• Lines of Least Resistance: Architecture, Aeronautics, and Other Airs of Modernity
    Enrique Ramirez

Vincent Brooks, Day & Son, “Path of the Balloon in its Ascent from Wolverhampton to Solihull,” from James Glaisher, Camille Flammarion, and Wilfrid de Fonvielle, Travels in the Air (London: R. Bentley, 1871), 48

This project examines architecture, aeronautics, and the visual arts in eighteenth and nineteenth century France through the media of line-making and line-drawing. It considers the ways architects, aeronauts, scientists, and artists used different kinds of lines to understand the air that flowed through buildings, cities, and landscapes. Drawn on military maps, photographed in laboratories, crafted in wind tunnel experiments, imagined for architectural drawings, and otherwise etched or engraved, these tangled, interconnected lines were the product of a remarkable culture of collaboration and coordination. As this research and upcoming book project will show, this culture involved more than architects deploying scientific ideas to solve architectural problems, or scientists looking to architectural solutions to scientific questions. At issue is the very nature of air, no longer a static, inert substance, but rather a dynamic material charged with aesthetic and cultural importance.

Enrique Ramirez is a writer and a historian of art and architecture. His work considers histories of buildings, cities, and landscapes alongside larger cultures of textual and literary production in Europe and the Americas from the Renaissance onwards. He received his bachelor’s in the history of science from Northwestern University and his JD from the George Washington University Law School. After studying urban planning at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), he received a master of environmental design from Yale School of Architecture and a doctorate in the history and theory of architecture from Princeton University. His work has been recognized and supported by various organizations, including the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, and the Institute for Historical Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He is currently a faculty member at Yale School of Art, where he teaches seminars on print history at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.