Wednesday, May 28, 2003

endless house, polydimensional continuum

from that page: (who is Frederick Kielser)

Fredrick Kiesler as a Commercial Designer
� Andrew Otwell, 1997

Frederick Kiesler was an architect, theater designer, artist and theoretician. He had a productive European career as a respected theatre and art exhibition designer in the 1920s, during which time he was a member of the De Stijl group. Kiesler lived in the US from 1926 until his death in the 1965. In that period he collaborated with the Surrealists, knew most of the major figures in the avant-garde art world, and developed one of the most complex and idiosyncratic aesthetic theories of his time.[1] Though he was an architect by trade, he built only one building in his lifetime: the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem. For much of Kiesler's career, economic circumstance forced him to channel his creative energies into window display design, teaching, writing, sculpture and painting, often producing works in these fields radically ahead of his contemporaries. Despite his productive and often sensational life, scholars have not until recently studied Kiesler in any great depth. Perhaps he has been too difficult to categorize, or has seemed to be simply an eccentric, though dramatic, second-rate artist.

The most current work on Kiesler has begun to investigate his heterogeneous oeuvre and theories, and to place them in the context of the avant-garde art world of the 1930s-1960s. One exhibition catalog about Kiesler from 1989 includes chapters on his European Theater designs, his shop window displays and art gallery installations, and his late sculpture and painted works. A large exhibition at the Centre Georges Pompidou in 1996 investigated much more extensively Kiesler's architectural projects and relationships with other artists in light of his theories and writings, as well as his fine art work.[2] Recent work has also included studies of Kiesler's relationship to Surrealism and to Marcel Duchamp.[3]

However, little study has examined Kiesler's commercial design projects and his design theory.[4] Several of Kiesler's published articles are particularly valuable, including his 1949 "Psuedo-Functionalism in Modern Architecture." and two lengthy design "manifestos." Kiesler's Contemporary Art Applied to the Store and Its Display was published in 1930. It outlines his ideas for department store window display design, as well as some of his more general aesthetic theory. In 1939 Kiesler wrote "On Correalism and Biotechnique: A Definition and Test of a New Approach to Building Design" which, though it has little to do with building design, deals extensively with his ideas about the evolution of built forms and their roles in man's world. Kiesler's work as head of the "Laboratory for Design-Correlation" at Columbia University from 1937-1943 was in theory commercially oriented. There, Kiesler sought to reexamine and redesign standard tools and building techniques in order to find new economical and practical design solutions.

Finally, Kiesler can be profitably compared with another De Stijl artist who emigrated to the US: Lazlo Moholy-Nagy. Like Kiesler, Moholy-Nagy evolved an aesthetic that embraced many forms of art and design, and believed in the power of good design to literally change the world. Though Kiesler experienced none of the (quite modest) success Moholy-Nagy had in Chicago, each was largely outside of the accepted design and architecture style of their period.

Kiesler's Theories and Goals
An understanding of Kiesler's terminology is essential in any study of his work. Kiesler's ideas are not simple; by the 1940's he had arrived at a complex and personal aesthetic and understanding of the world. To complicate matters, Kiesler's ideas often rely upon themselves for proof. Thus, the idea of "correalism" is based on an understanding of "correlation" and so on.

Perhaps no concept is more basic to Kiesler's complex and idiosyncratic system of thought than "correlation" (which he occasionally also called "continuity.")[5] It underlies his related concepts of "correalism," "biotechnique," and "time-space continuity." Correlation is essentially any meaningful relationship between ideas, objects, persons, or spaces. Kiesler described it as a relationship which is not necessarily based on proximity or similarity, but on the energy or life force within a form that it shares in some sympathetic way with the energy or life force within all things. R. L. Held has written that Kiesler "sought to discover a new art, a new theatre, and a new philosophical position which would satisfy man's very basic need for being in union with the cosmos. This unity with the whole he summarized as Correlation."[6] This relationship is circular: Kiesler noted that "an object doesn't live until it correlates."[7] The investigation of correlation is necessarily the task of artists who wish to reveal the ways humans relate to the world and each other.

In 1939 Kiesler summarized the term correalism as an exploration into the dynamics of continual interaction between man and his natural and technological environments.[8]It is therefore the study of the dynamics of correlations, gained through the techniques of experimentation and intuition. Experimentation includes examining sensory perception and dreams, as well as research into previous inquiries into the interaction of humans and their environment--the project of his Laboratory for Design-Correlation at Columbia University in the late 1930's and early 1940s. Intuition is not dissimilar to Surrealist automatism and is the working out of a problem through sketching, doodling, or while letting the mind wander.[9] The knowledge resulting from experimentation and intuition is then applied to solving of problems of design, architecture, or philosophy.

Finally, Kiesler defined biotechnique as the application of knowledge of correalism to the specific problems of architecture.[10]This is the practical work of the artist, architect, designer, or philosopher.

