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