should not be turned into objects of worship, nor should his writings become a dogma. After studying Wright in depth, his ideas should be challenged to generate new ideas. By learning from history and from Wright, a new generation of designers willing to transform the world can get inspired to create original organic architecture from the city to the private dwelling.
Having visited many of his works, including less famous Usonian houses, and having met with some of his best followers, The Wright Way Hint “hints” at the production of a feature documentary that may contribute to a needed global transformation.

TRANSFORMING THE WORLD

U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, 2016,

U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, 2016,

In 2016 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution of 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. They included:

1. End poverty; 2 . End hunger; 3. Ensure healthy lives; 4. Ensure inclusive quality education; 5. Achieve gender equality; 6. Ensure water and sanitation; 7. Ensure sustainable energy; 8. Promote sustainable decent work for all; 9. Build resilient infrastructure, sustainable industrialization and foster innovation; 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries, 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable; 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns; 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change; 14. Keep oceans, seas and marine resources sustainable; 15. Protect and restore terrestrial ecosystems; 16. Promote peace and justice for all; 17. Strengthen the means of implementation.

It is an ambitious wish-list out of which architecture can play a vital role (Goal #11.) If adopting Wright’s organic architecture principles, the result could extend a sustainable life on Earth well beyond 2030.

Frank Lloyd Wright, c. 1957.

Frank Lloyd Wright, c. 1957.

WRIGHT IDEAS IN A NUTSHELL

 Like Galileo, Newton, Darwin and Einstein, who discovered laws of nature, Frank Lloyd Wright formulated principles which have affected design throughout the ages, from the Nuraghe of Sardinia (1900-730 BCE,) to the Katsura Imperial Villa (1624,) to Fallingwater (1939.) Although he was as prolific a writer as he was an architect, the reading and studying his ideas has remained confined to few scholars. His language is not easily accessible, his books are rarely put in the schools of architecture’s “must read” list. How can one overcome these obstacles while young people’s span of attention is getting shorter and shorter?

What are Wright’s essential ideas?

Nature is the architect’s principal school. The creative possibilities of form, color, pattern, texture, proportion, rhythm and growth are all well expressed in nature.

The building grows out of the landscape as naturally as any plant. Its relationship to the site is so unique that it would be out of place elsewhere.

Materials are to be used based on their intrinsic nature: strength, color, texture. One material is not to be disguised as another.

A building should convey a sense of shelter, refuge, or protection against the elements. Its inhabitants should never lack privacy or feel exposed and unprotected.

Space: “The reality of the building does not consist of the roof and the walls but the space within to be lived in”, said Wright, quoting Lao Tzu. The interior space determines the exterior form. Interior space is not packed in boxes called rooms; rather, space should flow freely from interior area to interior area. An area is never fully comprehended when viewed from a single point, but it must be slowly experienced as one moves through space.

The human body should be the only scale of a building and its furnishings.

Each building has its own grammar, its distinct vocabulary of pattern and form. All parts of the building, from the smallest detail to the overall form, speak the same language. The grammar may be completely different for two buildings of similar functions.

Ornament, when used, it is to be developed as an integral part of the material, not applied.

Simplicity in art is a synthetic positive quality in which we may see evidence of mind, breadth of scheme, wealth of detail and with the sense of completeness found in a tree or a flower.

Furniture should be built-in as much as possible.

Sculpture and painting are to become elements of the total design.

MODERN, CONTEMPORARY AND ORGANIC ARCHITECTURE

What became labeled as “Modern Architecture” or “Modernism,” originated in Europe of the 1920s. Walter Gropius’ BauhausLe Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe’s ideas, based on constructive social programs, provided with a machine –like  with no decoration and easy to learn slogans, such as “less is more,” ribbon glass windows, all-white rectangle walls, and building on piloti. They influenced the design of thousands of architects around the world, some with positive results, many with catastrophic effects of massive housing and urban sprawl lacking identity.
Wright’s work, although classified by historians under the umbrella name of “Modernism,” refused to be categorized in any one architectural movement. His master-teacher, Louis Sullivan, who pioneered the use of steel for office building, had coined the concept of “form follows function”, later on modified be Wright as “form and function are one.” Simplicity for Wright was an end-result of chiseling out the unnecessary, not a point of departure.
 For most young architects eager to start building their own projects, it was impossible to learn Wright’s principles and ethic code without studying in depth his writings, analyzing his drawings and visiting his buildings. Most chose the shortcut.
 In the 1960s the term “modern” was substituted by the more inclusive term “contemporary.” It included hundreds of art and architecture languages and grammars. Some were authentic, some were progressive, like “High-Tech,“ some were regressive, like “Post-Modernism,” many were trendy, and some “stararchitects” indulged in building acrobatics having little to do with people’s needs. “Contemporary” implied a freedom of expression that many interpreted as “anything goes.”
 The Italian Website ADAO (Friends of Organic Archirecture) (http://www.architetturaorganica.org/architetturaorganica/HOME.htm ) shows links to many organic architects, such as John Lautner, Carlo Scarpa, Bruce Goff, Bart Prince, Kendrick Bangs Kellog, Robert Harvey Oshatz, to name a few, their numbers remain a small fraction in comparison to all what is being built.

