Monday, November 23. 2015
Note: this article was published a while ago and was rebloged here and there already. I kept it in my pile of "interesting articles to read later when I'll have time" for a long time as well therefore. But it make sense to post it in conjunction with the previous one about Norman Foster and by extension with the otehr one concerning the Chicago Biennial.
It is also sometimes interesting to read posts with delay, when the hype and buzzwords are gone. Written in the aftermath of the Tesla annoncement about its home battery (Powerwall), the article was all about energy revolution. But since then, what? We're definitely looking forward...
Nobody wants to say it outright, but the Apple Watch sucks. So do most smartwatches. Every time I use my beautiful Moto 360, its lack of functionality makes me despair. But the problem isn’t our gadgets. It’s that the future of consumer tech isn’t going to come from information devices. It’s going to come from infrastructure.
That’s why Elon Musk’s announcements of the new Tesla battery line last night were more revolutionary than Apple Watch and more exciting than Microsoft’s admittedly nifty HoloLens. Information tech isn’t dead — it has just matured to the point where all we’ll get are better iterations of the same thing. Better cameras and apps for our phones. VR that actually works. But these are not revolutionary gadgets. They are just realizations of dreams that began in the 1980s, when the information revolution transformed the consumer electronics market.
But now we’re entering the age of infrastructure gadgets. Thanks to devices like Tesla’s household battery, Powerwall, electrical grid technology that was once hidden behind massive barbed wire fences, owned by municipalities and counties, is now seeping slowly into our homes. And this isn’t just about alternative energy like solar. It’s about how we conceive of what technology is. It’s about what kinds of gadgets we’ll be buying for ourselves in 20 years.
It’s about how the kids of tomorrow won’t freak out over terabytes of storage. They’ll freak out over kilowatt-hours.
Beyond transforming our relationship to energy, though, the infrastructure age is about where we expect computers to live. The so-called internet of things is a big part of this. Our computers aren’t living in isolated boxes on our desktops, and they aren’t going to be inside our phones either. The apps in your phone won’t always suck you into virtual worlds, where you can escape to build treehouses and tunnels in Minecraft. Instead, they will control your home, your transit, and even your body.
Once you accept that the thing our ancestors called the information superhighway will actually be controlling cars on real-life highways, you start to appreciate the sea change we’re witnessing. The internet isn’t that thing in there, inside your little glowing box. It’s in your washing machine, kitchen appliances, pet feeder, your internal organs, your car, your streets, the very walls of your house. You use your wearable to interface with the world out there.
It makes perfect sense to me that a company like Tesla could be at the heart of the new infrastructure age. Musk’s focus has always been relentlessly about remolding the physical world, changing the way we power our transit — and, with SpaceX, where future generations might live beyond Earth. The opposite of cyberspace is, well, physical space. And that’s where Tesla is taking us.
But in the infrastructure age, physical space has been irrevocably transformed by cyberspace. Now we use computers to experience the world in ways we never could before computer networks and data analysis, using distributed sensor devices over fault lines to give people early warnings about earthquakes that are rippling beneath the ground — and using satellites like NASA’s SMAP to predict droughts years before they happen.
Of course, there are the inevitable dangers that come with infusing physical space with all the vulnerabilities of cyberspace. People will hack your house; they’ll inject malicious code into delivery drones; stealing your phone might become the same thing as stealing your car. We’ll still be mining unsustainably to support our glorious batteries and photovoltaics and smart dance clubs.
But we will also benefit enormously from personalizing the energy grid, creating a battery-powered hearth for every home. Plus the infrastructure age leads directly into outer space, to tackle big problems of human survival, and diverts our impoverished attention spans from gazing neurotically at the social scene unfolding in tiny glowing rectangles on our wrists.
The information age brought us together, for better or worse. It allowed us to understand our environment and our bodies in ways we never could before. But the infrastructure age is what will prevent us from killing ourselves as we grow up into a truly global civilization. That is far more important, and exciting, than any gold watch could ever be.
Note: Meanwhile, on the "big architects" end of the spectrum... Where I enjoyed to read the sentence " Foster is delighted that Britain now has an infrastructure commission, chaired by Andrew Adonis, which he says gives the opportunity to plan in 30-year cycles and remove the politics from infrastructure."
Via The Guardian
By Rowan Moore
Norman Foster’s Millau viaduct in France, which has ‘cut out five-hour traffic jams’. Photograph: Michael Reinhard/Corbis
“Do you believe in infrastructure?” asks Norman Foster, with challenge in his voice. He does. Infrastructure, he says, is about “investing not to solve the problems of today but to anticipate the issues of future generations”. He cites his hero, Joseph Bazalgette, who, in solving Victorian London’s sewage problems, “thought holistically to integrate drains with below-ground public transportation and above-ground civic virtue”.
