All art involves some sort of obsession. Architects, similarly, cannot escape from it. The examples ranging from Gaudi’s obsession on nature to ____ obsession on ____. Architects’ curiosity turns into fascination, and through the repetitive experiments and investigations, the fascination turns into an obsession. The obsolescence of rationality with excessive repetition of an act (i.e.: obsession) is where insanity and delirium but also the passion and creativity lies. What was once treated as a disease in the 19th century is in fact a crucial ingredient for creativity as an expression of the architect’s passion.
The word obsedere was first used in warfare to describe the siege of a city, where the city is surrounded but the citadel is not taken. Using the soul as the equivalent of a city, to be obsessed is when the soul is taken, but not totally occupied. Where the Catholic Church defines in which a person is taken over by the demon but remained aware of the devil within. It is a state in which a person is totally taken over by irrationality.
During the 18th century, a fascination of ruins and antiquity begun. Hubert Robert drawn the Louvre in ruin to evoke emotional reaction, Gandy in the Bird’s Eye View of the Bank of England utilised the fragility of architecture to engage the viewers. In the English gardens, like Stourehead and Stowe Garden, the architects designed follies to mimic ancient Roman and Greek buildings, aiming to capture picturesque views. These follies are ruins of context as they are removed from their original context and disconnected to their era of style. The fascination of ruins quickly turned into an obsession, where the reason of fascination is lost, or reduced to pure visual pleasure.
The world of obsession is an isolated world where we are blinded from everything else as a result of total focus on the subject. In Honoré De Balzac’s “The Unknown Masterpiece”, the artist’s obsession on a painting which toke him over 10 years to work on, this overwhelming desire and inability to stop working on the painting ultimately took his life.
Though as architects, we can find so much value in this isolated world and it is with the obsession that the architects can be connected to their works. As Lennard J. Davis said in his “Obsession: A History“, “if we cut the artist off from the cultural paradigm (obsession as a disease), then we create a falsely sterile environment in which, obviously, nothing grows.” If we go between the isolated world of obsession and the sterile world rid of cultural paradigm, would we find the connection with the work without risking to be consumed by it?