Tuesday, October 7

two paths

Because the digging of the swimming hole was moving so fast and changes would be expensive, Maggie concentrated on shaping the water while I designed the Snail Mound. I had to give it this common name in order to communicate an unambiguous shape to Hastings' men, and to distinguish it from other shapes on which I would soon be working. The "Snail" drawings and models showed a double-curved ascent, two paths that only meet at the top and that lie at an angle.

In my mind were several different ideas . . . I thought of the most important shape behind life, the double helix of DNA. This has two spirals of ascent and they reminded me in turn of a utopian design of 1919 that had a diminishing spiral: Tatlin's tower. A wonderful quality of this is the way it illustrates the dance of history's surprising dialectic; it often proceeds in a counter rhythm, as two steps forward one step back, a progress in fits and starts, an ascent that has descent built into it. Another idea in the back of my mind was the 16th-century spiral stairway at Chambord which the French king, Fran├žois I, had designed so that if he saw an unwelcome guest coming up one way, he could escape down the other. I would not understand the beauty of this until much later, when the mound was used in a way I had not foreseen: during a memorial service it separated those going up with flowers from those coming down empty handed.

-- Charles Jencks The Garden of Cosmic Speculation

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation

more pictures

Composer Michael Gandolfi on The Garden of Cosmic Speculation (interviewed by conductor Robert Spano)