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.
Friday, August 14. 2015
Note: While being interested in the idea of the commune for some time now --I've been digging into old stories, like the ones of the well named Haight-Ashbury's Diggers, or the Droppers, in connection to system theory, cybernetics and information theory and then of course, to THE Personal Computer as "small scale technology" , so as to "the biggest commune of all: the internet" (F. Turner)--.
The idealistic social flatness of the communes, anarchic yet with inevitable emerging order, its "counter" approach to western social organization but also the fact that in the end, the 60ies initiatives seemed to have "failed" for different reasons, interests me for further works. These "diggings" are also somehow connected to a ongoing project and tool we recently published online, a "data commune": Datadroppers (even so it is just a shared tool).
Following this interest, I came accross this latest online publication by uncube (Issue #34) about the Commune Revisited, which both have an historic approach to old experiments (like the one of Drop City), and to more recent ones, up to the "gated community" ... The idea of the editors being to investigate the diversity of the concepts. It brings an interesting contemporary twist and understanding to the general idea... In a time when we are totally fed up with neo liberalism.
"One year after our Urban Commons issue, we're returning to the idea of the communal, this time investigating just how diversly the concept of "commune" can be interpreted - and not always with entirely benevolent intentions or successful results.
Wether trying to escape a broken economy or an oppressive system via new forms of existence or looking to break the system itself via anarchic methodologies, forming a commune traditionnaly involves segregation or stepping "outside" society.
But no matter how off-grid and back-to-nature the contemporary communities that we investigate here are, it turns out they are far more connected than we think.
Turn on, tune out, drop in.
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.
Wednesday, July 29. 2015
Note: after the recent post about E.A.T. and while we are into history, here is also an intersting article by Phyllis (Gershuny) Segura, one of the founders of the 1970's journal Radical Software, where she explains the birth and motivatiosn behind the magazine. It was a journal about the then very young video art, but exceeded this thematic by far, including avant-garde thematics such as cybernetic, information theory or networks.
Creating Radical Software: A Personal Account
By Phyllis (Gershuny) Segura
What can be analyzed in my work, or criticized, are the questions that I ask…my composition arises out of asking questions.
— John Cage
Radical Software Volume I, Number 1: the Alternate Television Movement (Spring 1970)
Radical Software Volume I, Number 2: the Electromagnetic Spectrum (Autumn 1970).
As rare as it is for something to be an instant success, this is what happened with Radical Software, a journal started in 1970 to bring a fresh direction to communication via personal and portable video equipment and other cybernetic explorations. Its intention was to foster an alternative to broadcast media and lessen the impact of its control. I was the co-founder.
When I began conceiving of the journal, no one really knew precisely what I was getting at because my ideas about it were at an inchoate stage of development, making for loose coherency. The idea was for individuals to be able to communicate interactively without the filters of broadcast media. Even at a more formalized stage the process superseded any formulaic views. Perhaps asking non-hierarchical questions could materialize the structures leading to a two-way network for communicative exchange. Our choices were no longer determined by traditions and customs.
I don't often look, but when I do, I notice so much misinformation, both printed and online, about the origins of Radical Software. I‘d like to clarify what my role was then and what my inspiration was in conceiving of it. It is important to set the background and tone of events. In order to accurately tell the tale I will weave in some personal life anecdotes from the time. It's all one story to me, as the vicissitudes of life often direct our fates.
Read more about it HERE.
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, January 16. 2015
Note: we didn't found enough time last December to document an interview of fabric | ch that was publish in the French design magazine Étapes. So let's do it in early 2015... The magazine itself has been recently revamped under the direction of a new editorial board. It is now a quite exciting magazine, interested in transverval approaches to design questions, including interaction design, architecture, etc. even so its main and historical focus remains graphic design.
The interview that took place between Christophe Guignard (fabric | ch) and Isabelle Moisy (editor in chief, Étapes) concerns the specific approach to architectural design that fabric | ch has adopted through times. This approach has taken into account since our foundation (1997) the networked and digital natures of contemporary space and territories (landscapes) combined with the physical one. This last point was particularly evident in the fact that since the start, our group was composed of architects and computer scientists. Our work has of course evolved since 1997, but this "coded/data dimension" of space has obviously gained importance in our work and in general since then, it has also proved itslelf to become a major element in the conceptualization of spaces in our still early century.
By fabric | ch
From the "Édito":
"(...). En l'absence d'horizon précis, les supports de communication se superposent, et les designers débordent sans complexe des pratiques restrictives auxquelles ils ont été formés. Les qualificatifs se multiplient. Designer pluriel, transdiciplinaire. (...)". Isabelle Moisy
Tuesday, September 30. 2014
Everything I Know: 42 Hours of Buckminster Fuller’s Visionary Lectures Free Online (1975) | #documentation
Via Open Culture
Think of the name Buckminster Fuller, and you may think of a few oddities of mid-twentieth-century design for living: the Dymaxion House, the Dymaxion Car, the geodesic dome. But these artifacts represent only a small fragment of Fuller’s life and work as a self-styled “comprehensive anticipatory design scientist.” In his decades-long project of developing and furthering his worldview — an elaborate humanitarian framework involving resource conservation, applied geometry, and neologisms like “tensegrity,” “ephemeralization,” and “omni-interaccommodative” — the man wrote over 30 books, registered 28 United States patents, and kept a diary documenting his every fifteen minutes. These achievements and others have made Fuller the subject of at least four documentaries and numerous books, articles, and papers, but now you can hear all about his thoughts, acts, experiences, and times straight from the source in the 42-hour lecture series Everything I Know, available to download at the Internet Archive. Though you’d perhaps expect it of someone whose journals stretch to 270 feet of solid paper, he could really talk.