It is clear from Kiesler's definitions of the terms above that real social change was the goal of his artistic practice; he foresaw a world in which human health and productive efficiency would be considered the most important objective. This process is complex, and involves not only the reform of current attitudes to technology and the environment, but the reconsideration of the artist's role. Kiesler sought to explain the unseen correspondences between things and actions, and saw the artist as a kind of visionary or medium who could reveal associations between disparate objects or ideas that would point out new significance to a conscious audience. He wrote in 1957 that the artist's "work is the bond between the Here and the Beyond. Art is the visualized link between the known and the unknown."[11]

Kiesler had something in common with Surrealism in these goals. Ideally, the Surrealist artist would participate in social revolution by revealing to the viewer the essential psychological problems caused by modern capitalist society. Kiesler, too, hoped to liberate man from the constraints imposed on him by modern life, though he hoped to go much further. A 1947 interviewer wrote of Kiesler, "He sees his every work as part of man's continuing struggle to free himself from his physical and psychological limitations. 'All my work,' he explains, 'is really a kind of magic--a creating of life and a creating of freedom.'"[12]Kiesler wrote in 1939 that "instead of functional designs which try to satisfy the demands of the present, [my] bio-technical designs develop the demands of the future."[13]

For Kiesler, as for Surrealism and De Stijl, art played a vital role in this process. Kiesler wanted nothing less than "through art and architecture to bring man into continuity with his environment, physical, technological, and psychological, as it existed in the twentieth century . . . ."[14] Kiesler scholar R. L. Held has written that "for Kiesler, art had a single purpose: the creation of a new world-image; that is, a balancing of the Technological, Natural, and Human environments which he perceived as unstable . . . ." Art would either show what these balanced environments would look like or would point out current imbalances and suggest solutions.[15] For example, Kiesler wrote in 1942 of his designs for Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century gallery that they would "dissolve the barrier and artificial duality of 'vision' and 'reality,' 'image' and 'environment' . . . [to produce a gallery where] there are no borders between art, space, and life."[16]The dissolution of interior walls and freeform plans are notable traits of Kiesler's architectural projects--including the Endless House (see fig. 1)--and his gallery installations (see fig. 2). In such a space, the resident/ visitor would no longer assign a specific function to a particular room or space. Instead, one would feel free to pursue any activity anywhere in the space, which would in turn lead to new relationships between people and their environments. Kiesler often began a project not with a two-dimensional plan, but with drawings consisting of almost gestural, intuitive explorations of space (see fig. 3) that look very like Surrealist automatic drawings. This type of plan, which Kiesler called "polydimensional," was not bound by conventions or by presumed function.[17]

Kiesler's Theory and Practice
Although Kiesler's own ideas were often esoteric, his goals were not: Kiesler shared the belief of many artists in the early decades of the century that good art could better society. Kiesler was willing to use any available means or site to point out environmental imbalance and to reveal solutions in clear and effective ways. From his shop windows and stage designs for Juilliard in the 1930s to his designs for the Art of This Century gallery in 1942, through his work on exhibition design in the late 1940s, Kiesler's work is marked by a concern for the display of objects for an audience. Kiesler wrote throughout his life on issues of display and discussed them in his writings from the 1920s until his death in 1965.[18]Kiesler's ideas about this issue arose out of his work as a window display designer in the 1920s. The ideas he developed in those years were the basis for many of his subsequent concepts and designs.

In 1930, Kiesler published Contemporary Art Applied to the Store and Its Display.[19] The title is fairly self-explanatory: in the book Kiesler discussed the aspects of contemporary avant-garde art and architecture that he felt could be used profitably and economically in department store merchandising. Kiesler maintained this idea for some time: "Industry," he would write in 1937, "will gradually adopt the progress made by the avant-garde."[20]The relationship, however, was not merely an monetary one. In keeping with his hopes to better mankind through modern art, Kiesler saw the department store as a valuable conduit through which to speak to the public. He titled an early chapter "Contemporary Art Reached the Masses Through the Store." In it he stated, "The department store . . . was the true introducer of modernism to the public at large. It revealed contemporary art to American commerce . . .[and] has been the interpreter for the populace of a new spirit in art."[21] Just as he hoped that his Art of This Century galleries twelve years later "promoted contracts between inanimate objects and people searching for the contact,"[22] the department store was an active agent in spreading the message of avant-garde art.[23]

Contemporary Art is more than a manifesto on art and society, though it certainly is that, with chapters such as "The Ideology of the Show-window." It is also a guide, with specific examples of Kiesler's and others' work, for how to set up effective merchandise displays in a department store. Lisa Phillips has noted that Contemporary Art's review of European art and architectural styles of the previous twenty years was invaluable to American artists. The book was also a display of the works of the members of the American Union of Decorative Artists and Craftsmen (AUDAC) which Kiesler helped found. AUDAC was "committed to progress through industry and promoted the new discipline of industrial design in America . . . ."[24] In the book, Kiesler discussed principles of design--adapted from his European theater work--he had developed in his job as window designer for Saks Fifth Avenue from 1928 to 1930 (see fig. 4).

Kiesler begins Contemporary Art Applied to the Store and Its Display with the statement, "The book was written . . . because the store window is a silent loudspeaker."[25] To Kiesler, the window is an active agent in the process of selling commodities: "After the passerby has halted, the silent window has a duty: to talk, to demonstrate. To Explain. In short: to sell."[26] Kiesler was never an artist driven by profit margins or monetary success. His desire to sell merchandise is not at all at odds with the loftier goals of the rest of his ideas. To Kiesler, the movement of commodities, which begins when a store display catches the eye of a consumer, was the basis not only for building businesses and driving innovation, but for changing needs on an individual level. Kiesler, through architecture and display, hoped to change the lives of those who came in contact with his work. Part of that change involved pointing out, through art, where the "imbalances" in man's world existed and how to correct that balance. Kiesler writes in Contemporary Art, in a set of statements that reads like a geometry proof:

What makes people purchase?

