Introduction

The Shape of Ritual is a research project by artist Evy Jokhova exploring the relationship between sound, architecture and the body.

Architecture as frozen music  – music as liquid architecture.

Inspired by ‘Architecture Becomes Music’, an article by Charles Jencks, that discusses the relationship between architecture and music with reference to Pythagorean mathematical principles as a theoretical premise for harmony in music and architecture, the aim of the project is to transcribe three ceremonial buildings (representing Classical, Gothic and Modernist architecture) into music. The ‘architectural music’ will then inform a number of performative and participatory art works.

This blog will present my process and research, occasional detours that may happen along the way, discussions, ideas, quotes, articles, reviews and work by other artists that are relevant to the context of the project.

Walter Pater (1877) proposed that ‘all art constantly aspires towards the condition of music.’ Charles Jencks (2013) suggests that this drive is backed by an understanding that in abstract music, form and content (sound and sense) are one integrated thing; something that modernism and modernist art strives towards. Exploring the possibilities of this fusing of form and content, its permutations, disruptions and reconfigurations on the basis of architecture and its influence on the human individual, the project aims to examine the relationship between sound, body and form on the premise of architecture as ‘frozen music’; rhythm, proportion, harmony; and the concept of a cosmic code – the idea that music and architecture are generated by the same underlying code.

Academics in the fields of architecture and music often refer to the idea that music and architecture are generated by the same mathematical principles and have a cosmic connection. This idea, translated by Pythagoras into mathematics and geometry, was the basis for the Ancient Greek preoccupation with proportion. Geometrical ratios joined music with ceremonial architecture[1]. Their columns and intercolumniations created steady beats of solid/void that mimicked staccato composition[2]. Similar to columns of the Greek temple, pillars or tall stained glass windows of a Gothic church, provide for stark contrasts and acute understating of sound and form through dark/light and loud/quiet.

This project is driven by the science behind art, music and architecture, and informs directly the aesthetic of the produced work that follows ratios and algorithms used to construct sound compositions and buildings.

Religious buildings pose the ultimate challenge in handling form and function for an architect. Whereas one of my selected sites – the chapel at the House of St Barnabas – is a Gothic Revival chapel built between 1862-1864 by Joseph Clarke in central London according to the principles of Gothic ceremonial architecture, the other – Church of the Most Holy Trinity – is a Brutalist church composed of 152 irregularly stacked cement slabs on the outskirts of Vienna, Austria. The Church of the Most Holy Trinity designed by the Austrian sculptor Fritz Wotruba is widely known as the Wotruba Church. Fritz Wotruba was an artist not an architect, and the building was designed on the premise of a plaster model, consequently, the building goes again all architectural principles, or at least was conceived without any consideration for them. Completed in 1976, the Wotruba Church was the result of a 9-year collaboration between Fritz Wotruba and architect Fritz Mayr.

The project starts in Vienna, where Evy Jokhova has been awarded a 3-month artist residency at studio das weisse haus (April – June 2016) to carry out regular visits to the building and research the construction process at the Wotruba private archive held in the 21er Haus, Belvedere. The project continues in London in the second half of 2016, then returns to Vienna (on a curatorial residency with the Belvedere Museum in May – July 2017) before moving to Florence (on a residency with Vila Lena Foundation, Tuscany) in September 2017.

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[1] “Ratios such as 1:1 (a sound repeating itself, or the architecture of a square room), and 2:1 (the octave, a string doubled or halved in length, or in building the double-square front of a temple).” __ CHARLES JENCKS, ARCHITECTURE REVIEW, 6 MAY 2013

[2] Staccato composition (a form of musical articulation which is determined in modern notation by notes of a shortened duration, played very separately from others and/or followed by silence).

 

References

Jencks, Charles. The Architectural Review. ‘When Architecture becomes music. 6 May 2013

Lepine, Ayla. The Architectural Review. ‘Architecture does not teach us what the sacred is, but it may touch it and draw others to it’. 25 March 2016

Nachlass Fritz Wotruba, Belvedere Wien, Fritz Wotruba Privatstiftung.