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Wood Slats

There's a trend in Russian aesthetics toward obsessive detail, a fear of undecorated surfaces that art theorists call horror vacui. Especially in the archetypal homes of the 19th century, the facades were framed by layer upon layer of carved wood, the effect so intricate that it was called "lace." The cottage walls themselves could not resist this impulse for the ornate. Wooden slats, impractically thin, trace over every surface, creating vectors of motion as they buckle into angular waves. There's a similar pattern in the West called herringbone, likening the stacks of V's to the ribs in a fish skeleton. The Russians prefer a name more natural and pagan, v yolochku [в ёлочку], or "Christmas tree." The slats themselves are called tyosy [тёсы]. They look like leftovers from a yardstick factory. 

Tyosy cover houses, mostly, but you can see them on wooden gates, too, and the occasional shed.  On facades, there's an inexplicable consistency to their application, with the Christmas tree slats almost always topped off by a cornice of vertical ones. Especially on wooden gates, you see right-angled herringbone stacks diverging from a central point, so that the V's are joined into squares and you get a series of concentric rhombi. These look like God's eyes made of yarn.  It can't be a coincidence that these traditional patterns follow a rule of manic embellishment, while the modern aesthetic prefers the voids of minimalism. The endless lines of the Russian cottage, like nervous doodles, have an energy that draws me in. The alternative, of blank walls troweled smooth, leaves me cold. 

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