fredag 30. januar 2009

tirsdag 20. januar 2009

Open Form manifesto (1959) by Oskar Hansen

Is the difference between contemporary sculpture and the works of Michelangelo in terms of difference and their relation to space still a matter of superficial changes? ... Was the primary idea behind the compositional design of the housing structures of the Interbau estate in Berlin (1957) focused on the representation of the differences between the individualities of their inhabitants? Were those buildings ready to absorb the changes and events taking place during the lifetime of the form? I characterize here various kinds of visual intervention just to call attention to their helplessness in meeting our contemporary needs. Those works are above all personal monuments to their authors. Therefore, it seems, they ought to be more or less alien to each of us. As hermetic compositions, filled up to the brim, they become peremptory, and thus evoke imperviousness on various levels ... Those monuments are the corollary of composing by way of closed form, in which the formal and often also the contextual components are fixed. They are passive towards changes in time. The moment they are born they become antiques ... Closed form. The decision taken in my name. I am standing next to the process. There is no way to find your identity here - your own self. All these are somebody else's souvenirs, feelings, somebody else's houses and housing settlements.
How to find the way out of this situation? It seems that, today - utilizing the large output of the closed form, with the support of new ways of visual education, and with the new organisation of resources - right now we are able to begin the creation of a new organic art of our time, the art that is compositionally based on the open form. It will awake the desire of existence for every one of us, it will help us to define ourselves and find ourselves in the space and time in which we live. (This new art) will become the space which suits our complex and yet not unexplored psyche, and it will become so because we will constitute the organic elements of this art. We will walk through it, and not around it. Diverse individuality, in all its randomness and bustling, will become the wealth of this space, its participant.
Being a composition of spatial sub-text - it will become a multi-layered phenomenon, constantly alive. In relation to the conventions of the closed form, entailing mainly the craftsmanship of the manufactured object, the conventions of the open composition will imply the activity defined (as) "passe-partout" to the changes taking place in space. It will be the art of events. Time acts more forcefully than it used to, when we could still trust the wholly unchangeable, the once-for-all fixed relation between the elements (of form). The open form is not exclusively a speculative discovery of our times. It is above all the post-observational conclusion of the existing configurations.

From O.Hansen, "Forma Otwarta", Przeglad Kulturalny, vol 5, no.5, 1959,
p.5. Translated by Katarzyna Murawska-Muthesius.


The Open Form forum at Bergen School of Architecture is down, and it seems that it is going to take a while to get it back running. In the meantime, I will repost some of the material and the links to related websites here.