A ONE-HUNDRED YEAR AGENDA

 At a philosophical level, the quests of Dario Salas Sommer’s Moral Physics, Yuval Noah Harari’s New Human Agenda, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Organic Architecture, interact as “a cosmic vision beyond ever-changing creeds or viewpoints that have until now divided human beings according to their geography, their culture or their ideas.” God / Nature / Truth / Unity / Existence  / Being / Whole become interchangeable words implying the working and interacting together as a whole. The time is now. As the world’s population grows to a likely ten billion by mid-century, twelve billion by 2100 and possibly 30 billion by 2200, planetary management that crosses borderlines and governments become indispensable.

In addition to all said, mixed-use and multi-functionality are integral components of a sustainability agenda. While mixed-use juxtapose multiple functions (housing, commerce, education, )  multi-functionality makes possible the multiple uses of the same space, and the multiple-use of a same component: a stairway as structure, a column or beam as a container of ducts, a wall as container of storage, a roof as an edible garden.

Proximity between living space and working space are part of the sustainability agenda. Working space can be: a. within the dwelling unit; b. adjacent to the dwelling unit ( see Price Tower); c. Within walking or bike distance from the dwelling.

Mobility is integral to both human needs and to sustainability, yet it demands a total revision of how it works. It consists of three categories. A. Emergency access (firemen, ambulances, police, rescue from disasters.) b. Public use: air mobility and public transportation of multiple kinds: trains, tramways, air tram cable cars, moving conveyors, buses, taxis (with drivers or driverless,)  hot air balloons. c. Private: bikes, skateboards, cars, trucks (owned or rented.)

Organic architecture needs to awaken from its long sleep. It requires reinterpretation without falling into nostalgia or an imitative expression of Nature. Although nature remains the most important source of inspiration, it is to be interpreted, not copied.

The United Earth Wheel of Synergy

The United Earth Wheel of Synergy. Copyright United Earth, 2016.

 

Observation Point - Tongva park. Copyright Rick and Ruth Meghiddo 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Tongva Park and the Angelbird A new destination and gathering place of great social, ecological, and symbolic value

Tongva Park in Santa Monica is a unique model of sustainability and Organic Architecture, sensitive to the site’s geological and human history. It was designed by  James Corner Field Operations to turn the area into “a new destination and gathering place of great social, ecological, and symbolic value.”

During February of 2016, we were invited to see a performance at the park by Elizabeth Yochim, a dancing art historian who acts in public spaces. The encounter with both the park’s design and the Angelbird’s dancing was captivating.

Angelbird - Elizabeth YochimCopyright Rick and Ruth Meghiddo 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Angelbird – Elizabeth Yochim

I began to study about the park’s history. I went to the park to shoot for the second time, but the editing was derailed by other projects and the footage remained dormant. In the meantime, When I learned that its main designer was British-born landscape architect James Corner and his New York firm Field Operations, I started to connect the dots. Corner had been one of the leading architects of Manhattan’s High Line, in collaboration with Diller Scofidio + Renfro (the Broad’s architects) and Piet Oudulf,. It has been one of the best urban design projects since Paris’ Promenade Plantée and  Parc de Bercy.

The Tongva nation, also known as Gabrielinos (the way the founders of Mission San Gabriel Arcángel called them) were a Uzo-Aztecan-speaking people who moved into coastal Southern California 3,500 years ago. Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the Tongva excelled at building homes and sea-worthy canoes. A Tongva hut, or ki, was usually constructed with tule or willow reeds and resembled a large dome in its design. A Tongva canoe, or ti’at, was made of wooden planks sown together with tar or pine pitch and could hold as many as twelve people. Ti’ats were used for fishing and for transport to the islands that are now known as Catalina and the Channel Islands. The Tongva ki was very architecturally efficient because of its design, which gave the structural stability to withstand an earthquake.

American natives, California. Photo by H. A. Brooks, 1916.

American natives, California. Photo by H. A. Brooks, 1916

James Corner’s thoughtful plan based its design on the theme of the arroyo, the local geology, and the Tongvas heritage. The park is dominated by a series of winding paths and modest hills thickly planted with a mixture of native and drought-tolerant native plants. Original plants on the lot were preserved, and over 300 trees and thousands of plants were added to flush out the landscape.

