Monday, April 26, 2010
The Grid Book. Why this book is highly criticized
Image from Ian Baldwin´s review
I came across with a hard review of The Grid Book, by Hannah Higgins. The review, written by Ian Baldwin for Metropolismag.com, april 14th 2010, explains that this book wants to show us that the history of building, composing, computing, mapping, lending, painting, printing, trading, and writing—the history of modern existence, in other words—is really a history of the grid. What he considers ambitious.
For whoever works on the field of morphology, it is well known that the grid, sometimes is an abstract concept. You can see the grid in a street map, but in the reality, it´s completely different. Grids were originated for battles lay outs, but human desires for shapes are pretty far from the grid. Beginning with the most primitive constructions.
In her effort to state that everything has been based on grids, “Hannah Higgins, isn’t quite able to map out all the facts she needs, nor always plot a convincing narrative course between the ones she does locate. The result is a breezy survey, accessibly written and sometimes provocative, but lacking the rigor and regularity of the grid itself.” A scholar book should be full of references to defend your thesis or points of view. Then, Ian Balwin points out more problems:
Obvious mistakes as “Louis Kahn’s National Assembly of Bangladesh is a brick building (it is poured concrete) and that the 1807-1811 Commissioners’ Plan for Manhattan laid out Central Park (it wasn’t created until 1853). Likewise, The Grid Book’s omissions can be startling, as when the two paragraphs on Descartes fail to mention the grid coordinate system that bears his name.”
Then “the lack of illustrations that would bolster her arguments. Too many are tangential and trite: stock photos of skyscrapers and power lines, Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase. Easily obtainable materials that would enhance the text, such as Renaissance architectural drawings, Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Map, and plans of Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., are left out.”
“ This is disappointing because we need more books to be what The Grid Book sets out to be: a scholarly, cross-disciplinary design history for the educated reader. There are too many coffee-table image tomes, exercises in academic esoterica, and middlebrow “The true story of how X changed the world” volumes, and not nearly enough smart reads. “
Read the full review