May 7, 2010

"So, there's a Japanese artistic concept called a Thomasson."

"In short, they are 'defunct and useless objects, attached to someone's property and aesthetically maintained.'"

***

"You see these in every city; how many apartments, like ours in Hell's Kitchen, had a fireplace mantlepiece but no fireplace? Semi-blocked doors, walled-off terraces, connecting passageways of an old large house blocked off to make two smaller houses, staircases deprived of their entryways, all common sights. And while I enjoy all the mystical connotations of these, they also kind of make me sad; poor abandoned things. And also a little annoyed at what, most of the time, is just poorly-done renovation work."

ADDED: Wisconsin Law School old-timers remember — before the renovation — there was a short stairway near the library that ended in a bit of floorspace just big enough for the old sofa someone put there. Above it was a sign that read "Reality Checkpoint."

21 comments:

JAL said...

Wonder how Gary Thomasson feels about becoming iconic -- for something as odd as this.

A huge contract and nothing came of it -- 2 years in Japan and instead of obscurity, an art form of futility. And a post on the Althouse blog which will make numerous people wiki him 25+ years after fame moved on.

Synova said...

I'm going to have to tell my daughter that the cinder-block block blocking the doors to little balconies at her new school are what is called a Thomasson.

The feature was befuddling. If someone was going to go through the trouble of building a cement block (about 3feet cube) block attached to the floor in order to make a door unusable, why leave the door?

The school is fascinating... it's an old style school with wide hallways and old tile and hugely tall ceilings and enormous stairwells. It was a Catholic school that they are renting and it has South West style religious art murals on many of the walls.

It's possible that the building is historic so they couldn't remove the double french doors and minute balconies that lead off the landings of the stairwells (which feature may be unique).

But leaving the doors while making them entirely unfunctional is called a Thomasson.

Very interesting.

('Cuz I'm just that much of a nerd.)

Synova said...

I will admit though that the effect isn't artistic... even though I stopped dead in the stairwell and ... stared.

reader_iam said...

Me, I just banned "Merlin" from my kid's viewing. What a load of projecting, revisionist, derivative crap (with a decided self-congratulatory tone embedded therein), and it's not even done well.

Oh, I do get the funny (both more and in more ways than people, even in my own private life, might think). It's all well and good as commentary. But as an introduction and baseline? A teaching tool in (actually, assuming) a vacuum?

Pfah.

N.F.W.

Synova said...

Merlin?

Is that the new-ish show with Merlin as a teenager having to hide his magic and Arthur is blond and has an overbite or something?

Lem said...

Its perfect.. in its imperfection.

I recall something like this in the DR.

Lem said...

In the DR whenever they would build a new wider and more straight road, they would leave the old road there meandering in and out.

They weren't maintained (of course) so in places were potholes used to be you had like a natural potted green growth. The abandoned road would disappear in to the distance and then come back and pick up on the other side of the new road. This went on for a while until it would go off and disappear for good..

While it annoyed some people, to me there was something aesthetic about it, though I probably didn't know it as such at the time.

Its impossible to find this on the web.. unless somebody films it on purpose.

traditionalguy said...

Is this a variation on the famous road to nowhere? Humans are bad to dream of utilitarian structures and ending up with some unfinished business.This may be our Neanderthal genes covering up for their lack of fitness!

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

I've always wondered why people put shutters on their windows that don't shut. Does this count?

El Pollo Real said...

Is the appendix an anatomical Thomasson?

Fred4Pres said...

Everyone knows if you want a fun party, you have to invite the Neo-Dadaists.

And cute girls wearing skorts!

El Pollo Real said...

The Winchester House in San Jose was Sarah Winchester's prescient homage to Thomasson.

So remember all you effete little artistes: guns fund art too, not just butter.

Salamandyr said...

I always wondered if William Gibson had made up the term "Thomasson". I guess not.

Kirby Olson said...

Our society was once devoted to living useful lives. Now we can look forward to living useless lives, and might as well make them artistic, I suppose.

If there is no alpha and omega, then everything is useless, right?

KenK said...

Sci-fi writer William Gibson wrote about the Thomasson concept in his novel Virtual Light back in the 90s. I thought it was something he made up.

Fred4Pres said...

El Pollo, I loved the Winchester House. Strange how the burbs just cluster around it.

El Pollo Real said...

El Pollo, I loved the Winchester House. Strange how the burbs just cluster around it.

Yes. It's a bit like the old California Missions which once commanded larger tracts of land. But land values being what they are, the surrounding property got sold off.

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park CO is another such case.

mariner said...

Maybe it should have read, "Checkpoint Charlie".

Calypso Facto said...

Chaz Bono-Thomasson?

Unemployment said...

An interesting tid-bit from that renovation article, Professor Althouse. "In the fall of 1987/88 alone, 225 employers conducted more than 5900 individual interviews" at UW Law. In the fall of 2009, there were something like 60 employers at OCI. And, the 1L class is bigger than ever.

Jim said...

The Winchester House in San Jose, Ca is absolutely riddled with Thomassons. :-)