Foster is delighted that Britain now has an infrastructure commission, chaired by Andrew Adonis, which he says gives the opportunity to plan in 30-year cycles and remove the politics from infrastructure. He will expound these views this week at the Urban Age 10th anniversary Global Debates, Urban Age being the LSE’s Deutsche Bank-sponsored series of conferences in which high-powered and highly powerful people travel the world exchanging views on city building.
Statistics spin out of him about sustainability. “If you take the carbon footprint of London, that’s one seventh of that of Atlanta, so there’s a relationship between density and emissions. The whole climate change issue, which many would argue is about the survival of the species, comes down to urbanism.
Foster’s proposed design for the Thames Hub airport. Photograph: dbox/Foster & Partners
“When I was in Harvard recently, I said that each of us in this room, the energy that we consume in one year would equal the energy consumed by two Japanese, 13 Chinese, 31 Indians and 370 Ethiopians. So you start to take the relationship between energy consumed by a society and infant mortality, life expectancy, sexual freedom, academic freedom, freedom from violence. So those societies that consume more energy have more of those desirable qualities, so all those issues are inseparable from the nature of the infrastructure.” The connections between these points are not always clear, but the argument seems to be that better use of energy through better infrastructure will enable more people to live better.
Of his own work, Foster says that many of the most important projects are not what are normally considered buildings, but things such as the Millennium Bridge, the pedestrianisation of Trafalgar Square in London, the Millau viaduct in southern France and the remaking of the Marseille waterfront. More statistics: “Millau cut out five-hour traffic jams, which meant that the saving in CO2 from the 10% of traffic that is heavy good vehicles had an effect equivalent to a forest of 40,000 trees.”
He has campaigned vigorously for the Thames Hub, a new airport in the Thames estuary with an associated network of huge ambition: an orbital railway around London, a flood barrier, tidal energy generation. He is profoundly disappointed that his plan is likely to be rejected in favour of an expanded Heathrow: “The reality of a hub airport is that you can never ever do that at Heathrow. If you do that at Heathrow now you can absolutely guarantee that we will still be pedalling furiously to stand still. You can never accommodate long-term needs there.”
Norman Foster: ‘The whole climate change issue comes down to urbanism.’ Photograph: Manolo Yllera
But given what he just said about sustainability, should we be expanding airports at all? “Do you eat meat?” he asks scathingly. “You’re probably going to have your hamburger in spite of the fact that you’re going to make a much greater impact than any travel.” Air travel, he says, “compares well statistically with the amount of methane produced by cows and the amount of energy and water needed to produce a hamburger”.
“The reality is that all society is embedded in mobility. You’re going to take that flight. You’d be better to take the flight out of an airport that is driven by tidal power and which uses natural light, and which anticipates the day when air travel will be more sustainable.” He talks of solar-powered flight and planes made of lightweight composite materials.
It could also be asked what is the role of the architect in what is generally the province of engineers, planners and politicians. Around us is evidence of his practice’s apparent potency – towers in China and India, a model of the giant circle, one mile in circumference, which will be Apple’s new headquarters, images of a concept for habitats on Mars – but Foster says: “I have no power as an architect, none whatsoever. I can’t even go on to a building site and tell people what to do.” Advocacy, he says, is the only power an architect ever has.
To write about Foster presents a particular challenge to an architecture critic. The scale of his achievement is immense and he has created many outstanding buildings. A wise man recently pointed out that if Foster had only built his 20 or 30 best works, critical admiration would be virtually unqualified. It is largely because his practice has designed many more projects than this that he sometimes gets a bad press. But would it really have been better if he had confined himself to a boutique practice in order to preserve his architectural purity?
It can seem peevish and petty to question his work, but it is not beyond criticism. In particular, it can become weaker the more it makes contact with realities outside itself. If you look upwards in the Great Court he designed in the British Museum, you will see an impressive structure of steel and glass, but at your own level it becomes bland and sometimes clumsy. The Gherkin is a memorable presence on the London skyline, but awkward at pavement level. The Millennium Bridge, even with the modifications necessary to stop it wobbling, is confident and elegant except at its landing, where the overhang of its cantilever creates spaces that are plain nasty.
In the context of infrastructure, the question is also whether it adapts to the political, social and physical conditions that surround it. In answer to Foster’s question, yes, I do believe in infrastructure. Or, rather, I’d compare it to water: essential to existence, life-enhancing and sometimes beautiful, but with the power to damage and destroy if misused.
Design for the proposed drone-port project in Rwanda. Photograph: Foster & Partners
All this makes a new drone-port project in Rwanda one of Foster and Partners’ most intriguing. Conceived with Jonathan Ledgard, the director of Afrotech, who describes himself as a thinker on the future of Africa, it is a plan to create a network of cargo drones that can bring medical supplies and blood, plus spare parts, electronics and e-commerce, to hard-to-access parts of Africa. The drones have ports – shelters where they can safely land and unload, but which also serve as “a health clinic, a digital fabrication shop, a post and courier room, and an e-commerce trading hub, allowing it to become part of local community life”. Because of their inaccessible locations, they have to be built using materials close to hand, so techniques have been developed for efficiently making local earth into bricks and stones into foundations.
