All of these phenomena, along with our language and our thought, can be represented by means of a graphic system thanks to the invention of this most basic element. Even for showing a succession of events in time, such as those in a genealogical tree, the vertex has proven to be the ideal graphic tool.
In architecture, the classic vertex is the right angle. This was not always so, however; primitive cultures tended to prefer the curve, owing in all probability to the greater cohesiveness that the circular shape offered and to the possibility of placing a dome or cone over it. As Vitruvius explained in his treatise on architecture, it was the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans who consolidated a rectangle-based architecture. Ever since, architects have been subjected to the tyranny of the right angle. For the solution to myriad problems – from apportioning urban property lots and roads, to the economic maximization of space and of prefabricated elements, including the materials themselves (starting with bricks), architects have no choice but accept the practicality of the right angle as an indispensable, given element in their work. This has resulted in a loss of subjectivity, limited expressiveness, standardization and, in a word, normalization.
And yet this game, The Right Angle, gives us a glimpse of the disturbing consequences that can result from this element’s ‘normality’ and ‘objectivity’ when a right angle, instead of being a simple figure devoid of meaning, functions as a kind of accident. A subtle turn, a change in order, a moment’s disturbance, toying with its obvious function; any such action is enough to transform it into a new event – one with unforeseeable consequences.