May 31, 2012

Painted Ladies of the Past and Future

2012 a la 1977 via Instagram
The ensuing attempt to rebuild the home on more stable foundations, according to the specifications of countermodernists and nostalgic dreamers, complete with its cellar and its attic, its aged walls and comforting fireplace, has, however, inevitably fallen victim to a complaint inseparable from all nostalgic enterprises: that of the triumph of image over substance. In its aspiration to recover the past, postmodernism has generally substituted the signs of its absence, perhaps, in the process, engendering a house more truly haunted than that of modernism, but, for all this, hardly a more comforting or stable entity. – Anthony Vidler
Painted Ladies are the endangered species of the built environment. Governmental regulation protects their habitat and, ultimately, their ability to survive. They thrive in small communities where outsider buildings are not welcome. This makes new construction in the proximity of other Painted Ladies especially curious, subjected to the politics of taste and fashion. In this manner, San Francisco might be read as a zoo - a sort of preserve for the Painted Lady species. Tourists, on streetcar safaris, eagerly snap photos of the 'ladies.

A New-Old Painted Lady
Encountering new buildings cloaked with an old Painted Lady fashion (New-Old) is a bewildering experience made even stranger with the help of old photo filters. This is an architecture that begs us to return to a past we remember but never lived. An architecture obsessed with vintage fashion: something undeniably authentic and "nonchalantly cool."
Sun drenched nostalgia: low quality allure
To buy new items would demonstrate caring, making a considered choice. [...] A denial of quality and a distancing from contemporary discourse might prove hip-ness through expressing a lack of one's own investment in differentiating the good from the average. […] We have been raised in a post-modern world, brought up to believe there is no essential truth, no perfect answer. With all things equal, we aspire to a past when society was idealistic about its output, when people were optimistic about the future. - Samuel Szwarcbord
The Painted Lady, as we know her today, represents a historicised image-based fashion. Might other more current or forward looking Painted Ladies be possible? As we continue to decorate our buildings in vintage fashion, where can the Painted Ladies' evil twin be found!? Where are the buildings dressed in futuristic fashion?

Where are the green screen wall assemblies, websites wrapped onto buildings, and pixelated solar panel facades?? What about spatially aliased spaces??? Moire-patterned brick walls???? Where is the shingle system that is best viewed with a pair of disposable 3D glasses????? It's time that we, as artists and image makers, accept the idea of a society where digital media is more "real" to us than our physical surroundings.

Painted Lady Fashion...ANOTHER New-Old Building. Still waiting for the New-New Buildings...