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Flick Picks

Art and architecture films abound at the 2017 New York Film Festival
The 55th New York Film Festival boasted several art and architecture films, signaled by this year’s poster by Richard Serra: A B&W photograph of a seven-sided Cor-ten steel sculpture forming an oculus looking skyward. Eighty-eight-year old French New Wave director Agnes Varda teams up with 33-year-old street photographer JR in Faces Places, an artists’ road movie across rural France. The two form an unlikely and utterly charming couple (I’ve since heard that Varda is sick of hearing the film is “charming,” which endears her all the more) who celebrate labor—miners, dock workers, hairdressers, mail carriers, farmers—by photographing them, creating large-format prints, and pasting them on buildings, trains, and shipping containers. The pair, both of whom have signature looks—Varda’s is white-haired bowl cut with a thick red rim, JR’s is a hat and sunglasses that never come off—share a passion for images and how they are created, displayed, and shared. Together they up each other’s game. Their empathy with working people is shown by “empowering them through [the] size” of the ephemeral, dignified photos they post. The workers have a keen sense of how art is for everyone, and they enthusiastically choose to participate in this project. Susan Froemke’s The Opera House traces the Metropolitan Opera’s move from its beautiful but inadequate home at 1411 Broadway between 39 and 40th streets to Lincoln Center in 1966. With various schemes to move as early as 1908, a variety of locations and plans were proposed, but the winning scheme, spurred by Title 1 urban renewal, was masterminded by Robert Moses, who envisioned this cultural campus replacing the so-called “slums” of the Upper West Side. With Wallace K. Harrison as the architect of the most prominent building in the complex, we see the compromises made in the design process as well as the needs of Met General Manager Rudolf Bing, and the run-up to the opening performance of Franco Zeffirelli’s Antony and Cleopatra by Samuel Barber. Ninety-year-old soprano Leontyne Price, who sang the role of Cleopatra in this premiere, is the highlight and the true soul of the interviewees who help to tell the story. In Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sara Driver takes us back in time to a musical and artistic time capsule of the 1970s and 80s. Not only a visual artist, whose street graffiti art came inside to galleries and clubs such as Mudd Club, Club 57, and CBGB, Basquiat also played in a band, illustrating the collapsed boundaries between art forms. In interviews with Fred Brathwaite (aka Fab Five Freddy), Lee Quiñones, Luc Sante, Nan Goldin, Jim Jarmusch, and others, plus a rich display of rare archival footage, the period comes alive with Basquiat as the perfect vehicle for telling the story of this era. Arthur Miller: Writer is revealed to us through interviews conducted by his film director daughter, Rebecca, permitting us to see a private side of this public persona not usually visible, the man behind the icon. Son of an illiterate Jewish immigrant father and a brilliant but frustrated mother, Miller found refuge in art and social consciousness. His plays such as Death of a Salesman, The Crucible, All My Sons, and A View from the Bridge explore the underside of the American dream, the repercussions of past actions, and the twin poles of guilt and hope. Miller’s political and moral convictions are set against the backdrop of his marriages to Mary Slattery, Marilyn Monroe, and Inge Morath, and his daily life punctuated by woodworking, furniture making (which he compares to crafting a play), gardening, a through-line of making things. Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, also made by a relative, her nephew Griffin Dunne, is more of a hagiography of this important writer and chronicler of our times. Framing the narrative is her own work, from  Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Play It as It Lays, A Book of Common Prayer, and The White Album, to her film scripts, including The Panic in Needle Park. She lives an amazing life partying with Janis Joplin, hanging in a recording studio with Jim Morrison, and cooking dinner for one of Charles Manson’s women. If only the film was as good as her story or her writing. Voyeur is the filmed version of Gay Talese’s article “The Voyeur’s Motel,” the story of Gerald Foos, who purchased the 21-room single story Manor House Motel outside Denver for the purpose of spying on guests. Foos crawled through the ventilation ducts, where he’d constructed peep holes to watch. This practice went on for two decades. Each night he watched life—private, sacred, real—unfold: adultery, debauchery, banality, and a murder. He was never caught, and the motel was destroyed. Fiction films also explore the arts in fascinating ways. The Square shows the chief curator Christian (Claes Bang) of a contemporary art museum in Stockholm who is tall and good looking, lives in designed splendor (he even drives a Tesla), holds a position of prestige and power, and yet… Christian is walking to work when a woman screams, “He’s going to kill me!” When her brute of a boyfriend comes at her, Christian helps out. Afterward, he realizes that his wallet, cell phone and heirloom cuff links have been stolen, and it was all a setup. Christian will be damned if he’s going to let petty crooks get away with it. Through GPSing