‘The flow of the river is ceaseless and its water is never the same. The bubbles that float in the pools, now vanishing, now forming, are not of long duration: so in the world are man and his dwellings.’
—Kamo no Chomei, 1212
So begins ‘An Account of my Hut’ in which a Buddhist monk recounts a series of catastrophes, both natural and man-made, that precede the description of his 100 square foot minimal dwelling, the site of his escape from the world of men. A classic of Japanese literature, the text reflects an underlying sense of the temporality of the built environment that continues to permeate Japanese architectural and cultural discourse. As in Kamo no Chomei’s time, the last century has brought events of destruction from conflict (the mushroom cloud), capitalism (the bursting economic bubble), and nature (the tsunami). While each of these moments has had consequences from the tragic to the unimaginably horrific, the architectural and visual cultures that have risen from the (at times literal) ashes have been unarguably powerful, original, and globally influential. This series of challenges led to an architecture of extreme creativity in a context of scarcity of space and means. Other forms of cultural production embraced aesthetic excess, channeling trauma and uncertainty into works of originality, ingenuity, and surreality. This symposium will explore these parallel currents in Japanese architectural and visual culture that stem from calamity. Bringing together architects, artists, historians, and critics, the symposium will expound on how horrific can lead to cute, the constrained can foster the unexpected, and the unstable can undergird the cultural.
Thursday, April 4 6:30 PM – Saturday, April 6, 2019 5 PM
This symposium is supported by the J. Irwin Miller Endowment Fund.
Although there is no charge for attendance, reservations are required prior to April 2, 2018.
The Yale School of Architecture is a Registered Provider with The American Institute of Architects Continuing Education System. Credit earned by attending this symposium will be reported to CES Records for AIA members. Certificates of Completion for non-AIA members are available upon request.
Hastings Hall is equipped with assistive hearing devices for guests using hearing aids that have a “T” coil.