Less is more?

One of the most cited phrase in the Architectural world is Mies van der Rohe's "Less is more". Inconspicuously simple, inherently oxymoronic, the simple phrase seems to hold the key to a deep truth that whoever uses it to for a punch-line, a reply to an annoying question, or part of a larger argument. As we write it, less is more, or less=more, it is contradiction, an oxymoron, a perplexing verbal structure, and that is part of charm.

It could be an stripped version of "Less of something is more of something else", which instantly pulls it out of its charming mystery, yet opens up a debate over what is "something" and what is "something else". If we put the phrase in its historical context, we might be compelled to say "Less specificity is more ambiguity", and since architectural perception, and sensation, is based on the subjective, on the verge of being a phenomenological conquest, ambiguity is directly proportional with the number of readings of an architectural space, thus more ambiguity is undoubtedly good. By breaking from the baggage of historical architectural symbolism, which was used to paint somewhat specific, if vague, tableaus, Mies and by extension Modernism opted to create architecture that was deprived of the richness of symbols, yet managed at some points to create canvases on which the perceiver could infuse meaning with his imagination. Thus the less specific an architectural object is the more it becomes similar to a canvas, thus the more ambiguous.

Realism is a luxury

A luxury that you can't buy with money, it's rare among the rich, or the poor; in fact it's rare among people. It needs an extremely open mind, and costs one's fluffy conception of life and humanity, of oneself and those beloved. Nature is ugly. Human nature is ugly. But we can't see that ugliness behind a smile, behind the image in the mirror, behind beauty, comfort, wellbeing, love; underneath them all lie brutal imperfection and foul desires, dressed up and polished for appearance in front of delusional minds. It is unsafe and perhaps unhealthy to look at the world for what it is, maybe that is why we create this distorted filter that leaves out truths, or maybe we are created with it. Once this filter is gone one is left with nothing, understands nothing, cherishes nothing, however, it gives him the position to see the bright side of nothingness. The truth to real happiness, for example, is nothing. Sadness, by consequence, is irrelevant.

But our delusions are strong, our minds are weak, the influences are strong and truth is frankly undesirable. That is why I call realism a luxury, because true realism is an impossibility.