The Watermarks Project (2009) - Chris Bodle

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Sea levels are rising due to climate change... but how much could they rise and how quickly? And how could this affect the city of Bristol?

Watermarks is a public art project that will use a series of large-scale projections at sites across the centre of the city to explore these questions.

Flood level marks will be projected on to the sides of buildings, showing how high water levels could potentially rise as the sea inundates the central, low lying areas of Bristol. By displaying these levels in real space, the project aims to help us to imagine the depth and extent of this potential future flooding - allowing us to measure them against ourselves in familiar environments.

The complexity and inherent uncertainty involved in predicting sea level rise means there is little consensus across the global scientific community as to how much sea levels could rise in the coming decades. The Watermarks project will use current UK government predictions for the next century to set key flood mark levels.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

Via CR Blog

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>>HYPERION_Fragment<<(2006) - rosalie

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Light composition currently on view at ZKM Karlsruhe. Description below from ZKM's site:

With HYPERION_Fragment, and in addition to HELIOS (to be seen at the ZKM_Cube) another of rosalie's works is to be presented at the ZKM. The work was created as a collaborative project between the Stuttgart artist and the composer, Georg Friedrich Hass, on the occasion of the Donaueschingen Music Festival, in 2006. With its presentation at the ZKM_Foyer, it has now attained a new dimension but, at the same time, a new level of meaning as a unique example of light sculpture. 3.150 computer-guided lighting units display a continual river of light between the most diverse color nuances.

In dialogue with "Light Music for a Large Orchestra" by Georg Friedrich Haas, this river of light represents the visual counterpart to the continual sound tapes of Haas' composition. At the ZKM, however, the music will no longer be sounding. HYPERION_Fragment has far more become an autonomous work of art - almost as if light itself has been composed once again. At the Foyer, the light installation, with a scale of c. 9.25 x 27 m, is given new, monumental arrangement.

Via Mediaarchitecture

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Get Ready for Take-Off

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Fanzine for Electronics and Aesthetics Junk Jet just released their second issue, which examines "Speculative Architecture." Published out of Stuttgart, Germany, each installment of Junk Jet pulls together a chaotic assortment of collage, text, art projects, lists, photographs, and much more. The term "speculative" is used to group "works of unpredictable architectures and volatile spaces within real and virtual environments." One such space could be the empty bedrooms found in booty dancing demos on YouTube minutes before the dancer enters the frame. Olia Lialina writes on Dennis Knopf's Bootyclipse which compiles fuzzy, webcam footage of these domestic interiors, while maintaining their original soundtrack. (This article also appeared as a section in her essay Infinite Seance 2.) The confused comments from non-art seeking YouTube users posted in response to Knopf's video entries draw out a sense of speculation in their attempts to understand what it is they're viewing. 0100101110101101.org's An Ordinary Building also toys with the viewer's expectations. They contribute documentation of this project, in which they placed a plaque on a nondescript building in Viterbo, Italy declaring that the structure "...was designed by an unknown architect in an irrelevant epoch and never belonged to an important person." The sign stands in contrast to others found throughout Italy which detail the history and importance of specific buildings. While Junk Jet's themes are generally quite open (JODI contribute a recipe to this issue), one salient strand seems to be the confusion and suspension which follow speculation, regardless of its architecture.

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Tainted White

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Le Corbusier wrote When the Cathedrals were White: A Journey to the Country of Timid People after his first trip to the United States in 1935. Whether the tome's resoundingly sour tone reflects the architect's failure to secure commissions or his anxiety, as Koolhaas later theorized, at finding in Manhattan the half-brother of "La Ville Radieuse" remains unclear. In any case, Le Corbusier's critique of the puritanical cleanliness he sees as a "national virtue" has provided important insight into the underbelly of the American architecture and "the psychosexual charge of the white wall," a locus of repressed desires given preeminent form in the white cube. Justin Beal's current project at New York's Bortolami smartly delineates these related histories within a broader libidinal economy, inclusive of "design, politics, advertising, language and aesthetics." Five rectangular sculptures, fronted with glass and sided with untreated aluminum, sit as low pedestals or hang flush with the walls, explicitly mimicking the proportions of corporate office windows. Backed with opaque sheets, the glass doesn't offer a view onto any subject, but rather remains flat and affectless, in keeping with the impassive radiance of the surrounding walls. In Beal's previous sculptures, fruit functioned as surrogates for human bodies, their gradual decay offering counterpoints to the Platonic precepts underpinning the sculptures' source architectures. "The mold, the drips, the flies," Beal once wrote, "illustrate the inevitable impossibility of containing a human organism within a structure made of glass and steel and sheetrock." At Bortolami, Beal presents a further degree of removal, introducing glory hole-shaped cuts in the glass, stuffed with dirty cotton rags, and sex toy-like objects, in steel, with what look like plaster casts of oranges on either end. The sheer banality the white cube presently connotes all but hides the way ...

