Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Clay/Jug and the Primacy of Being :The Potter and The Philosopher

Working Notes. Visuals and Text

Clay and the Primacy of Being
The Potter and The Philosopher

Innerness and Defined Space

Manifesting the everyday crafts of life in a physical form

The Potter ( Hans Coper) and the Philosopher (Martin Heidegger),
Throwing, Building, Dwelling, Thinking.

The innerness of a ceramic vessel can be seen to be dealing with presences and absences, as like that of a building it can demonstrate the presence of its making and the absence of that same presence.

The Philosopher. Martin Heidegger.

Building Dwelling Thinking. 1951
Heidegger “resolutely romanticised the rural and the low-tech before, during and after Nazism, skating dangerously close to fascist rhetoric of blood and soil.1

Architecture can help to centre people in the world; it can offer individuals places from which to inquire for themselves. Heidegger felt that this was how architecture had been understood in the past, and that the insatiable rise of technology had obscured that understanding.

Heidegger interested on centring his qualities of architecture around those of human experience, to reintegrate building with dwelling, making the qualities of its inhabitation become part of the buildings authenticity to its locality.

This almost vocational unfinished architecture finds itself more at home with the ongoing daily life than any sort of finished product.”2

Contemporary architects of which Peter Zumthor is an exemplary example utilise and readily acknowledge the influence of Heidegger’s thinking. The inner spaces, the materiality and the locality are all directly traceable to traits found in Heidegger’s notion of the value of human presence and inhabitation.

Heidegger claims for architecture “the authority of immediate experience3

As recorded in his most architectural writings.

The Origin of the Work of Art 1935/trans 1971
Being and Time 1927/1962
Art and Space 1971/1973

“To Heidegger, proper thinking was highly tuned to the fact of being and its traces. These traces, like our own shadow, the outline of the hills or the sounds of birdsong and stream, remain reminders of our miraculous presence,”4

Building locates human existence,
Heidegger “ believed that building was set out around human presence, configured by it but also configuring the activities of that presence over time”5

This almost vocational activity of building human presence it at the heart of what it means “to dwell”, the poetics of which form the phenomenological inquiry of Gaston Bachelard’s, Poetics of Space. Heidegger acknowledges that the inhabitants lives are in turn configured by the building.

Adam Sharr, notes that “for Heidegger, a building was built according to the specifics of place and inhabitants, shaped by its physical and human topography.”6

Heidegger on Thinking,
The forest track, the clearing, wandering from a starting point and remaining open to findings reached on the way, it could not be readily summarised or contained by a system. It was referential, mystical model that sought to promote the authority of being.

Heidegger on the Void at the centre of the Jug.7

Made from earth/clay/fire connected the human experience of earth and sky. Heidegger attributed sacred qualities to the jugs ability to give/to pour. Part of his fourfold cosmology of earth, sky, divinities and mortals. This “fourfold” represents Heidegger’s attempt at what he judges to be the most primary circumstances of existence, “ the inescapable pre-requisite of the world into which humans are thrown without consent (1962,164-168).

Mythic and mystical, far from the strictures of logical thinking.
Influences on the “fourfold”
Meister Eckhart/mystic theologian.
Lao Tse/eastern philosopher.
Friedrich Holderlin/poet.

George Steiner on the “fourfold” suggests it is a manifestation of an “ideolect” a personal language offered as universal.
Heidegger would refute this on the grounds that it is our technocratic conception of the world that is unhinged not his.

Heidegger: A mysticism that seems to border onto/into the realm of site specific art?
Waverley Project 2014.

Spaces and Shadows in Architecture, Defined Light and Volumes.
In Praise of Shadows. Junichiro Tanizaki
Architectural Voids/ Spaces only assessable whilst under construction, scaffolding and specific access points, maintenance and service corridors/rooms.

