March 25, 2009

Crushed by Madoff: a dream of immortality through architecture.

Arakawa and Madeline Gins believed "that people degenerate and die in part because they live in spaces that are too comfortable. The artists' solution: construct abodes that leave people disoriented, challenged and feeling anything but comfortable." But they're victims of the Bernie Madoff scam, and they've had to close up shop.
They build buildings with no doors inside. They place rooms far apart. They put windows near the ceiling or near the floor. Between rooms are sloping, bumpy moonscape-like floors designed to throw occupants off balance. These features, they argue, stimulate the body and mind, thus prolonging life. "You become like a baby," says Mr. Arakawa....

Nobutaka Yamaoka, who moved [into a Gins-designed apartement] with his wife and two children about two years ago, says he has lost more than 20 pounds and no longer suffers from hay fever, though he isn't sure whether it was cured by the loft.

There is no closet, and Mr. Yamaoka can't buy furniture for the living room or kitchen because the floor is too uneven, but he relishes the lifestyle. "I feel a completely different kind of comfort here," says the 43-year-old video director. His wife, however, complains that the apartment is too cold. Also, the window to the balcony is near the floor, and she keeps bumping her head against the frame when she crawls out to hang up laundry, he says. ("That's one of the exercises," says Ms. Gins.)
Reminds me a little of this:



Anyway, is your life too comfortable? Is your comfy home aging you a bit too rapidly? Do you need a confusing building to drag you back to the challenges of babyhood?

Financial security is also a comfort of modern life. Perhaps it too is making you old.

Arakawa and Madeline: Why don't you welcome the discomfort wrought by Bernie Madoff? Why not rejoice at the rejuvenation?

And everyone: Revel in whatever disorientation comes your way.

34 comments:

Ron said...

This just in: Pain and suffering have limited fanbase. (outside the Village, at least)

Paul Zrimsek said...

It really is an ill wind that blows no good. Well done, Bernie!

American Liberal Elite said...

And Hitler gave us the Volkswagen

Pogo said...

Dr. Strangeloaf's morning pinch would be far less satisfying having to negotiate an undulating bathroom floor.


Once again, MDWA has the answer:
WALLY: [Pause.] "Yeah, but I mean, are you saying that it's impossible, I mean...I mean, isn't it a little upsetting to come to the conclusion that there's no way to wake people up any more? Except to involve them in some kind of a strange christening in Poland, or some kind of a strange experience on top of Mount Everest? ...I mean, there must have been periods when in order to give people a strong or meaningful experience you wouldn't actually have to take them to Everest!"

Darcy said...

LOL, Ron. Imagine that!

dbp said...

"The artists' solution: construct abodes that leave people disoriented, challenged and feeling anything but comfortable."

There is already a huge place that meets those conditions: The out-of-doors. Why pay for what you can get for free?

Pogo said...

"abodes that leave people disoriented, challenged and feeling anything but comfortable"

See also: work, school, government buildings, hospitals, and airplanes.

MadisonMan said...

We just met with a builder yesterday about fixing up our front porch. But I think we'll pass on the architectural hints given in the linked article.

Peter V. Bella said...

I do hope that Arakawa and Gins sell their 17 million dollar piece of art before the Democrat confiscatory tax laws are in place or at least get good advice on how to keep most of the dough. Being ripped off once by a crook is bad enough. Being ripped off by the government is worse.

traditionalguy said...

There is such a thing as too much believing in wonderful man made fairy tales. The Confidence Man looks for people/marks who want to believe in the unbelievable. These two were made for Madoff. Now they will have to live a reality based life and not use fantasy finance to support their fantasy philosophy. They will survive, but they will be shaken up like no bad architecture could ever shake anyone up.

fcai said...

The premise is that we don't live forever because we are too comfortable? That is an odd premise and is easily disproved. Jump in the North Atlantic - that is pretty darned uncomfortable - bet you don't live long.

ElcubanitoKC said...

Apparently they became truly disoriented themselves. They should consider that a lifetime accomplishment and enjoy the suffering they are now facing.

Joseph Hovsep said...

I don't necessarily agree with these people re home design but I do agree that adding unexpected challenges to everyday life can be rejuvinating. That's one of the things I miss (and don't miss) about having been a Peace Corps volunteer. All sorts of simple acts that I could do mindlessly in the States were more challenging from cultural and logistical perspectives. That can get tiring but I also felt I was learning all the time.

fcai said...

Well, Hovsep, you can go back to whatever hellhole you desire and improve their country and ours at the same time.

Joseph Hovsep said...

And my sympathy for Madoff victims is almost tapped. He's clearly a figure worthy of contempt. But people who have millions of dollars to invest and give it all to this sketchy insider share at least two characteristics that multimillionaires should be able to use their money to avoid: stupidity (diversification? hello?) and greed.

ElcubanitoKC said...

Well, well, Joseph H, wasn't it nice to experience the lives of the "little people"? How different from your spoiled, cushy, freedoms and human rights filled existence in the US! Wasn't it? Weren't the natives' hovels quaint? Wasn't it exciting to have to figure out how to use something different than a shower for personal hygiene? Did you find their lives exciting as well? You know, all that hunger and suffering...Did you notice how old most of them got to be?

ElcubanitoKC said...

And for the record, I do appreciate charitable work, and I try to do as much as possible myself. However, since I experienced those "challenges" and privations you talk about most of my life, I do not find them "exciting" or rejuvenating. I definitely do not miss them either. Hardship is not "quaint".

Pogo said...

Hardship is not "quaint".

Well said. After having spent a few nights under a bridge myself when I was broke in college, I agree: Poverty sucks.

I just realized ...I was actually a real troll before there ever was an internet!