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Interview with Aaron Levy

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This week I spoke with Aaron Levy, Executive Director and a Senior Curator of the Philadelphia-based interdisciplinary non-profit art space Slought Foundation, about his participation in the U.S. Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia, 11th International Architecture Exhibition. Working in a team with William Menking and Andrew Strum, the exhibition, titled "Into the Open: Positioning Practice," investigates contemporary socially-engaged architectural practice in the United States. Sixteen practitioners were selected for the exhibition, including The Center for Land Use Interpretation, the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), Design Corps, Detroit Collaborative Design Center, Gans Studio, The Heidelberg Project, International Center for Urban Ecology, Jonathan Kirschenfeld Associates,Project Row Houses, Rebar, Rural Studio, Spatial Information Design Lab/Laura Kurgan, Studio 804, Smith and Others, The Edible Schoolyard/Yale Sustainable Food Project, and Estudio Teddy Cruz. Levy, along with William Menking and Andrew Strum, will discuss the exhibition at Columbia University on October 13th and downtown at Studio-X on October 14th. - Ceci Moss

Ceci Moss: The title for the U.S. Pavilion is "Into the Open: Positioning Practice." Considering the wide range of approaches represented in this exhibition, I'm wondering if you can discuss why you selected this title, and how it speaks to the premise of community involvement through architectural practice.

Aaron Levy: What should our place be in this world, and how should architects help shape our sense of place? These are two of the questions that our exhibition gestures towards, through a new American taxonomy of conflict and urgency that takes visitors through some of the richest and the poorest neighborhoods of North America. The sixteen practices we have selected embody an expanded definition of architectural responsibility, whereby architects and designers become activists, developers, facilitators of a more inclusive urban policy, and producers of unique urban research. The exhibition ...

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A Big New Space for New Media

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As of today, the U.S. will have a bold new venue for new media art and performance: EMPAC. Short for Experimental Media & Performing Arts Center, the Troy, NY-based facility embodies state-of-the-artness and its affiliation with the highly regarded research university, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, ensures that the installations, performances, and concerts presented there will always be ahead of the technological curve. The space, itself, is a masterpiece. The 220,000-square foot building, designed by Grimshaw, includes a 1200-seat concert hall with an adjustable fabric ceiling; a 400-seat theater with a 70-foot fly tower; two black-box studio spaces with tunable, tilting wall tiles; and acoustically isolated artist/researcher work spaces. Within these walls, and under the direction of Johannes Goebel (who helped found ZKM) and curators Kathleen Forde, Hélène Lesterlin, and Micah Silver, visitors will experience work that emphasizes immersion, interactivity, and time-based media. For the next three weekends, EMPAC will present a major festival full of provocative performances and installations by The Wooster Group, dumb type, Workspace Unlimited, Verdensteatret, Vox Vocal Ensemble and International Contemporary Ensemble, Per Tengstrand, Madlib, Cecil Taylor, Pauline Oliveros, Richard Siegal/The Bakery, Robert Normandeau, Fieldwork, Gamelan Galak Tika + Ensemble Robot, and others. This unveiling has been several years in the making but reservations are going fast, so you won't want to wait to get your tickets and get over to Troy. - Marisa Olson

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Community Builders

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Currently on display at Baltimore's Contemporary Museum, "Cottage Industry" foregrounds the entrepreneurial and communitarian ethos of six artists/organizations, including Andrea Zittel and Christine Hill. The exhibition positions these practices, many taking the form of real- or pseudo-business and cultural ventures, in an extensive history of relational projects: from Beuys' "social sculpture" to Matta-Clark's "Food" restaurant/cooperative. Several of the participants interpolate conceptual production with community organization, including Lisa Anne Auerbach, whose project, The Tract House, makes available to museum visitors and online users a series of "manifestos, diatribes, stories, [and] rants" written by friends and acquaintances of the artist, as well as visitors to her website. Auerbach thus overlaps two meanings of "tract" (an area of land and a loosely distributed, often socially- or politically-conscious text), as if to suggest her open document pool to be a foundation for a new architecture of social exchange. The City Reliquary will also contribute something from its dusty coffers. First established as a window display in 2000, the City Reliquary has become a much-loved spot in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, displaying the eccentric accumulations of local collectors, old New York ephemera, and organizing events like the annual Bicycle Fetish Day (which is pretty much what its title suggests). For the exhibition, a mini-City Reliquary will be set up in the gallery in the form of a shadowbox containing special finds from their collection. In addition to exhibiting past works by participants, Contemporary Museum has helped a handful of them realize site-specific projects throughout Baltimore, including the sixth "regional prototype garden" of Fritz Haeg's Edible Estates, an ongoing project to replace "the domestic front lawn with a highly productive edible landscape." While the exhibition will conclude on August 24th, Haeg's garden will continue indefinitely -- one of many excellent examples the exhibition ...