It is impossible at this point and at this distance to know if the drone-port project will achieve what it hopes, but its ambition to adapt to local conditions seems absolutely to the point. The interesting question is then how to bring the same thinking to infrastructure in a developed country, such as Britain. What is the right infrastructure for the society and culture of this country, at this point? Has it changed since Foster’s Victorian heroes, such as Bazalgette, did their work? Can we import the large-scale thinking of modern China and, if so, with what modification? These are good questions for an architect to address.
Urban Age Global Debates run until 3 December; lsecities.net/ua
Wednesday, November 18. 2015
Note: still posting about exhibitions... the current one in Chicago that opened a month ago and will last until next January is certainly one to visit. I didn't had the occasion and wonder if I will... But the open angle usually taken by one of its curator, Jospeh Grima, when it comes to consider what is/might be(come) architecture, is certainly interesting as it also points out different ways and strategies of "being" an architect. Altough there is no reason to erase the old way, it just that it opens perspectives... I'll look forward for more inputs about the show.
A few weeks ago, during the opening of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, we eagerly awaited our opportunity to speak with Joseph Grima, the co-artistic director of the first Chicago Architecture Biennial. In an exhibition with such an open theme, we wanted to understand the driving forces behind the assembly of the participants, in addition to how the city of Chicago itself influenced decisions in the planning of this largest gathering of architecture in North America. Watch the video above and read a transcript of Grima's answers below.
Artistic Directors Joseph Grima & Sarah Herda. Image Courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial
ArchDaily: Can you introduce yourself and tell us about the motivations behind The State of the Art of Architecture?
"Chicago is a city that has over a century of history of innovation and bold vision in architecture and that’s something that really permeates the culture the city—beyond the public administration but also into its inhabitants—a real appreciation for the value and potential of architecture."
"The Biennial was a project that was incubated by the city of Chicago. I was brought in by my co-artistic director, Sarah Herda, who was really involved in the very early stages of the conversation around what this Biennial could be. It’s a project the city is very much invested in, that it really sees being defining in terms of its future, and Sarah and I, when we were given the opportunity to think about what this first exhibition could be, we were really thinking about this is an incredibly important moment in the history of architecture in this region, in this country, in this continent, in fact, because it is in fact the largest exhibition of contemporary architecture that’s ever been staged in North America. And so it was very important to think about what kind of a statement would be made with this first exhibition and we decided very early on that it shouldn’t be given a theme; it shouldn’t look at a particular aspect of architecture but it should be, in a way, a point of observation into the landscape of contemporary architecture — not just in this country but around the world. And so the title, The State of the Art of Architecture, really attempts to capture this idea that architecture is something extremely broad, that takes on many, many different forms, and that is mutable. It changes over time. So this is the “state of the art” today, it’s where we are today. It’s a small selection. It’s, in a way, trying to sample a number of different visions of what architecture is and what it can be, but it’s also trying to make the point that architecture is not simply a profession — it’s not something that just simply serves the practical purpose of keeping the rain out. It’s much more than that. It’s a form of cultural practice. And it’s an art form: the art of architecture. And so these are the key ideas that we really wanted to tackle with this exhibition."
Joseph Grima during the press tour at the opening of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Image © Diego Hernández
ArchDaily: How did you select the Biennial participants?
"We did very very extensive reviews, we went through a very extensive review process and looked at the work of over 500 architects. We didn’t necessarily chose them on the basis of their merit - of some being better than others or some being more interesting than others - but we wanted to offer an extremely transversal view into the preoccupations, the concerns, the ideals, the ideas, the impulses that animate architecture today. And so the participants were really selected on the basis of bold vision, and of taking a risk in thinking about what architecture could be. And, in some way, kind of pushing it beyond its current state, kind of giving it an impulse towards the future. And that took many, many different forms. And what we were really interested in, one of the reasons why no room has a particular theme, but all the projects are in dialogue, they are all pulling in completely different directions; they are all attempting to do different things and no two are really making the same statement about architecture. And so we see really, the exhibition as a conversation."
Chicago Horizon / Ultramoderne. Winner of BP Prize. Image © Diego Hernández
ArchDaily: Can you tell us what you hope the Biennial's more permanent legacy will be?