his phone, now located in a high-rise in a run-down part of town filled with immigrants, the specter of racial and social prejudice arises. The film is filled with art world send-ups including Elisabeth Moss’s art critic asking the author about his jargon-filled manifesto; a performance artist mimicking an ape who goes too far at a black-tie patrons dinner; an advertising video of a blonde homeless child who is blown up to promote “The Square,” a thirteen-by-thirteen-foot zone billed as a “sanctuary of trust of caring” that is Christian’s latest art commission; a janitor mistakenly sweeping up a pile of earth in a Robert Smithson installation; an artist’s talk heckled by a Tourette’s sufferer. The film hits on hot-button issues: class privilege, liberal guilt, urban poverty, viral marketing, and mutually reinforced passivity in the face of mounting inhumanity. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) tells the intergenerational tale of a strong-willed, artist father, Harold (Dustin Hoffman) and the long shadow he casts over his adult children (Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, and Elizabeth Marvel). Harold has a stalled sculpture career and has retired from teaching art at Bard, where his work is due to be exhibited—at first in a group show, which he rejects, until his children arrange for a one-man show. He is competitive with his far more successful contemporary, L.J. Shapiro (Judd Hirsch), who has an exhibition at MoMA, and Harold, who drags along his son, shows up for the opening overdressed in black tie and without an RSVP. On an architectural note, Ben Stiller’s financial manager goes to visit a client played by Adam Driver, who is building a house in Brooklyn. He solves the budget overrun problem by telling him he can’t have the pool now; instead, he should live on the upper two floors and rent out the rest. The sublime The Florida Project is set in candy-colored buildings including Futureland Inn and the Magic Castle, motels that have become de facto SROs for the poor. A.O. Scott calls it “an unmagical kingdom, a zone of tawdriness and transience, of strip clubs and strip malls, knockoff souvenir shops and soft-serve ice cream shacks.” This is the setting for the adventures of the street-savvy children who live there, led by Moonee (Brooklynn Prince), and for the adults struggling to make ends meet. Willem Dafoe plays the building manager, the steady presence trying to keep all lives on track. The final scene takes place at Disney World, which until now has loomed as a presence but never seen; this sequence was shot on a cellphone, much like director Sean Baker’s previous film Tangerine, since Disney rarely allows film access. Wonderstruck tells two intertwined tales, one in the 1920s and one in the 1970s. The protagonists of both are children and deaf, and their lives are connected. The American Museum of Natural History and its cabinet of curiosities is prominently featured, as is the Queens Museum’s Panorama, the diorama of all New York City buildings. Julianne Moore, the grown-up version of the 1920s child, is the keeper of the Panorama, and we’ve seen her as a child making cutouts and architectural models, and entranced with a store display-maker stacking models in his window. As an adult, she hides personal mementos under building models in the Panorama. In the 1920s, she discovers an enchanting New York City in black and white. In Wonder Wheel, cinematographer Vittorio Storaro lushly captures Coney Island in its heyday. A complete list of films mentioned: Faces Places, Agnès Varda, JR, directors The Opera House, Susan Froemke, director Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sara Driver, director Arthur Miller: Writer, Rebecca Miller, director Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, Griffin Dunne, director Voyeur, Myles Kane, Josh Koury, directors The Square, Ruben Östlund, director The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), Noah Baumbach The Florida Project, Sean Hayes, director Wonderstruck, Todd Haynes, director Wonder Wheel, Woody Allen, director
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Superarchitecture

In Florence, an unprecedented gathering at "Radical Utopians"
In 2014, the micro storefront art cooperative Base/Progetti for Art in Florence launched Radical Tools, a series of speaking events held in their single window facing Via San Niccolò on Florence’s “left” bank. Most of Florence’s historic Radicals showed up to participate, and this event proved that, despite past animosities, rivalries, and other unfathomable differences, the Radical generation could possibly come together at last. From there, the exhibit, "Radical Utopians: Beyond Architecture: Florence 1966-1976," evolved, though it originally was to open in 2016 to mark the 50th anniversary of emergence of the Superarchitecture movement. But for the usual complications, the exhibit was delayed a year. Perhaps this was a forgivable slip if one considers that there were two debuts for the Superarchitecture movement, one in Pistoia in 1966, and the other in Modena in 1967, and that even those two dates were precariously fixed. The exhibit, nonetheless, is a Florentine first, as up till now, no one was ever able to bring all these main players into the same space. It is also likely that this won’t happen again. The curators, Pino Brugellis, Gianni Pettena, and Alberto Salvadori, with Elisabetta Trincherini acting as curatorial coordinator, faced a heap of criticism for