Attunement | Session by Alberto Pérez-Gómez

With the third in our new Session series, Attunement, Alberto Pérez-Gómez took particpants on an in-depth journey through his writings on attunement, love, and performance in relation to the ethics of architecture.


Alberto drew attention to our continuity with our contexts, sensed through listening, tactility, and scent, as well as the concepts of ‘precognition’, which is not quite subconscious but a deep (conscious) awareness, and gemüt, a German word meaning a place that you did not know was already in you: somewhere between the soul, heart, mind, and gut.  In a state of attunement, we can find ways in which “there is already meaning … the issue, then, is of appropriateness” (from Merleau-Ponty). As such, the connections are already there, and the issue is of developing our awareness practiced through love. 


Participants were introduced to the history of Greek theatre, whose open-air arced structures echoed the order of each person’s place in the civic world and the cosmos, and where water-vessels beneath the seats mirrored and amplified reverberations through the bodies of the ‘audience’. We learned that the Architecton was, at first, the character in Greek theater whose role was to bring cultural and social order, making sense of the unfolding drama. 


We were reminded that the human capacity for making sense and meaning is based both in logic and emotion. It is our ability to love, to empathize, to imagine and dream of the Other. Thus our responsibility to beauty is ethical and political, because it is our work of creating connection, sustaining culture, and healing.


In addition, Alberto prompted us to think about these ideas in relation to Arts Letters & Numbers’ summer workshops. How can we rethink the possibilities of architecture as focal events: temporal cultural institutions which may be moments of erotic encounter, catharsis, transformation, and social reorientation?


In addition to various formal and informal seminars, discussions and excursions, Alberto delivered three public lectures: 


March 6th: Attunement: The Possibility of Meaning in the Contemporary Lived Environment; 

March 7th: Built upon Love: Architectural Longing after Ethics and Aesthetics

March 8th: Architecture as a Performing Art


The lectures were held at the Sand Lake Center for the Arts and we are very grateful for their collaboration.  We are also thankful to Johannes Goebel, director of EMPAC, who gave the session group a unique tour through the building, providing a tactile and direct spatial reference to the subject matter of the session.