Sounds from Old New York

(0)


In the seventy years since it last served as a major terminal for Brooklyn-bound ferries, the Battery Maritime Building has existed in relative disuse, accumulating signs of rust and decay common to the structures and sites of older eras of New York City. But with Playing the Building, a Creative Time-sponsored installation by David Byrne that opened this past weekend in the Great Hall, the building once again comes alive in clamorous sonority, producing a rendition of its own material history played upon its very body. Developing upon a project proposal for Färgfabriken, in Stockholm, Byrne has retrofitted a vintage Weaver pump organ with a bundle of relays and wires, which rise from its backside and spread, like a snaky canopy, over the 9,000 square-foot room. Each note of the organ triggers a particular event and sound in the space: lower keys power motors that vibrate the hall's girders, causing muffled rumbles; middle tones generate flute-like sounds from heating pipes; and higher notes cause spring-loaded solenoids to bang and clang on columns and radiators. The installation thus produces a strangely phenomenal field, all the more surprising given the absence of microphones, amplification and electronics in supplementing the building's performance. Even more importantly, it activates the audience by allowing members to take turns playing the organ. As Byrne remarked, in an interview with Playing the Building curator Anne Pasternak, "It became a kind of social apparatus as well as being an installation. It became a shared communal experience." -- Tyler Coburn


Image: David Byrne, Playing the Building, 2008

Link »

MORE »


Request for Qualifications: Situated Technologies: Toward the Sentient City

(0)

The Architectural League of New York announced a request for qualifications today for their Spring 2009 exhibition Situated Technologies: Toward the Sentient City. Details below.


Situated Technologies: Toward the Sentient City
An exhibition critically exploring the evolving relationship between ubiquitous/pervasive computing and urban architecture


SUBMISSION DEADLINE: June 27, 2008


The Architectural League of New York invites architects, artists, designers, technologists,engineers, urbanists, or teams thereof, to submit qualifications for an exhibition that will critically explore the evolving relationship between ubiquitous/pervasive computing and urban architecture. The League will commission five to seven teams to develop urban interventions-to be installed in and around New York City in spring 2009-that will imagine alternative trajectories for how various mobile, embedded, networked, and distributed forms of media, information and communication systems might inform the architecture of urban space and/or influence our behavior within it. Commissioned projects will receive support ranging from $5,000 to $25,000.


The exhibition continues the League's commitment to supporting original research into the implications of ubiquitous/pervasive computing for architecture and urbanism. In fall 2006, the League, along with the Center for Virtual Architecture and the Institute for Distributed Creativity [iDC], presented "Architecture and Situated Technologies," a 3-day symposium organized by Omar Khan, Trebor Scholz, and Mark Shepard, that brought together researchers and practitioners from art, architecture, technology and sociology to explore the emerging role of Situated Technologies in the design and inhabitation of the contemporary city. The project continued in winter 2007 with the publication "Urban Computing and Its Discontents," the first of nine pamphlets to be published over the next three years that explores how our experience of the city and the choices we make in it are affected by mobile communications, pervasive media, ambient informatics and other Situated Technologies.


[CONTINUED]

MORE »


Talk of the Town

(0)


Who could disagree that cities are systems? Certainly not anyone who's ever read an Italo Calvino novel, watched a German Expressionist film, tuned-in to the Jetsons, or witnessed any of the other myriad artifacts of the cultural casting of townships as machines. Of course, some of these machines are better-oiled than others, but as population, worldwide, continues to boom and buildings continue reaching for the stars, there is an increasing role for the artist-savant to intervene in divining the future of urban systems. This platform is the launching pad for the "On Cities" exhibition at Stockholm's Arkitekturmuseet (March 4-May 4, 2008), where four artists' projects push us toward "an understanding of architecture and the city as a dynamic system, consisting of social, economic, legal, political, cultural, geographical and physical layers." Oriana Eliçabe's Rebel Voices embraces hip-hop as a means of defining and asserting one's self within cities. The documentary slide project explores hip-hop as a global phenomenon before looking at its success as a means of local expression in various cities in Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America. Fernando Llanos traces regions on his bike, with his Videoman project, in which he cycles through existing communication channels to simultaneously record and project his immediate environment in a way that heightens awareness of the space by putting a frame around it. The Delhi-based consortium, Cybermohalla Hub draws parallels between "real" and "cyber" spaces by architecting a real neighborhood (the meaning of the word "mohalla" in both Hindi and Urdu) in the form of a cultural lab in which inhabitants can consider the shifting nature of online place-based identities. The members of the artist group flyingCity perceive a lack of landmark images for Seoul, Korea, and they've collaborated with local community groups to envision utopian ...

MORE »


Chartering Utopia

(0)


Beijing-based artist Cao Fei uses her activities in Second Life (SL) to draw fantastical parallels to socio-political scenarios in real life. As it turns out, SL is a perfect place to consider city planning and the cultural drives behind development patterns. It is, afterall, one big experiment in participatory design, with users constructing their world and everything in it, even carrying out social relations in a highly-systematized manner. Fei's avatar, China Tracy, made a three-part documentary of life in this society, called i.Mirror, which was included in the Rhizome-curated exhibition Montage: Unmonumental Online. For Fei's current show at New York's Lombard-Freid Projects, she once again displays the fruits of Tracy's labor, with RMB City. The gallery has become a retail space for the promotion of this "experimental utopian world," in which institutions and investors have been invited to participate as organizers. Fei's exhibition includes "pure white" sculptural models of the city, builder's tools and materials, laptops for connecting to Second Life, and stills from Tracy's newest documentary, RMB CITY-A Secondlife City Planning, which is also projected onto what looks like a pool of water. The sailing city constructed in Tracy's film has all the trappings of a grown-up society, complete with transportation infrastructure, industrial pollutants, and diplomatic pandas, but it feels almost like a child's imaginary assemblage, constructed of toys, junk, and futuristic roadways, some of which end abruptly, depositing travelers into the vast ocean around it. The film's soundtrack further pushes the trope of "play" with its softly soothing electronic beats. (One imagines this score could gently drown-out any voices of resistance.) According to Fei, the city reflects "the condensed incarnation of contemporary Chinese cities with most of their characteristics; a series of new Chinese fantasy realms that ...

MORE »


Cloud (2008) by Troika

(0)




Troika is a London-based art and design studio run by Conny Freyer, Eva Rucki and Sebastien Noel. They were recently commissioned by British Airways to produce a new project entitled "Cloud" for the luxury lounges in Heathrow Terminal 5. See below for a statement from Troika about the sculpture:

...'Cloud' [is] a five meter long digital sculpture whose surface is covered with 4638 flip-dots that can be individually addressed by a computer to animate the entire skin of the sculpture. Flip-dots were conventionally used in the 70s and 80s to create signs in train-stations and airports. We were fascinated by their materiality, by the way they physically flip from one side to the other. The sound they generate is also instantly reminiscent of travel, and we therefore decided to explore their aesthetic potential in 'Cloud'...

We started to work on the metaphor of clouds as one's flies, and the contrast which exists between the busy, hectic airport experience, and the calm, luminous and ethereal world which we discover as we fly through this dense layer. Another of our inspiration came from the old electromagnetic flip-dots which were used in railways and airport signs from the mid 70s. Those signs, with their characteristic flicking noise which instantly reminds us of travel, represent to us a golden age of technology, when analogue and digital started to merge. The indicators, dots which can flip from one side to the other with an electric impulse, have a fantastic materiality, a physicality which more modern technologies often lack, de-materialised into the virtual...

MORE »