Friday, August 15, 2008

on surfaces and the superficial

Whilst it was Lin Miaoke whose face adorned the screens televising the Olympic Games opening ceremony in Beijing, it was the voice of Yang Peiyi that emerged from the loudspeakers. One girl was not pretty enough to please the Chinese organisers, the other couldn't sing well enough.
Of course television is more about vision than sound. Newspapers can present visual information too, but sound is foreign to the medium. In an age when radio has taken a back-seat, so much of what we build and value is purely superficial. In the text Ecological Design, the authors lament that since photography and architectural magazines have become the dominant means for architects to display their wares, we have become too concerned with a building's appearance. Insufficient attention is paid to what a building is and what it does, especially where its roles in ecosystems are concerned.
Many (all?) nations bury their dirty laundry, some more so than others. Here we see China presenting the face the world deserves... a pretty face no doubt. The face the world wants to see. But not the face of the song. Would we place a pretty model on the podium in place of the less attractive athlete who actually won? Not yet.

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