Real and artificially stimulated needs.

Usually artificial needs become genuine needs.

Habit asserts itself and makes them vital.

This is the joint work of artists, scientists, and business men.[27]

The window, as "the most direct method of contact . . . [and] a modern method of communication," was the agent that affected these changes to consumers' needs.[28] Here Kiesler adds businessmen to the people--artists and scientists--whom he believed contributed to progress in modern life. The savvy businessman could drive change no less effectively than technological innovation, though his motives had to be good. "Development of industry for industry's sake," Kiesler wrote in 1939, "is worse than art for art's sake."[29]

Kiesler surely considered himself a scientist as much as artist; portions of Contemporary Art deal with the use of "scientific research" in design. He would later head the Laboratory for Design Correlation at Columbia University's School of Architecture from 1937 to 1942. During that period, he produced a series of articles on "Design - Correlation" for Architectural Record magazine which explored his new ideas and analyses.[30] In some ways, Kiesler may have seen himself as a sort of businessman, as well, "selling" the value of art to the American public. Kiesler even noted that "window and store decoration has grown to be a science and an art."[31]The display manager of a store is himself an artist who "has to paint the picture for the public. His canvas is space, his pigments merchandise and decoration, his brushes light and shadow."[32]

Kiesler's Laboratory for Design-Correlation not only taught design, but attempted to study sensory perception and the morphology of technology. In 1939, he published in Architectural Record the lengthy "On Correalism and Biotechnique: a Definition and Test of a New Approach to Building and Design," which set out his overall philosophy in detail. Kiesler writes that no branch of science "has charted and formulated the laws which govern the development of technology" or studied design from a scientific perspective. Much of this article is given over to his analysis of the evolution of tool types as a means of exploring how design should respond to human needs. Kiesler uses the term "tool" to stand for any instrument humans create for increased control over nature or for increased productivity, from a knife to a dwelling.[33]

He begins by identifying three stages of the development of the tool. The standard type is developed out of absolute need: the knife was invented out of the need to cut more effectively. This type is functionally basic and unadorned. The next stage is the variation, which appears as needs become more specialized: various versions of knives (such as "bread knife" or "fruit knife") are developed as new uses are identified, though the emphasis remains on functionality and increased productivity. The final stage is the simulated tool. Tools at this stage evolve from variations, but are characterized by a lack of increased efficiency or quality. The changes made in the creation of the simulated tool tend towards pure design changes; these tools are often merely decorative (see Kiesler's chart (fig.5).[34] Kiesler's scheme is fundamentally unike Raymond Loewy's 1934 "The evolution of the motor car" (fig. 6), in which the auto goes from the Model A to a "modern" streamlined form with no evident change in basic function.

Kiesler also states that he evolution of needs is directly related tot he evolution of tools. he outlines this evolution as progressing through the following stages: an existing standard or need is recognized as being no longer efficient or adequate, areas for potential improvement are observed, and a solution is discovered and perfected. This solution is then introduced; it invariably meets with resistance until the new need or standard is recognized, followed by production on increasingly larger scales. Eventually, the new tool itself will be accepted as a standard, and the cycle can begin again (see Kiesler's chart fig. 7).[35] In this view, to produce forms after perceived function ("form follows function") would be merely to put new forms on customary ways of living.

This model fits with Kiesler's conception of the world as characterized by dynamic and constant change which is not governed by socioeconomic forces, but by human needs. It may seem to be in contrast with Kiesler's own view, which he expressed in Contemporary Art Applied to the Store and its Display, that "artificial needs create civilization."[36] In fact, Kiesler's model of need evolution clearly privileges the ability of the designer to recognize and create the tools that will in turn awaken others to the inadequacy of current needs and tools. Artificial needs as such are not bad, as long as the creators of them have the right intention and vision.

Though Kiesler headed the Laboratory for Design-Correlation for five years, he seems to have published only one report of its findings.[37] An appendix to "On Correalism and Biotechnique," "The Mobile Home Library" was a study by Kiesler and his students of bio-technical methods applied to the "problem" of the bookcase. Kiesler chose the bookcase since he felt that, though in widespread use, it had not been designed to accommodate human comfort and efficiency. The user was required to bend or stoop to reach lower shelves and to stretch to reach upper shelves, placing strain on the user, not on the tool. Kiesler's solution, which he derived from anatomical studies, definitions of categories of need ("temporary storing, active reference storing, inactive reference storing, and dead storing") and multiple models, was a modular system of shelving based on the proportions of the human body (see fig. 8).

