Erosion Revelation

Photo by Duo Dickinson.


Surface and Substance
Veneer and Core
Order and the Ad Hoc
Materiality and Abstraction
Sculpture and Craft


On a brief surgical insertion into Venice, I experienced a series of insights caused by unique circumstances of construction, wear, and environment.


Just as our culture prefers us to present a “finished” face in all elements of our personal and social lives, so do buildings. Looking up the skirt of a carefully composed building is often viewed as embarrassing and potentially illicit. However, in Venice, extreme conditions of weathering and antiquity have created layers upon layers of veneers over crafted cores of construction, veneers that have inevitably weathered away to reveal the original mindset of the their hosts’ construction, subsequent repairs and modifications which their perfected architectural forms strive so ardently to obscure and mask.


This is about inevitability.


This is about the futile human effort to be timeless that inevitably leads to the acknowledgement of change.


These images depict not only the pattern of craft, but the subsequent chaos of adaptation responding the natural world’s grinding impact on manmade constructs. As such, they are metaphors for our desire to control – an effort that is doomed to failure. Time is neither controlled nor ultimately accommodated by any of our acts. These images illuminate the fact that humanity continually strives, generation after generation, to dominate the indomitable, order the inorderable, and perfect the inherently chaotic.


These images have much to say about the futility of our desire to control, the nobility in our wish for perfection, and ultimately the folly in our belief that in some way the passage of time can be frozen, that the inevitability of change can be overcome by art or intelligence.



This article was originally published on  See more of Duo’s Venice photos here.


Duo Dickinson, architect, has designed and built over 500 projects in over a dozen states in the last 30 years. Dickinson sits on seven not-for-profit boards, including the New Haven Chapter of Habitat for Humanity, Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, and Madison Cultural Arts.  Twenty to 30 percent of the ongoing work in his office is dedicated to pro bono or at-cost work for not-for-profits, totaling over 50 projects for over 30 organizations over the last 25 years. He is the architecture and urban design contributor to the New Haven Register and the contributing writer in design for New Haven Magazine, and has been contributing editor in home design for Money Magazine and co-host of 14-part CNN/Money website series “Home Work.” He is the author of seven books on home design, including his most recent book, Staying Put, which was published in 2011 by Taunton Press. Mr. Dickinson has taught at Yale College, Roger Williams University and the Harvard Graduate School of Design Summer Program, and has lectured at dozens of universities, AIA associations, and national conventions and gatherings.

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