Maps and architecture and cities and me and an artist named Alice

I'm never sure how I get onto things, but at some point I found myself on this blog, which led me to one Alice Aycock's website. I thought some of her stuff looked really neat, and not just because she is using a grey background on her page and an awesome orangey-yellow colour for her main title. I'm also excited because her work ties in, however tangentially, with some of my interests in art, urban form, architecture, etc. that I've been reading and thinking about of late. (All the pictures I show below are from her website, where you can find more of her work and lots more information.)

Her stuff is farther down but first...

I recently finished this:
That is a drawing of a city. It's pencil on paper and as you can see my efforts at going over the lines were more aggressive in some parts than in others. I think I might do a series of these, maybe start inking them.

In my map I've largely blocked in spaces in terms of grass, concrete or water. There is also just a bit of detail (roof lines and some differentiation for docks) in some of the 'built' blocks. I've added some colour below so you can see what I'm talking about
For the most part, the areas without colour are human structures of one form or another.

This blocking is similar to how a Toronto mapmaker dealt with the problem of describing a city in 2-D from above. Leaving most blocks as blocks and restricting built detail to the ghosting of large institutional footprints. No little lines for house roofs in this one.
But then I came across this image on Aycock's site. What would I do for a building with a hat on?
Low Building With Dirt Roof (For Mary), 1973
I never considered how green roofs or any rooftop park would play in a map until I saw this picture. The traditional top-down view for maps works because things are simplified, often with the notion of single land use. But when there's a significant built park in a city, even if it's high in the air, it needs to be acknowledged. People following a 2-D map and finding a building where they expected green space would be surprised, so there needs to be differentiation of some type, whether it is colour, shape, labeling or something else.

And if I decided to take on a utopian mapping project (I quake even at the thought) I would need to consider the mixed land use that might be taking place on a very fine scale. Methinks I need to start drawing on bigger sheets of paper. More to follow on this theme, no doubt.
"The City of Walls", Isometric, 1978
The Garden of Scripts (Villandry), 1986
Maze, 1972
Walled Trench/Earth Platform/Center Pit, 1975
A Simple Network of Underground Wells and Tunnels, 1975
Project for a Circular Building with Narrow Ledges for Walking, 1976
I like these pieces because they are able to experiment with ideas of structure and architecture, without being concerned with eventual tenants. It's like she gets to play more freely with the signs and signifiers (pardon my weakness in semiotics) of architecture because she's building in farmers' fields. I'm sure she still takes human form into account, but unlike a 'proper' architect she has fewer restrictions. An architect must consider daily human use and if they don't think about how people will live in their built spaces, said spaces stand a good chance of failing.

Looking through the site, I'm definitely a bigger fan of her earlier work. She seems to focus more on architecture and structure than in her later stuff. Starting in the 80s her work begins to take on a more sculptural and decorative air. By decorative I mean there is less concern with function (as vague as it might be) and more with aesthetics. Her sculptures are still fantastic and full of use, it's just that the architecture that remains as a theme in some pieces is often more abstract and less obvious.

I'm always wary of venturing opinions on realms foreign to me (at least in writing, when speaking I venture insupportable opinions on things I know nothing about all the time). I worry I lack the vocabulary to express my notions accurately. Oh well. No offence intended anyone!
Functional and Fantasy Stair and Cyclone Fragment, 1996
And I'm not saying her sculpture is bad. Just that I like the themes she's exploring in her earlier work more.

If someone knows what I'm talking about, feel free to tell me.

Also, everyone should look at the artist's site. There are so many cool things there, even a machine that makes the world! In the meantime, play on this...
The Game of Flyers, 1980
Note at the bottom (that is here): I did an experiment and didn't promote the previous post. The results of the experiment tells me no one has looked at it. If you're interested, it's there and it's about food!

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