The "Mobile Home Library" could be adapted to collections of various sizes and the modular units hung from a circular wheeled frame for easy mobility and flexibility. Additionally, Kiesler covered the deep shelves (angled above and below for convenient access) with hinged plastic dustcovers which allowed the circulation of air. Kiesler felt that the "Mobile Home Library" genuinely constituted a "new standard" for shelving, since he had designed it not around socioeconomic needs--the source of "variations" in his scheme above--but around the physical needs of the user and the storage needs of the books.[38]

Kiesler's beliefs about functionalism led him to strongly criticize the prevailing trends in Modern architecture in an article in 1949.[39] For Kiesler, Modernism's understanding of the "functional" was invalid since it implied a supposition about how a structure would be used; it was in fact a "pseudo-functionalism." "Functionalism is determinism and therefore stillborn," he wrote. For Kiesler, the architect should not make assumptions about the use of a space or attempt to force an old solution on a new problem. For Kiesler, the architect who designed only with "function" in mind would fall back automatically on "the current inherited conception of the practical, and little more;" for this reason Kiesler objected to the standardization of parts and materials. The result of this narrow functionalism is a structure that limits the freedom of its residents; for Kiesler a literally violent act.[40]

Kiesler held little back in this article. He dismisses modern architects--and specifically Le Corbusier and Mies--for having roots in modern abstract painting. "Some architects have confused geometric forms with abstraction, have taken simplicity . . . for functionalism, and called it 'organic architecture.' It was a stroke of luck that 'abstract' simplicity fitted in with the principles of hygiene, fostered at that time by industry and labor."[41] It is important to recognize the difference between Kiesler's obvious debt to the general theories and total art visions of De Stijl, discussed below, and what he sees as the misguided and muddled simplicity of form in the International Style.

The "true functionalist" (read "visionary") designer would begin by defining functions and examining their value based on reality, not theoretical worth. (This was largely the project of Kiesler's Laboratory for Design-Correlation at Columbia.) Kiesler formulated this idea in a much-quoted statement: "Form does not follow function. Function follows vision. Vision follows reality." In this way, the designer constantly should do away with obsolete functions and respond to new ones, creating new ideas and new conditions. "Function" is not a standard or a goal, but an ongoing process of identifying and responding to ever changing conditions and needs. Modern architects, to Kiesler, were avoiding their "full moral responsibility" in building without a vision based on observation and new ideas.[42] Clearly the "moral responsibility" of the designer was of great concern to Kiesler, since the designer was responsible for guiding civilization. It was a principle Kiesler had long shared with fellow artists and architects, particularly with the members of the De Stijl group.

Kiesler and De Stijl
Kiesler had been interested since the early 1920's in unified spaces for art making and art performance, for viewing and studying, and for living. He prefixed the titles of some of his works with the term "Endless" (as in the Endless Theater, Endless House, or Endless Sculpture) to denote that the work was intended to provide these many functions. Lisa Phillips has noted that many of his early theater designs were marked by kinetic movement of light and sets in what he described as a "living plastic reality."[43] This aspect of his work grew out of his exposure to similar ideas in the De Stijl and Constructivist movements, such as Van Doesburg's 1926-28 Caf� Aubette in Strasbourg, a "cinema-dance hall" that combined architecture, murals, design, and film.[44] Kiesler was an official member of De Stijl after the group saw his sets for R.U.R. in 1923. Kiesler also contributed to the official journal of the movement, De Stijl.[45]Other European movements also conceived of total environments, like Kurt Schwitters' "Merzbau" or El Lissitzky's "Proun Space." Kiesler's ongoing projects for the Endless Theater and Endless House explored for those categories of structures how design could improve life for the users of them.

Kiesler shared with Moholy-Nagy what Steven Mansbach has called a "vision of totality." Like the abstractionists El Lissitzky and Theo Van Doesburg, Kiesler and Moholy-Nagy articulated integrated aesthetic and social visions. Their philosophies, as Mansbach has shown, were based in a not only a rational and apparently "scientific" methodology, but in quite vague spiritual and metaphysical concepts. They shared the goals of solving the immediate economic and aesthetic needs of mankind, hoping to remake the world--through art--as a harmonious and creative Utopia.[46] To this end, both Kiesler and Moholy-Nagy worked in many fields, including design and fine arts, and both published their ideas extensively. The products of both men often aimed at "totalizing" solutions, from Kiesler's "environments" of painting, architecture, and design to Moholy-Nagy's artistic educational programs. The eventual goal was a synthesis of all artistic forms and media on the way to the ultimate synthesis of art and life.[47]

Such similarities can be seen in the writings of the two men. Moholy-Nagy's Vision in Motion, intended as a design textbook, outlines the economic and social problems that art can address. Art, and art education, can reveal the and "press for the sociobiological solution of problems."[48] Through "laboratory experimentation" and research into art, the average man can free himself from oppressive institutional systems and express a personal vision which will inevitably lead to widespread social change.[49] Similarly, for Kiesler, art and life should be reconnected in order to solve the imbalances between human biological needs and the problems caused by the built environment. "The work of art must resume its generic function as an active, organic factor in human life," he wrote in 1942.[50] In 1933 he wrote that "in our present state . . . organic result[s] in buildings cannot be achieved."[51] Such an "organic" union would "dissolve the barrier and artificial duality of 'vision' and 'reality,' 'image' and 'environment' . . . where there are no borders between art, space, and life."[52] Therefore, in the future art and life would no longer be separated, and we would lose the terms to distinguish between them.[53]

A very significant similarity between Kiesler and Moholy-Nagy (shared by others as well) was their interest in current scientific developments. Science and technology, as Mansbach has shown, was not only paradigm of rational thought that art should emulate, but a driving force towards a new, higher culture.[54]Kiesler may have had some understanding of discussions of higher dimensions that many artists shared in the 1910s, and which by the 1920s incorporated the new theme of "space-time" from Relativity Theory.[55] It is likely that his association beginning in 1923 with the De Stijl group and its leader Theo Van Doesburg exposed him to these ideas. Van Doesburg's ideas may have reinforced for Kiesler the importance of the unification of the arts under architecture.[56] An article Van Doesburg published in 1924 listed sixteen points about new directions architecture should take. Van Doesburg wrote, in part:

