Blog 26 August 4th 2018
When did “home” become embedded in human consciousness? Is our sense of home instinctive? Are we denning animals or nest builders, or are we, at root, nomadic? For much of the earliest history of our species, home may have been nothing more than a small fire and the light it cast on a few familiar faces, surrounded perhaps by the ancient city-mounds of termites. But whatever else home is—and however it entered our consciousness—it’s a way of organizing space in our minds. Home is home, and everything else is not-home. That’s the way the world is constructed.
I have been looking at the hierarchical pyramid of human needs as proposed by Maslow in 1943. His work was based on the motivation of workers in a business environment, his pyramid has as its foundation the most basic needs – air, water, food, and shelter. Manfred Max Neef a Chilean economist has written a more recent analysis and from a different perspective. He looks at human needs from a social developmental perspective, and although his is a more flexible and interactive position, shelter again comes in at a very fundamental level (again along with air, water and food) before the other needs and wants (desires) can operate successfully. But is a house/shelter a home? What is it that makes the difference?
There are many political games being played in New Zealand based on the very emotional situation of providing/affording housing for everyone. In one way my work could be seen as responding to this. On another level perhaps I’m responding to the plethora or renovation/building/tiny home/grand design programmes on TV. Maybe I’m thinking about the fragile space of security that we associate with home – perhaps it is all of the above and a lot of other things as well.
The research I have been doing has now turned to focus on the object and the negative space its excision creates. Presence/absence, have and have not.
Grand Designs isn’t really a show about architecture or design. It’s a show where people’s psychologies are acted out through scaffolding and foundations, through the jeopardy of the ad break all the way to the final resolution: a family reunited once again over a cast concrete island unit. Grand Designs taps into a particularly Anglo Saxon idea of home. Though we no longer imagine our homes to be castles but eco-scando-moderne, rustic-high-tech, urbane-barn or whatever, they are still private, individual entities, forms of individual expression.
 Verlyn Kinkenborg, The Definition of Home, Smithsonian Magazine, May 2012