Evy Jokhova: The Shape Of Ritual

Evy Jokhova is a graduate of MA Fine Art, Royal College of Art, London. She received the Royal British Society of Sculptors Bursary Award in 2016, and has been awarded residencies at Belvedere, Vienna, Nida Art Colony, Lithuania and Villa Lena, Italy in 2017.

With an  initial reference   to “Architecture Becomes  Music,”  an  article by Charles Jencks discussing  the relationship between architecture, music  and Pythagorean mathematical principles as a theoretical premise  for harmony in mu- sic and architecture, the aim of this project is to transcribe three selected ceremo- nial buildings (representing Classical, Gothic and Modernist architecture) into music and  compare them observing how  the mathematical principles that inform their architecture manifest (or do not manifest) in their musical  renditions. The buildings are: the Florence Baptistery, Italy, the chapel in the House of St Barnabas, London, and the ”Wotruba Church,” Vienna. All three buildings were  designed  for music  to be performed inside and each musical  transcription will  be played back within the buildings themselves accompanied by  a performative or  sculptural intervention. Walter Pater (1877) proposed that “all art constantly aspires towards the condition of music.”  Charles Jencks (2013) suggests that this drive is backed by an understanding that in abstract music  form  and content (sound  and sense) are one integrated thing; something that modernism and modernist art strive towards.

The interest of the research lies in the possibilities of this fusing of form and content, its permutations, disruptions and reconfigurations on the basis of architecture and its influence on  the individual.  The project aims to examine  the relationship between sound,  body  and  form   on  the premise  of  architecture as frozen music; rhythm, proportion, harmony; and the concept of a cosmic  code – the idea  that music  and  architecture are  generated by  the same  underlying code.

It is an investigation into how  architecture is understood, embodied and experien- ced. Academics  in the fields of architecture and music  often refer  to the idea that music and architecture are generated by the same mathematical principles and have a cosmic connection. This idea, translated by Pythagoras into mathematics and geometry, was the basis for the Ancient Greek preoccupation with proportion. Geometrical ratios joined music with ceremonial architecture. Their columns and intercolumniations created steady beats of solid/void that mimicked staccato composition.  Similar to columns  of the Greek temple,  pillars  or tall stained glass windows  of a Gothic church,  provide for  stark contrasts  and  acute understating  of  sound  and  form through dark/light and loud/quiet.

Religious  buildings pose  the ultimate challenge in  handling form  and function for an architect. Whereas two of the selected sites fully  adhere  to classi- cal principles of  architecture: the Florence  Baptistery,  a minor octagonal Basilica built in  the Florentine  Romanesque  style between 1059–1128,  and  the chapel  at the House of St Barnabas, a Gothic  Revival chapel  built between 1862–1864 by Jo- seph Clarke in central London; the third – Church  of the Most  Holy  Trinity – is a Brutalist church composed of 152 irregularly stacked cement slabs on the outskirts of Vienna, Austria. The Church  of the Most Holy  Trinity designed  by the Austrian sculptor Fritz Wotruba is widely known as the “Wotruba Church”. Fritz Wotruba was an artist, not an architect, and the building was designed  on the premise  of a plas- ter model, consequently the building goes against all architectural principles, or at least was conceived without any consideration for them. In a sense, it is an enlarged non-symmetrical  abstract sculpture that allows  the audience  to enter into an art form  that would otherwise be viewed  only  from  the outside and on a smaller scale. Completed in 1976, the “Wotruba Church”  was the result of a nine year collaboration between Fritz Wotruba and architect Fritz Mayr.

The research considers the relationship between presentation, ritual and experience  of both architecture and music. Driven  by the mathematics behind  art, music and architecture, the output of each part of the project is directly informed by the ratios and algorithms used to construct sound compositions and buildings. With reference  to the architectural plans, models  and the buildings themselves, the ar- chitecture of each building is systematized through drawing and re-presented as a linear sequence to be interpreted for musical notation. The visual scores are handed over  to musician James Metcalfe who  transcribes them into music  using  the em- bedded code and a prescribed  timeframe. The timeframe in each case corresponds to the length of time necessary to circle the building once inside and once inside at a consistent slow  walking pace. The “architectural music”  is then re-rendered into performances that translate sound  into movement or sculptures that have the po- tential to alter the acoustic properties of space. The cyclical  motion of translation is an important part of this research: how  one form  of language  can become another, and  then yet another; how  sculpture can become architecture,  then music,  then dance or functional sculpture.

This research based project sits between curatorial and artistic practice, utilizing archival  materials, art history and collaborative practice as research  tools. The transcription of the buildings into music, sculpture and choreographed perfor- mance is a continuation of research into this collaborative process and the theoretic premise  of trans-disciplinary practice. Evy Jokhova