Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Some Surrealist images of Nostalghia, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

The birds flying from the Virgin's womb

Many architects are fans of Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky, because of the lighting, the water and surrealism in his movies, regardless the plot. A favorite one is Stalker, though I liked Nostalghia best, which seems to be his most personal movie, about his feelings at his exile in Italy.
For those who want to read more about the film,  here's an interesting review in Slant Magazine, and I have to warn you, the author confuses the name "Gorchakov" with "Gorbachov" in the last paragraphs, there's nothing to do with the former president:
The images here are screen shots from my computer. 

The beautiful chiaroscuro

The mirrors

The abandoned

The indoor water reflexes, the interiors

From an architectural point of view, what I enjoy most, is the intertwined spaces, the interior and exterior, the buildings have no roof, and when they have it, the rain pours down leaving the floor as a lagoon, the vines grow inside/outside and we have a few hints of where the characters are, as they are -sometimes- shown against the bright exterior light.

The indoor water reflexes, the interiors

The indoor water reflexes, the interiors. Tarkovsky barely uses color in this movie. 

The free standing door is opened to go through "one space to the other" or "one room to the other".

The picture above shows exactly this confusion of spaces. The door has only its frame, but there is no division between rooms, it's a big space that could be virtually divided by columns and some furniture. But see, the lunatic is using the door to pass through, curiously, there's no water behind the door, but a basin that is part of the group of basins that are meant to keep the rain water, of course, an impossible task.

The beautiful streets in Italy, the old, the decayed.

The young girl amidst the old and the decayed. The vines grow outside/inside

The lonely streets

The wardrobe, a displaced element in the street where Gorchakov sees himself in the reflex of the lunatic. 

The church without roof. Always this idea of interior-exterior

People in the public building's staircase, like floating in the air. It reminds me of Rene Magritte's painting, "Golconda." 

Gorchakov's house in Russia is superimposed to the open church in Italy. The mixed feelings of the exile, the memories, that include the dog. The reflex of the Gothic windows on the water, as an impossible effect, given they are so far.

The adoration of the Virgin who gives " pregnancy." 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

An abstract of the Getty Center Museum

I tried a couple of times of taking a picture from the Meyer´s Getty Center Museum from below, let´s say from the 405 freeway, without being successful, my husband driving doesn´t allow me to take a good shot. And last time the sun was blinding me and I took what I could, the urban profile of the museum in the mountain and a nice abstract of the sky.
I am not able to show the stone finishes of the building that is a reminder of the rocks on the hillside, but I think it´s a nice pic after all.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

From "Man with a movie camera" 1929

I'm not a fan of silent movies, but what can I say about "Man with a movie camera" ? That's great, absolutely great. This is an experimental, documentary film from 1929, directed by Russian director Dziga Vertov, edited by his wife Elizaveta Svilova. The film depicts the everyday life of these Union Soviet cities: Odessa, Kharkiv and Kiev.  
The film has no plot, it's just a record of places, people, situations, objects, even graphic design, the habitat and life of progressive crowded cities, filmed by a man who goes everywhere with a big camera that cant' be hidden. And somebody is recording him for the movie.
As the images have double exposure, one doubts if they are really to be trusted, but the overall impression is that of a progressive country where Communism doesn't show up; everybody is happy, working, enjoying the beach, the games, smiles everywhere.

This is one of the few images of the Communist built environment

An upside down view of a building, think about it! A shot from 1929

What's even more, the film that has not a continuation in scenes, it shows images that are pretty out of the standard in those years: a woman giving birth to a child, half naked women, and lots of surrealist shots.
Needless to say, the camera is everywhere, taking people in surprise and in the most weird places: up in towers, in scaffoldings, in train tracks (let's say in a hole between the tracks), the cameraman is trying to achieve his balance on the doors of a convertible car. It's impossible to avoid smiling while watching the absurd situations. And in the meantime, we enjoy the old cities.

What is interesting is the effort to show a connection between the theatre, the literature and cinema, non existing at that time.
Finally, the camera has a life of its own. It shows up at the theatre, "walking,"  greeting everybody, bowing itself, that's a funny sequence.
Then the airplanes, remember it was between wars, and the faces of emotioned people, at the theatre, of course, watching this " must see" movie.

For further reading:

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Festival of Flowers in Little Saigon, Westminster

In the preparations for the Tet celebration, let´s say the Vietnamese New Year, the Festival of Flowers is one of the events in Little Saigon, in the city of Westminster, Southern California. And I was lucky to be present at this urban event, to visit the stands, specially for the beautiful orchids that were on display.
I was somehow confused because I knew about the Chinese New Year which is celebrated in Chinatown Los Angeles, and had to read in Wikipedia the meaning of the celebrations, that I reproduce here:

¨Tết (Northern Vietnamese, Southern Vietnamese), or Vietnamese New Year, is the most important celebration of Vietnamese culture. The word is a shortened form of Tết Nguyên Đán (Nôm: 節元旦) , which is Sino-Vietnamese for "Feast of the First Morning of the First Day". It celebrates the arrival of spring based on the Vietnamese calendar, a lunisolar calendar, which usually has the date falling between the months of January or February. Tết is celebrated on the same day as Chinese New Year, though exceptions arise due to the one-hour time difference between Hanoi and Beijing resulting in the alternate calculation of the new moon. It takes place from the first day of the first month of the Vietnamese calendar (around late January or early February) until at least the third day. Many Vietnamese prepare for Tết by cooking special holiday foods and cleaning the house. There are a lot of customs practiced during Tết, such as visiting a person's house on the first day of the new year (xông nhà), ancestral worshipping, wishing New Year's greetings, giving lucky money to children and elderly people, and opening a shop. Tết is also an occasion for pilgrims and family reunions. During Tết, Vietnamese visit their relatives and temples, forgetting about the troubles of the past year and hoping for a better upcoming year. They consider Tết to be the first day of spring and the festival is often called Hội xuân (spring festival).¨

Enjoy the pictures, I took them all with my cell phone last Saturday. Please do not reproduce them without my permission.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Is Mc Donald´s flag comparable to the USA flag?

When my husband is driving and I´m next to him, I usually read, and look through the window to learn  more about cities and inhabitants. Last weekend, I took this quick shot of the well known fast food chain, because I was surprised to see the three flags together: United States, California and Mc Donald´s.
And I was laughing at the implicit meaning, so, the three of them have the same symbolism, are they equal or similar in their importance?
Or is it showing a food ideology for the whole country?
At least the USA flag was in the middle :) Welcome, this is America!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pictures of the Cristo Redentor: the restoration works

I´m sharing these wonderful pictures of the restoration works at the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, from the link below, which also has a brief explanation in Spanish.

I was lucky to see it myself, long years ago, 1987, in a vacation trip to Brasil, and it´s amazing.
That´s weird that today I have some patches of memories, but they are not focused on the Christ, but on the Corcovado Morro where it stands, and I can also remember the beautiful design of sidewalks, the exuberant vegetation in the morros, the artisans´ fair, the religious objects left in some corners, the happiness of people singing and playing drums, the bright white sands, and the sun, so hot to burn the skin. For some reason, though I was already an architect, I didn´t pay too much attention to the colorful slums, maybe I was too busy enjoying the vacation.
I hope I could go back some day and enjoy the city as an architect, not a tourist!


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