Kengo Kuma on “Ma” a void or pause, a rich emptiness, it can be created in many ways: through the
effect of light, or through attention to details.8

Being close to things, Heidegger on Nearness.

“The thing is not “in” nearness, “in” proximity, as if nearness were a container. Nearness is at work in bringing near, as the thinging of the thing,”(1971:177-178)9

This spatial complexity ( Critical Spatial Practices) suggests that we do indeed think through things, this is picked up by Tim Ingold in The Perception of the Environment (Essays in livelihood, dwelling and skill) 2000.

Also see, The Politics of Things/Immediate Architectural Interventions : Durations and Effects. Alres/Lieberman 2013.

On building a house. Ingold.
“The architect, then, conceives the lineaments of the structure, while the builder’s task is to unite the structure with the material”10

Simon Unwin defines architecture as “the determination by which a mind gives intellectual structure to a building”, whereas building is “the performance of physical realization”, of which “a building” is the product. (Unwin. Understanding Architecture 2007)

Heidegger notes that “nearness is a fundamental aspect of human experience, and as such it can be experienced and appreciated through the tactile, cognitive and sociological familiarity of things”11

It is a this relationship of nearness to the daily intricacies of living, being/becoming and dwelling that Heidegger’s philosophy is appropriated into architectural theory and practice. “Nearness thus becomes a function of immediacy : in that one is near to what one finds immediate, however far away it may be.”

For Heidegger, the definite characteristic of a thing (of a pot) is its possibility to bring people nearer to themselves, to help them engage with their existence and the fourfold.12

Heidigger attributed both the Jug and Buildings the potential to gather up and to be able to carry connotations of meeting and assembly, the jug and the building both have a corresponding void, that has the potential to contain/embody his preconditions of existence (the fourfold). This sensing space/void/Ma, can be reflected in the interiors of architecture and can be found within innerness spaces of objects.

The pot like the building participates in daily life.
This can be further theorised into the realm of building social spaces.
In Heidegger’s reasoning by using a table we are in effect constituting ourselves in the process of dwelling, by moving the table to accommodate the needs of its users, we are in effect turning the room back into a building.

Heidegger’s building and dwelling take place together over time, forming ongoing relationships with the world. Like the Potter in his Studio, these critical spatial relations inform both the working practice and the situation and biography of their making.

“Heidegger suggested that it was this disruption of relations between building and dwelling, rather than the production of houses, that remained the most important plight in the contemporary world”13

Piety of Thinking. 1976 (Piety for Heidegger listened to and facilitated the world around)14
Quietude : Allow and enabling what is already there.
Silence in Ceramics. Coper/Rie.

Clay and the Primacy of Being.
Studio Spaces.
The residents’ dwelling was recorded over time in the fabric of the building and the paraphernalia of their lives placed there.
For the philosopher , buildings are rich in insight, comprising a “workshop of long experience and incessant practice. 1971,161.15


1 Adam Sharr. Heidegger for Architects.
2 Adam Sharr. Heidegger for Architects. 3
3 Adam Sharr. Heidegger for Architects. 3

4 Adam Sharr. Heidegger for Architects. 7
5 Adam Sharr. Heidegger for Architects. 9
6 Adam Sharr. Heidegger for Architects. 10
7 Adam Sharr. Heidegger for Architects. 30
8 Kengo Kuma. Sensing Spaces. Royal Academy of Arts. 2014, 65
9 Adam Sharr. Heidegger for Architects. 35
10 Tim Ingold. Making. 59
11 Adam Sharr. Heidegger for Architects. 35
12 Adam Sharr. Heidegger for Architects. 35
13 Adam Sharr. Heidegger for Architects. 43
14 Adam Sharr. Heidegger for Architects. 45

15 Adam Sharr. Heidegger for Architects. 71

Wallace Stevens :  Anecdote of the Jar/Vessel takes dominion/Edmund de Waal


Jackie Leven ; Clay Jug (The Mystery of Love is greater than The Mystery of Death)