Michel Foucault 15 October 1926 – 25 June 1984 was a French philosopher, historian of ideas, social theorist, philologist and literary critic. His theories addressed the relationship between power and knowledge, and how they are used as a form of social control through societal institutions. Though often cited as a post-structuralist and postmodernist, Foucault rejected these labels, preferring to present his thought as a critical history of modernity. His thought has been highly influential both for academic and for activist groups, especially those working within contemporary sociology, cultural studies, and critical theory.
Foucault has served as theoretical inspiration across a multitude of disciplines, so much so that the term “Foucauldian” is often applied to analyses that utilize his theoretical approach. Outside of academia, Foucault’s work is of interest to anyone looking to better understand and appreciate the subtle ways that power works in social life, particularly with regard to how seemingly mundane practices and ideas structure our personal experiences and senses of self. History for him was a store house of good ideas. He wanted to raid it rather than keep it pristine and untouched. We should use Foucault as an inspiration to look at dominant ideas and institutions of our times and to question them by looking at their histories and evolutions.
For Foucault, power and knowledge are not seen as independent entities but are inextricably related—knowledge is always an exercise of power and power always a function of knowledge. Perhaps his most famous example of a practice of power/knowledge is that of the confession, as outlined in History of Sexuality. Once solely a practice of the Christian Church, Foucault argues that it became diffused into secular culture (and especially psychology) in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Through the confession (a form of power) people were incited to “tell the truth” (produce knowledge) about their sexual desires, emotions, and dispositions. Through these confessions, the idea of a sexual identity at the core of the self came into existence (again, a form of knowledge), an identity that had to be monitored, cultivated, and often controlled (again, back to power). It is important to note that Foucault understood power/knowledge as productive as well as constraining. Power/knowledge not only limits what we can do, but also opens up new ways of acting and thinking about ourselves.
Foucault argues that discipline is a mechanism of power that regulates the thought and behavior of social actors through subtle means. In contrast to the brute, sovereign force exercised by monarchs or lords, discipline works by organizing space (e.g. the way a prison or classroom is built), time (e.g. the set times you are expected to be at work each day), and everyday activities. Surveillance is also an integral part of disciplinary practices. In Discipline and Punish, Foucault argues that modern society is a “disciplinary society,” meaning that power in our time is largely exercised through disciplinary means in a variety of institutions (prisons, schools, hospitals, militaries, etc.).
2. Gaudí / Miró
Gothic art is imperfect, only half resolved
Antoni Gaudí i Cornet (June 25, 1852 – June 10, 1926) was an architect from Reus, Catalonia. He is the best known practitioner of Modernisme, Catalan Modernism and is a central figure of Catalonian art and architecture, alongside Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí, and Josep Lluís Sert. Gaudí's work was influenced by his passions in life: architecture, nature, and religion. Under the influence of neo-Gothic art and non-Western techniques, Gaudí became part of the Modernista movement which was reaching its peak in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
His work transcended mainstream Modernisme, culminating in an organic style inspired by natural forms. Gaudí rarely drew detailed plans of his works, instead preferring to create them as three-dimensional scale models and moulding the details as he conceived them. Gaudí's works have a highly individualized and distinctive style. Most are located in Barcelona, including his largest work, The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, the largest unfinished Roman Catholic church in the world.
In 1882, construction of Sagrada Família as a Gothic Revival cathedral started under architect Francisco Paula de Villar. In 1883, when Villar resigned, Gaudí took over as chief architect, transforming the project with his architectural and engineering style, combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted the remainder of his life to the project, and at the time of his death at age 73 in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete.
Describing Sagrada Família, art critic Rainer Zerbst said "it is probably impossible to find a church building anything like it in the entire history of art," and Paul Goldberger describes it as "the most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages.”
Gaudi conceived this church as if it were the structure of a forest, with a set of tree-like columns divided into various branches to support a structure of intertwined hyperboloid vaults. He inclined the columns so they could put up better with the perpendicular pressures on their section. He also gave them a double turn helicoid shape (right turn and left turn), as in the branches and trunks of trees. This created a fractal structure that perfectly supported the mechanical traction forces without the need for buttresses, unlike in the neo-Gothic style.
