One last project i discovered at Constructing Realities, an exhibition that showcases the best work from the Postgraduate Certificate Course in Advanced Architectural Research, at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL in London.
Adaptive Bloom, by Justin Goodyer, is a responsive screen speculatively proposed as a stage set for a dance performance in which the screen is the third partner in the choreography, it responds to the dancers and vice-versa. The screen consists of a pixel grid of blooming, mechanical flowers developed through the manufacture of a series of laser sintered prototypes.
The prototype shown in the Constructing Realities exhibition is purely reactive. It gets "bored" if no one has interacted with it for a while, from 10-60 seconds, and performs a random display to entice people and then each flower is triggered if you move in front of it.
The text below describes the role of the screen in a dance performance:
The performance is framed by the lyrics to the song Busby Berkeley Dreams. A heartbroken woman abandoned by her lover dreams of him come back to her each night. In her fantasies, they dance together in kaleidoscopic rhapsodies.
The dance features three performers: one male, one female and the responsive screen. Using ideas taken from William Forsythe's work on structured improvisation, each dancer will be given a series of movements, a series of transformations applied to the movements and a series of environmental triggers to activate them.
For example, upon perceiving a left to right movement passing behind him in the screen the male dancer would take the last movement made by the female and mirror it diagonally across his body. Similarly, the screen plays back recorded movements and applies its own transformations.
The system does not create a single performance but a space of possible dances for the artists to explore.
The female is to be dressed in bright red clothing, the male in black and the screen made of white flowers against a black backing. The female will always be clearly visible but the male will appear as a silhouette only when he stands in front of the flowers in an open (more white) state, making his presence transient and ethereal. The goal of the female is to activate the entire grid, turning the backdrop completely white and revealing the male. Conversely the goal of the male is to lower the activity of the screen and disappear into its black background. The resulting performance therefore becomes an unpredictable, oneiric spectacle of undetermined length as the two performers compete to fulfill their goals.
The score will have an aleatoric structure, composed as a series of blocks and triggered by the activation level of the screen. At each successive increment of activation a new block will start playing resulting in cascades and crescendos of sound growing in intensity as the female gets closer to her goal.
Hi, Justin! Why did you decide to work with the dance environment? Do you have a background in dance or choreography?
Justin: I don't have a background in dance or choreography. I decided to work in the medium because it is possible to make ideas of process and genesis that I have been developing over the last few years visible, albeit in a very abstract and simplistic form. I believe there are two ways to approach the problem of design. The first could be called "The Classical" in which one would take an externally generated concept and apply it to their material - a proportioning system would be a very clear architectural example. The second could be called "The Gothic" in which one seeks to explore, understand and express the qualities of the material they are working with. The vaulting and flying buttresses of a gothic cathedral would be an architectural example.
I subscribe to the second but favour exploration over optimisation and actually consider my method to be closer to surrealist automatism than engineering. Typically I construct a space of possibilities based on the constraints of my materials and an exploratory apparatus to navigate it. Together they produce a space of manifestations, a number of designs or in this case a number of bodily movements. This is achieved through algorithmic processes and is the main application of technology and computing in my work. The dance is thus a revelation and celebration of these ideas as well as, hopefully, a very beautiful and poetic spectacle in its own right.
Have you already started working with a dance company or choreographer?
Justin: I would love to work with a choreographer and dance group but have not lined anything up. I plan to look into the interaction and coding a little more and then see if I can get a dance school involved. I guess I will work with projections though.
The prototypes, models and sketches on show at Constructing Realities were as innovative as they were different from each other, see for example two other works i discovered there: Subverting the LiDAR Landscape: Tactics of spatial redefinition and The Fortress of Senses - Rescripting Landscapes.) The exhibition runs until October, 1st at PHASE 2 Gallery, 8 Fitzroy St, London W1T 4BJ (map.)
