April 14, 2012


I’m finding the first chapter of Spuybroek’s The Sympathy Of Things absolutely fascinating. It explores “The Digital Nature of the Gothic,” connecting the artistic impulse behind fan vaults and foliated stonework to the craft of new media. Ruskin’s characteristics of the Gothic – savageness, changefulness, naturalism, grotesqueness, rigidity, and redundance — apply with great force to the nature of the digital.

It’s tons of fun, believe it or not. It’s not easy to follow Spuybroek’s argument, which twists through spandrels and ogees and technical issues of vaulting long before we get to technical issues of the digital. I think I see how the gothic nature illuminates Storyspace-style hypertext in new and powerful ways. It’s worth a little architectural research to find out.

It will be interesting to see how NeoVictorian artisanal programming looks in the light of Gothic Revival architecture. There’s certainly an interesting point to be made about the use of new tools and finishes to achieve things to which (we think) ancient artists aspired. To accompany this, we might want to set up an iPod playlist with Respighi’s Ancient Airs, Vaughan Williams’ fantasias on Greensleeves and Thomas Tallis, a Mendelssohn oratorio, and Ormandy’s orchestral transcriptions of Bach.