"It was really important to us, from the beginning, that this exhibition should not be some sort of transient that would come in, go out, remain here for three months, perhaps inspire people but leave nothing behind. But we also wanted to take the opportunity to actually leave something tangible behind, and so through a collaboration with the Department of Parks of the City of Chicago and also with the sponsorship of BP we were able to organize the commissioning of a series of pavilions - or rather we organized a competition that was also covered by ArchDaily - for the design of a Lakefront Kiosk that would serve, during the summer months, the purpose of a concession stand. And also, through the collaboration with three schools in Chicago, the commissioning of three other concession stands. So these little concession stands that will populate the Lakefront during the summer months are something that will live on, that will stay in Chicago — and will possibly move around because they’re permanent architecture, so to speak, but not permanent in their site. They can be moved to different locations from year to year. And they are really a demonstration of the fact that architecture has extraordinary potential on every scale. It doesn’t necessarily need to be an entire landscape or a city plan or a house in order to have architectural value. But it can, even on the scale of a concession stand, it can make a huge difference in the city."
Joseph Grima is an architect, writer, curator, and researcher based in Genoa, Italy. From 2011 to 2013 he was editor-in-chief of Domus, a monthly magazine of architecture, design, and art. Grima recently curated the 2014 Biennale Interieur in Kortrijk, Belgium, one of Europe's oldest design biennials, and was co-curator of the first edition of the Istanbul Design Biennial, a major international exhibition inaugurated in 2012. He is the 2015 Director of IDEAS CITY, an ideas festival organized by the New Museum in New York and dedicated to exploring the future of cities.
Monday, November 09. 2015
Note: I recently posted about the E.A.T exhibition (closed on 1s Nov.) at the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg. Now comes the time of a new important exhibition at PAC (Milano) looking back to influential predecessors: Superstudio ...
There have been many exhibitions or mentions recently about this radical italian group, sure. Yet he interesting twist this time is that first, it is curated by Andreas Angelidakis, greek architect which work and research lead him very close to contemporary art, if not to ("new aesthetic" ?) "digital-media artists" (as Andreas was/is part of the "neen" group, composed among others by artists such as Miltos Manetas, Rafael Rozendaal, Angelo Plessas, etc.); secondly, the exhibition displays unseen works and tries to connect Superstudio past activities to contemporary works in art^z
Btw, for friends also living or working in Lausanne, the curator of the exhibition - Andreas Angelidakis - will be present in the citry and give a talk during the coming "Post Digital Cultures" symposium organized by Festival Les Urbaines 2015, next early December.
In Milan, a dialogue between Superstudio and 19 contemporary artists establishes connections and relations among the Florence group’s research and contemporary culture.
The Milan PAC presents the oeuvre of Superstudio (1966–1978), the group of radical architects and radical designers from Florence, which not only influenced the way of thinking and designing of architects such as Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and Bernard Tschumi, but also definitively questioned the boundary between art and architecture, and which is regarded as the last great Italian avant-garde.
“The exhibition is the chance to investigate the possibilities of a form of discourse through images that is still open, in which the strength of Superstudio’s projects – drawn from the large and mostly unpublished archive of the group in Florence – and of their environments, displayed together for the first time, enables to disclose and establish relationships with contemporary art,” curators Vittorio Pizzigoni and Valter Scelsi explained.
Superstudio, il Monumento Continuo, New York, 1969. MAXXI Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo, Roma. Collezioni MAXXI Architettura. Fondo Superstudio. Above: Superstudio, il Monumento Continuo, Piazza Navona, 1970 Courtesy Pinksummer.
In a unique set-up, conceived by Baukuh and Valter Sclesi together with Superstudio, the Continuous Monument – perhaps the group’s most famous project – enters the PAC, which in itself is a monument to Italian modernity, transfiguring the exhibition space and captivating the viewer in a dynamic experience.
The exhibition will reconstruct Superstudio’s most important projects by bringing together its most representative pieces of design, installations and films, and by building – as a part of the total urbanisation model promoted by Superstudio itself – a dialogue with 19 works by 19 contemporary artists, who have drawn the raw material for their oeuvre from the Florence group’s research: Danai Anesiadou, Alexandra Bachzetsis, Ila Beka and Louise Lemoine, Pablo Bronstein, Stefano Graziani, Petrit Halilaj & Alvaro Urbano, Jim Isermann, Daniel Keller & Ella Plevin, Andrew Kovacs / Archive of Affinities, Rallou Panayotou, Paola Pivi, Angelo Plessas, Riccardo Previdi, RO/LU, Priscilla Tea, Patrick Tuttofuoco, Kostis Velonis, Pae White, Yacht-Utopia/Distopia.
Petrit Halilaj & Alvaro Urbano, What comes first, 2015. Installation, mixed media. Courtesy the artists.
“In selecting contemporary artists to be included in the exhibition, we chose those works that could be imagined as potential answers to Superstudio’s questions. The group’s works from 1970 are still radical today, as they shaped an architecture of premonitions, rather than answers, of questions, rather than objects,” Andreas Angelidakis, co-curator of the exhibition, pointed out. “Their work has put together a number of enigmas, concerning not only architecture, but also the way we live on our planet. Fifty years later, we can start seeing the answers to those questions raised in projects such as The Continuous Monument or Fundamental Acts. A continuous glossy surface that meets all of our needs and desires, and spreads across the world? Could it be that this surface exists today in the form of the Internet?”