Publisher Gestalten says: This book presents a wide range of projects in container architecture - a contemporary architectural phenomenon. It features container structures used as pop-up stores and temporary exhibits as well as sophisticated housing and office spaces that provoke and inspire while setting new standards in functionality and aesthetics. But the book is not only visually inspiring. Because it documents plans, describes associated costs, and suggests concrete solutions for common problems, it is a practical reference for architects, planners, and cultural activists as well as event and marketing managers, to guide them in deciding what types of containers are best suited to their upcoming projects.
Here's one book i picked up thinking i'd have nothing but a moment of harmless fun. The kind you find inside coffee table books with spectacular pictures and next to no text. How wrong i was! The word "Practical" in the title should not be underestimated. Container Atlas contains indeed plenty of information for anyone willing to live or work inside a container: transportation, construction laws, ecological impact, hidden costs and other economic aspects, even construction physics.
Interestingly, the volume opens on the history of container transportation. It's not exactly a fairy tale. The man responsible for the standardization and worldwide adoption (nowadays, some 90% of non-bulk cargo transits by sea inside containers) of the metal box. Malcom McLean is depicted as a man keen on achieving maximum profit and efficiency. He was a brilliant businessman, not a philanthropist. For example, he would crush the habits of giving names to trucks and of placing nametags inside the driver's can. Convinced that a company that allowed employees to develop a personal relationship to one particular truck could not run efficiently, he gave trucks numbers.
Containers have since then been used as emergency housing for asylum seekers, temporary buildings in disaster areas or as construction site offices.
The dozens of architects, designers and artists whose work is presented in the book managed to, at at last!, bring emotion and personality to the stern container. And that's where the fun i was expecting begins. Whether they are used as part of a more 'traditional' architecture or as the sole building blocks of a dwelling, whether they are used as a cheap and quirky way to advertise how edgy a company (cf. Freitag's flagship store in Zurich and that pop Puma City) or to bring culture on a city square, containers prove that they can outdo the stigma of the standardized box:
A spectacular 100 square-meter tea pavilion suspended above the ground overlooking the Sea of Japan.
sculp(IT) did the most brilliant job at turning a space only 2.4 meters (7 feet 10 inches) wide into a living / working space as well as a light installation. They are located in Antwerp's red light district after all.
Let's fire up the pictures:
Angela Fritsch Architekten's Gold Pavilion in the park of The Alice-Hospital vom Roten Kreuz in Darmstadt, Germany. The container box is covered with a wallpaper made out of sheet metal. The light comes through the cut-out ornamental leaves.
The Cancer Center in Amsterdam is a semi-permanent structure erected while the research and treatment clinic was rebuilt and enlarged. The 7 storey building was built within a year.
Just added on my wish list:
Not sure my eyes will ever recover from the brashness of these sanitary facilities:
Views inside the book:
More container stories: Ann Veronica Janssens at the EACC in Castellon, Spain, Mission Eternity and 17 containers for a concept store.
Remember that Tuesday post? I was sending you to London on a mission to visit Constructing Realities, an exhibition that showcases the best work from the Postgraduate Certificate Course in Advanced Architectural Research, at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. I also promised i'd come back with more projects from the show.
This one is, imho, equally as fascinating as The Fortress of Senses but it is also strikingly different. Subverting the LiDAR Landscape: Tactics of spatial redefinition for a digitally empowered population is a speculative project which questions the way we interact with digital and physical versions of our cities.
The project is based around LiDAR technology - 3D scanning but on a city scale. Google Earth and Streetview have now become people's most trusted tool for exploring and researching urban space. Moreover, the tools are now taken as virtual fact by a global internet population. They will soon be replaced by intricate 3D modeled versions of our cities derived from mobile 3D scanning units - LiDAR equipped vehicles.
Matthew Shaw's project aims to subvert this mapping, by arming the population with the tools to edit the way their city is scanned and recorded. These tools are not digital hacks but physical interventions. They manipulate the scanning process and act as waypoints and markers linking the physical world to the digital.
I'm leaving you with Matthew's description of the project:
The Surveillance series are drawings that explore the city from stealth locations. They see what a LiDAR unit sees, what through wall radar can sense, what an IRA bomber may have thought, what AL-Qaida may be watching. They hide, see through walls, bend light and look round corners.
