“Seeing Is Forgetting The Name Of The Thing One Sees” by Robert Irwin

Robert Irwin was born in 1928 in Long Beach, California to Robert Irwin and Goldie Anderberg Irwin. After serving in the United States Army from 1946 to 1947, he attended several art institutes: Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles from 1948 to 1950, Jepson Art Institute in 1951, and Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles from 1952 to 1954. He spent the next two years living in Europe and North Africa. Between the years 1957-1958, he taught at the Chouinard Art Institute.

In 1977, Robert Irwin wrote the following about himself: “I began as a painter in the middle of nowhere with few questions… My first real question concerned the arbitrariness of my paintings… I used my paintings as a step-by-step process, each new series of works acting in direct response to those questions raised by the previous series. I first questioned the mark as meaning and then even as focus; I then questioned the frame as containment, the edge as the beginning and end of what I see… consider the possibility that nothing ever really transcends its immediate environment… I tried to respond directly to the quality of each situation I was in, not to change it wholesale into a new or ideal environment, but to attend directly to the nature of how it already was. How is it that a space could ever come to be considered empty when it is filled with real and tactile events?” (Robert Irwin, 1977) Robert Irwin’s notion of art derived from a series of experiential perceptions. As an abstract, open-minded thinker, he presented experience first as perception or sense. He concluded that a sense of knowing, or ability to identify, helped to clarify perception. For example,

“We know the sky’s blueness even before we know it as “blue”, let alone as “sky.”

He explained later that the conception of an abstract thought occurs in the mind, through the concept of self. Following, the physical form is then recognized, communicating the form to the community. Then, the Objective compound occurs, delineating behavioral norms and artistic norms, becoming identifiable. Then the boundaries and axioms introduce logic and reasoning and decisions can be made: either inductive or deductive. Formalism follows, proving and convincing a decision about the object being perceived. The study done by Irwin suggested that: “…all ideas and values have their roots in experience,… they can be held separate at any point and developed directly on the grounds of function and use, both that they in fact remain relative to the condition of both our subjective and objective being.” Robert Irwin’s philosophy defined his idea of art as a series of aesthetic inquiries, an opportunity for cultural innovation, a communicative interaction with society, and as compounded historical development.

In his book Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One SeesLawrence Weschler documents Irwin’s process from his early days as a youngster in Southern California to his emergence as a leader in the post-abstraction art world. Weschler describes the mystifying and often enchanting quality of these works in his book’s cover notes:

In May 1980, Robert Irwin returned to Market Street in Venice, California to the block where he had kept a studio until 1970, the year he abandoned studio work altogether. Melinda Wyatt was opening a gallery in the building next door to his former work space and invited Irwin to create an installation.
He cleaned out the large rectangular room, adjusted the skylights, painted the walls an even white, and then knocked out the wall facing the street, replacing it with a sheer, semi-transparent white scrim. The room seemed to change its aspect with the passing day: people came and sat on the opposite curb, watching, sometimes for hours at time.
The piece was up for two weeks in one of the more derelict beachfront neighborhoods of Los Angeles: no one so much as laid a hand on it.

Because of the ephemeral or subtle nature of his work, this book became not just an introduction but, for many artists and art students, the primary way that Robert Irwin’s work was experienced. He told Jori Finkel of the New York Times in 2007 that people still come up to him at lectures for book autographs. In that article, Michael Govan, the director of LACMA who previously commissioned Irwin to “design our experience” of Dia:Beacon” said he believes the book “has convinced more young people to become artists than the Velvet Underground has created rockers.”

Buy the book on Amazon.


Ideas about SOCIAL MEDIA (for Architects and Other Professionals) by @FrankCunhaIII

Unfortunately, Architecture is not the Football star of the social media world.

Here are a few suggestions if you want to obtain more followers and reach a wider audience using social media:

1) There are no key words that I know of to find potential/future clients, developers, and builders so I consider everyone I meet a potential contact – present or future – so I follow most people back.  So don’t just follow the professional organizations, other Architects, and allied professionals, instead broaden your fan/follower base.

2) Become the Go-To Guy / Gal for Architecture (or your profession) within your own social network (be it LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, etc).  I get all sorts of emails related to the profession which leads me to believe that the people I associate with and see me tweet about Architecture associate me as an “expert” in the field.

3) Expand. Don’t just tweet / post about Architecture.  My father tweets about Sports and gets 10 times more hits on his blog than I get.  This means that some professions like Architecture have less appeal, so tweet / post about other things you enjoy, be it art, music, culture, etc.

4) Change your tone – I like to post about hanging out with my children or visiting my family when I am on Facebook and Twitter.  LinkedIn I try to keep more professional.  I think it is fun and benefitical to show your personal side, but just be aware of what you are posting where.  Try to keep your posts on LinkedIn more professional (i.e., related to the industry or allied industries, like Real Estate, Energy Conservation, Codes, etc for Architects) and be more personable on Facebook and Twitter.

5) Don’t forget to recommend and connect people within your network.  I was very excited when I recently saw that a fellow Architect member of the Architects LEague connected a photographer to another Architect member in our group.  Everybody wins when you are able to connect two or more folks.  Make Social Media work for you by making these connections possible.

6) Don’t be scared to send a shout-out to your Followers on Twitter.  People want to be mentioned.  Whether you include others in a tweet about a story you saw or whether you include someone on a quotation you found people will want to interact with you more and be more engaging if you engage them.  So far the only people who have complained about me tweeting too much or not wanting to be mentioned (ironically) have been other Architects.  Everyone else I have encountered online has ben grateful when they are mentioned and 9 times out of 10 they will retweet my post so my message is reached even further to their followers.

7) Who do you want to emulate? Make sure you check out and follow other professionals who you see as your competition or colleagues so that you can learn from their success.  Retweet / repost what they send out and be sure to enage in a dialog with them even if it is just clicking the like button or posting a short message.  Trust me, as someone who knows, I absolutely appreciate and value those who interact with me.

Hope these help you make the most of your experience online and I hope you share your ideas with me as well.


The Wonderful World of Architecture

This “Career Day” slide show was presented to various 4th and 5th grade classes by Mr. Cunha.  The presentation gave a brief overview of the new seven wonders of the world.  He also touches on how Architecture is all around us (like when we go on vacation or when we go to the movies).  Architecture plays an important role in everyday life.  Finally, he informs the students about what it takes to be an Architect.  The brief presentation is made fun by inserting farm animals and sound effects to keep the students engaged.  Check out Frank’s website by clicking here and subscribe to Frank’s YouTube by clicking here.


Architecture in the Classroom

This presentation was made to K-12 teachers looking to instruct their students about how the world of Architecture and Engineering is all around them. Mr. Cunha offered the teachers practical knowledge about how they could turn their classroom, school, and community into an environment for students to learn about practical applications of mathematics and science (i.e., post and beams, how the body’s lungs acts like the HVAC of a building, the science or “magic” of turning on a light switch, etc).  Check out Frank’s website by clicking here and subscribe to Frank’s YouTube by clicking here.