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Something Old, Something New

‘The Oyster Gatherers of Cancale’, by John Singer Sargent and a conceptual art image created by Jaime Jones for the film Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.I recently met Jaime Jones, a digital artist working in the film and video game industry

‘The Oyster Gatherers of Cancale’, by John Singer Sargent and a conceptual art image created by Jaime Jones for the film Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.I recently met Jaime Jones, a digital artist working in the film and video game industry

The way he works has changed over the last few years. He’s found new tools and reinvented work processes to adapt to major changes in his profession – a profession where private customers are now so few and far between as to be considered merely anecdotal.

He’s replaced paintbrushes and canvases with a digital tablet and in his studio, instead of heaped up pictures and tubes of paint, there are now hard disks with labels showing the date of each one. But what old things can still be found in this new milieu? I was surprised to find that, despite so many changes, traditional elements are still important: palette, line, contours, composition and, in short, the atmosphere generated, the particular visual idea of reality the artist wants to transmit … and which, in this case, will be recreated in a film.

I can’t even remember the first time I heard someone say that architects are at a crucial moment, a turning point for architecture, that everything has to be new and different, and that the way we do things at present is no good.

Architecture evolves side by side with society and its needs. Sustainability, currently considered an all-changing paradigm, is simply a set of logical decisions, considerations which, for me, are intrinsic to good architectural practice.

I don’t think being sustainable necessarily means adopting a specific aesthetic approach, or that it should be the leitmotif of all architecture projects. That would lead to a dangerous degree of simplification. Today (as always, really), a good architectural project shouldn’t be a ridiculous waste of resources, an uninhabitable object with a high impact not only on the environment but also on its surroundings and on society itself. That would also make it unsustainable.

Certainly, many good designs are possible taking sustainability considerations as key prerequisites, and such designs are very welcome. But regardless of the urgency attached to sustainability in the media, and however fashionable it may be, we cannot let just one part of the whole become everything. Users have changed, of that there’s no doubt, but their basic needs haven’t altered all that much. Our work tools have changed, but not their purpose, their ultimate goal.

Architecture is at the service of society and its changes, and it has to accommodate new needs programmes, new social, economic and cultural circumstances, new environmental parameters and new, more evolved tools. But it must never lose sight of its links with locations, memory and experience, because it is the nexus of union between people and cities, scenery and landscapes.

Are we really experiencing a key turning point? Have we always been in a time of change? In my opinion, the scope of our profession is continually widening due to its close relationship with an ever-evolving society, and we are prepared for that.

The pictures Jaime does now have to meet the needs of a new industry. They have to be created digitally, in an age very different from that of John Singer Sargent (one of Jaime’s biggest sources of inspiration),  but ultimately their objective is the same: to recreate a specific atmosphere in the eye of the spectator.

Constant change is our natural habitat.


Text translated by Andrew V. Taylor
Autor:
Arquitecto por la Universidad de Granada desde 2009 y Máster en Proyectos Arquitectónicos Avanzados por Universidad Politécnica de Madrid desde 2012. Estableció el estudio de arquitectura Serrano + Baquero junto a Paloma Baquero en 2010, desarrollando proyectos de diversas escalas.

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