A note on The Gentle Hand + The Greedy Eye: an everyday baroque practice in architecture

This book by architect, artist and academic, Rachel Hurst (now Dr), was made as a subtle challenge to the prescribed digital format for her PhD dissertation submission (RMIT, Australia). The book required special dispensation to be submitted as an artefact, but was permitted on the basis that the content of the PhD was about haptic experiences in design. It formed a central component to the candidate’s exhibition.

‘The Gentle Hand + The Greedy Eye: an everyday baroque practice in architecture’, consistent with its title, is intended to sit gently in the hand as a tactile object, to satisfy the greedy eye with copious illustration and to allow a reading journey both straightforward and wandering. Like a manual or cookbook, it can be read episodically; each project analysis is of digestible length, there are self-contained elements, miniature essays or digressions which do not interrupt the narrative, but provide baroque diversions.
 
To facilitate a non-linear journey, the volume is designed with operative cues and devices so that the reader can navigate easily backwards and forwards between each of the sections, as they weave and connect through the dissertation. Haptic devices assist in way-finding — varied paper stocks, formats, and silky bookmarks — to make the ordinary act of reading a sensory pleasure — with the final embellishment a mapping and exhibition souvenir slipped into the back pocket on the eve of examination: a performance to standing ovation.

The underlying grid a table setting: structural elements placed around the edges, the typographic and image content spatially organised. The handling of typefaces, Tiempos Text and Akkurat, is intended as classic, bookish, yet expressive, evident in the titling, where the bounds of space are pushed. Each of the 380+ pages carefully composed and balanced — the conceptual overview and physical objectivity held acutely in mind: 

Abstract — 
“This research responds to discourse on the everyday in architecture (and cross-disciplinary areas of interior architecture, and art) concerning the multi-sensorial and embodied aspects of architectural perception, thinking and production. 

A major premise is that there are instinctive, complex and significant patterns and typologies in the way we use space in ordinary, intimate settings, and that these can give insights to larger, more public spaces traditionally handled by the architectural profession. The argument is that by virtue of their subtlety and familiarity, some of these fundamental patterns – both physical and occupational – have been overlooked by the shapers of our built environment in favour of conventional agenda, such as formal, functional, theoretical or political schema. Alternatively, they may be present but invisible or unrecognised, their profundity dismissed as trivial. The PhD addresses these observations as relevant spatial and material content for an architectural approach redefined by theories of the everyday. 

A further argument is that everyday architecture, because of its evolved, interstitial, diverse nature, is inherently multi-sensory and contingent in the way it operates, as opposed to a tendency toward the rational, ocularcentric and definitive in orthodox architectural practice. The PhD addresses these ideas as relevant to the process of an architectural approach influenced by the everyday. 

Through a hybrid practice of creative works, curation, critical writing and education, the PhD investigates specific everyday settings, notably the table, to deepen the understanding of potential spatial and operational analogies for architecture. Three publicly-exhibited major suites form the spine of the research. They are TIMES/TABLES_ Tabulations, Manual: inscriptions of the everyday and [re]situating: the Goodbye Table Road Trip. Each has multiple components, uses different media, scales and forms of collaborative practice, and is supported by a raft of secondary creative endeavours and explorations. In this way the PhD aims to demonstrate ways to use the everyday as a productive source for architectural analysis, response, and ultimately as an agent for an expanded model of practice.” — Dr Rachel Hurst (‘The Gentle Hand + The Greedy Eye’)

A baroque practice in the art of the book ... this is a conversation of deep understanding — an 18-month long-distance journey — between architect and author, typographer and designer.