This new constructional technique allowed Gaudí to achieve his greatest architectural goal: to perfect and go beyond Gothic style. The hyperboloid vaults have their center where Gothic vaults had their keystone, and the hyperboloid allows for a hole in this space to let natural light in. In the intersection between vaults, where Gothic vaults have ribs, the hyperboloid allows for holes as well, which Gaudí employed to give the impression of a starry sky.
In his own words: “Gothic art is imperfect, only half resolved;it is a style created by the compasses, a formulaic industrial repetition. Its stability depends on constant propping up by the buttresses: it is a defective body held up on crutches. The proof that Gothic works are of deficient plasticity is that they produce their greatest emotional effect when they are mutilated, covered in ivy and lit by the moon.”
Paul Laffoley (August 14, 1935 – November 16, 2015) was an American visionary artist and architect from Boston. Laffoley painted on large canvases, the majority of Paul Laffoley's paintings combine words and imagery to depict a spiritual architecture of explanation, tackling concepts like dimensionality, time travel through hacking relativity, connecting conceptual threads shared by philosophers through the millennia, and theories about the cosmic origins of mankind.
After the destruction of the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001, Laffoley was one of a number of architects who, in 2002, submitted designs for the competition to plan the Freedom Tower. Laffoley took his inspiration from the work of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. His conception was to plan a gigantic hotel in the style of Gaudí's Sagrada Família church in Barcelona.
Laffoley coined the term Bauhauroque. Described as the 3rd phase of modernism:
"...Baroque theory. They went back and started dealing with the High Gothic, with the engineering to do the types of buildings that they did—Bernini, you know, really crazy stuff. So when Modernism came along, the architects just eschewed anything to do with the 19th century, which was known very much for its engineering. I mean, I studied personally, in earnest with one of these guys, who justthought that anything to do with the 19th century was nothing. And so, what I thought was that if you went back and took the 19th century, there were mega engineering ideas that you could get to work with the Baroque—so it’s acombination of the Bauhaus and the Baroque, it comes out a new word and therefore gives people the idea that there’s somenew sensibilitygoing on."
Gaudí’s impact on Barcelona was not just on the built fabric of the city, but also through his influence on Catalan culture and artists-- Joan Míro and Josep Lluís Sert in particular. Miró pioneered a wandering linear style of Automatism—a method of “random” drawing that attempted to express the inner workings of the human psyche. Miro dedicated many works to Gaudí, whom he met during adolescence while attending drawing classes at the Cercle de Sant Lluc. Miró greatly admired this Catalan Modernist architect, considering Gaudí’s work among his sources of inspiration. Josep Lluís Sert also grew up in Barcelona with Gaudi's influence as a constant presence. In 1960, they brought a new awareness to Gaudí’s work with James Johnson Sweeney, the director of the Guggenheim. Together, their monograph played a significant part in the re-evaluation of Gaudi as an architectural master. Miró’s cover enabled the book to be, itself, a masterpiece of modern design.
The cranes at Sagrada Familia are quintessential to the site and accurately describe its historical spirit of a ‘work in progress’. Photographs of Sagrada Familia often appear with the cranes digitally removed.
The Liebherr Group is a large equipment manufacturer based in Switzerland established in 1949. By 2007, it was the world's largest crane company. It consists of over 130 companies organized into ten Divisions: Earthmoving, Mining, Mobile Cranes, Tower Cranes, Concrete Technology.
In 2017 Spanish crane contractor Grúas Rigar tackled a difficult crane job at the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, where one of its largest telescopic cranes, a Liebherr LTM 1500-8.1 has to be used to relocated one of three tower massive tower cranes on the project.
The plan is to finish construction in 2026 to mark the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death. At that point the Sagrada Familia will be 172.5m high – more than eleven metres higher than the current highest church tower in the world, Ulm Minster.
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