December 28, 2015
A window has another spelling...it has "f" all together, it lacks no more then and this is rain, this may even be something else… - Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons, Rooms
Last June, I was invited to respond to an exhibition at Underdonk, displaying work by Jenna Westra and Sophie B. Grant. Their collaboration was inspired by the Viennese artist, architect and visionaire Friedrich Hunderstwasser’s notion of "fensterrecht" or The Right of Window, which became the title of their exhibition.
I spent time with this work as a representative of The Explorers Club of Enrique de Malacca. The namesake of which was a slave of Ferdinand Magellan’s. Despite slavery and Magellan's death on the Philippine island of Cebu at the hands of Chieftain Lapu-Lapu, Enrique continued on, and is believed to have circumnavigated the earth on the ships of the Magellan fleet.
Fenestration can be: the practice of placing holes in the rudder of a ship to reduce the work required to move the rudder while preserving its ability to steer the ship.
The Explorers Club of Enrique de Malacca steers from a position of not knowing, non-knowledge, a position of holes, ruptures, fenestration as the space in Keatsian negative capability: "being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason" wrote Keats, and in affiliation with the Amateur Astronomers Society of Voorhees, The Explorers Club of Enrique de Malacca considers fenestration as unseen holes in time and space.
The room you may be in has one, two, three, four, ceiling, floor: six walls.
Hundertwasser considered walls as a third skin.
In botany it can be skin itself: natural holes in the leaves of some species of plants. A fenestrated leaf is a kind of specialized leaf of succulent plants with transparent or translucent windows to optimize light capture.
Later, throughout October I found myself waking up at pre-dawn to spooky lights outside my window.
My astigmatism without glasses makes elongated halos out of distant light. So that's what I would see first: fuzzy halos moving up and down the cracks of my blinds and on the other side of the glass til perception was fixed with two other pieces of glass, that is, when I’d put on my spectacles and I could focus on what’s outside: jewels Jupiter and Venus (and Regulus the star) and Mars if clear enough.
The color of Mars is red for the same reason that our blood is red: Iron oxide.
Did you know that our blood requires fenestration, too? Fenestrated capillaries have pores that allow small molecules and limited amounts of protein to diffuse.
it's endless really. I lept into long range wi-fi in the void, self-defenestrated into an internet wormhole.
Everything is a window see,
named after eyes, even ones with astigmatism:
the Old Norse 'vindauga'
from 'vindr – wind'
and 'auga – eye'
i.e., wind eye
Also used to refer to a natural (as opposed to traumatic) opening in the skull or other bones like the openings in the skull for eyes and holes for breathing. I looked around the room from my bed and panicked about everything being a window:
mobile screens, controllable, programmable...
Bill Gates named it accordingly didn't he?
late in the evening, with impossibly loud neighbors blasting Summer Breeze, i'd gotten wind…
news of a friend's father whose heart had ran out of air.
Here is something the internet gave me about fenestration in a cardiac procedure:
Part of the Fontan operation involves making a tunnel to bring oxygen-poor blood directly from the body into the lungs. The tunnel connects the inferior vena cava to the pulmonary artery, bypassing the heart. It can be made in one of two ways:
outside the heart (extracardiac conduit)
inside the heart (lateral tunnel)
This new circulation can put extra pressure on the lungs while your body is getting used to it. To relieve this pressure, the surgeon makes a fenestration between the tunnel and the heart. The fenestration allows some blood to flow from the tunnel into the heart. It acts as a temporary pressure release valve while your body is adjusting to the new circulation. It is usually closed several months after the Fontan operation, so that oxygen-poor and oxygen-rich blood no longer mix.
back to one of the Explorer’s Club’s ships:
In her book R’s Boat, Lisa Robertson writes on the subject of narrative:
"I wanted it to be the patient elaboration of my senses" maybe referring to a kind of description that mirrors Alain Badiou's notion of “description without place” which is my personal theory of everything.
Place means power. Master narrative and Masterpiece.
Place is stagnant, finite, bound, numbered, resolved, unfenestrated statement.
From the Underdonk press release:
Picture an arm reaching out a window to the exterior wall affixing tiles, paint, stucco, flowers, and other décor for as far as the fingers can reach. Then picture arms reaching through every window in every city. Hundertwasser coined the term “right of window” to assert our need to express ourselves beyond our private domestic spaces and into the public realm. Even in rented apartment buildings, he thought, humans must have the freedom to reach out the window and alter anything within arm’s length. That is our right of window, a right that breaks boundaries of ownership, personalizes the generic, and disrupts a conformist sameness.
Akin to Fred Moten's term an “an-architecture”? He uses it in regards to a refusal of Place, not unrelated to Jenna's and Sophie's architectural "refusals"
Lisa Robertson, in her manifesto for The Office of Soft Architecture declares: “Practice description...it is life’s reflection or reverse. Place is accident posing as politics. Therefore it is tragic and big.”
The Explorers Club of Enrique de Malacca, like Sophie and Jenna, steer towards a fenestration poetics of no window the same. Exquisite corpse an-architecture. Perhaps opposite from Johannes Kepler’s belief in the Copernican notion of the universe in fixed symmetry; a “book” written in mathematical figures. Anything fragmenting, or deviating from Copernicus’ pursuit of the single shape of the universe was monstrous:
The procedure of the old natural philosophers collected hands, feet, a head, and other members from various places, all fine in themselves, but not proportionate to one body, and no single one corresponding in its turn to the other, so that a monster rather than a man would be formed from them.
Hundertwasser aimed for building dwellings in which no window was the same. Nor tiles...irregular floors as an experience he referred to as “divine melody for the feet.”
Writing from the same ship:
The stars, once the guide for sea navigators are now the stuff of a monstrous unknown expansion.
Of the monstrous, Allora & Calzadilla describe “things that are unmeasurable and unformed in the work, which can go beyond our intentions, and can make the work mean something we couldn’t anticipate”
There is a richness in the word monstrous for me in its etymological root, which comes from the Latin monstrare: to show. Demonstrations and the monstrous tied linguistically connoting both knowledge formation via tactile learning and action as well as a resistance, as well as a refusal.
This had been a point of entry into addressing Sophie and Jenna’s work, their respective entries into each other's studio, the sharing of this “currency of material,” keeping the process an open window. Fenestration as “potential engagement,” to borrow Renee Green’s term.
TYPES OF WINDOWS
windows in architecture that may read as descriptions for Jenna’s and Sophie's process and the objects and images in the room I was in:
AWNING (Swings out like a door)
CASEMENT (attached to its frame by one or more hinges)
FIXED (cannot be opened, whose function is limited to the allowance of the entry of light)
FRENCH (double paned)
HOPPER (bottom-pivoting casement window that opens by tilting vertically)
HORIZONTAL SLIDING SASH (two or more sashes that overlap slightly but slide horizontally within the
JALOUSIE/CLERESTORY (parallel slats of glass that open and close like blinds)
PICTURE (unimpeded views as if framing a picture, like Turrell to the sky, or, Robert Irwin to the sea)
TILT AND SLIDE
TILT AND TURN
TRANSOM (window above a door)
SIDE LIGHT (beside a door, I know they have these at 205 hudson)
EMERGENCY EXIT (EGRESS) big enough and low enough so that occupants can escape through the opening in an emergency