Thursday, July 17, 2008

when tents make music...

1923 japanese band in front of tent postcard

"the thing to keep in mind about tents is the way they sound. a decibel meter's delight, they flap, sigh, creak, groan, rustle, and when used as enclosures for revival meetings, conferences, circuses, and the like, they give the assembled public the choice of listening to speakers, or the snarls of caged beasts, or the near-subliminal symphonies created by the responses of the fabric and ropes to the shifting pressures of air movement.

it is also a fine thing to see what tents do with outside light: they diffuse the sharp rays of the sun and seem to shrink with the passage of clouds. overhead shadows of things nearby, ropes, cables, bits of hardware, are razor sharp and these too move occasionally in the wind.

a permanent feast for the senses, tents are also - and have been for millenia - structures of unsurpassed elegance and economy, first cousins to the sail, as fluid as a full clothesline in a breeze, kinetic sculpture in its most nearly dematerialized form..."

george nelson, architect/designer, 1978, in george nelson on design. (image: 1923 postcard of japanese band in front of tent...)

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