Thursday, October 19, 2006

Art, Creation and the City

Throughout Black Rainbow it becomes increasingly clear the importance of and presence of art and creation in this utopian city. We noticed throughout the first half of the novel the many authors and books that are mentioned and the importance of Twentieth Century Literature to the President; he even did a project on it, obviously it had some affect on him and most likely his ruling of the tribunal, city, its people, etc. There is also mention of art, particularly the Black Rainbow lithograph by Hotere. The importance of art is immediately sensed. We discussed how art is a form that is shaped by its creator, making others see his or her point of view, but also art is left to interpretation, allowing the viewer to see what he or she wants to see. It was also stated that fiction distorts the truth and can be seen as positive or negative.

In the second half of Black Rainbow (named after a piece of art, first clue) the references to works of fiction are even more frequent and the ideas of architecture are explored as well. Eric, as I'm going to chose to refer to him, mentions that the President himself was created from the utopian books of the Twentieth Century such as 1984, Animal Farm, etc. This idea of art creating art is very interesting to me and leads me to believe that art influences other art, and from one piece of art another art is born. This is clear in many genres including literature, painting, and architecture. The President read and studied these pieces of fiction and from them his creation of this "perfect" city is born. Wendt even cleverly has the computer in the Palace mention to Eric that Black Rainbow was one of his favorite books, an very ironic (and much enjoyed) statement for Wendt to include. He is proving the point that he believes his work will have an affect on future generations, creators, that they might use his story as a tool of influence, yet he's comdemning this world, pointing out its fault and shortcomings, very paradoxical.

Finally, the idea of architecture as art is introduced at the end of the novel, which leads more into the idea of the city, since a city is made up of many different pieces of architecture. The descriptions of buildings are explored more in this portion than the first half. The neighborhood where the President lives all the houses are built in a similar style, the way the President and the Tribunal think houses should look like. One of the judges in Eric's trial is an architect and he "speciliazed in designing reoridnarination centers according to the principles laid down in President Linn's Architecture for the Ordinary" (247). This shows the idea of art influencing art and the control of creation. In this case President Linn has gathered an idea of what the perfect city and civilization would be through his studying and has laid out certain artisitic ground rules that must be included in the architecture of all buildings in the city. This is seen in any kind of art as far as genre rules within literature (forms of writing, poetry, essay, novel, etc.), painting (certain time periods of art required certain forms to be included in order for the painting to be included in that genre) and architecture (every time period has had its own architectural patterns). This shows the idea of art as a controlled work, something that is created in the eyes of the artist and controlled by them, so the viewer can see what the artist wants them to see.

Wendt writes, "Seated in the cane chair on the balcony overlooking the city, I am alone yet with everything that was my life, and with the city which radiates from the base of the Puzzle Palace in mountains and cliffs and canyons of buildings and lights which glow through the steel and glass and the gloom which is smoking up into the stars and the Unity, and yet is inside me because it is I who give it form, shape, colour, feel. I am the grid through which the Unity is" (264). This shows the aspect of art as something that is also interpretted differently based on who is looking at the art and what state of mind they are in. Eric is saying that he sees the city based on his life, his state of mind and in that way, even though he had no part in physically creating the city and its architecture, he is the artist of what he sees and perceives the city. This is an idea that was seen throughout Calvino and discussed in class. The people of the city make up what the city; it is what the people see and interpret of the art of a city.