daring to shake up conventions, separating the group’s sacrosanct works by themes, eroding in the process the hierarchies that had been persevered among them. But there were many, like myself, who feasted on this splendid eye-opening smorgasbord of projects, objects, films and other Radical life accessories. After all, this assembly of Florentine Radicals: Superstudio, Archizoom, 9999, UFO, Zziggurat, Gianni Pettena, and Remo Buti, in their native home of Florence, with works collected from group and individual archives as well as from private collectors, manufacturers like Poltronova, and major museums like the Pompidou Center, represents an impressive curatorial feat. Just to see Archizoom's collection of clothing, “Dressing Design,” on display, created principally by Lucia Bartolini, with her modular dress patterns intended to encourage the user to be her or his own stylist, or her intriguing “hairy” leggings, promoted by Fiorucci for his fashion collection, are in themselves worth the while. Besides a good number of precious pieces by Superstudio and Archizoom, this is also an occasion to become immersed in the works of the other Florentine Radicals: Gianni Pettena’s images from different cities featuring his first political “statements” using his monumental alphabet, along with his underground films and American land art-inspired house series. Then there are the images of UFO ‘s pre-postmodern semiotic-inspired performance extravaganzas, and most prominently their enormous Colgate inflatable suspended in the Strozzi palace’s outdoor courtyard. Also on view is 9999’s compilation of videos taken of the Living Theater inside their Space Electronic discotheque along with their Franciscan-inspired illustrations for a film never realized. Along with Remo Buti’s original airbrushed renderings of his ideal cities, one can view his important collection of imprinted architecture white ceramic dinner plates. And then there is Zziggurat, whose name is legendary, but whose works are rarely displayed. Here are the most architectural drawings of the exhibit, including their 1969 project “la citta lineare per Santa Croce (the linear city for Santa Croce),” a jagged and immense superstructure that rips through the heart of Florence, programmed with cultural and public activities. This project, as Elisabetta Trincherini pointed out in a recent exhibit walkthrough, could clearly have inspired Rem Koolhaas’s 1972 Exodus, or the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture. As Andrea Branzi once remarked, this was a generazione esagerata, or an exaggerated generation. These no-holds-barred Radicals lived in the same city, frequented the same university, and mounted the same barricades. Their incredibly fertile years of invention and re-invention have made an enormous mark on our common psyches, whether we are ready to acknowledge their contributions or not. But this is a chance to immerse oneself in their world. If you can’t make it to Florence before January 21, there is a catalogue by Quodlibet Habitat, sold in Italian and English editions. This might well be the most up-to-date and comprehensive publication yet, and will certainly serve as a useful Radical primer. "Radical Utopias" is on view at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence until January 21. 
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Nah

Five fundamental problems with the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial
The second Chicago Architecture Biennial opened last week at the Chicago Cultural Center, one of the country’s grandest interior public spaces. Artistic Directors Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee of Los Angeles–based Johnston Marklee gathered some 140 of the world’s top designers and thinkers to address the main show’s theme, “Make New History.” This theme had the potential to provoke designers to engage the rich history of architecture to innovate the field or imagine ways to inhabit the world at large. This biennial does not do that, and it is a serious problem for the very idea of “history” and thus contemporary architecture. What it does is offer is a strong case study for what we can do better. The following are five critiques in this vein. 1. The theme forced a generation of emerging architects into a narrow and deadening frame Young practitioners today are certainly interested in referencing and recycling ideas and forms, but it is not necessarily “history” and certainly not just “architectural history.” There is a fairly interesting group of designers who are exploring topics like pop culture, hoarding, textures, the everyday, and other reference points in interesting ways. For example, the best projects in this Biennial were about parts, not history. Tatiana Bilbao’s tower in the "Vertical City," as well as MAIO and Andrew Kovacs’s projects in "Horizontal City: Room of Plinths" were provocative and relevant because of their assemblage-like organization, not because they used a particular piece of history in a certain way. When the curators say, as Lee said in a recent Artforum interview, that this generation is bound by the idea that “history is a treasure trove," and "they don’t feel shame or guilt to retrieve from it,” it is an institutional-academic co-optation of a movement that cuts and pastes everything with a digitally-enhanced and inspired slickness. This show makes it seem like another staid disciplinary project, prematurely accelerating all of the participants into what Charles Jencks would