Re: [-empyre-] media architecture and cross-cultural influence
In taking a look at the posts of the past couple of days I’m struck
by the assumptions and analogies between media and architecture that
are offered as responses to Johannes’ post of 09.06.07. Having
engaged with both disciplines, I find myself wondering as to how
exactly these responses might assume to hold an inherent
“truthiness.” These range from Sean Cubitt’s post: “What we learn
from architecture is not so much about imersion but aout a specific
order of interaction, one that is not about individual experience but
about distracted inhabiting.” In and of itself, I find this to be an
astute observation and incisive phrasing. However, is it
architecture that we are speaking of in this regard or is it, as Sean
stated earlier in his post, more accurately “public space” and urban /
space planning. To my mind the inherent characteristics of media –
transience and one dimensionality stand in binary opposition to the 3-
dimensionality and static materiality of architectural practices.
Sean continues on with: “Architecture is a modification - often quite
small - of the behaviour of large groups. This is nothing like the
traditional artwork, which asks us to have a deep but individual
experience. Instead, the capabilty of the architectural is to
encourage superficial but mass responses.”
Again, this leads me to question the use of “architecture.” Are we
truly referring to notions of “urban planning” – of which
architecture is one of the major contributing disciplines? It also
leads me to consider the discreet roles attributed here to
architecture and “traditional art “ – of which I assume to be the
fine arts ( painting, drawing, sculpture.) The role seemingly
ascribed here as a function of “traditional art” is one that
approaches secular spiritualism. This raises a topic for an entirely
different list discussion!
To continue with James Way’s more recent post: 'Notorious difficulty'
seems to run the gamut, not only for the viewers but also for the
designers. For "Chrysalis Bridge" we had the support of Buffalo Bayou
Art Park to install the work. However, we still needed to gain
approval from the City, the Department of Transportation (because it
hung from a bridge), Department of Public Safety, and Department of
Buildings because we connected to a nearby lamp post to gain
electricity for the installation and performance. Then of course the
difficulty of getting passerby to take more than a passing glance
The phrase taking “a passing glance” seemingly echoes Sean Cubitt’s
earlier concern of “distracted inhabiting.” Again, we see the
privileging of visuality within a spatial condition which, when
inhabited, is evocative of all of one’s senses. This, of course,
reflects the manner in which Mille has created her pieces – invoking
both the auditory and olfactory senses augmented by physical, motion
and spatial relocation /dislocation / displacement, as the case may
be. James references this in his own work :“The sensors and
interactive aspects are to prompt the viewer to engage the work reach
that suspension of disbelief. We intend the work to be bodily
experiential not just visual or intellectual. “
But, of course, the phrase “suspension of disbelief” is a staple of
cinematic language – a visual language – “a willing suspension of
disbelief”. What may well be at issue here ( and in need of further
discussion ) are an individual’s notions of the quotidian experiences
of a city – a physical locale - in relationship to those more
familiarly constructed visual experiences with offer both a
collective and individuated “suspension of disbelief . ” These might
be said to constitute more or less a poetic faith. This poetic faith
possibly offers an unexpected and innate encounter to the audience.
It may reach across ideological divides without conceding any agency
to offer possible intervention and critique. Perhaps it may be
helpful to ask when does a quotidian experience prepare one to
suspend disbelief in order to engage with a work of art / spatial /
performative experience? And, of course, is this necessary?
On Sep 7, 2007, at 2:52 AM, James Way wrote:
I agree these metaphors certainly do inform and inquire about the
the polis. And I concur that for a large percentage of the
population landscape, architecture and urbanism are backdrops to
daily life. Only when it presents a challenge, typically
negatively, does it intrude upon consciousness - such as when
construction blocks a favorite route, when the empty lot to a
building becomes the next high-rise condo that 'provides glorious
views and light' while simultaneously blocking them.
The effectiveness of architecture on an urban scale in an area of
relative peace to modify behavior is relatively small because its
scale is so much larger than people are used to experiencing on a
personal, emotional level and the environment is not one where
people are hyper-alert. I think Renate's work on trauma,
specifically to 9/11 might elucidate this. Also this bdoes not
address the Berlin Wall, the Separation Wall and other
architectures of geo-political intent and instrumentalization.
'Notorious difficulty' seems to run the gamut, not only for the
viewers but also for the designers. For "Chrysalis Bridge" we had
the support of Buffalo Bayou Art Park to install the work. However,
we still needed to gain approval from the City, the Department of
Transportation (because it hung from a bridge), Department of
Public Safety, and Department of Buildings because we connected to
a nearby lamp post to gain electricity for the installation and
performance. Then of course the difficulty of getting passerby to
take more than a passing glance.
The peculiar dilemma for the architect is not only to design
something that has a conceptual quality that is exploring an idea
or condition but also to build it. Architecture is large scale with
relatively large costs, long time frames, a given budget, a
multitude of personalities and agencies. And it's rare to find a
client who is willing to support an experiment when a building will
do just fine.
Consequently, we build installations to explore ideas of space,
inhabiting space, defining space, conceiving of space. We build it
because we can test our ideas and techniques and we want viewers to
become immersed in the environment, not just to look at it. The
sensors and interactive aspects are to prompt the viewer to engage
the work reach that suspension of disbelief. We intend the work to
be bodily experiential not just visual or intellectual. The terms
viewer/work become more elastic so that there emerges a dialog
between the two, that the boundary between the two becomes
flexible. The performance aspect takes this to a possibly didactic
The situationist movement and the site/non-site do hold places in
the practice as we are mapping, documenting and either relocating
works into new contexts, or secondly, occupying a space with the
intent revealing its history or creating a narrative through our
interests of a physical body and an immaterial body.
"trans-border" was organized on a uniform grid within the gallery
dimensions, and one hundred bamboo stalks were vertically
compressed between the floor and roof's metal z-purlins. Bamboo
attached horizontally in askew lines provided an armature for
copper screen and scrim, which marked, divided and mapped space
with various data/media while impeding direct movement.
The audience/participants had to consciously navigate the physical
space and the virtual spaces of projections and sounds. This
heightened the tension between the primitive, physical body, and
the virtual, immaterial body emerging in electronic environments.
The gallery space became a space for exploring this relation of
physical space to virtual spaces and physical bodies to data/media
I don't think people would have known they were border-crossing
semi-trucks, or maybe even trucks at all, nor would viewers in
Laredo except for that the association may have been stronger. But
the role of a geo-political border was not an explicit theme - as
with the work of Teddy Cruz who will be joining the discussion
before the month's end.
The sound recordings were another layer of sensual activation and
information, and it juxtaposed natural movement to mechanical
movement. Electronic data and image are liquid forms of information/
media; however, material goods and bodies still involve very
physical transportation and movement. This was the contrast that we
were highlighting and the border we were exploring.
I don't think a-politcal=useless. If something has a function it
isn't useless and its function or politics isn't dependent upon
media, digital or analog. Media is technology and while some
technology has an inherent political nature, technology is a tool.
We can define it either as craft, making, or tools (i.e. hardware)
or as techniques, systems, methods (i.e. software). I think
intentionality should substitute functionality.
Can you find the hidden words? Take a break and play Seekadoo!
- JETZTZEIT -
... the space between zero and one ...
LOS ANGELES I SAN FRANCISCO
The present age prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to
the original, fancy to reality, the appearance to the essence for in
these days illusion only is sacred, truth profane.
Ludwig Feuerbach, 1804-1872,
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