The sentence in Twyla Tharp's Book jumped off the page.
“I want people to remember I was here.”
I won’t presume that everyone is motivated by this, but I seem to be. I think all of us who choose to make babies and raise a family certainly have a captive enclave of future generations that will remember, although the remembrance can become more tenuous as the decades and generations roll forward. I think every family needs its story tellers. Some choose to talk the stories, others write, while-more and more these days-many do it with images. Photographs and videos now play a huge role in the story telling, the remembering.
There are those other deposits that some leave behind. Engineers leave their designs in buildings and process plants; architects in their clever interiors and exteriors of the edifices they design; software programmers in their computer code; musicians in their words and music; artists in their paintings, sculptures, and photographs; and writers in their paragraphs of prose or lines of poetry. The new archivists are finding this media, the internet-distributed, electronically recorded information and images, the modern way to preserve something that will show they were here.
The Brunels of this world built structures and technology that will stand for a very long time and, even when their creations finally rust or crumble away, will be remembered as introducing a new way of thinking in the field of engineering and design. That is what will last, isn’t it? Not the edifice, but the intelligence, passion, and dedication that resulted in the creation of something significant. Could you not consider this creativity Brunel’s ‘art’?
The way we in the western world rip down and replace our buildings, factories, and process plants makes me think that if I really want to be remembered, I need to turn to the softer stuff of life. I am trying words and images right now. I have no idea what will happen with them, but I am, as I was during my engineering days, driven to create, and these artefacts seem to satisfy me…..for the moment.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel: A British engineer of great prominence in the 1800s. The Clifton Suspension Bridge is one of his better known designs. He also designed and created the Great Western Railway in England.