In Uncategorized on March 4, 2010 at 9:16 am


Robert Smithson, Towards the Development of a "Cinema Cavern" (1971) Pencil, photography, tape. 12 5/8" x 15 5/8".


In thinking through connections of poetics and architecture I keep returning to the phrase POET TALK ARCHITECTURE. I remain unsure of what the phrase means, but have gathered below several statements and explorations, eager to see if they can contribute to this new quest for the built form of the ART WRITING FIELD STATION. Like the field station project, POET TALK ARCHITECTURE is interested in the structures and forms of writing and conversation, and eager, if a in rather hallucinatory manner, to see them acquiring physical form. 

My first attempt to articulate a Poet Talk Architecture, influenced by the Diller & Scofidio blur building building (see image below), begins with the following narrative:

Imagine a building of talk. As you approach you are less aware of its physical structure than of a hive of voices, words, glottal clicks, and glossolalic hyperboles. You wonder what is happening and where you are. This, you decide, must be the site of some important activism, where ideas form 24 hours a day through fine tuned verbal, non-verbal, and environmental connectivity, every writers need satisfied, a Tower of (Art) Babel reconstructed somewhere in the Essex countryside. Sheep graze among the ruins of your CV before, invisible tongues swelling to become POET TALK MONORAIL, you are shuttled inside the voices themselves. Looking around, you think that the whole space seems to be… a bar… but no..

Some texts that seem to be of relevance here: Lisa Robertson’s Office for Soft Architecture; Ian Hamilton Finlay’s Little Sparta; Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities; Kurt Schwitter’s Merzbau; Bernard Tschumi’s Architecture and Disjunction; Alison Knowles’ The Book of Bean; Robert Smithson’s Cavern Cinema; Robert Filliou’s République Géniale.

Dissatisfied with the over familiar art-architecture folklore of some of these texts, POET TALK ARCHITECTURE builds to find new influences. 


POET TALK ARCHITECTURE began with the conviction that the following description – by Sergei Eisenstein of Meyerhold’s lectures – was actually a blueprint for POET TALK ARCHITECTURE:

I was unlucky with my fathers… Meyerhold’s lectures were like insidious songs: “He who these songs hears, will everything forget…” It seemed as though Sirin was on his right, Alkonst on his left.  He waved his arms. His eyes flashed. In his hands was a Javanese marionette. The master’s golden hands moved the little gilded arms of the puppet. The little white face with its slanting eyes twisted to the right and left. And now a puppet had brought to life Ida Rubinstein, whose profile we remembered from Serov’s portrait. And in Meyerhold’s hands it was not a marionette, but Ida Rubenstin in Pisanella. 

Throwing his hands up sharply, Meyerhold conjures up cascades of sparkling cloth in the seaside market scene on the boards of the Opéra in Paris. The hands freeze in the air… And the imagination conjures up the final “Waxworks” scene from The Inspector-General. There stand the waxwork dolls, and those who sparkled the whole evening in their images on the stage whirl past them in a wild dance. The inimitable master stands there like Gogol in silhouette. Now his hands have dropped… and we sense the very faintest applause from kid-gloved hands, signifying the approval of the guests after Nina’s song in Masquerade, on the Alexandrinksy stage on the eve of the February revolution in 1917.

Suddenly the sorcerer breaks the thread of enchantment! In his hands are sticks of gilded wood and a piece of colored cloth. The king of the elves has vanished, and at the desk sits the lifeless archivist Lindhorst.

Poet Talk Architecture: Meyerhold's production of The Bathhouse by Mayakovsky, March 16 1930


His [Meyerhold’s] lectures were mirages and dreams. The listener would jot down something feverishly. But on waking up, he would find “the devil knows what” in the notebooks. One can recall in the finest detail how brilliantly Aksyonov analyzed The Merchant of Venice, what he said about Bartholomew Fair and the triple plots of the Elizabethan dramatists. But one cannot remember what Meyerhold said. Aromas, colours, sounds. A golden haze over everything. Elusiveness, intangibility, secret upon secret, veil upon veil – not seven of them but eight, twelve, thirty, fifty!

With their various nuances they flutter around the secrets in the magicians hands, but strangely. It still seems as if the wizard has been filmed in reverse motion… the subconscious waits, languishing somewhere, while the romantic “I” gets drunk on the lectures, and the rational “I” grumbles acidly – the one educated at the Institute of Civil Engineers in differential calculus and the integration of differential equations.

“When are the secrets going to be revealed? When shall we get on to the methods? And when will this strip tease à l’envers cease?“

SOURCE: Sergei M.Eisenstein, Immoral Memories: An Autobiography (Peter Owen, 1985), 76-77.

In trying to articulate something about the excitement this text prompted in me I arrived at the following:


Poets are our buildings of talk, small microcosms where language uses the page as a first step towards full spatiality, less useful as poems per se than as sources  of architectural forms in the manner of Vitruvius or Owen Jones’ The Grammar of Ornament (1856). 

Owen Jones, Decorations for the Alhambra Court, South Kensington Museum, 1863


Jones moved into the Alhambra Palace in order to sketch the ornament within, and Poet Talk Architecture adopts a similar strategy, close to the contours of the Essex countryside, if also informed by JK Huysmans’ À Rebours (1884), its fantasy geography asserting supremacy over physical travel through fetishistic concoctions of domestic space. 

 Poet talk-space, then, with words and page woven into a blur building of Meyerhold talk, veil upon veil method of post contemporary never-shamanic building construction… 


AS OF 04/03/10. thinking through the possibilities for  POET TALK ARCHITECTURE in relation to the ART WRITING FIELD STATION, a new set of source texts have presented themselves:

Harald Szeemann, Tessin, Switzerland; Renee Gladman The Activist; the “snowflake” form of Dick Higgins; art strikes of Gustav Metzger; Matt Mullican’s codes, systems and cosmological architectures out of drawings; Falke Pissano A Lecture Turning Into A Conversation; drawing installations of Dan Perjovschi; Barbara Guest’s Rocks on a Platter; Mike Kelley’s Educational Complex (above); Céline Condorelli, Support Structures; Sabine Bitter, Helmut Weber and Jeff Derkson.

  1. […] description of his writing process is, like Antin and Benson, a further elucidation of a POET TALK ARCHITECTURE. I wonder, in this context, how much these words also apply to Marianne’s […]

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