online: 29 august 2004
modified: 28, 29 august 2004

28 august 2004 natural and artificial

20:37 The dome of St Paul's Cathedral, to the south, is visible between trees from the meadow overlooking the fairground, presently emitting vastly amplified drum beats and shouting voices...

Above is a cool blue-grey bank of cloud, with pink mistiness below and to the north is a dark blue-grey cloud below which is rain - but for the moment it is dry and calm in this meadow.

Beyond the white and cream caravans of the funfair people is an inflated dome of yellow and another of red and blue plastic.

Natural and artificial colours in complete contrast. Sounds also. Is this difference between artifice and nature permanent or will future people learn to live again in accord with what is? I think they will, but not yet, not for generations.

20:05 after writing that I turn, while there is light, to thoughts of a consultancy or company for experimental designing, and to the continued beauty of the sky...

A misty pink moon rises above the trees, masked by blue cloud (as my rosy plans for a company rise... also still clouded...)

the yellow plastic dome is now lit up from within, and beyond the trees the city towers are lit also... the strength of things artificial is more evident in the night!

when I get to the yellow inflated dome I see that it is called 'moonwalk' and is intended for children to jump about on a soft surface... the blue and red dome is called 'jumpsmile'... no one is jumping and the operators look grim...

I walk through the funfair, the dodgem cars, the crazy house, the new and much faster and more scary rides (powered and moved by hydraulic systems) and feel saddened by the crudity and the lack of imagination in all this...

I'm thinking of the inflatable buildings and other air supported architectures of Graham Stevens in the 1970s - and of my first design play* in which he and his works played the central part... but all that is now forgotten and what survives (of inflatable architecture) is not much more than these pathetic sideshows, and other such residues... oh dear, is there always such a dispiriting gap between the dream and the reality?... I think not, and the example of Venice comes to mind, and the allure of many cities, or of any... do not despair, no no... don't lose faith in things human. Even a funfair can astound... and all this is 'afternature' is it not?

*a play composed automatically by chance processes out of the words of Graham Stevens and others: 'is designing a response to the whole of life?', in
john chris jones, designing designing, architecture, design and technology press, and later Phaidon Press, London 1991, pages 243 to 255.

(these pages are designed to be read with the window set to two-thirds of the screen width)

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