The Critique Broadsheet
“The Moment Before.” Its graphic quality is striking. I love the size of the folded, printed object. Opening it is like unwrapping a gift. But just as the title is perfectly framed when it is fully folded, so I wish that each subsequent act of unfolding revealed a new story, both literally and metaphorically. It works, but not perfectly, and only after the first unfolding. Moving inward, I am perplexed by the conceptual murkiness of the puddles that gather between and around the columns of text. I feel a certain anxiety about my failure to distill meaning from what must—surely?—be deliberate and not random.
Stav Dror, Elise Limon, Serge Saab, and Liad Sandmann offer the readers an “Editors Note” [“Editors’ Note”?] that is important and intriguing but itself a little opaque. Try reading it out loud to your friends, and then ask them to tell you what they heard. [Try it!] And might there be space for a brief assessment by the editors of what emerges from the sum of the various parts? I realize that this would represent the moment after, and perhaps the constraints of production deadlines work against such an effort; but inasmuch as each issue of Paprika! aspires to coalesce around a single prompt, the exercise of synthesis could be useful. Generally speaking, the editors could have been a little more heavy-handed with their editing—20% less would, I think, have yielded 20% more. But there is already a good deal here, even before such editing.
“What if the Moment Before Never Ends?” This is the question posed by Evangelos Fokialis and Alkiviadis Pyliotis. If these are not pen names, they should be—Mies and Le Corbusier etc. had to invent theirs. As for the content: yes, but. It is a great provocation that makes me want to try arguing the opposite. In that regard, it is a complete success.
Ana Gabriela Loayza’s “Deadline for Zeno” makes me long for a graphic expression of its content, perhaps even of Zeno’s paradox. I am not sure how it could be done—perhaps you could only get half-way there—but it would be fun to try, no?
To the anonymous author of this issue’s “Love Poem”: I hope your architecture is as beautiful as your poetry. You should write more poetry. I am also intrigued by the ways in which the version of the poem in the puddles does not quite match the final printed version. Is this the moment before? Intrigued, but not clear; again, I find myself frustrated by an unanswered question.
The piece by Aryan Khalighy and Daniel Haidermota, “Autonomous Party Wall,” is perhaps the most eloquent and poignant response to the prompt. An empty plot, “a completely open and empty ground level”—and yet overcrowded with memory and forgetfulness. Here I long for better images; after all, this is a project that relies on something more than words.
I enjoyed the rhyming verse of Joshua Abramovich’s “Architect’s Block.” But poetry is a strict master when it comes to graphic design. If verse is rarely symmetrical in structure, this example would have benefitted, I think, either from longer lines or from text blocks that were justified left (or right!) rather than centred.
I love the idea of Andrea Sanchez Moctezuma’s “Wall Search”—an incomplete text that demands that you supply the missing words yourself before attempting to find them in the structure looming above. I suspect that for most readers the exercise stops there, and perhaps that is enough. But I also wonder whether more could be made of the structure itself, which is not yet fully wall-ish, and is ultimately (from what I can tell) presented in one-sided elevation, supplying only one possible reading.
The implications of Nick Gochnour’s “Uranium Disposal Cells” for the moment before remain unclear to the end; but the piece is fascinating nonetheless. Its eloquent description of uranium “disposal” cells serves as a metaphor for what architects are required to do so much of, designing so as to contain toxicity beneath ultimately inadequate layers of form.
I enjoyed the gallows humour in Carlos Blanco’s “Modern Moments of Anxiety.” And I was with him until I reached the lineweights, at which point I wondered whether he might not have drawn the opposite conclusion: that if lineweights do in fact have an impact on the clarity of our ability to communicate a different future (which is, after all, the very thing that architects are called on to offer), then the only hope is that we as architects learn to perfect every power of persuasion so as to make possible the moment after.
Ah, Latin! In “Tracing,” Christopher Beck gives us a piece that is well-written and thought-provoking, with some fully quotable lines. “Can we draw more than we know”? Especially poignant is the conclusion about lifting, albeit temporarily, “the yoke of meaning.” This one is worth holding on to.
More Latin! Ibrahim Kombarji offers “Habemus Cella” [substitute cellam, object, for cella, subject]. I love the idea of the building with a story that is “yet to come,” where we are still inhabiting the moment before. I am curious as to whether the author has visited Yamoussoukro. I am not sure that it is quite accurate to call it an “almost exact replica”; you might, for instance, compare the reflected ceiling plan, which—for this building in particular—is important, and disappointing. But putting a finger on the story that is yet to come leads beautifully into speculation on alternative and richer stories.
Nitzan Zilberman offers “An Anticipatory History for Antarctica.” It is a wonderful piece, not entirely seamless but filled with productive ideas each one of which might be partitioned off for its own autonomous exploration. The first paragraph, for one, is enough to supply a continent of fictions. I am reminded of Saint-Exupéry’s use of miscellaneous small planets to explicate the farcical realities of our own world—also with regard to time. You should re-read The Little Prince immediately if you have not done so recently.
Katie Colford, “Do You Read Me?” Yes, repeatedly—Creator is brilliant. A recurring column? Must buy the other issues.