A few nights ago I watched a 6-episode series on Netflix of Bill Moyer's 1988 interview with master mythology scholar Joseph Campbell. In their final conversation, the two talked about the circle as the most divine shape in nature, a kind of godly manifestation in aesthetic form (think of the mandala for example, or the halo, the sun, the moon, the planets, etc).
If the divine is circles, then are we humans squares? Who invented the square? How did it come about? What were its functions? Where would we be without it? And why is the word associated with boring fuddy-duddies? (a real search result, by the way, from my computer's thesaurus). Some contemplation and a little research later, I found myself with a copy of Italian artist/designer Bruno Munari's 1965 book, The Discovery Of The Square. Surprise surprise, it's shaped like a square!
A fascinating work of curiosity, Munari traces the use of this four-walled shape from paleo-Babylonian, to Ancient Rome, to Le Corbusier, to logarithmic spirals, to a simple game of chess. Did you know that "in ancient times, the square was believed to have magical properties including power to prevent plague, and it was common practice to wear a silver disk, with a square cut in it, on a necklace" (p 22).
From the opening essay:
"The square is as high and as wide as a man with his arms outstretched. In the most ancient writings, and in the rock inscriptions of early man, it signifies the idea of enclosure, of house, of settlement. Enigmatic in its simplicity, in the monotonous repetition of four equal sides and four equal angles, it creates a series of interesting figures: a whole group of harmonic rectangles, the golden section, and the logarithmic spiral, which also occurs in nature in the organic growth of plants and in parts of animals. With its structural possibilities, it has helped artists and architects of all epochs and styles by giving them a harmonic skeleton on which to build an artistic construction."
A fun and quick read for the aesthetically curious. So take a peruse! It's probably the squarest thing you can do this week.
Bits & Pieces
A place for experimentation, a place for pieces unpolished and unpublished, a place to work out thoughts and ideas for larger collections. Typos aplenty. Enjoy (or not).