Design for all Barcelona 21 March 2009 A day with Gaudi!

Today has been the equivalent of a day with high quality drugs, opium, LSD, cocaine. With my ipod playing extremely relevant tunes at appropriate times, like 4000 holes in Blackburn Lancashire. On Thurday it played randomly Queen Barcelona on La Rambla!

What has Gaudi to do with disability? I think he is the high priest, the equivalent of Darwin with the natural world.

Why? Disability is asymmetry writ large. He broke through our fiction of the perfect straight line and…
circle, and spent his life with the far more interesting chaotic fractal real world of this planet in its gestalt of a huge universe.

The true gods are with me! (Gore Vidal wrote that this was the preferred term of a certain Roman Emperor who was assassinated by his Christian arms bearer).

I discovered another treasure trove tonight – Altair – I did not know it existed!

I have been playing with the idea of mapping disability and I find a superb map shop! I think they cannot have anything on disability, but they do!

Visual Anthropology – Photography as a research method by John Collier Jr and Malcolm Collier.

The introduction notes:

The story begins at age seven when John was hit by an automobile, suffering a fractured skull and what later was demonstrated to be severe damage to the left hemisphere of his brain; he became severely handicapped in spelling and mathematics….The hearing centers were so traumatized as to impair permanently the integration of auditory information. ….There were unforeseen consequences of the accident which were to be quite extraordinary in their implications. This personal disaster explains in part, if my interpretation is correct, not only some of the depth and importance of his photographic imagery but of his thinking as well…..the holistic right hemisphere took over some of the functions of visual language….he has managed to incorporate an auditory quality into his photographic images as well as his vision….It is almost as if he is listening instead of seeing…

The book has an interesting guide to set something in its context, to keep foreground and background. I hope the implications for design for all are self evident.

I recommend we tie specific photographic and participatory observation research by disabled people to existing tools like Google street view.

Disabled people as anthropologists to define how we find things and how and why we think they should be changed.

By photographing our surroundings and then discussing those photographs with others, a very powerful tool for change emerges.

Barcelona, with its co-operative and mutual history knows about these issues of equality – one of the introductions to Gaudi’s work I bought today notes that the city was explicitly planned to reduce inequality.

The work on design for all is part of a long and powerful history – Is not Barcelona FC owned by its members?

Thoughts of Chairman Gaudi

The essential quality of a work of art is harmony. In sculptural works harmony derives from the light that gives it relief and decorates it.

Beauty is the resplendence of the truth. Seeing as art is beauty, without truth there is no art.

To find truth one should know well the natural world.

It is essential, without any distortion whatsoever, to leave things in free asymmetry:

Scaled buildings, unequal bodies etc.

Symmetry belongs to the plain, and wishing to introduce it to the mountain is to deny its adaptation and character and obtain an inexpressive and costly coldness.


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