The Scan series are hybrid landscapes of real and imagined LiDAR data. They take actual 3D scans of the parliament area of London and breed them with speculative LiDAR blooms, blockages, holes and drains. These are the result of strategically deployed devices which offset, copy, paste, erase and tangle LiDAR data around them. They show the route of stealth drills carving LiDAR data in the public redecoration zone. They show boundary miscommunication devices - hotspots of spatial truths and mistruths. They show the deployment of flash architecture and toolpaths of stealth mechanics. Parliament is offset to St. James Park; protestors shelter under a LiDAR shield on the Mall, an urban transplant replaces Downing Street with an insurgent gateway and a Huas-MattaClarkian vista.
A series of prototypical objects explore the form and materiality of stealth and subversion. Each object starts life as an intuitively carved wooden sketch. These then become 3D notebooks on which to design precise insertions and additions. The objects are then 3D scanned using a self built scanner to enable precision inserts to be machined and added to the originals. These objects are then scanned and their digital siblings cast and machined from the scanned data.
The Surface Error series compounds the slight errors implicit in the scanning process and shows the distortion, mistruth and beauty that repeated error can create. A base SLS printed target is repeatedly scanned, 3D printed and re-scanned for 12 iterations. This micro test of distortion could be applied on a city scale, altering its digital appearance .
The Parliament series is made of subverted terrestrial laser scans and their respective tools, tool paths and deployment diagrams.
Scans taken in Westminster, London between 7:23pm on June 3 and 11.56pm on June 17 showing pointcloud data collected near the Houses of Parliament. The facade of Parliament is visible in a swarming clouds of scanned noise and subverted data. These mistruths are engineered through a series of strategically placed disruptive objects positioned in the scan path.
For further information please contact matthew.shaw at ucl.ac.uk.
Constructing Realities focuses on the best work from the Postgraduate Certificate Course in Advanced Architectural Research, at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. The 9 research proposals investigate new types of place, novel interactive building elements, new façade and structural systems.
Architecture and engineering have a history where research and practice go hand in hand, where many great practices have grown as a result of fundamental research and where many research projects arise from groundbreaking design. This is especially true during periods of economic inactivity when recent modes of working are called into question and new modes (sometimes based on rediscovered historical precedent) are established. This can lead to the formation of innovative practices and to the start of academic careers in research and teaching.
The responsive installations, virtual environments, laser scanning drawings and prototypes presented in Constructing Realities are strikingly different from each other. I'm going to focus on a couple of them over the next few days. Ah! and before i forget, thanks a thousand times to Ruairi Glynn for hooking me up with his graduates.
Julian Busch's project The Fortress of Senses - Rescripting Landscapes was cryptic enough to keep me interested from the moment i saw it at the show opening right until this very moment. Fasten your seatbelt!
The project is set inside the Chateau de Maulnes, a hunting castle built in the 16th century in Burgundy, France.
The Fortress of Senses is an inquiry into the spatial possibilities of reinterpreting the artefact as a field of events.
The corpse of a deer is brought into the space as a reworking of the concept of the chateau and its hunting functions. The kitchen, the great hall and the chandelier are key actors used for refracting and modelling a series of events that become components of the landscape stored in the chateau. In this context, the spaces become a series of events or reconstructions of an alternative chateau stored within the existing one. A theatre of stored events operating as other interior landscapes.
Drawings and modelling reconstruct the death of the deer as an event in the kitchen, a moment in the natural landscape.
Sections of deer refabricate the chandelier, which is rehung by the blacksmith as toolmaker and restorer of equipment.
The recompositions are stored in the great hall.
The dining room serves as a theatre of pieces between the architecture of the space and the event. It performs as a new landscape looking for the deer in the forest.
Can you describe the model you are showing in the exhibition "the Rainbow of Blood"? which part of the hunting narrative does it encapsulate?
Julian Busch: The Project is roughly divided into 3 parts: the production, the storage and the performance of architectural objects/landscapes. The Rainbow of Blood is the first one of these reflexive interventions. It takes place in the kitchen where the venison is hung by the hunters.