Superstudio, Istogrammi manifesto, 1972 (François Lauginie, FRAC Centre Orléans)
Superstudio, Le Dodici Città Ideali, settima - dodicesima città, 1971 (photo Giulio Boem).
Superstudio, Supersuperficie(1972), 2000 (photo ZEPstudio, Centro per l'Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci).
Superstudio, Atti Fondamentali, Educazione, Progetto 1, 1971 Collezioni MAXXI Architettura. Fondo Superstudio.
Ila Bêka & Louise Lemoine, La Maddalena, La Maddalena Chair, 2014. Sound and video installation. Courtesy Beka & Partners.
Paolo Bronstein, Temporary Structure, 2014. Ink and watercolor on paper. Courtesy the artist and Galleria Franco Noero, Torino.
Patrick Tuttofuoco, Revolving Landscape (San Paolo), 2006. Foto di Beppe Giardino.
Until January 6, 2016
Wednesday, August 26. 2015
Hippie Modernism exhibition at the Walker Art Center to celebrate design's trippy side | #radical #experiments #counterculture
Note: In parallel with the exhibition about the work of E.A.T at the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg, another exhibition: Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia that will certainly be worth a detour at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis later this autumn.
The architecture and design of the counterculture era has been overlooked, according to the curator of an upcoming exhibition dedicated to "Hippie Modernism".
Yellow submarine by Corita Kent, 1967. Photograph by Joshua White
The radical output of the 1960s and 1970s has had a profound influence on contemporary life but has been "largely ignored in official histories of art, architecture and design," said Andrew Blauvelt, curator of the exhibition that opens at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis this autumn.
"It's difficult to identify another period of history that has exerted more influence on contemporary culture and politics," he said.
Superchair by Ken Isaacs, 1967
Women in Design: The Next Decade by Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, 1975. Courtesy of Sheila Levrant de Bretteville
While not representative of a formal movement, the works in Hippie Modernism challenged the establishment and high Modernism, which had become fully assimilated as a corporate style, both in Europe and North America by the 1960s.
The exhibition, entitled Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia will centre on three themes taken from taken from American psychologist and psychedelic drug advocate Timothy Leary's era-defining mantra: Turn on, tune in, drop out.
Organised with the participation of the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, it will cover a diverse range of cultural objects including films, music posters, furniture, installations, conceptual architectural projects and environments.
Hendrixwar/Cosmococa Programa-in-Progress, 1973. Courtesy of the Walker Art Center collection, Minneapolis
Jimi Hendrix, Ira Cohen, 1968. Photograph from the Mylar Chamber, courtesy of the Ira Cohen Archive
The Turn On section of the show will focus on altered perception and expanded individual awareness. It will include conceptual works by British avant-garde architectural group Archigram, American architecture collective Ant Farm, and a predecessor to the music video by American artist Bruce Conner – known for pioneering works in assemblage and video art.
Tune In will look at media as a device for raising collective consciousness and social awareness around issues of the time, many of which resonate today, like the powerful graphics of the US-based black nationalist party Black Panther Movement.
Untitled [the Cockettes] by Clay Geerdes, 1972. Courtesy of the estate of Clay Geerdes
Drop Out includes alternative structures that allowed or proposed ways for individuals and groups to challenge norms or remove themselves from conventional society, with works like the Drop City collective's recreation dome – a hippie version of a Buckminster Fuller dome – and Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison's Portable Orchard, a commentary on the loss of agricultural lands to the spread of suburban sprawl.
Environment Transformer/Flyhead Helmet by Haus-Rucker-Co, 1968. Photograph courtesy of Haus-Rucker-Co and Gerald Zugmann
The issues raised by the projects in Hippie Modernism – racial justice, women's and LGBT rights, environmentalism, and localism among many other – continue to shape culture and politics today.
Blauvelt sees the period's ongoing impact in current practices of public-interest design and social-impact design, where the authorship of the building or object is less important than the need that it serves.
Payne's Gray by Judith Williams, circa 1966. Photograph courtesy of the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, The University of British Columbia
Superonda Sofa by Archizoom Associati, 1966. Photograph courtesy of Dario Bartolini, Archizoom Associati
Many of the exhibited artists, designers, and architects created immersive environments that challenged notions of domesticity, inside/outside, and traditional limitations on the body, like the Italian avant-garde design group Superstudio's Superonda: conceptual furniture which together creates an architectural landscape that suggests new ways of living and socialising.
Hello Dali by Isaac Abrams, 1965
Blauvelt sees the period's utopian project ending with the OPEC oil crisis of the mid 1970s, which helped initiate the more conservative consumer culture of the late 1970s and 1980s.