Joseph Hovsep said...

I'm not speaking about hardship. I'm speaking about cultural and logistical differences that would be experienced by people coming from one culture to another, whether to a richer or freer society or to a poorer one.

My comment in no way suggested I viewed my friends and colleagues there as "little people", nor did I indicate that I or they suffered any hardship.

Henry said...

The Gins sound like something out of Flann O'Brien's comic novel The Third Policeman.

There's a section where the antihero discovers an office built between the interior plaster and exterior wall of an old house.

I won't give anything else away except to say that prolonging life is hardly the point.

Maguro said...

There must be an entrance to John Malkovich's brain hidden somewhere in that apartment.

Henry said...

Joseph Hovsep wrote: All sorts of simple acts that I could do mindlessly ... were more challenging... That can get tiring but I also felt I was learning all the time.

That's me with my kids. And I'm very happy, so maybe there's something to it.

Bissage said...

Just as soft rains will wash a mountain to the sea, perhaps it is time to view Mr. Madoff as a force of nature; both perpetual and irresistible.

Arakawa and Madeline Gins did not want for ambition, and in that we may yet see a reflection of ourselves, just as a lonely man may cast a shadow of pity and fear upon the barren earth.

Joseph Hovsep said...

Henry expresses what I was trying to say. Its also like having a hard job can be more rewarding than an easy job even though its harder. I'm still not convinced I'd want my home to be an obstacle course but I see the value of the underlying principle of trying to make yourself live mindfully despite abundant conveniences.

Fen said...

Arakawa and Madeline Gins believed "that people degenerate and die in part because they live in spaces that are too comfortable. The artists' solution -

Uh huh. I'm of a mind that the reason our "artists" are so crappy is because they aren't persecuted enough. More suffering will lead to better art. Let the beatings commence!

Richard Dolan said...

The notion of using architecture to force people to give up comfort for their own good reminded me of Rousseau's political nostrums intended to force men to be free. As with Arakawa's notions of domestic archiecture, Rousseau's shtick didn't turn out all that well either. If only Rousseau & Friends had had a Madoff-like character to crush that dream early on, the world would have been spared a lot of pain in learning that forcing others to conform to ideals they don't share is generally a lousy idea. As for Arakawa, the saving grace is that anyone subjected to the pleasure of his induced pain has only himself to blame.

Paddy O. said...

There's certainly something to the idea that hardship and challenge stimulate the mind. Limitation forces both thought and creativity. Which is why rich people aren't necessarily happier, even if all their needs are utterly beyond taken care of.

But, the idea that making an apartment more awkward is, frankly, repulsive to me. Because instead of investing in other people's lives--people in need and difficulty--who live in bad situations these people continue in their isolation adding artificial hardship. Reminds me a little bit of some of the more odd early Christian monastics, like Simon Stylites.

Having been quite poor for a good chunk of my life there's nothing fun about hardship. But, that being said, hardship creates a bond with those sharing it, and it can force a depth of thought and character far beyond what those who live a life of ease can find. That's why 'wilderness' is such a common metaphor for spiritual journeys.

But not too much hardship. Too much becomes chains for the soul. Instead of being pillar people, taking the model of self-mortification, we should look to a contemporary of Simon Stylites--the example of Patrick of Ireland, who endured hardship and struggle with others, and for others, bringing liberation and transformation that resonated for centuries.

Peter V. Bella said...

poverty sucks

As an old Black man once told me; "the only way to help the poor is to not join them."

dick said...

Why does this attitude of the Gins seem so much like Marie antoinette and her dairy. She could play at the problems of the little people while still keeping her distance. These fools let the rich pay them to build homes that are somewhat like the homes the poor live. All the rich really need to do is rent apartments from the slumlords and problem solved.

Architects amaze me in the spaces they design for people to live in. Most of the time you get a pretty much carbon copy of what the rest of the architects are doing and all is well. Once in a while you get something that looks good but is so full of bad points that it is worthless. Leaks, bad placement of utilities, windows in the wrong place for easy living. I wonder if they really think about who is going to live there rather than making it look pretty. Small kitchens so you don't have to take many steps but no room for the stuff you need. Windows just where you might want to put the bed, etc. I remember one apartment I had where the air conditioner was put right beside the fireplace so when you wanted to use the fireplace all your heat went right outside. These people are doing on purpose and that just amazes me. Why would anyone bother hiring them?

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

The purpose of hiring an architect is to make a home livable, not unlivable.

Sonds to me like theese folks are conartists as well, selling poor home designs for a premium because they "Make A Statement".

The statement is:

A fool and his money are soon parted.

Palladian said...

Arakawa and Gins are not architects. Arakawa is an "artist" and Gins is a "poet". Real architects would not put ugly brown-painted aluminum-framed windows in their polypropylene candy fun houses. Arakawa and Gins are the kind of artists who stopped doing art and started being pretend architects and pretend musicians and pretend scientists with the intention of presenting their pretend work in an art venue.

Maguro said...

Damn, my network at work blocks videos so I didn't see you'd already posted the Malkovich video.

Oh, well. I still loved this line:

I'm a puppeteer.

Check!

EDH said...

Befitting the designers, the interior looks like it's covered in a layer of shit -- loose but chuncky, and colored a light brown.

Kind of like the kid in Slumdog Millionaire.

Jai Ho!
.

Mr. Forward said...

"There is such a thing as too much believing in wonderful man made fairy tales. The Confidence Man looks for people/marks who want to believe in the unbelievable. This country was ripe for Obama. Now we will have to live a reality based life and not use fantasy finance to support our fantasy philosophy. We will survive, but we will be shaken up like no bad architecture could ever shake anyone up."

Fixed that for you.