A configuration of metal sheets, differently arranged, form the mould for varying landscape formations. A set of devices together with the microclimatic conditions within the kitchen create a rainbow of blood. Its mist lands on the metal sheets and is toasted by the sunlight that shines through the kitchen window, revealing new objects, artificial architecture topologies.
Why did you chose that particular castle? Was the building the starting point of your project or did you have an idea in mind and were just looking for a suitable location?
One of the leitmotifs of the castle is the presentation of the five senses. It just seemed to be the perfect location for an architectural intervention.
Could you point us to existing building, structures or projects that go in the same direction as The Fortress of Senses by simulating a narrative and 'theatralizing' events?
An example of what I think is highly motivating in that direction is the architecture of late Baroque. In storytelling paintings, frescoes and ornaments communicative spaces were created.
The Zwiefalten Abbey in southern Germany is such an Gesamtkunstwerk bringing together different forms of art.
The Chateau de Maulnes itself is another good example. The detail of the principal cornice shows dogs heads between the consoles, indicating that this place is all about hunting!
While in Stockholm i finally got a chance to visit Färgfabriken, an ex-colour factory turned contemporary art and architecture space with a relentlessly good programme.
There are only very few and inconspicuous guiding signs to help you find your way from the metro station to Färgfabriken, i'm still amazed i managed to find the place. The area around is pretty nice though...
Building Blocks is the outcome of a series of meetings between 9 architecture studios and their clients. The clients were young. As young as 6 year old in some cases. During the brainstormings, children were allowed to let their imagination run free while the architects were left with the task of interpreting their wishes and visions. The resulting buildings have strikingly different size and style.
Building Blocks investigates the accepted roles in the building process, speciﬁcally the relationship between architect and client. It also aims to show how a child's vision of an ideal home may differ from the adult norm. A child's limited architectural reference and ultimate freedom of choice may reveal new solutions for living. It may also challenge adults to think about their chosen environments in a new way by looking beyond the accepted notions of taste, fashion and tradition.
Although the original concept might seem a bit cliché (children, unlike grown-ups, don't let their creativity be cornered by rules and formalities, blablabla), the exercise brought about some inspiring constructions. Although some of them were downright conventional, others had that 'architecture installation' cachet one can sometimes find at the Venice Biennale of Architecture.
Building Blocks is a fresh way to open discussions about the accepted norms for all buildings. Is dull architecture a product of a client's lack of imagination, the architect's failure to inspire or the restraints of the planning process?
The structures were distributed over Färgfabriken's first floor as if the gallery were a small town. The show is obviously very children-friendly but it not meant to be enjoyed by kids only, even if adults might not always find it possible to wriggle inside some of the constructions.
One of the most cheerful and seducing houses is the one built by architecture studio AOC following the instructions a group of 7 children from Friars Primary School in London. The collective image of the dream house that emerged from the brainstorming features a big kitchen for baking cookies and muffins, a bathtub suspended high in the ceiling, golden colour everywhere, vibrant colours elsewhere, a roof no higher than treetops so that you can pick up apples from the windows. The windows also had to blow bubbles, by the way. The house is covered with a light reflecting golden film which transparency depends on where the light comes from.
Kjellander + Sjöberg designed a small, elegant house for two teenagers who live in a suburb of Stockholm with their parents. The building they designed would contain everything that their family flat can't. It's essentially a space where they can listen to loud music, play basketball, party with friends and play computer games.
The house built by Australian architecture studio Terroir embodies the dream of a 6 year old girl. She wanted a space that would look like a secret place from a fairytale with princesses, elves and castles.
She would live in the attic, host a friend in the basement, and they would meet via of a slide between one bathroom and the next, with each slide ending in a trampoline.
The dwelling commissioned to Hollmén Reuter Sandman by two 6 year old children is mostly a big playground with also a tunnel too narrow for adults to crawl inside, nooks, balconies and peepholes to spy on passersby.