Organised in collaboration with the Berkeley Art Museum and the Pacific Film Archive, Hippie Modernism will run from 24 October 2015 to 28 February 2016 at the Walker Art Center.
Thursday, August 06. 2015
Note: we remain in history for a little more time... It's now Ken Isaacs' turn to be praised for his work around micro inhabitable spaces and living structures! I post this with the iodea in mind that his work could serve as reference for a future workshop next November at ECAL, probably with rAndom International as guests and when we'll continue to work around "cloud computing" and its infrastructure (datacenter), looking for counter-proposals or rather "counter-designs".
Via Object Guerilla
This week at work I picked up an old book, How to Build Your Own Living Structures, by Ken Isaacs, to read at lunch. I didn't finish it, so I brought it home. A little internet-ing revealed this book was out-of-print, rare, and selling for a good bit at various outlets. However, I think the copyright has lapsed, because it is available online as a PDF.
Isaacs was born in 1927 in Peoria, Illinois, and served in the military as a young man. After Korea, he studied architecture, and then began to craft a career as a designer, architect, and educator. In the late fifties, he became Head of Design at the Cranbrook Academy of Arts, birthplace of much notable mid-century modernism, including Eliel and Eero Saarinen Charles and Ray Eames, and Harry Weese. He also spent some time teaching at the Illinois Institute of Technology, founded by Mies van der Rohe as a sort of Bauhaus West.
Cover, via Pop-Up City.
Matrix-based "super chair." Nowadays, most of that stuff can be replaced with an iPad... The next iterative leap in the Matrix was to do away with the framing altogether. Isaacs developed rigid stress-skin structures, using plywood and "L" brackets to make cubes. The cubes were built in modules: 16", 24", and eventually, 48". Smaller units were used for storage; mid-size ones could serve as desks and chairs; and the large units became the first Micro-Houses.
The Micro-House, circa late 60s, via Pop-Up City. Isaacs had the same idea, but he designed a modular, flat-pack, lightweight, re-configurable system. Combining the original beam-based Matrix and the stud-less panel structures, he built 8-foot modules out of 1" steel pipe and inserted plywood volumes into the matrix. Taking the classic modernist approach -- divorcing structure and skin -- he came up with a cheap, versatile house. The First Microhouse, built with a Graham Foundation grant in Groveland, Illinois, (near Carbondale, home of fellow light structure pioneer Buckminster Fuller), looks dated in the photos, but also startlingly fresh. I love the raw, stark geometry of it, everything stripped down to the margins.
Another variation on the Microhouse -- it is infinitely reconfigurable. His 8' Microhouse is very of its era, but has nonetheless managed to inspire at least one modern imitator, in Glasgow. It creates an 8' volume based on a matrix of eight 4' volumes bolted together. The canted sides, tetrahedral feet, and hatch doors give it a real Apollo feel, minus the silvery skin.
The plywood stress-skin Microhouse. Throughout, wrapped in some seventies slang and general architectural hooliganism, Isaacs stresses pre-fabrication, modularity, simplicity, and off-the-shelf parts. None of the projects are particularly difficult to make with simple tools(a little time-consuming, perhaps). The book itself is a bit shambling, combining personal narrative, philosophical inquiry, and DIY instructions. In many ways, it seems like a blog, written with no caps and little editing. Some of the book sale listings I found online show the original as spiral-bound, in keeping with its guerilla nature.
They were eventually able to replace the department-store albatross with this number.
Monday, July 27. 2015
Note: nice to discover that a museum has decided to mount a retrospective ("first-ever") about the activities of Expriments in Art and Technologies (E.A.T.), a group composed of avant-garde artists and scientists (R. Rauschenberg, R. Whitman, D. Tudor, B. Klüver, F. Waldhauer) that were behind milestones events such as "Event scores, 9 evening" in New York (mainly scored by R. Roschenberg, but with fellow artists and "scorists" like J. Cage, D. Tudor, R. Whitman, L. Childs, etc.) or later the Pepsi Pavilion in Osaka, with Fujiko Nakaya (fog sculptures). This association helped anchor the association of visionary people and scientific labs (Bell Labs in this case, where people like Frank Malina was also working at the time, or A. Michael Noll too... to name a few). Later influential labs (Menlo Park, Xerox, Media Lab) and of course many recent Swiss initiatives (i.e. Artists in labs or Collide@CERN) are inheritors of this early collaboration.
BTW, we should suggest to Pro Helvetia that they could also run an "architects in labs" so as a "designers in lab", that would be a great initiative!
The exhibition opened last Saturday and will last until November 1, 2015.
The Museum der Moderne Salzburg presents a comprehensive survey of the projects of the evolving association of artists and technologists E.A.T. – Experiments in Art and Technology.
The Museum der Moderne Salzburg mounts the first-ever comprehensive retrospective of the activities of Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), a unique association of engineers and artists who wrote history in the 1960s and 1970s.
