Houseman - Poem by gershon hepner
Three quarters of our body are a house.
First, public ones, the rooms where we display
our treasures and we introduce our spouse
to friends and neighbors, mainly in the day.
Next, rooms that are more intimate, where we
will mostly be with family, though friends
who’re more than neighbors sometimes may be free
to join us where our privacy near-ends.
Finally there are some quarters where
we don’t invite our friends, and only lovers
may enter when we’re ready. It is there
where I would be with you, between the covers.
There is a fourth, of course, the basement or
the attic, where so little can be found;
the past is stored in them and I’ll ignore
them both, unless you want to look around.
Inspired by an article in the NYT, November 4,2007, by Penelope Green (“Yours for the Peeping”) , discussing the see-through architecture of Jeremy Fletcher and Alejandra Lillo, designers at Graft, an architecture and design firm based in Berlin, Beijing and Los Angeles, inspired perhaps by buildings the first two terrarium-like Richard Meier buildings on the West Side Highway, where “the lives of the inhabitants are increasingly on exhibit, like the performance art wherein the artists “live” in a gallery for 24 hours and you get to watch them napping or brushing their teeth”:
JEREMY FLETCHER and Alejandra Lillo, designers at Graft, an architecture and design firm based in Berlin, Beijing and Los Angeles, were working out a dialogue between voyeurism and exhibitionism, they said, when they designed the swooping, shiny white interiors of the W Downtown, a glass-walled condominium tower to be built in 2009 in Manhattan’s financial district. Not only will the building’s glass walls allow W residents to see, and be seen by, passers-by on the street below, but Mr. Fletcher and Ms. Lillo have created peekaboo features within each apartment, like a window between the kitchen and the bedroom, and a bathroom that’s a glass cube, allowing residents to expose themselves to their roommates and family members, too. The idea, Mr. Fletcher said, was to frame and exhibit the intimate details of life, or at least ones that would be aesthetically pleasing, “like your silhouette in the shower.”“We are creating stages for people to perform on in some way, but it’s a very scripted and considered display, ” he said. “Cooking could be a display, for example, with your partner watching you from the bedroom.”He talked about tuning the privacy of each room, using shades or scrims to have larger or smaller openings, as you would change the aperture of a camera. “So if you don’t want your partner to see you shaving your legs in the shower, ” he said, “you can pull the shade.” Like the clothes Marc Jacobs designed for his own label and for Vuitton this fall — skirts bunched into the waistbands of pantyhose at the back, see-through dresses with bras and panties sewn onto them — Graft’s peekaboo interiors are a sly commentary on a culture that continues to find new ways to display ever more intimate, and mundane, details of domestic life. In a YouTube world, one’s home is no longer one’s private retreat: it’s just a container for the webcam…..
In the 1970s, the psychologist Irwin Altman studied how people developed relationships by using a method of “openings and closings, ” as he put it the other day. “They gradually open themselves up, at very superficial levels of their personalities, and carefully move on to more intimate areas, ” he said, as if opening doors in a house. He described his theory of privacy regulation: that in order to balance the times individuals feel exposed, or open, they need to have times when they are closed and alone. “One of the ways they do this is in their homes, ” Mr. Altman said. “Our living rooms are our public rooms, where we show our best selves, our best things, showing off what’s of value to us and what we treasure. And then there are places like bedrooms that are off limits, and only the people who know us intimately are allowed access.” If a society as a whole has been “open” 24/7, it stands to reason it is due for a bit of a shutdown. Maybe that’s why the architect Costas Kondylis switched the plan for a 31-story condominium in the East 60s from all glass to limestone. Glass, he said, turned out to be “too much of a déjà vu kind of thing.”
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