Tuesday, May 6, 2014

3: Comparative Adornment: Subjective thoughts on a Religious Experience

3: Comparative Adornment: Subjective thoughts on a religious experience

To this I pose a question, to which the answer would be entirely subjective. What sort of space best supports a religious experience. Religious experience encompassing the spiritual and the metaphysical and the mystical and the personal. Different peoples and orders, have, over time, posed their own philosophies dictating very different ways of worshiping God.

Romanesque churches and the stave churches of Scandinavia tended not to emphasize light, not to emphasize art, and not to produce unnecessarily grand or opulent spaces. Not even elegantly unadorned, simply bare. The space was for the express purpose of facilitating the practicing of the sacraments and for the worship of God, anything else detracted from that purpose and as such was not welcome. This mentality is a liturgical one, and an old one, and it reflects a very secure and tepid relationship with The Trinity.

The Baroque creates a very different feeling. Having passed through the renaissance, art was much more at home in the newer spaces. Architectural decoration became not only present but expected and the duality of mentalities expressed were that they were for both the Glory of God and for the salvation and prestige of the patron. To both ends they were opulent. Here we begin to see incredible representational art, some of which are instructional and as such utterly welcome, and some of which can be disingenuous and can create the feeling of opulence for opulence's own sake.

These spaces were for far more than the worship of God. They became pilgrimage sites, baptisteries, schools, landmarks. In this plethora of uses a community seems much more at home, and they seem to be much more encouraging spaces overall. The relationship with the Lord is a bit more positive and healthy with respect to human nature and interactions but still carries the same undertone that pervaded in the Romanesque, but for a different reason: nervousness, produced by ornament for ornament's sake.

But if nervousness was an understandably pervasive feeling in both the prison block Romanesque and in the buzzing with activity baroque, the rococo smacks you in the face with it. I, personally, could not grasp a full appreciation of spiritual matters in a vermiculous space. It smacks you in the face in the same way a medieval gothic church stomps on you with its size. It *humms* and, quite frankly, implies that you ought to leave.

All subjective, all the time.

No comments:

Post a Comment