Return to tomorrow

17 June, 2017

There was something about yesterday’s ‘antique’ photo (below) which asked for a modern interpretation or at least an investigation (above). Besides having historical interest, the photo (below) has also a strong organizational structure. The photographer shows a skillful sense of design with the positioning of the women in the shadowed foreground on a rising diagonal line meeting a descending diagonal of the well lit roof tops against the sea. Another pleasing aspect is the composition of the physical village itself. In good design (both 2D, 3D, and music) there is a balance between harmony and dissonance. Too much harmony or too much dissonance makes for either a boring composition or a confusing, chaotic one.

In the case of the pre-1965 village there is harmony in the similarities of the buildings. Few of them (or none) stray very far from the traditional village structure. The same wood, stone and plaster construction materials have been used, and the building’s general size and appearance is harmonious. What creates visual interest are the minor variations in size, materials (roofs), and position in relation to each other, the angle of presentation which creates shadows, and the trees (and the women) which break up the monotony of straight lines and angles. The contrast of the dark silhouettes against the sunlight buildings adds to the drama.

The more factual photo (above) has little of that. The modern village has lost much of its visual cohesiveness as structures have been altered with rooftop additions, a new variety of roofs, power lines and doo-dads. Granted that there are also big discrepancies in the new photo (above); wrong time of day (light and shadows), different lens, slightly different point of view, no women embroidering etc.

Just as there was no overall design plan for the original village – you could build only as high as materials would allow and on property that you owned – over time there emerged a visually pleasing unity. The arrival of modern materials (and I suppose government rebuilding grants after the 1965 earthquake) like re-enforced concrete spoiled the village’s visual and structural consistency.


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