In January 1975, Fuller sat down to deliver the twelve lectures that make up Everything I Know, all captured on video and enhanced with the most exciting bluescreen technology of the day. Props and background graphics illustrate the many concepts he visits and revisits, which include, according to the Buckminster Fuller Institute, “all of Fuller’s major inventions and discoveries,” “his own personal history in the context of the history of science and industrialization,” and no narrower a range of subjects than “architecture, design, philosophy, education, mathematics, geometry, cartography, economics, history, structure, industry, housing and engineering.” In his time as a passenger on what he called Spaceship Earth, Fuller realized that human progress need not separate the “natural” from the “unnatural”: “When people say something is natural,” he explains in the first lecture (embedded above as a YouTube video above), “‘natural’ is the way they found it when they checked into the picture.” In these 42 hours, you’ll learn all about how he arrived at this observation — and all the interesting work that resulted from it.
Monday, July 14. 2014
Note: it looks like many products we are using today were envisioned a long time ago (peak of expectations vs plateau)... back in the early years of personal computing (80ies). It funnily almost look like a lost utopian-future. Now that we are moving from personal computing to (personal) cloud computing (where personal must be framed into brackets, but should necessarily be a goal), we can possibly see how far personal computing was a utopian move rooted into the protest and experimental ideologies of the late 60ies and 70ies. So was the Internet in the mid 90ies. And now, what?
Via The Verge
By Jacob Kastrenakes
Apple's focus on design has long been one of the key factors that set its computers apart. Some of its earliest and most iconic designs, however, didn't actually come from inside of Apple, but from outside designers at Frog. In particular, credit goes to Frog's founder, Hartmut Esslinger, who was responsible for the "Snow White" design language that had Apple computers of the ’80s colored all white and covered in long stripes and rounded corners meant to make the machines appear smaller.
In fact, Esslinger goes so far as to say in his recent book, Keep it Simple, that he was the one who taught Steve Jobs to put design first. First published late last year, the book recounts Esslinger's famous collaboration with Jobs, and it includes amazing photos of some of the many, many prototypes to come out of it. They're incredibly wide ranging, from familiar-looking computers to bizarre tablets to an early phone and even a watch, of sorts.
This is far from the first time that Esslinger has shared early concepts from Apple, but these show not only a variety of styles for computers but also a variety of forms for them. Some of the mockups still look sleek and stylish today, but few resemble the reality of the tablets, laptops, and phones that Apple would actually come to make two decades later, after Jobs' return. You can see more than a dozen of these early concepts below, and even more are on display in Esslinger's book.
All images reproduced with permission of Arnoldsche Art Publishers.
Saturday, May 10. 2014
An interesting paper (in French) by Guy Lelong about reductionnism (so as contextual or referential autonomy) and how it possibly have led to its opposite. With words/works by Greenberg, Boulez, Reinhardt, Feldman, Buren, Grisey, Rahm, Hervé.
"Au sortir des deux Guerres mondiales, des protagonistes importants de la plupart des domaines artistiques ont réduit leur médium à des constituants ultimes, voire à des éléments essentiels. Je ne me demanderai pas ici s’il y a relation de cause à effet ou simple concomitance entre cette remise en ordre de l’art et ces événements de l’Histoire. Je voudrais plus simplement faire apparaître, en me limitant à la peinture et à la musique, comment le réductionnisme théorisé et élaboré dans les années 1950-1960 a parfois abouti à son inverse. En cherchant en effet à réduire toujours plus les éléments constitutifs de leur médium, certains peintres ont trouvé une temporalité qui appartenait plutôt à la musique, réalisant par conséquent une peinture du temps, tandis que certains compositeurs, en opérant une réduction analogue sur le fait sonore, ont en quelque sorte déployé celui-ci dans l’espace, découvrant une musique de l’étendue. Les disparités observées dans ce cadre réductionniste me permettront, en élargissant le propos, de montrer que la perception des œuvres de l’art se distingue en fonction des déterminants de la réception qu’elles mettent en place. La critique du réductionnisme que certains courants ont ensuite élaborée, contestant notamment l’autonomie contextuelle et référentielle, me conduira à déterminer les interactions de la référence que les œuvres de l’art sont susceptibles de produire, dès lors qu’elles prônent au contraire l’élargissement. (...)"
Text intégral ICI.
Wednesday, March 12. 2014
Le Corbusier et Iannis Xenakis, Plan du Pavillon Philips à l’exposition universelle de Bruxelles, 1958 (indications des sources lumineuses)
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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