call the “Late-Mellow” phase of their careers. This theme of “Make New History” made these nascent practices conform to a prompt. This is manifested formally in the arbitrary conceptual overlay for the mini-exhibition “Horizontal City: Room of Plinths” in GAR Hall, where, according to the exhibit text, “the overall plinth layout and sizes were based upon the 1947 IIT Plan by Mies van der Rohe, which we see as a sort of organizational 'afterimage' or a subtext in the room.” This formal move certainly did not add to the show, and no one would have known about it if it weren’t expressed in the curatorial brief. Instead, what this grid did manage to do was serve as a perfect metaphor for an empty, constricting conceptual framework in which the participants were forced to work. So why participate? It is hard for young practices—essentially all of the practices in this show—to go against the grain of these biennials or refuse to participate, because biennials have become a sort of shadow economy where deals are made and practices are “bought and sold” with institutional currency. There are always people scouting talent at these events, so it is hard to say no to participating. (See point 3) 2. The complexity of history was reduced to precedent Most of the historical references were weak and don't add anything substantive to the projects. They were often simply a pair of precedents, such as in the “Vertical City” mini-exhibition, where architects were challenged to rehash the famous 1922 Chicago Tribune Tower Competition. This competition is an iconic reference point in Chicago architecture history, but like most of the historical references in the show, it pretty much stopped there. Some projects were about “signs” or about “steel construction,” but that label was more or less the extent of it. There was not much criticality in each individual project, and the overall idea of history seemed to simply be about picking a precedent. Precedent and history are two different things: the former is about legal or argumentative justification, while the second is about all the interesting social, political, and formal ideas. Perhaps the exhibition should have simply been “Use Precedent (101).” In 1965, using historical forms such as ornament and classical language was a radical, innovative idea. But today, it looks more like a replay of Philip Johnson’s late version of post-modernism, where attitudes about image and form in architecture—pioneered by people like Charles Moore, Venturi Scott Brown, and Hans Hollein—were reduced to empty signifiers that enforced upper class institutional good taste. ‘Twas this reliance on architectural historicism—rather than the new language of postmodern society—that made pomo into a joke for the dustbin of history. In the past, it has often been clear why we are revisiting particular histories as architectural turns, but here it is not. 3. The biennial's market imperative warped the work that was shown  It is no coincidence that this Biennial is so closely related to the commercial art fair EXPO Chicago. It is in some ways the logical conclusion of the Biennial model: a gathering of celebrities who want to show off their recent work. Obviously the work in the Biennial is not being sold in the same way that the work in the art fair is being sold, but there is an economy at work in both places. And these two markets both influence the work in the exhibitions. Someone should make an artrank.com for architects. In the art fair, collectors speculatively invest in art that will hold value, including art that is produced by future stars, artists whose work is cheap now but will appreciate in years to come. This dictates what kind of work is displayed. In the Biennial, young designers are given a “platform” that will—at least in theory—lead to future work and opportunity. This marketplace, unfortunately, shapes the work. In a forthcoming essay entitled “Peripatetic Pettena" in the book The Curious Mr. Pettena (Humboldt Publishers, 2017), artist and architect James Wines reflects on the state of art fairs and the effects of the commoditized market upon art. In the following excerpt, it would work just as well if you replaced “art fair” with “2017 Chicago Biennial;” “Pop era” with “early postmodernism;” and “Abstract Expressionism” with “modernism.”

In today’s gallery world, where stock exchange voracity appears interchangeable with art fair commodity peddling, the anti-commercial and introspective dialogues of the environmental movement during the late 1960s and 70s were like apostolic meditations by comparison.  Even the merchandising excesses associated with Pop Art now seem like somber banking conventions, in contrast to the souk-like sales tactics of current international expos...to its historical credit, the Pop era contributed significantly to liberating the 1960s New York art scene from the fusty anti-figurative bias of third generation Abstract Expressionism.  By contrast, current events like Miami Basel and the Armory Show appear dominated by hyperbolic celebrations of conceptual vacuity, a disproportionate enthusiasm for transitory talent and a steadfast avoidance of original aesthetic values. There is a ubiquitous re-packaging of influences from the past, defended with such vaguely apologetic labels as ‘Appropriation, Pseudorealism, Post-postmodernism, Metamodernism and Neomimimalism.  Too much of the new work, endorsed as hot ticket progressivism is, in reality, a deferent version of ‘if-you-please’ avant-garde.

