Sacred Architecture

What the body is to the mind, sculpture is to the physical expression of consciousness in volumetric form. It is therefore understandable why future generations may look upon the sculpture that is being made now and say that it was the work of degenerate minds and weaker hands.



Sculpture and Architecture inform one another greatly. While sculputre has traditionally occupied the area of symbolic form, architecture is also sculpture-one that is adapted to a multitude of functional uses. Sculpture has traditionlly occupied the space of adorning buildings or enhancing their role as homes, places for worship or venues/spaces specifically attributed to a designated function. This is particularly true in the case of architectural sculpture. We have also seen how the fragmentation of empires has given sculpture a new, disembodied life. The Victory of Samothrace at the Louvre, the facades of the Parthenon so coveted by the British Museum and the Pergamon are such examples of works that have inspired several generations of figurative sculptors working mostly in bronze and marble and allowed us all to embrace classicism as something inherently English, German or French. While the authorship of the orginal pieces is often attributed to Greek sculptors such as Praxiteles, Polyclitus or Lysippus it is entirely possible that much of the work was done by unknown authors, possibly recruited from the far reaches of the Greek Empire. This is evident in the antecedent classical style of works from the Bactrian art period, the intricate carving of temple facades at Petra.

The sculptures themselves are not simply a measurement of the physical ideal of perfection but they reflect the physicque of humans who had did not yet have electricity or automated transportation (and therefore spent less time seated), did not necessarily have running water (and therefore had more carrying and pulling to do. These people would have had to do accomplish physical tasks without sophisticated machinery. The aspect of art that is sacred is also inherent to the design of the times, the architecture and the basic machines that were made from tools which were also manufactured and fabricated by skilled individuals. Could it be that such an understanding of basic mechanics might have also helped humanity to maintain a nobler position as more of a maker than a consumer? This is something that art schools wrestle with today. Endless forays into the legacy of Deleuzian philosophy and post war literature have potentially robbed us all the more of such vital knowledge and skills.

This is where the magesty and beauty of architecure survives. The sited work of such monuments as the Pyramids or The Eiffel Tower or the Great Wall are a testament to the legacy of  empires, despots who knew that the sacrifice of human toil and labor was indeed necessary to make a culturally significant mark on the historical record. In some cases these structures assumed a yet more lyrical form and this is the case perhaps with The Hanging Gardens, The gardens at Versailles or the relatively more recent Crystal Palace. It is interesting perhaps as well to note that these spaces were designed to celebrate nature and so it is true that Petra without its geography would not be an intersting place to visit, nor would the Pyramids without their proximity to the alluvial wealth and greenery of the Nile. The sacred architecture is indeed imbedded and coded in all of these structures and this is what is just as interesting perhasp as the fact that every piece of architecture also bears a signature or a dedication of sorts.