Artists like Robert Rauschenberg (1925–2008) and Robert Whitman (b.1935) teamed up with Billy Kluver (1927–2004), a visionary technologist at Bell Telephone Laboratories, and his colleague Fred Waldhauer (1927–1993) to launch a groundbreaking initiative that would realize works of art in an unprecedented collaborative effort.
Top and above: Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), Pepsi Pavilion, exterior with fog installation by Fujiko Nakaya and Floats by Robert Breer © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2014.R.20). Photo: Shunk-Kender
Around two hundred works of art and projects ranging from kinetic objects, installations, and performances to films, videos, and photographs as well as drawings and prints exemplify the most important stages of E.A.T.’s evolution.
In light of the rapid technological developments of the period, the group aimed to put an art into practice that would employ cutting-edge technology. Starting in the early 1960s, Kluver collaborated with artists including Jean Tinguely, Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and Yvonne Rainer on an individual basis.
Like some artists of the time, he was interested in the social implications of novel technologies and believed that the marriage of art and science had to take place on a practical and physical level. Members of E.A.T. hoped that the meeting between artists and engineers would allow for the production of works that would not have been possible without the special expertise of trained technologists. The engineers would conversely be inspired to think in new directions and help shape the future evolution of technology.
Jean Tinguely, Homage to New York, 1960. Kinetic sculpture (mixed media) and performance. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, US, Sculpture Garden, March 17, 1960 © Estate of David Gahr. Photo: David Gahr. Right: Jean Dupuy, Heart Beats Dust, 1968. Engineer: Ralph Martel Lithol rubine pigment, wood, glass, light, stethoscope, amplifier. Collection FRAC Bourgogne © ADAGP, Paris/Courtesy Galerie Loevenbruck, Paris. Photo: Terry Stevenson
July 25 – November 1, 2015
Friday, June 26. 2015
I&IC within Poetics and Politics of Data, exhibition at H3K, scenography. Pictures | #data #research
By fabric | ch
Note: last end of May was the opening of the exhibition Poetics & Politics of Data at the Haus der elektronischen Künste in Basel. This was the occasion to present the temporary results of the design research I'm leading at ECAL/University of Art & Design Lausanne, in collaboration with Nicolas Nova from HEAD - Genève, EPFL and EPFL-ECAL Lab. But for that matter, fabric | ch realized the scenography of the whole exhibition, in particular the "hidden" part hosting the presentation of the design research itself.
The whole spatial display we designed looks like some sort of "heterotopy": an archive and (computer) cabinet of curiosities within the white cube. A little bit like the "behind the scenes" of the exhibition, occupying its center, yet articulating it. It is basically made out of the modular elements that constitutes the "white cube" itself. Just that we maintained the hidden parts of these walls open and visible, widen and turn them in a pathway and an archive.
Also present in the space and scenography are different works from fabric | ch: Deterritorialized Daylight is used to drive the lighting of the inner part of the cabinet, a new work Datadroppers --an online data commune, reminiscence of the now dead Pachube-- is used to collect and re-use random data from the exhibition, several Raspberry Pis in their dedicated 3d printed casing are collecting these data (which includes, in addition to the traditional ones more surpising ones like "curiosity", "transgression", etc.) and "dropping" them on the online service. They are then searchable and be used in third parties applications.
The exhibition will still be on view until the end of August in Basel, with works by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Moniker, Aram Bartholl, Jennifer Lyn Morone, Rybn and several others.
Pictures by David Colombini and Marco Frauchiger
Intro text to the exhibition and credits:
Inhabiting & Interfacing the Cloud(s) is an ongoing design research about Cloud Computing. It explores the creation of counter-proposals to the current expression of this technological arrangement, particularly in its forms intended for private individuals and end users (Personal Cloud). Through its fully documented cross-disciplinary approach that connects the works of interaction designers, architects and ethnographers, this research project aims at producing alternative yet concrete models resulting from a more decentralized and citizen-oriented approach.
Project leaders: Patrick Keller (ECAL), Nicolas Nova (HEAD)
Students (ECAL): Anne-Sophie Bazard, Benjamin Botros, Caroline Buttet, Guillaume Cerdeira, Romain Cazier, Maxime Castelli, Mylène Dreyer, Bastien Girshig, Martin Hertig, Jonas Lacôte, Alexia Léchot, Nicolas Nahornyj, Pierre-Xavier Puissant
Scenography: fabric | ch
ECAL director: Alexis Georgacopoulos
ECAL/University of Art & Design Lausanne, HEAD – Genève, EPFL-ECAL Lab, HES-SO
Wednesday, May 27. 2015
Note: as explained below in the message I posted on the documentary blog about the design research project I'm currently working on at ECAL, we've been pretty busy recently... and not only with the exhibition project mentioned even so we've been working on the scenography for it. So to say, this explains why we are having a hard time to be more active on | rblg! But hopefully, things will calm down a little bit after that and I'll find time again to write about the many projects we've been working on over the past two years, in parallel to continue archiving interesting works and resources on this blog!