10. TIME AND SPACE.- The new architecture takes account not only of space but also of time as an architectural value. The unity of space and time gives architectural vision a more complete aspect. . . . 15. COLOR. . . . with the birth of modern architecture the painter-constructor found his true field of creative action. He organizes color aesthetically in space-time and makes a new dimension visible plastically. . . ."[57]

These points sound not dissimilar to Kiesler's ideas of the 1930s, in which he sought to unify the arts under a universal "scientific" theory. The titles of his Endless Theater and Endless House--projects that occupied him from the 1920s through the 1950s--also imply a conflation of space and time in his work.[58] Kiesler intended the Space House project of 1933 to demonstrate the principle of "Time-Space-Architecture" and to contribute to the development of "Architecture as Science."[59] He had also made reference to such an architecture in Contemporary Art Applied to the Store and its Display.[60] In a lengthy article on Duchamp's The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even, Kiesler had called the work an "x-ray painting of space," suggesting that the artist could depict space in new ways.[61] Kiesler told an interviewer in 1961 that "the atmosphere has gotten thick with space bullets, and people are again--finally--interested in the Endless [House and Theater projects]. The push came as nuclear science, fission, fusion, and satellites unexpectedly rocketed everybody's imagination into outer space and suddenly made the Endless a natural."[62]

His statements, which casually link his work with nuclear science and the space age, suggests a familiarity with current scientific developments, though not greater than that of many intelligent people at the time. He seems to have been interested in concepts of space and time primarily because they seemed to reinforce his own theories of continuity and endlessness.[63]

If Kiesler and Moholy-Nagy shared a totalizing aesthetic and social vision, they differed greatly in their attitudes toward commercialism and industry. In Chicago, Moholy-Nagy encountered difficulties in selling his proposals for avant-garde schools of design to that city's business leaders, despite presenting his ideas as economically sensible.[64] His Vision in Motion, written after having dealt with Chicago businesses for more than ten years, begins with an criticism of the effects of the Industrial Revolution on human physical health and morals, culture, and social class relations.[65] Kiesler, on the other hand, had no patronage from business, and could only theorize about the relationship of money to his art. In 1949 he charged that "Industry does not serve basic needs, but turns out repetitions or stylish modifications of commodities that have proved saleable."[66] However, this was not due to insidious plans by industrial leaders, but because not enough visionary thinkers had pushed for the changes needed to remedy the situation.

Kiesler saw no discrepancy between the needs of business and artistic integrity, as much of Contemporary Art Applied to the Store and its Display implies. However, he seems not to have given much thought as to how to foster the kind of cooperation between a profit-driven business and a visionary artists; certainly, he never faced that problem himself. As noted above, he explicitly connected the introduction of modern art in this country with the exhibition of it in department stores. He was convinced that the store could drive an appreciation of modern art and by extension could instigate change for the better, an argument he would apply to industry at large. The department store is a "center of culture," he writes, "it is no longer a limited commercial factor in the life of the community. It is beginning to exercise a social and cultural influence." Under the guidance of the artist, industry would stimulate and create need in consumers, resulting in a new culture; once again showing that "[a]rtificial needs create civilization."[67]

Clearly kiesler ws outside the mainstream of US design and architecture, in both his tyle and his theories. He had the ego of Le Corbu, but without any of the respect give to that archteict. Kielser made virtually no attempt to design products that could be sold, his bookshelf project can only be seen as a failure of overdesign. He certainly was not in the position to be a Norman Bel Geddes or a Dryfuss or Teague: he made no concessions to functionless streamlining in his work nor to a saleable sense of the "modern," prefering an idiosyncratic style that was wholly innapropriate to annual corporate redesign aiming at increased sales. His concept of the analysis of real function and his striving for nothing less than "new standards" in any project surely made him unappealing to an industry that produced streamlined pencil sharpeners.


[1] A comprehensive chronology of Kiesler's life appears in Lisa Phillips, Frederick Kiesler (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1989) , pp. 139-162. See also Phillips' biographical essay "Architect of Endless Innovation," in Phillips, Frederick Kiesler, pp. 13-35, and "Kiesler, Frederick J(ohn)," In Current Biography 1944, edited by Anna Rothe ( New York: H. W. Wilson Co., 1944), pp. 338-40. On Kiesler's work in the European and American theatre see R.L. Held, Endless Innovations: Frederick Kiesler's Theory and Scenic Design (UMI Research Press, Ann Arbor, MI: 1982).

[2] Chantal B�ret et al, Frederick Kiesler: Artiste-Architechte, catalog of exhibition held 3 July to 21 October 1996 (Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, 1996). Maria Bottero, Frederick Kiesler: Arte, Architettura, Ambiente, catalog of exhibition held (Milan: Electa, 1995) is also fairly comprehensive.

[3] See Andrew Otwell, View Magazine's Marcel Duchamp Issue: March 1945, M.A. Thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 1996, chapters 3 and 4 and Linda Landis, Critiquing Absolutism: Marcel Duchamp's "Etant Donn�s" and the Psychology of Perception, Ph.D. dissertation, Yale University, 1991.