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Getting to Your Safe Space

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British artist Larisa Blazic has a background in architecture and an official graduate degree in hypermedia. For the last decade, she's been pursuing mergers of the two, using site-specific, interactive installations as a means of exploring space as a carrier of meaning. Her projects often employ audio and explore creative surveillance technologies to think-through and beyond the traditional ways in which so-called public art interventions communicate to the general public. In conjunction with the 2008 London Festival of Architecture (from July 14-20), she'll create an installation at the Novas Contemporary Urban Centre called In This Place of Safety. Blazic's argument is that we no longer rely solely on the basic needs of food, shelter, and emotional validation to feel safe, but that there is now a new environment for safety which can be observed in the structure of our surroundings. The project "uses a building as a projection screen to explore intersections between temporary video interventions, architecture, and art." In this case, the video will screen images of deserted public playgrounds overlaid with audio recordings of children discussing and defining personal safety. By activating the hot button issue of safety within this particular public format, Blazic hopes to initiate a correspondence between the content of the video and the context of the large, staid Southwark building facade onto which the images are cast. - Marisa Olson


Image: Larisa Blazic, In This Place of Safety (Video Still), 2008

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Sean Dack at Daniel Reich

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"Ghost Hardware," Sean Dack's latest exhibition at New York's Daniel Reich Gallery, builds a visual language, in photography and sculpture, from the limits of technological legibility. Over a series of unique c-prints, thoughtfully hung throughout the gallery, Dack coats a panoply of sourced images with thick layers of digital interference: glitches that "tangle and halt the flow of information," but in so doing also provide the precondition for the exhibited art-objects. Formally, these images are beautiful, their striated lines of pixels at times staining underlying images in cyan and magenta; at others, reducing them to wholly abstract geometries. These techniques prove most effective when echoing the sourced images, as when Dack's pixels form postmodern building block analogues to the structural units of the unfinished, contemporary skyscrapers in Building (Hotel, Pyongyang) (2008) and CCTV #2 (2007). Yet on a broader level, Dack's choice of images risks belaboring his conceptual inquiry. Shots of isolated women, an airborne helicopter, unmarked CIA airplane and a missile test quickly move the exhibition into well-trodden, conspiracy theory terrain. One wonders whether Dack's Pop sensibility - most explicitly manifest in his rubber encasings of obsolete tape decks and CD changers, also on display - extends into the realm of his photographs' subject-matter and thus justifies the indulgence. Whether or not this is the case, the artist's formal investigation of the psychic life of digital technology would be far more interesting without its narrative props. - Tyler Coburn


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Prison Inspection

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Architectural design is currently enjoying a watershed moment of increased media attention, but among all the discussion of new museums, opera houses, and theatres, there is little attention paid to one of the world's oldest and most significant cultural institutions: the prison. According to a recent Washington Post article, more than 1 in 100 American adults were incarcerated at the start of 2008, making jails among the most popularly-visited sites in the nation. Historically, these buildings have been important tools in the disciplining of societies (including those who lived and worked in them, or those seeking to avoid them), and they've often provided major critical metaphors for the transmission of ideology and power structures-- most famously in the case of Foucault's interest in Bentham's panopticon. But for all the discussion generated about the design of this structure, it was ultimately dismissed as a bad idea, and few new ideas have been proposed. An exhibition at Turin's Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation, entitled "YOUprison: Some thoughts on the limitation of space and freedom," invites 11 international architectural studios to suggest prison designs that not only consider the practical challenges of such spaces (small matching units, confinement, surveillance sight lines, lockdown procedures), but also the contemporary implications of imprisonment. Curated by Francesco Bonami, the show includes a true who's-who of architects, including Alexander Brodsky, Diller+Scofidio, INABA, Eyal+Ines Weizman, and others. Translating these designs and their site-specific psychological effects into the context of a museum space present a unique challenge for all involved, but the results will offer proof of the jail cell's status as unspoken spectacle and insight into the architect's ethical and personal relationship to the places they create. Many have even chosen to use the cells as platforms for the dissemination ...

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