April 16, 2009

Jenny Sabin: Cory Arcak

Robert LeRicolais (1894-1977) was an artist, philosopher, architect, engineer, scientist and mathematician. In the article Interviews with Robert Le Ricolais, we are introduced to a man that finds "beauty in failure" and prides himself on his "vicious curiosity." His passion is structures and as he foresees the increased pace of humanity he ponders and investigates the isssues of mass public transit that will be necessary to move the increased population from bridges to elevated rail systems. All the while knowing that the more we know and the more we create the less we will be able to use. He honors our forerunners ( basket weavers, early designers) while he questions current intellectual ability; "You just come to realize how much more ingenious our forerunners were in the art of structures. Maybe we know too many things now-we learn, we analyze, and yet we rarely discover things as wonderful as the queen post." This leads directly into his desire for and focus on simplicity followed by his warning of simplistic human reasoning "Maybe I'm an idiot, but I know we have to be careful of our simple impressions of things, thinking that what a man cannot bend is very strong. It's putting too much of our ego into the whole system." And though he warns of the ego interfering with design and structures he encourages the cultivation of human intuition in understanding the "nature of things" when designing in the studio, " we can only appropriate and fully possess what we ourselves discover."

He valued research for the sake of research. In his studio/lab he focused on minimal surfaces, a homogeneity of tension, making light structures with heavy materials, adding force into a system increases material strength, finding the structural dimensions in nature (skeletons, eggshells, bee hives, crystals) and working with the "voids" because it is in the voids that Le Ricolais finds the "truth." It is in knowing where to place the voids that he says is the art of making a structure.

Key terms for Le Ricolais-curiosity, challenge, patience, mystery, convergence, intuition, simplicity, imagination

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