[4] See Richard Becherer, "Le Film Guild Cinema;" Beatriz Colomina, "La Space House et la psych� de la construction;" Dieter Bogner, "Une architecture corr�aliste: 'Inside the Endless House;'" and Maria Bottero, "Kiesler 1956-1965: Profession contre po�tique," each in B�ret, Frederick Kiesler.

[5] In an interview with Thomas Creighton, Kiesler noted that "everybody has one basic idea . . . he will always come back to it." Creighton, in "Kiesler's Pursuit of an Idea," Progressive Architecture 42, no. 7 (July 1961), p. 104, noted that Kiesler's "basic idea" was "continuity" (or correlation).

[6]Held, Endless Innovations, p. 75.

[7] Untitled Kiesler manuscript, 1930's, Kiesler Estate Archives; cited in Phillips, "Environmental Artist," p. 104.

[8] Kiesler, "On Correalism and Biotechnique: A Definition and Test of a New Approach to Building Design," Architectural Record 86, no. 9 (September 1939), p. 61.

[9] Held, Endless Innovations, p. 77.

[10] Kiesler, "On Correalism and Biotechnique," p. 59.

[11] Kiesler, "The Art of Architecture for Art," Art News 56, no. 6 (October 1957), p. 41-43.

[12] "Design's Bad Boy," Architectural Forum 86, no. 2 (February 1947), p. 140.

[13] Kiesler, "On Correalism and Biotechnique," p. 59.

[14] Held, Endless Innovations, p. 63

[15] R. L. Held, Endless Innovations: Frederick Kiesler's Theory and Scenic Design (Ann Arbor : UMI Research Press, 1982), p. 83.

[16] Frederick Kiesler, "Notes on Designing the Gallery," manuscript, 1942, Kiesler Estate Archives, cited in Phillips, "Environmental Artist," p. 114. Kiesler is perhaps most well-known for the Art of this Century project; it has been the subject of several studies. See for example Melvin Lader, Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century: The Surrealist Milieu and the American Avant-Garde, 1942-1947, Ph.D. dissertation (University of Delaware, 1981) and Christoph Greunenberg, "Espaces spectaculaires: l'art de l'installation selon Frederick Kiesler," in B�ret, Frederick Kiesler, p. 103-113.

[17] Kiesler, "Psuedo-Functionalism in Modern Architecture," Partisan Review, vol. XVI, no. 7 (July 1949) pp. 733-734 and 739.

[18] See for example, Frederick Kiesler, "Murals Without Walls," Art Front (December 18, 1936); "New Display Techniques for Art of This Century," Architectural Forum, LXXVIII (February 1943); "Trends in Exhibitions," Partisan Review (Winter 1946); " The Art of Architecture for Art," Art News 56, no. 6 (October 1957).

[19] The book was initially published in 1929 as The Modern Show Window and Storefront. It was expanded and published by Brentano's in 1930 under the new title. See "Frederick Kiesler Chronology 1890-1965," in Phillips, Frederick Kiesler, p. 144. For a summary of the critical reception of the book, see Held, Endless Innovations, pp. 52-53.

[20] Kiesler, "Design - Correlation," Architectural Record 82, no. 7 (August, 1937), p. 84.

[21] Kiesler, Contemporary Art Applied to the Store and Its Display, (New York: Brentano's Publishers, 1930), p. 66.

[22] Thomas Creighton, "Kiesler's Pursuit of an Idea," Progressive Architecture, vol. 42, no. 7 (July 1961), p. 116.

[23] In fact, department stores were early locations for the exhibition of avant-garde art. Aaron Sheon has written on exhibitions of Cubist art in May 1913 at the Gimbel Bros. department store in Milwaukee, and at the Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh. Just three months after the Armory Show introduced European modernism to the American public, this exhibition included some of the most recent examples of Cubist art by Albert Gleizes and others. Sheon notes that in contrast to the criticism of the works at the Armory Show, the Gimbel Bros. exhibition was tolerated and even respected. See Sheon, "1913: Forgotten Cubist Exhibitions in America," Arts Magazine, vol. 57, no. 7, pp. 93-107. Whether Kiesler knew of these early Cubist shows while still in Europe is impossible to determine, though his remarks in Contemporary Art are prescient.

[24] Phillips, "Architect of Endless Innovation," p. 19.

[25] Kiesler, Contemporary Art, np.

[26] Kiesler, Contemporary Art, p. 68.

[27] Kiesler, Contemporary Art, p. 71.

[28] Kiesler, Contemporary Art, p. 73.

[29] Kiesler, "On Correalism and Biotechnique," p. 65.

[30] These articles appeared in 1937, see Bibliography.

[31] Kiesler, Contemporary Art, p. 74

[32] Kiesler, Contemporary Art, p. 102.

[33] Kiesler, "On Correalism and Biotechnique," p. 63.

[34] Kiesler, "On Correalism and Biotechnique," p. 63.

[35] Kiesler, "On Correalism and Biotechnique," p. 64.

[36] Kiesler, Contemporary Art, p. 71.

[37] Kiesler's years at Columbia were marked by some suspicion from fellow architects there. In one humorous anecdote, a co-instructor remarked that "If Kiesler wants to hold two pieces of wood together, he pretends he's never heard of nails of screws. He tests the tensile strengths of various metal alloys, experiments with different methods and shapes, and after six months comes up with a very expensive device that holds two pieces of wood together almost as well as a screw," "Design's Bad Boy," p. 140.

[38] Kiesler et al, "The Mobile Home Library," Architectural Record, 86, no. 9 (September 1939), p. 70-75.

