Figure Analysis
JLD 02 - 17 - 2010

Often when trying to find a subject for a quick sketch, I am drawn to a specific part of a building or landscape's symbolic decor. Figures or creatures can become integrated into a building and enhance its meaning. Recently in Cambodia we saw many Hindu and Buddhist temples in Angkor in which every part of the building had meaning. The drawing below shows how Buddhist imagery and narrative could be embedded into the stucture of the temples. Similarly in places like Italy and Greece where deities played an important role in the everyday lives of ancient civilizations symbolic gods and creatures adorned fountains like this creature in the Boboli Gardens in Florence (bottom left). After I had sketched many instances such as these I realized they were interesting to me because representations such as these are rarely seen in modern architecture. This may be because many societies today are no longer dependent on religion and superstition, but I have observed that many people find it tacky or distasteful to have such literal interpretations of the meaning of a space integrated with it today. For example, there are plenty of friezes and statues in the Atlantis Hotel in Dubai, but none of them mean anything. They are intended to be over-the-top and the designer succeeded in making the place look fun and ridiculous. Even churches constructed recently can be devoid of religious symbolism. Take Richard Meier's Jubilee church in Rome for example--it is completely clean except for a crucifix placed high in a window at the front of the church. Modern buildings can still have deep meaning embedded in their design, it is just that these significances are not as clear as they used to be.

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