I’m interested in how we as people make sense of things. How we order, catalogue and ultimately understand the things that surround us. The architect – monk, Dom Hans van der Laan wrote lucidly on this subject, focusing in particular on how architecture is one of the fundamental tools through which we understand both our place in the physical world (i.e. building viewed in landscape / landscape viewed through building), and our existence within it (meet, heat, eat, sleep, procreate).
Van der Laan focuses specifically on the rectilinear in this regard, seeing the pure x,y, and z axes simultaneously as a product of the human mind, and as the perfect counterpoint to the natural world’s organic lines.
I often find myself looking for this orthogonal sensibility in the man made things that surround us. Regardless of scale- from the carefully gridded out butterfly collection, to the dry stone walls of the Yorkshire Dales- it becomes clear that the line (x), the grid (x,y), or the frame (x,y,z), are our fundamental tools for the understanding of things.
The natural counterpoint between the butterfly’s wing, or the field’s gentle undulations and their ordering grid seem to make both the subject, and its categorisation all the more beautiful.
Michelangelo had an intimate understanding of this mechanism- and in particular how architecture might serve as the frame for the human figure. Tracing through his sketches, drawings, sculpture, and architecture, one can see how deeply embedded this idea was within his psyche. This is a true renaissance moment. Man, placed at the centre of all things, is conceived of as such by the sculptor’s placement of the figure within his own architectural frame. Or rather, within the frame of his own mind.