[39] Kiesler had first written "Form follows function is obsolete" in "On Correalism and Biotechnique," p. 66.

[40] Kiesler, "Psuedo-Functionalism in Modern Architecture," p. 735-737.

[41] Kiesler, "Psuedo-Functionalism in Modern Architecture," p. 737.

[42] Kiesler, "Psuedo-Functionalism in Modern Architecture," p. 737-739.

[43] Phillips, "Environmental Artist," in Phillips, Frederick Kiesler, p. 110.

[44] See Phillips, "Environmental Artist," in Phillips, Frederick Kiesler, p. 111.

[45] Held, Endless Innovations, p. 18-19. The members of the De Stijl group, including Van Doesburg, approached Kiesler during the run of R.U.R. in 1923, see Creighton, "Kiesler's Pursuit," p. 109 and Goodman, "The Art of Revolutionary . . .," in Phillips, Frederick Kiesler, p. 57.

[46] See Steven A. Mansbach, Visions of Totality: Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, Theo Van Doesburg, and El Lissitzky, (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1978, 1980).

[47] Mansbach, Visions, p. 106-109.

[48] Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, Vision in Motion, p. 29.

[49] Moholy-Nagy, Vision in Motion, p. 30-31.

[50] Kiesler, "Notes on Designing the Gallery," unpublished manuscript cited in Melvin Lader, Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century: The Surrealist Milieu and the American Avant-Garde, 1942-1947, Ph.D. dissertation (University of Delaware, 1981) , p. 114.

[51] Kiesler, "The Space House: Annotations at Random," Hound & Horn, vol. VII, no. 2 (January-March 1934), p. 293.

[52] Kiesler, "Notes on Designing the Gallery," cited in Phillips, "Environmental Artist", p. 114.

[53] See Mansbach, Visions, chapter 1 "Nature and History, Past and Future" for a discussion of the importance of envisioning the future for Moholy-Nagy, El Lissitzky, and Van Doesburg, remarks that apply to Kiesler as well.

[54] See Mansbach, Visions, pp. 27-42.

[55] Henderson, in The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidian Geometry in Modern Art (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983) details these ideas as they were understood by many artists and groups. On Duchamp see pp. 117-163; on De Stijl, see esp. pp. 341-343; on Surrealism see esp. pp. 346-349.

[56] Joseph Caton has noted that the De Stijl group exemplified a post-war interest in universality and unity of the arts. Others interested in these ideas include Walter Gropius and the artists of the Bauhaus in the late 1910s and El Lissitzky. See Caton, The Utopian Vision of Moholy-Nagy: Technology, Society, and the Avant-garde, An Analysis of the Writings of Moholy-Nagy on the Visual Arts (Ph.D. dissertation., Princeton University, 1980), esp. pp. 40-41 and 88-90.

[57] Theo Van Doesburg "L'evolution de l'architecture moderne," L'architecture vivante (Autumn and Winter, 1925), pp. 18-20; cited in Henderson, The Fourth Dimension, p. 325.

[58] In "On Correalism and Biotechnique," p. 59, Kiesler wrote that "what we call forms . . . are only the visible trading posts of integrating an disintegrating forces mutating at low rates of speed." See also Kiesler, Inside the Endless House, p. 27.

[59] Kiesler, "The Space House," p. 292-293.

[60] Kiesler, Contemporary Art, p. 48.

[61] Kiesler, "Design - Correlation," May 1937, p. 53.

[62] Creighton, "Kiesler's Pursuit," p. 114.

[63] See Phillips, "Environmental Artist," p. 123.

[64] See Sybil Moholy-Nagy, Experiment in Totality (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1950), for an account of Moholy-Nagy's Chicago years. See also James Sloan Allen, The Romance of Commerce and Culture: Capitalism, Modernism and the Chicago-Aspen Crusade for Cultural Reform (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,1983), chapters 1 and 2.

[65] See Moholy-Nagy, Vision in Motion, pp. 13-16.

[66] Kiesler, "Psuedo-Functionalism in Modern Architecture," p. 741.

[67] Kiesler, Contemporary Art, p. 71, 74.

This text is copyright Andrew H Otwell and is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Please read this disclaimer before contacting me about this material.

from that page: (who is Joan Brehms)

Joan Brehms
(1907 - 1995) Theatre architect, scenographer

Born in Lithuania (Libava). He studied at the Academy of Arts in Jena and Erfurt (1927) and on the Bauhaus in Weimar, and worked in Poland and Germany. From 1945 to 1978 he was scenery director of the Theatre of South Bohemia in �esk� Bud�jovice. In 1958 he designed the first theatre with a revolving auditorium, built in the castle gardens in �esk� Krumlov. During the South Bohemia theatre festivals, he took advantage of many settings for theatre plays, such as the Masquerade Hall and second castle courtyard. He also put the original stage machinery at the baroque theatre into service so that performances could be played there. One of his most famous projects was a swinging auditorium of Karl�tejn castle; in 1969 he designed a polydimensional theatre space with a revolving auditorium as well as stage (this project was patented in 1974 but has never been realised). World scenographic literature has ranked Joan Brehms among the world's best scenographers, mainly for his design of the revolving auditorium in �esk� Krumlov.

