Dublin and Quipu

BLDGBLOG had an interesting post about Bloomsday. The day Leopold Bloom made his famous walk around Dublin in Joyce’s 1922 novel Ulysses.

What if Ulysses had been written before the construction of Dublin? That is, what if Dublin did not, in fact, precede and inspire Joyce’s novel, but the city had, itself, actually been derived from Joyce’s book?…

If you fed Ulysses into a milling machine – that is, if you input not a CAD file but a massive Microsoft Word document containing the complete text of Ulysses – what might be the spatial result? Would the streets and pubs and bedrooms and stairwells of Dublin be milled from a single block of wood?
What if you fed Ulysses through a 3D printer? Oddly, I’m reminded here of something that has long fascinated me: quipu, the so-called knot language of the Inca….

In any case, I mention quipu here because I can’t even believe how cool it would be if 3D printers might someday be used to create word-objects: little amorphous and abstract three-dimensional shapes that aren’t just works of art, they are a new form of writing.

Inca Quipu

The discussion on BLDGBLOG reminds me of hieroglyphics or narratives in ancient societies. Representing stories or ideas, as the post suggests, does not have to be represented in only pictorial form. How can we create a language in three dimensional means? Can architecture describe an idea to a person who has no art history context or anthropology knowledge? How can a language be created and understood for the general public to absorb an idea? Or does one need context in order to understand anything? The notion of necessary context can make or break a gesture.

For example, when a person looks at a piece art, does that person search for the meaning of the piece, or look only to try to understand an underlying concept, or run their eyes over the work to detect technique, texture, or form, etc. Personally, when looking at a piece of art that I have no contextual information about (or even if I do and don’t enjoy the concept), I rely on the latter, trying to glen some thought about the form. But for the most part, contextual backgrounds collected from a survey art history course usually allow me to come up with some idea about the nature of the piece, or the thoughts of the artist.


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