As human beings, we’re familiar with shapes and objects that have a start and an ending.
Structures like the Coliseum wonder at us: so immense, but still limited in terms both of function and dimensions. This is exactly our limit: we’re not able to conceive something placed outside our visual range, let alone for imagining to count up to a million.
Luckily, there are people like Alberto Campo Baeza and Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) that help us to open up our mind. The Spanish architect manages to overcome these barriers through his House of the Infinite in Cádiz, Spain, while the American singer, with his 22 (OVER S∞∞N), seems to face the same feeling in music.
The building by Campo Baeza comes from a very small idea, but with a huge power that echoes forever: a habitable and partially hypogeus podium covered up by a horizontal travertine plane, a structure that reaches the infinity to blend with the far sea water.
On this infinite surface Vernon unrolls a carpet made of a cyclic Oh in C sharp, where just few -and apparently random- elements emerge: a patio, a swimming pool, some circular skylights, entry stairs, all adorned by Mahalia Jackson’s voice sampling – All these years…
Even the material is not left to chance: the lapis tiburtinus recalls the colors of the sand nearby, and at the same time is a celebration of Bolonia, the Roman city close to here built 2000 years ago. Both of them play with a very far sensation in the temporal dimension: Bon Iver features a sound able to lead us to our remote memories, while Campo Baeza pays tribute to Roman culture, rich in foresight and ambition.
The two artists, mixing shapes and sounds, shades and tones, jump between past and present, projecting themselves into the future.
The saxophones of Michael Lewis and the Sad Sax of Shit (Vernon’s collaborators for this track and for 22, A million) seem to enhance the very moment when the eyes open slightly and meet the horizon line, where sea and sky touch and almost blend in.
Only when we face things’ limited essence, we feel the need for something higher and endless. It might be over soon… Vernon repeats, but it’s clear he means the opposite.
It would be nice if the song would play on a loop and Campo Baeza’s house would stretch as far as the eye limit, with the sand, the sky, the sea and its cyclical waves.
These two works cannot be reduced simply to a box of 20x36x12 meters and a track of 3:22 minutes. They tend to infinity.
Thinking, planning, composing, and seeking this infinity is probably not such a mistake. Perhaps loading the finite with infinite meaning is the most sensible thing to do.
all House of the Infinite images ©Javier Callejas Sevilla