A resum� of the theatre architect's life and work :

Born on 5. 7. as son of surgeon Brehms in the port city of Libava, on the Baltic Sea

First school years and the October Revolution in Leningrad

Returning to Libava via Finland. November 18 - foundation of the republic of Latvia. Commencement of secondary school education concluded with school leaving examination. Participation in school theatre activities

After completing secondary education, he begins to study art at Jena and Erfurt Academy of Art. During these studies he attends lectures held by professor Walter Gropius in the Bauhaus of Weimar.

While studying he begins to work as volunteer at the Municipal Theatre of Erfurt, later at the Mun icipal Theatre of L�beck. There he brings out his first independent staging of Wedekind's "Awakening of Spring". Helps arranging the First World Theatre Exhibition of Magdeburg where he meets a number of preeminent dramatic experts. Participation in the display of Shakespeare's royal dramas in Bochum, meets Saladin Schmidt, Johannes Schr�der and dramatist Gerhard Hauptmann.

Establishment of his own theatre group with whom he plays also his own productions in the Latvian countryside.

Creative artist, then head of scenery of the Dramatic Theatre in Riga, cooperates with professor Max Reinhardtfrom Berlin during hisstaythere.

Chief creative artist of Deutsche B�hne in Breslau.

Head of scenery at Lobe and G. Hauptmann theatre in Breslau, also producer.

Scenographer and producer of the Silesian Theatre in Brieg - travels to Rio de Janeiro with producer B. Harprecht as touring creative artist.

Scenographer of the Municipal Theatre of Brandenburg.

Head of setting of the Dramatic Theatre in Riga, friendship with progressive producer E. Smilgis from the Dailes theatre in Riga.

Head of setting of the Municipal Theatre of Bydgoszcz.

Head of setting of Gdansk theatre, meets composer H. Sutermeister.

Close-down of all theatres, slave labour in Southern Slovakia, desertion to Red Army, comes with the Red Army to �esk� Bud�jovice, commences work as scenographer with the South Bohemian Theatre. In July 1945, he puts on stage his first play - Gorki's "Vassa �eleznova".

Head of setting of the South Bohemian Theatre, developes a number of space experimentsand realisations, projects.

Summary of experiments and desing:

Brehms, the theatre architect and scenographer puts into effect his creative space experiments by leading theatre performances from the inside of the theatre out onto open squares, village greens, in front of h�storical buildings, into parks, in front of factories, into assembly halls, practically using globally theatre space without the separating curtain, without the portal frame and ramp.

Brehms develops the idea of a revolving auditorium and, on June 9, 1958, he is the first to put it into effect as an experiment in the castle park of �esk� Krumlov.

In the South Bohemian Theatre he creates a double auditorium without curtain and separating frames for the inscenation of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew".

Circular theatre installations are created in the garden of the Dominican Monastery at �esk� Bud�jovice as well as in the Masquerade Hall of �esk� Krumlov castle "The Eye Doctor".

Project and realisation of shuttle theatre installations in the court yard of Karlstejn Castle for the play "A Night on Karl�tejn" where an intimate central stage area is being formed by tilting half the mobile auditorium in the opposite direction.

To stage Weisenborn's "Lofter" for 80 people inside the theatre the revolving auditorium is being transferred onto the stage of the old theatre of �esk� Bud�jovice with the help of the old turn-table.

The project of polydimensional theatre installations in the open air - Czechoslovak patent 1979 - has, for the time being, not yet been realised.

Realisation of a variable theatre consisting of five mobile metal platforms that can be moved at will, according to the needs of various inscenations on the stage of the old theatre.

Work at the project of placing a polydimensional devile closed-in theatre space i. e. making possible all hitherto known forms of theatrical expression without technical ortemporal difficulties.



� Sdru�en� Ofici�ln�ho informa�n�ho syst�mu �esk� Krumlov, 1999
Number of visitors this page since 13th November 1998 : 1021

from that page:

Poly-Dimensional Relativity, A Classical Generalization of Crawford's Automorphism Invariance Principle
Presentor: William M. Pezzaglia Jr. (
Department of Physics, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA 95053, USA
Pesentation at: 4 th Internationa Conference on Clifford Algebras and their Applications in Mathematical Physics, Aachen, Germany, May 1996

The automorphism invariant theory of Crawford [J. Math. Phys. 35, 2701 (1994)] has shown great promise, however its application is limited by the paradigm to the domain of spin space. Our conjecture is that there is a broader principle at work which applies even to classical physics. Specifically, the laws of physics should be invariant under polydimensional transformations which reshuffle the geometry (e.g. exchanges vectors for trivectors) but preserves the algebra. To complete the symmetry, it follows that the laws of physics must be themselves polydimensional, having scalar, vector, bivector etc. parts in one multivector equation. Clifford algebra is the natural language in which to formulate this principle, as vectors/tensors were for relativity. This allows for a new treatment of the relativistic spinning particle (the Papapetrou equations) which is problematic in standard theory. In curved space the rank of the geometry will change under parallel transport, yielding a new basis for Weyl's connection and a natural coupling between linear and spinning motion.

Note: this talk was summarized in: Clifford Alegras and their Applications in Mathematical Physics (Proceedings of 4th Conference, Aachen, Germany 1996), Dietrich, Habetha and Jank (eds.), Kluwer (1998), pp. 305-317. Preprint available at gr-qc/9608052.

possible spaces

The topology of the possible: Formal spaces underlying patterns of evolutionary change (2000)
File URL:
:: download into pda