Tongva Park Plan

Tongva Park Plan

Water features, as reminders of the arroyo, are potable, so that children can play in them. LED lighting reduces energy use, and materials were carefully selected to focus on non-tropical hardwoods that have been sustainably forested. Local aggregates and stone, recycled content materials, low-VOC paints, sealants, and adhesives, and soy-based anti-graffiti coatings are all components of this green symphony. A small park right at the foot of City Hall is called Ken Genser Square, in honor of the city’s late mayor. The fountain at its main entrance seems to be a favorite gathering place for seagulls.

Children Playing with Water - Tongva Park. Copyright Rick and Ruth Meghiddo 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Children Playing with Water – Tongva Park

The central public art feature by artist Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Weather Field No. 1, is a site-specific sculpture composed of 49 telescoping stainless steel poles aligned in a highly ordered grid. Each pole supports a weather vane and anemometer. These finely tuned instruments are designed to accurately respond to prevailing wind conditions.  Weather Field strikes a balance between the order of the instrument grid and the unpredictable response of its kinetic elements to produce its own microclimate. It is a constant reminder of our connection to both local and global conditions.

Weather Field No. 1. Copyright Rick and Ruth Meghiddo 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Weather Field No. 1
Artist: Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle

I went to shoot for the third time. I decided that the time had come to produce a short documentary that would link the park with people, with the invisible spirit of the Tongvas, and with the metaphor of the Angelbird.

From Architecture to Urban Farming

A Brief Story of a Vision

“While doing research on solutions for sustainable mixed-use urban corridors, I came to foresee the advantage of incorporating a food-growth area integrated to the common spaces of the habitat at arm length of people’s home.”

In a brief story of her vision, Ruth brings us the case of urban farming as a growing movement to tackle problems that the world faces in the 21st century. Her story is personal.  She tells us how her vision evolved from childhood experiences in the Romanian countryside, to her life in Rome, to the mentorships of Zevi and Pellegrin, to her fascination with Wright’s thinking and works, to her practice as an architect, to her discovery of Permaculture, to her new passion for urban farming and local edible gardens.

She posed to herself some critical questions:

  • How can urban farming contribute to make the world a better place?
  • What is the connection between architecture, planning and urban farming?
  • What can each of us do to become self-reliable on the food we put on our table?
  • How can edible gardens become a design component integrated to urban development?
  • How can urban farming provide a stage for social interaction?

 

Some facts may help to put a global problem into perspective:

  1. The First Agriculture Revolution started about 10,000 years ago. As nomads settled, cities were born. Until about a century ago, they were surrounded by farms, which supplied its population with fresh food.

    San Gimignano, Photo: Pablo Charin, Rick Meghiddo

    San Gimigniano surrounded by farms – Photo: Pablo Charin / Minube

  2. As the world’s population grew from 1.6 billion in 1900 to 7.5 billion today, the way we feed ourselves was transformed radically. Industrialized farming brought us ecological degradation, aggravated by the massive use of toxic chemicals. In addition, the path of food from the farm to the city became dependent on carbon-based fuel for transportation.
  3. As the temperatures will continue to raise, climate change is likely to expand the areas of drought hurricanes and floods, diminishing the existing cultivable areas.
    Nwesweek 10/30/2015

    Nwesweek 10/30/2015

    Milano EXPO 2015: Feeding the World, Rick Meghiddo

    Milano EXPO 2015: Feeding the World

  4. Today’s global growth is about 75 million a year. We are likely to reach ten billion around by 2050. Too far away? Not really! That is just “around the corner.” By 2050, children born today will be in their thirties.

    World Population-1800-2050

    World Population-1800-2050

  5. One acre of land is needed to feed one person for one year. By 2050 we will need additional not-yet-existing cultivable land of about 10 million km2, equal to the size of the United States.

How shall we continue to feed the planet? How shall we invent the future while we free cultivable land from the voracious appetite of urban sprawl?  If we want to create a decent living environment, action is needed NOW. Here are some possibilities:

  • Increase mixed-use urban density along urban corridors.
  • Create cultivable areas within residential multi-family buildings, office buildings, schools, factories, hotels, etc.
  • Design common edible gardens as places for social interaction.
  • Design workspaces that provide edible gardens to its tenants.
  • Plan neighborhoods that include collective cultivable areas.
  • Build multi-story farms.
  • Vertical Farming - Rendering: Blake Kurasek

    Vertical Farming – Rendering: Blake Kurasek

    Vertical Farming

    Vertical Farming

 

No single solution can fit all needs. The use of eco-friendly lightweight hydroponic systems that consume 90% less water than traditional farming can be incorporated into the built environment.

On the other hand, permaculture, first developed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, brings a holistic approach that combines agricultural and social design principles. By increasing our awareness of “thinking globally and acting locally,” each of us can contribute to make the world a better place to inhabit.

 

Jean Phillipe Pargade Technical and Scientific School, Paris. Photo: Sergio Grazia

Jean Phillipe Pargade Technical and Scientific School, Paris. Photo: Sergio Grazia