The Grid as Presence and Metaphor

GRID 2020 Abstracts

The Grid as Presence and Metaphor

Arch. Amos Bar-Eli
Faculty of Design, HIT

Session II: The Grid – Artistic Impressions
Tuesday, May 12, 2020 | 13:30-15:00

The grid is defined as a “basic system of reference lines […] of coordinates […] consisting of straight lines intersecting at right angles […] uniformly spaced, for locating points […or] principal elements [...]” (Dictionary.com, Online source, accessed 9.11.19)

Either underlaid, assisting in defining the order in a creation, or overlaid an existing object regulating and controlling it, the grid imposes a simple coherent organizing logic. It remains “behind the scene”, an abstract organizing system.

Although only a tool with abstract attributes, the grid has characteristics that can be understood as aesthetic, that can be used in a tactile, visible, and conceptual manner. Its rectangular form, right angles, thinness, repetitiveness, endless continuity, and transparency, all can be used not only as a defining tool but also as designed artifacts. In other words, the grid contains aesthetic values that can become present in reality as objects. As an object the grid is positioned between reality and the subject. It becomes an object yet, retains its properties as a pure organizing system. The grid exposes some unique relational properties between the viewer and reality, that otherwise will remain hidden or unnoticed. Displaced from its natural position as ordinating reality, the grid escalates to exposing ambiguities, instabilities, and non-complete conditions. Its pure abstract nature, its estrangement and objectiveness, can be manifested as qualities of beauty in objects. In its tactile form, the grid exposes the paradoxical necessity for disorder, and a possibility to be a skeletal phenomenon. At its best, the grid becomes an experimental and critical tool contrary to prevailing attitudes or preferences for total efficiency, order, and control.

Exploring historical and contemporary examples ranging from a variety of disciplines such as art, architecture, film, and literature, the grid is exposed in its physical manifestation and as a varied, multi-layered metaphor. The analysis of the examples undermines the grid’s main features of authority and order. It strives to place a mirror in front of basic human conditions and inclinations, and to enhance the opposite from the grid’s intended role, i.e., as a system of control. The concrete presence of the grid exposes reality as unstable, unpredictable, and constantly fluctuating between conflicting tendencies and conditions. As such the grid has a mole-like function engaged in trench warfare against the system which it is meant to define and stabilize. The analysis of the examples is used to raise questions regarding the importance of the grid and its relevance ‒ as the tools for defining the grid and its uses become more complex.