Monday, 9 November 2009

Baby's on Fire

Cottage on Fire, Bekonscot

Joseph Gandy / John Soane The Bank of England in Ruins

Ed Ruscha, Los Angeles County Museum on Fire, 1968

Buildings of Disaster

Buildings of Disaster

Constantin Boym
Laurene Leon Boym

design year:

Boym Design Studio, USA

bonded nickel

Souvenirs of human tragedy, even violent events, are a part of our object-history. Each year hoards of people visit the battlefield of Gettysburg and the site of the car crash which killed Diana, Princess of Wales. Perhaps we embrace horror so that we may contain it, even feel some sense of control over it.

Buildings of Disaster is a project begun by Boym Design Studio in 1998. This thoughtful project is described by the creative director, Constantin Boym:

"The end of a century has always been a special moment in human history. While we no longer expect the world to come to an end, we all still share a particular mood of introspection, a desire to look back and to draw comparisons, and a sense of closure and faint hope. Above all, the end of the century is about memory. We think that souvenirs are important cultural objects which can store and communicate memories, emotions and desires. Buildings of Disaster are miniature replicas of famous structures where some tragic or terrible events happened to take place. Some of these buildings may have been prized architectural landmarks, others, non-descript, anonymous structures. But disaster changes everything. The images of burning or exploded buildings make a different, populist history of architecture, one based on emotional involvement rather than on scholarly appreciation. In our media-saturated time, the world disasters stand as people's measure of history, and the sites of tragic events often become involuntary tourist destinations."

More here

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Friday, 2 October 2009

Things to Do and See 2

The Walthamstow Tapestry by Grayson Perry at Victoria Miro

"The Walthamstow Tapestry explores the emotional resonance of brand names in our lives and our quasi-religious relationship to consumerism. Charting man's passage from birth to death, the tapestry is peppered with leading brands encountered along the way. Stripped of their logos and thus much of their identity, the names run alongside - often incongruous - depictions of people going about their everyday lives: walking the dog, nursing children, skateboarding, hoovering, and, of course, shopping. Perry is a great chronicler of contemporary life, in whose work sentiment and nostalgia sit subversively alongside fear and anger. In The Walthamstow Tapestry many of the world's leading names, from luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Tiffany to high street giants such as Marks and Spencer and IKEA, come under Perry's excoriating gaze in this cautionary and prophetic tale of modern day life. Inspired by antique batik fabrics from Malaysia as well as eastern European folk art this vast work provides a colourful, rich and complex visual journey across our contemporary landscape. "

Victoria Miro Gallery

16 Wharf Road London N1 7RW t: 44 (0)20 7336 8109 Tuesday - Saturday 10.00am - 6.00pm Monday by appointment

Process Diagramming

Above: Acid Brass, Jeremy Deller

See also >>Infosthetics<<

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Things To Do and See 1

Dear Inter 12-ers,

Here are some suggestions for things to do and see over the next week:

Nils Norman & Dave Hullfish Bailey at Raven Row

See here for more on Nils Norman

Go to see James Wines/SITE Monday 5 October 2009, 6.30pm at the Barbican. Book your ticket here. SITEs projects are absolutely incredible.

More Here

Just How Strange Are Modern Materials? PIG 05049

PIG 05049

"Christien Meindertsma has spent three years researching all the products made from a single pig. Amongst some of the more unexpected results were: Ammunition, medicine, photo paper, heart valves, brakes, chewing gum, porcelain, cosmetics, cigarettes, conditioner and even bio diesel.

Meindertsma makes the subject more approachable by reducing everything to the scale of one animal. After it's death, Pig number 05049 was shipped in parts throughout the world. Some products remain close to their original form and function while others diverge dramatically. In an almost surgical way a pig is dissected in the pages of the book - resulting in a startling photo book where all the products are shown at their true scale (1:1)."

See >>here<<>>here<<

Nothing Can Be True Which Is Not Beautiful

It seems that the problem with 'truth' and materials arises in the aftermath of the industrial revolution.

The industrial revolution fundamentally re-shaped the organisation and mechanisms of society. Karl Marx describes for example that the division of labour creates what he calls 'alienation'

Equally, we see a kind of alienation from materials themselves.

This is expressed by John Ruskin – who if Nikolaus Pevsner is to be believed - is the origin of the morality of Modernism.

Here are a few Ruskin quotes to give you a flavour of his attitude:

"Every increased possession loads us with new weariness."

"There is scarcely anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse, and sell a little more cheaply. The person who buys on price alone is this man's lawful prey."

"It is his restraint that is honorable to a person, not their liberty."

"It is far more difficult to be simple than to be complicated; far more difficult to sacrifice skill and easy execution in the proper place, than to expand both indiscriminately."

"He who can take no great interest in what is small will take false interest in what is great."

And especially relevant to us:

"Nothing can be beautiful which is not true."

Ruskin was describing a form of alienation from what me might call a 'natural' state caused by industrialization.

For Modernism, the idea of 'truth to materials' was fundamental - that any material should be used where it is most appropriate and its nature should not be hidden. Concrete, therefore, should not be painted and the means of its construction should be celebrated.

But honesty is hard, and if you look closely, you find that much of the 'truth' of Modernism was actually a clever disguise. That Mies' I-sections are applied decoration rather than structural. That the Villa Savoye is rendered brick, rather than concrete.

Villa Savoye under construction

We might speculate that this demonstrates the impossibility of a singular truth – that it is impossible to manifest (especially in architecture, where costs, project managers, clients and contractors will conspire against such embedded ideology). Instead, what is important is the idea of a truth. And that you might have to lie to make your truth real. And of course, that there are many truths. Each of these truths reflects a particular position, particular view, and particular ideology.

For us, at the other end of the industrial revolution, materials have become something else. And so has 'truth'.

We might look to more contemporary sources to understand our relationship – and to chart our alienation – from materials.

We might think of Warhol's Brillo Boxes, which are representations of cardboard boxes.

Or Jeff Koons cast-in-chrome balloons whose change in materials makes your brain twitch in strange ways.

Or the ways in which cheese becomes super processed into hundreds of different forms.

Or the genetic manipulation of grass to increase its performance as a sports surface

Or the million ways fake wood has been applied to forms that would be impossible to make out of wood.

Or how MDF is originally comes from a tree, is turned into sawdust, and then reconstituted back into a material that performs like a wood but with a generic evenness that natural wood doesn’t have.

So, to return to Ruskin, we might remake his phrase in other ways: "Nothing can be true which is not beautiful". Or "Not true is also beautiful". Or even "Nothing can be beautiful".

Before We Begin

Hello Inter 12.

We will be meeting tomorrow (Friday 2nd Oct) at the AA Bar at 10am. Sharp!

Please bring with you something 'fake'.

Before then, you should read some of >>this<<. Mythologies by Roland Barthes is an amazing book which will help inform our research throughout the year. Barthes showed that it was possible to read the `trivia' of everyday life as full of meanings.