Shifting Forms

Chrysler Building

I never quite get Art Deco. I looked out for it in LA but was overwhelmed by the mid-century modernism, where in commercial sites of Los Angeles, mid-century modernism is reduced to the strong presence of Arco lamps.

What is about Art Deco that feels like another world? Its feminine, delicate line works that at times may feel too frivolous or weak, lack of will. Yet its power soared. The Chrysler Building today still amazes me with its exquisite proportion and details that forever demand a second, closer look from its audience. I saw photos of the construction stage of the Chrysler, men with no harness dangling their feet in the air smoking cigarettes on the iron structure that protrudes out to the thin, crispy air of nothingness. How incredible!

What is beautiful is always supported by remarkable strength, otherwise like fashion it would be ephemeral and fleeting. At the turn of 20th century poet Paul Scheerbart wrote the famous Glass Architecture. By saluting to the possibilities of lighter-weight structure of the new era, Scheerbart envisioned a world that was illuminous and incredible, unparalleled compared to the heaviness of brick architecture of previous centuries.

A century later, in a place like New York, the old and the new exist at ease with each other. Through a shifting landscape of architectural designs in the past centuries, we ask ourselves questions as where do we go now? With all the references to the past establishments, the future seems predictable. Yet hardly. The decades before us now are unfolding in their own fantastical, dreamlike colours.

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