Robert Yang on the reception of an essay he wrote for his architectural criticism class at Parsons:
While my essay was held as more engaging than other students’ essays about the same building, “almost like a story,” I was told I omitted basic facts — like when the building was built (2008) and who built it (Lyn Rice Architects). My response was that I didn’t care who built it, which was probably a dangerous thing to say in a room full of architecture students.
The week before, we had read a lot of articles lamenting the death of architecture criticism, its contemporary irrelevance in society, its need for re-invention, and why architecture blogs like BLDGBLOG were / weren’t up for the task. All these issues became clear when I read my classmates’ essays; the majority, to me, read like stale book reports, describing the materials (concrete? in a building? with windows!) or even who Sheila Johnson was (a rich person who donated a lot of money?), which to me, is very boring to read.
“You said very little about the actual building.” This might be the influence of that blasted New Games Journalism on my writing style. I believe that words aren’t good at describing spaces; pictures are better, films are much better, and video games are best; instead, words should be reserved for describing experience.
Yep. It goes back to our different modes of navigating, and the affordances different forms of telling have:
Spatial navigators can construct maps in their heads as they experience a place, and also tend to be good at using maps as navigational aids. Narrative navigators navigate by creating or following verbal directions. For spatial navigators, the answer to the question where? is a position in mapped space. For narrative navigators, the answer to where? is a story about how to get there.