On Arcfinity, you can watch Bruce Sterling and Liam Young discuss the conceptual process of designing and modeling urban space of the future. Both showcase thier unique ways of thinking practically beyond utopia, without regard for efficiency or plausibility. The conversation is the coda of a summit last month in which Young brought together a collection of the future-minded best and brightest to form a blueprint for the city of tomorrow.
CLUI Archive photo
Founded in 1994, The Center for Land Use Interpretation is both an essential and furtive organization. In the Center's 2006 publication Overlook: Exploring the Internal Fringes of America with the Center for Land Use Interpretation, founder Matthew Coolidge shares his hope that after reading the book, "You forget about us–the Center." What matters to Coolidge is that after an encounter with the Center, "You come away with a widened sense of awareness of the physical world that surrounds you." Aside from its physical locations scattered across the country, the Center provides an online Land Use Database of "unusual and exemplary sites throughout the United States." The database catalogues sites as diverse as an abandoned pyramid project in Bedford, Indiana and the Cannikin nuclear test site on Alaska's Aleutian Island Chain. As an ongoing project, the Center is dedicated to the creative interpretation of America's already radically transformed and continually changing landscape and utilizes a decentralized model of research and inventory.
Abandoned Pyramid Project in Bedford, IN
Overlook offers this explanation of how locations are selected: "The Center regards a site as 'unusual' if it stands out as unique, extraordinary, singular, rare, or exceptional. An example might be a piece of land art of a plutonium processing facility. A site is considered 'exemplary' if it serves well to represent a more common type of land use, if it is especially articulate, descriptive, coherent, or concise. Or if it represents an apogee of its type: perhaps it's the first, the largest, the smallest, or has some other superlative quality."
Essential to the Center is the process of interpretation without the burden of encyclopedic objectivity. It offers residencies to a variety of interpreters, who engage in a creative process of understanding and interpretation. The Center ...
Installation view of Pohflepp's "Forever Future" at the Wind Tunnel Gallery in Pasedena
Artist Sascha Pohflepp's recent work "The Tsiolkovsky Trick," sourced from models of space rockets via Google's 3D Warehouse, visually embodies a particular understanding of techno-history. In his essay "Lagrangian Futures," Pohflepp explains that in 1903 Konstantin Tsiolkovsky "published a scientific article titled 'Investigation of outer space rocket appliances,' in which he proved that a propelled object could perform space flight if throughout the launch would shed parts of itself." Later in the essay, Pohflepp expounds:
Technology, although shrouded in notions of logic, reason and profit, is a largely narrative endeavor anyway. Futures have to be thought before they can be built or sold and their thinking as visions, myths and also plain lies provides what Norman M. Klein fittingly refers to as “fantastic infrastructure.” It is hardly surprising then that both Tsiolkovsky and [Jack] Parsons had a great interest in science fiction. Before he published in scientific journals, Tsiolkovsky had been writing fiction, only one year before his first influential theoretical article, he had published a novel about space colonization titled “Dreams of the Earth and Sky.”
The Tsiolkovsky Trick
Any attempt to construct a linear narrative of technological process faces countless hurdles. In embodying this narrative, Pohflepp's reveals its inadequacy through simple scrolling. Tsiolkosky's trick, of course, is narrative itself. Just as past serves as prologue, so too does the imagined future. Pohflepp's emphasis on the narrative impulse echoes an eternal critical obsession. While dreams and science fictions undoubtedly form a discursive basis for any potential future, the form of narrative itself may conceal as much as it displays. Paul Ricoeur reminds us that the stakes here may be higher than they appear: "Ultimately at stake in the case of ...
In the late 70s, the film medium's intellectual monolith Hollis Frampton announced that the video frame was "a degenerate ameoboid shape passing for a rectangle to accomodate cheap programming of late night movies." Never has this fact been more gloriously indulged than at the Museum of Art and Design's ongoing three-month celebration of everyone's magnetic tape: VHS. The series traces VHS' impact on every facet of the movie process from production to distribution, including workout tapes.
VHS assumed the throne of consumer videotape formats after defeating competeing Betamax and VX technologies. Rebecca Cleman, distribution director of Electronic Arts Intermix and one of the series' co-organizers, stressed that VHS was "an inferior format, that won over Betamax primarily because it could boast longer recording times. The poor quality of VHS, of course, makes it represent decaying technology, which always gets fetishized."
Video continues to maintain an aesthetic presence within the art world. From pioneers to contemporary practicioners, qualities associated with the aesthetic of VHS--a warm, gummy image, static lines and the low quality that comes from infinite playback--have become standbys of the gallery scene. Tonight, Cleman will present a lecture entitled Aesthetics of Analog, which will investigate the qualities of consumer video recording processes. Said Cleman: "It’s important to think beyond the VHS tape, to understand that this is part of a system of components – television, VCRs, camcorders – that created a really new culture (as of the 80s) of home video, that was very different than home movies (from film) . . . video engenders a participation that folds spectator, producer, and distributor into one."
In June, MAD showcased works like Herschell Gordon Lewis' 1967 psychic adventure Something Weird, the inspiration for Something Weird Video in 1990, which revivified Lewis' film along with works classics by Doris Wishman ...
Can you talk a little bit about the relationship between designing products like clothing and creating immersive installation environments, both of which rely on the element of "social participation," which you've described as essential to your work?
An idea I have been throwing around for a while now is "any surface can be a painting?" That said, I left my clothing line behind in 2010 because I realize that it was not doing what I wanted it to do. The original idea for the clothing was that the audience wearing the clothes with my patterns on it would blend in with the immersive black-light installation. These installations usually have a live-musical component to it and the audience's movement to the music would create an active surface to the installation. I quite like this harmonious audio-visual experience when it does happen.
The idea of social participation is still really important in my work, although currently I am holding back and reconfiguring my strategies towards social participation.
I was really fortunate to spend quite a bit of time with Rirkrit Tiravanija over the past year and see him in action. He is a master at opening up a space in his work for the audience to experience and discover things for themselves and I am trying to incorporate some of that quality in my future pieces.
Much of your work concentrates on the depiction of movement for its own sake, divorced from the representation of objects in space. The affect is achieved using dense layers and bold colors. What influences these instances of abstraction?
If the world we see is a painting and everything is made from the same substance, then all you essentially see are different colors and shapes vibrating at different speed. I wanted my abstract ...