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, François 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)