Alex Maymind (b. Riga, Latvia, 1984) currently pursues a PhD in the history and theory of architecture at UCLA, after studying architecture at Yale University (M. Arch), Columbia University, and Ohio State University (B.S. Arch).
“We cannot not know history” is one of the works auctioned ad exhibited in “POP: Protocols, Obsessions, Positions” an event held in June/July 2013 at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, investigating “what constitutes a position in architecture today and how that might be generated through the architect’s drawing“.
‘We cannot not know history’ is a plan oblique drawing of Storefront for Art and Architecture’s gallery space engulfed by a entropic collection of invented, distorted, rationalized and personal architectural ephemera from the last 300 years of history. This dense sea of material creates an overwhelming field in which the smaller red figure is nearly swallowed, creating a “Where’s Waldo?” effect and simultaneously providing a new urban context for the gallery. While the distribution and organization of the collection tends towards entropy, the drawing is held together by specific notable architectural icons from the past, anchoring the tableau. As with previous obsessive-compulsive archivist-architects (most notably, Piranesi’s Campo Marzio, Durand’s Precis or Letarouilly’s Edifices de Rome Moderne’), the drawing oscillates between the scale of the city and the individual building, between autonomous figures and blatant agglomerations, and between legible archipelagos and a interconnected wholes allowing new contiguities and spatial relationships to emerge from within the sea.
Drawings represent a strong theoretical interest for Maymind. As a 2012- 2013 Walter B. Sanders Fellow, at the University of Michigan,( Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning), together with other fellows Andrew Holder and Christian Stayner he worked on the project: “100 Drawings, 48 Characters, 12 Landforms: Projects by 2012-13 Architecture Fellows” a series of a hundred drawings organized in four categories. Here follows the project description along with a selection of the works and a video of the lecture.
100 Drawings is a messy mash-up of historical research, obsessive drawings, and genealogy- making; a project of equal parts documentation, appropriation, and reproduction. As an entropic collection of architectural ephemera from the last 300 years of disciplinary history, the drawings interrogate the multiple ways in which architecture has attempted to map, organize, classify, index, compare, and invoke the sheer vastness of the world itself. This ambition has occurred through various forms of architectural knowledge accumulated in a quasi-scientific manner. This body of material acted as the basis for 100 Drawings.
A broad historical genealogy of the architectural knowledge genre is based on a shared compulsion to understand and define rigorous design methods and grammars of composition—the rules and internal processes of architecture. Certain themes temporarily unify this genealogy, such as a propensity towards rigor, objectivity, an unusual degree of self-consciousness towards architecture’s past and the internal narratives and processes of architecture itself, and an unrelenting search for architectural principles via typology and morphology. More importantly, these themes each point to the fact that the very difficulty of architecture was embraced and even exacerbated. In the search for rules and systems which might have clarified architecture, it only became more complex, more entwined.
3. An Impossible Project
100 Drawings attempts to recuperate this body of material as productive fodder. This terrain was examined through various methods of misreading and re-enacting certain ideas through drawing. This can be understood as a parallel notion to the encyclopedic discourse of the Enlightenment, wherein architectural history—and in certain cases, the work of specific architects themselves—began to be conceived systematically rather than historically. This collective compulsion to organize the world—‘to put things in proper order’—often took the form of pedagogical or documentation machines which attempted to codify and therefore regulate compositional and serial systems by which architecture could then be abstractly rationalized. When viewed in dialogue with our own contemporary open-source culture of endlessly proliferating images and associated digital ephemera, the project of systematization appears to be an impossible project by its very nature in the sense that it aims to never be complete by constantly enlarging its scope and recursivity. This impossibility is both a Herculean task and an excessive ambition.
4. Collection & Classification
Collection and classification entail not only organization, but a renewed engagement with the medium of drawing and re-drawing. Throughout the project, inevitable alterations, corrections, and inventions have been made, as is true for other archive-centric architects from the past. While the distribution and organization of the collection itself tends towards entropy, the project is loosely held together by specific architectural iconoclasts from the past, which anchor the set of drawings. As with previous obsessive-compulsive archivist-architects—most notably, Piranesi’s Campo Marzio, Durand’s Precis or Letarouilly’s Edifices de Rome Moderne—the drawings oscillate between the scale of the city and the individual building, between autonomous figures and blatant agglomerations, and between legible archipelagos and an interconnected wholes, allowing divergent contiguities and spatial relationships to emerge from within the set.
Also related to Maymind activity as a teacher: