28,224 hugs, 32,931 lies, 29 broken hearts : Chris Ware’s Building Stories
Chris Ware has recently completed his 29-page series, “Building Stories,” which is soon to be published in book form. Here is a page from it:
Many years ago a wise man said to me, “Meaning in architecture comes through use.” Designing a building with particular forms, symbols, signifiers, etc. is all well and good, but what people do in a place is what REALLY gives that place its meaning.
I think this often holds true whether you’re looking at a small residence or at a large public building. I remember once a wise professor (R. Castro) who, during a lecture about neo-classical architecture, commented, “…the thing is, depending on which flag you put in front of this building, this is either fascist architecture, democratic architecture or communist architecture.”
But going back to a more personal and intimate scale, recently a wise woman said to me, “You create the meaning in what other people say and do to you, by how you choose to interpret it. If you get hurt, what hurts is the meaning you make.” Is this mere subjectivist mind-over-matter self-empowerment b.s.? Or is there a drawing we could each make of ourselves, just like Chris Ware’s drawing above, where we map out the things that have happened to us over the years, an inventory of interactions that have left their impressions upon us? If we made that drawing we might have to admit, just like that building, to feeling a little bit grateful for the arrival each day of 24 more hours yet to come.