On my first flick I glimpsed its escape. Resourceful, it’s like new music. Like hearing a cassette for the first time (if you’re old enough to recall those days before instant sensory gluttony). It’s maybe what Nirvana was to the rock-ballad era: slaughtering it, though it took Cobain’s death for me to appreciate the band’s historical meaning.
It’s a beast—1500 plus pages; a leather-bound cover (how’s that?). And paper color-tinged. It literally sniffs of clubroom cigar, oak, and cologne (something to do with its chemicals).
But what is it?
Overtly it’s a massive (thick—not coffee-table sized) quasi narrative-graphical appreciation of contemporary architecture—largely Australian at that, by one of the globe’s lauded firms ARM (for Ashton Raggatt McDougall). Oh but it is more than that as a tome. It’s a telephone directory of poetry come story come criticism come as you are.
The little I’ve already greedily siphoned, reflects it’s part manifesto, part art, part inspiration. And part hubris. Part Beat-egoism: almost a Kerouacian binge-ridden rant applying a thoroughly engrossing single-sentence paragraph structure.
Its prologue (by Raggatt I presume) asks: how should one read this book? Softly, silently—or with lungs filled in a shout? He prescribes the latter. And I appreciate that, because it offers a thought-to-paper style that’s natural to me. Its contributors let it all hang out. It promises a Barnum & Bailey show. A difference.
Easily for me, there’s a month’s worth of morsel-sized inspiration in anticipated scraps so dense, like a brave mouse whose eyes dart anxiously for a puss to spoil the party, whose buck teeth gnaw at kernels so good, light speed, prepped to flee.
“Mongrel Rapture”: what a chance discovery.
All art is interrelated. Music and pathos, painting and story, architecture and syntax: and man, if you want to see what commentary on physical design offers—this book could be the go to for the future. Freakish is its apt first impression. A font.
Ruggatt, M. and Ward, M. (eds.) (2015) Mongrel Rapture: The Architecture of Ashton Ruggatt McDougall. Melbourne, Uro Publications.