Kod architects worked with two 7 year old kid to create a house with a roof access but also a dancefloor, lounge area, football field, bowling saloon and a secret control room to spy on people inside and outside the building.
Building Blocks was curated by Medium, a creative studio based in Stockholm producing projects related to public space, architecture and visual culture.
All my images on flickr.
Last month i was in pretty Stockholm thanks to Iaspis, a Swedish network that supports international exchange for practitioners in the areas of visual art, design, craft and architecture.
The main purpose of my visit was to give a talk at Iaspis but they kindly invited me to take part in a programme aimed at helping foreign experts get to know Stockholm designers and artists better. While the rest of the city was slowly turning into crazy madly deeply loving mood courtesy of the wedding of the Crown Princess, i got to hop from one meeting with an artist to another one with a designer, a performer, an activist or a curator. Definitely one of the best experiences of my long-ish and agitated career as a blogger.
Now looking for information about International Festival online is a nightmare. Try googling them for example... IF is a blank canvas. Its name is so vague you can't define whether they deal with contemporary visual art, cinema, dance, architecture or theater. And that's exactly the way they want it.
Loosely defined as a long-term project initiated between architecture and performance presenting work in several cultural contexts, IF keeps coming up with projects and ideas that could not be more diversified: videos, perfumes, arabic courses inside Copenhagen's Temporary National Theater, TV-programs, a mini Mobile Disco, a book titled International Festival: Everything Is Turning To Gold. They even shot a remake 1949 musical film On The Town as an alternative way to explore the social and spatial geographies of New York City.
Their first big coup took place in Berlin. When the city's dance festival Tanz im August commissioned them a work for their 2004 edition, International Festival didn't build anything nor did they produce any show. Instead, they managed to convince the festival organisers that they should let them make a welcome package for the staff and artists. Branded "International Festival", the bag contained soap, t-shirt, music, readings, flip-flops, DVDs, etc.
After that, they toured European theaters to distribute 25,000 plastic bags printed with the pink International Festival logo.
A year later, IF was at the Longue Nuit de la Danse festival in Brussels giving away 1000 bottles of a perfume called IF.
The audience opened the bottles, tried the fragrance on and hey presto, IF was everywhere. Its presence will keep on lingering in various spots around the world until the last bottle of IF is finished.
In 2007 they were at the Graz multimedia art festival Steirischer Herbst with The Theatre, a foldable and movable building that acted as a full-size stage when it was not hosting a bar, workshops on architecture, cooking, and dance, a shop, etc. A fully functioning theatre and foyer designed, built and packed with the same budget as the one of a larger scale performance. The Theatre was created to tour to different cities and contexts over a period of 3 years. Its aim is to be a platform for discourse production, debate about institution theatre and to find escapes and alternative to traditional organization, program, economy and distribution.
I didn't attend any of those events but i had the pleasure to visit Tensta Konsthall, an art center at the outskirt of Stockholm, and see what IF did with the square right in front of it.
IF turned a 1200 m2 parking lot into a public square. Called Taxingeplan, the square is located at the intersection of the subway, a shopping-centre and Tensta art-centre. IF kept a part of the site for traffic and dedicated the rest to public use. They covered the tarmac with a pattern painted with road marking paint, added plastic garden chairs and large flowerpots filled with grass, and the result is quirky but also strangely inviting and relaxing.
By inserting their actions and projects inside the gaps of cultural systems, International Festival questions cultural hierarchies, shake up the idea of a passive, contemplative audience and call for a more pervasive form of performance.
Their projects are constructed and realized in the blurry zones between aesthetics and utility, object and activation, architecture and performance. International Festival deals with the notion of spectator/viewer in respect of collectivity. A theatre audience as well as museum visitors are conventionally addressed as a population, one people. The strategies of International Festival produce an audience/viewer that by taking part individuate him/herself. International Festival has not one audience but its audience is a multitude, a heterogeneous number of individuals.
Don't miss International Festival at the upcoming Venice Biennale of Architecture which opens on August 29, 2010. They'll be working their magic at the Nordic Pavilion.
International Festival on Vimeo.