Knight's "In Vivo"
is a fable built in the form of a tower we know as "Babel." Along
with its structure its actual name was destroyed by a God threatened
by the impossibility of finishing, of totalising,
of saturating, of completing something on the order of edification,
architectural construction granting an
alternative vision--as love, or hate, reflected in a stranger's
eyes is more thrilling than when caught in the glint of the known.
Hoshour's eyes the Sandia Mountains, which define Albuquerque's
eastern boundary, were always stirring. So that when he and his
associate, Dale Pearson, received a contract to design a library
in a neighborhood of middle-class homes on the city's northwest
side, they provided the building, besides
Bogart was surprisingly well read, and not merely in the best
sellers but in the classics as well. Bogie had a good knowledge
of American history and Greek mythology. He could quote from
Plato, Emerson, Pope, and many English dramatists. Once situated
on a windy knoll, a street with a stunning panoramic sweep of
the cambered mastiff that the mountain belched out of its glowing
chambers, and the trees that demurely dress it.
died shortly before the Taylor Ranch Branch Library was completed.
Four years later, John Knight, who was one of the architect's
many artist friends, was invited by Albuquerque's "Art in
Public Places" program to offer an in situ project
at the library. In January, 1993, Knight arrived from New York,
his portfolio crammed with projects accomplished in Europe and
America. By this time the artist's evolving idea described a "cultural
de-construction of a two mile radius: the area prescribed by
library statistics to be a branch's serviceable use distance."(1)
First, he distributed a questionnaire:
How long have
you lived in the Taylor Ranch Area.
What is your vocation(s).
What are your hobbies/interests.
Who was the builder of your home.
this information, sometime in early 1994 Knight will program
into the library's computerized on-line catalog a list of from
75 to 150 books already collected in the system that reflects
the community's disparate interests. These books will be cross-referenced
under the artist's name, and project title, a congenial virus
introduced into an
uncouth region whose librarians repudiate the vain and superstitious
custom of finding a meaning in books and equate it with
finding a meaning in the heart of the city's public archive.
Knight envisions the library's computer pod, an octagon, the
eight-sided tower in Sufism, in the Templars, and in the baptismal
font. I think it's the symbol of maternity, the alchemist's oven,
the sperm that fertilizes the egg as the community's center.
The artist also
pondered Hoshour's formal idea in the art work in a holistic
timeless ideality which frees the artist and the viewer alike from
the anxiety of the present and the contingency of modernist
principles, adding to his project a postmodern motley field of
seams, "the guise that chaos assumes when attention is paid
to it."(2). Thus, "Who was the builder of your home?" is
used to procure square samples of carpets that were laid in various
neighborhood houses, using them as substitutions for squares of
the library's carpet. Not a "crazy quilt," as the artist
calls it, which is "made of pieces of cloth of various colors
and irregular shapes and sizes (3), but a "puzzle patchwork" surrounding
and grounding the protean computer array. A wooly notion; a sheepish
Like the tower--which
even as new architecture rose didn't fall of a whole piece, but
crumbled, syllable by syllable, word by word, sentence by sentence--this
segment of Knight's project will also vanish, spread like dust
over centuries of errant revisions.
the impossibility: Jacques
Derrida, 'Des Tours de Babel.' Ithaca, NY., 1985.
besides Bogart: Joe Hyams, Bogie. New York, 1966.
an uncouth region: Jorge Luis Borges, "The Library of Babel." In, Labyrinths.
New York, 1964.
idea in the art work: Teresa L. Ebert, "The Aesthetics of Indeterminacy:
The Postmodern Drip Paintings of Jackson Pollock." The Centennial Review,
1. John Knight, "Concept
Explanatory Text." November, 1993.
2. William Willeford, The Fool and His Scepter. Evanston, IL., 1969.
3. Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language.
(c) Joel Weishaus 1996