 

— RH + CG / 2016


 

02 the book as object


The Gentle Hand + The Greedy Eye: an everday baroque practice in architecture
Rachel Hurst

six copies 2016

Body of Work Bruce Connew
2013 / published Nov 2015

I Drive You Crazy, to the Moon Bruce Connew
2007 / yet to be published

I Must Behave Bruce Connew
2006 / published 2009

I Saw You Bruce Connew
2006 / published 2007

Stopover Bruce Connew
2000 / published 2007

Muttonbirds — part of a story Bruce Connew
2002 / published 2004

On the way to an ambush
Bruce Connew
1989 / published 1999

Vekst i det vanskelige
Hanne Johnsen
published 2013

A Short History of Photography Harvey Benge
2007

Montana Estate Essay Series Four Winds Press
2002 and 2003

Cover Up: The Art of the Book Cover in New Zealand
Hamish Thompson
2008

Looking for the Local — Architecture and the New Zealand Modern
Justine Clark and Paul Walker
2000

 


The Greedy Hand + The Gentle Eye: an everyday baroque practice in architecture

Dr Rachel Hurst, 2016



This book was made as a subtle challenge to the prescribed digital format for PhD dissertation submission (RMIT, Australia). It required special dispensation to be submitted as an artefact, but was permitted on the basis that content of the PhD was about haptic experiences in design. It formed a central component to Dr Rachel Hurst’s examination and exhibition.

...

Each of the 380+ pages carefully composed and balanced — the conceptual overview and physical objectivity held acutely in mind. A baroque practice ... this is a conversation of deep understanding — an 18-month long-distance journey — between architect and author, typographer and designer.

 

 


Winner of a PINNACLE in Editorial and Books category, and Judge’s Choice Award at the AGDA Design Awards 2016, Australia ... following a Bronze Award at the Best Design Awards, New Zealand.

Recently awarded Finalist the National Gallery of Victoria INAUGURAL CORNISH FAMILY PRIZE FOR ART & DESIGN PUBLISHING

WINNER: Publisher: Analogues
Author: Marc Johnson
Designer: Baldinger Vu-Huu
Title: fecund lacuna / lacune féconde

FINALISTS of the inaugural Cornish Family Prize for Art & Design Publishing:

Publisher: Uro Publications
Title: Episodic Urbanism
Authors: Peter Elliott and contributors
Designer: Stuart Geddes

Publisher: Monash University Museum of Art
(co-published with Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane and Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art Berlin)
Title: Nicholas Mangan: Limits to Growth
Designer: Žiga Testen

Publisher: Self-published
Title: The Gentle Hand + The Greedy Eye: an everyday baroque practice in architecture
Author: Rachel Hurst
Designer: Catherine Griffiths

Publisher: Open Editions
Title: SPECIALISM
Author: David Blamey and contributors
Designer: Jonathan Hares

Publisher: Birkhäuser
Title: House is a House is a House is a House is a House: Architectures and Collaborations of Johnston Marklee
Author: Reto Geiser and contributors
Designer: MG&CO., Noemi Mollet and Reto Geiser

 

 


250x195mm, portrait, 380 pages, gatefolds plus various inserts.

Six copies, two artist proofs. Published March 2016

COVER: case-bound in white linen w/ coloured endpapers, silver foil debossed type on front, spine and back. Trace paper dust-jacket, screen-printed in reverse, on reverse side of sheet. Section sewn, head + tail bands, three silver ribbons, one numbered cloth tape (each book a number of significance). Pocket inside back cover.

TEXT: digitally printed onto HP Indigo-approved papers, from Mowhawk

INSERTS: digitally printed onto various paper stocks — SYNOPSIS/RESEARCH STATEMENT for each section presented as a single coloured leaf; DIAGRAMS on trace w/ gatefolds, various dimensions; POSTCARD, perforated on short edge; ALBUM, 12pp, round-cornered; POSTER, A3 folded to A5; SOUVENIR with embroidered tag — GENTLE, GREEDY or Baroque — sewn into cross stitch, concertina-folded. Poster and souvenir slip into back pocket. 

Made in New Zealand.

Paper supplied by BJ Ball Papers.

Digitally printed by Press Print Ltd; hand-folded and collated by Catherine Griffiths; hand-bound and finished by Bookbinding Press, Auckland, New Zealand. Dust-jacket screen-printed by Struan Hamilton. Souvenir item printed in Adelaide, Australia, hand-stitched by Rachel Hurst.

Six copies, two artist proofs.
Published March 2016.

 

Other reading

International Symposium on Typography


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