Note: after some time of relative silence on the blog, we’re happy to say that the design-research project Inhabiting & Interfacing the Cloud(s) will be part of the next exhibition at the Haus für elektronische Künste in Basel (CH), in the form of a counterpoint or “behind the scenes” to the media art exhibition per se. This explains partly that, then…
We had to work hard for the exhibition, especially because I was also in charge of the scenography (a work by fabric | ch in this case though), while Lucien Langton produced almost all the video documentation content.
At the invitation of H3K curator, Sabine Himmelsbach, we’ll therefore present the work that has been realized so far, half-way through our research process.
This will consist for large parts in video documentation and few artifacts, including some new ones (“Tools” oriented). We will use this material later on the I&IC website to fully document the current state of our work.
The opening of the exhibition Poetics & Politics of Data will be tomorrow at 7pm, at H3K (Dreispitz neighborhood in Basel), the show will then last until end of August.
Christopher Baker, Hello World! or: How I Learned to Stop Listening and Love the Noise, 2008
Poetics and Politics of Data
duration: 29.05.2015 – 30.08.2015
opening: 28.05.2015, 7pm
H3K, Freilager-Platz 9, 4142 Münchenstein / Basel, CH
The exhibition „Poetics and Politics of Data“ addresses the paradigm of a data-driven society and reflects life in an increasingly datified world. In visionary future scenarios, scientists enthuse over a world in which algorithms take over managing processes, envisioning a highly sensory and datafied space for us to live in, a world in which our desires and activities are anticipated, long before we carry them out. „Big Data“ is the keyword to this new era in which the power of data induces a radical transformation of a society whose actions and production of knowledge rely increasingly on the accumulation and evaluation of data.
“Poetics and Politics of Data” shows artistic works that approach the phenomena of Big Data and data mining, visualizing the continuous bitstream in various ways while referring to the political and social implications that come with a world that is controlled by data – from the processes of self-optimization to economical aspects and questions concerning the use and evaluation of this data. Who has access to our data? In what ways is it possible to extract useful information and find “valuable” and applicable correlations from the immense pool of data?
The exhibition introduces critically subversive approaches and interventions in networked spaces that make use of the potential of a virtual community and reflect personal performance in social networks. It focuses on aspects of surveillance strategies, data mining, privacy, post-privacy and digital autobiography acted out in social networks. Amid the constantly growing, infinite ocean of data, artists question the meaning and position of the individual in a technologically networked society and – thanks to their resistance and sense of independence – offer various alternatives to a normative world of data.
From computer-mediated installations to data visualizations, they address these questions through different media in order to not only generate a new approach to complex data structure, but to create a poetic immersive space of data.
“Poetics and Politics of Data” is an interdisciplinary project between HeK (House of Electronic Arts Basel), the Institute of Experimental Design and Media Cultures of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland FHNW, the Centre for Technology Assessment TA-SWISS and Opendata.ch, the Swiss chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation, presenting an exhibition about artistic approaches to big amounts of data. Artistic strategies and concepts of data usage, -interpretation and -criticism will be on display, discussing the potential and dangers of Big Data and data mining.
Group exhibition with works by:
Tuesday, April 28. 2015
In other words, why just rely on aftermarket home alterations such as WiFi-blocking paint, when you can actually factor the transmission of signals through architectural space into the design of your home in the first place?
Space Caviar call this "a new definition of privacy in the age of sentient appliances and signal-based communication," in the process turning the home into "a space of selective electromagnetic autonomy."
As the space of the home becomes saturated by “smart” devices capable of monitoring their surroundings, the role of the domestic envelope as a shield from an external gaze becomes less relevant: it is the home itself that is observing us. The RAM House responds to this near-future scenario by proposing a space of selective electromagnetic autonomy. Within the space’s core, Wi-Fi, cellphone and other radio signals are filtered by various movable shields of radar-absorbent material (RAM) and faraday meshing, preventing signals from entering and—more importantly—escaping. Just as a curtain can be drawn to visually expose the domestic interior of a traditional home, panels can be slid open to allow radio waves to enter and exit, when so desired.
fabric | rblg
This blog is the survey website of fabric | ch - studio for architecture, interaction and research.
We curate and reblog articles, researches, writings, exhibitions and projects that we notice and find interesting during our everyday practice and readings.
Most articles concern the intertwined fields of architecture, territory, art, interaction design, thinking and science. From time to time, we also publish documentation about our own work and research, immersed among these related resources and inspirations.
This website is used by fabric | ch as archive, references and resources. It is shared with all those interested in the same topics as we are, in the hope that they will also find valuable references and content in it.
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