4. "History" was stale and familiar, and largely irrelevant today  In this Biennial, there were some interesting bits of lesser-known history and some amazing moments of drawing and architectural assemblage. But the curation was uneven, and swerved from heavy-handedness with no productive end to the usual suspects doing their usual things unrelated to the project at hand. In the "Vertical City" show, for example, the wall texts read like a presentation from a first-year design studio. Very little new information was introduced,  and the show took a boring typology—the tall tower—and didn’t even update it. Instead, we got a very personalized response from each designer. There wasn’t much that was “new” or historical in this room. While the 2015 version of the Biennial was simply “all the cool stuff we could find,” it was indeed, cool stuff, at the edge of knowledge both within and outside of the discipline. Biennials don’t have to solve all the world’s problems or solve inequality, but they can at least relate to the outside world in a coherent way. In the end, disciplinary knowledge is at its best when it has productive friction with issues outside the profession. The historical canon is being questioned today more aggressively than ever. There is a real need to probe what kinds of histories we are telling and where. On one of the biggest platforms in the world like the CAB, it was unfortunate that this exhibition only reinforced a Western ideal of architectural history. Almost all of the “history” here was from the Western canon. Now would be the time to really upend some of the stale narratives that have dominated architectural history in the past. 5. Its relationship to art was all wrong The art references made in this Biennial are mostly from the 1960s, such as Ed Ruscha, from whom the title was borrowed, Gordon Matta-Clark, and Claus Oldenburg. While certainly interesting, these antiquated modern art references keep the exhibition from engaging with the contemporary, adding another layer of alienation. Contemporary art biennials have moved so far past these modern art references that it makes this Biennial look completely out of date. The Berlin Biennale 9 (BB9) in 2016, curated by the New York collective DIS, was full of ultra-contemporary works that addressed all kinds of issues today like cryptocurrency, surveillance, wellness, migration, emerging technologies, new social norms, and radical shifts in how we consume media, among a host of topics. It was criticized for not being overtly political enough, but it did access some of the pertinent ideas that are affecting how we live today. There is really no way to compare the sheer horror and excitement that came from BB9 to the dusty 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial. So given these five issues, what do we take away from the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial? If this show is any indication, there is a real case to be made for abandoning the language of architectural history entirely and inventing something else. Some of the most interesting times for architecture occurred when we tried to move beyond something prior, or as Bertolt Brecht said, “Erase the traces!” If there is a role for architectural history outside of the academy, it is not obvious what that might be, based on what this show demonstrated. How history was deployed was problematic for the discipline, as it was too narrow in its purview, and made an exciting time in architecture (the re-orientation of the discipline in the age of digital space and ubiquitous digital production) into another worn-out historical trope.
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Post-Human

Adam Greenfield's new book questions our bright technological future
Technology is never value-neutral, and yet American culture often embraces new technologies as if they do not contain the seeds of every other aspect of American life and were freed of messy political and social consequences. The sort of pervasive technological positivism is inextricably tied to a certain spectrum of political philosophy, namely of the neoliberal and libertarian variety. The technocracy that worried many philosophers in the 20th century has now arrived, and it is potentially scarier than any of them could have even imagined. Adam Greenfield is a leading critical voice on technology. Employed as a consultant for urban planning, design, technology and architectural firms, Greenfield has been in the trenches of emerging technology. He has conducted research for firms like Razorfish and Nokia, and taught at New York University and the London School of Economics. He has been a critical voice among urbanists on the use of urban data and smart cities, and for the past 15 years, he has run the thoughtful and influential blog Speedbird.  In his book-length essay, Against the Smart City (2015), he analyzed the proposals of many (still unrealized) smart cities and projected the dystopias they could become. He took the ephemera, renderings, and brochures at face value, analyzing the technologies and value claims made by the companies promising brightly-rendered automated futures.  His latest book Radical Technologies (2017) allows us to contextualize the present moment of technophilia and how this set of technologies have radically transformed or disrupted everyday life. Chapters are divided up by technologies such as smartphones, automation, blockchain, cryptocurrencies, digital fabrication, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Each chapter takes readers through how each technology works and though the social and political implications that these transformative technologies pose. Throughout the book, Greenfield constructs a complex argument for critical engagement with technologies by laying out the best and worst-case scenarios for each technology. He is at his most convincing, however, in his big-picture skepticism. The zeitgeist of our moment is a general trust in business and technology leaders to change things for the better, and technologies offer an easy fix in place of uncomfortable political compromises. Technology is often used a band-aid in place of policy or to fill the void of ethical debate. We are told that the best one can hope for are nudges for certain types of behavioral improvement as we cheer on far-reaching automation for seamlessness, efficiency, and profit. These “world-changing” technologies rely heavily on the belief that they bring something positive into the world or at least require the trust that their convenience outweighs the consequences. However, they are unleashed onto the world because they support the growth of a post-Fordist capitalism as it accelerates toward a more automated future, one that Greenfield calls the “post-human everyday.” Most early adopters take it in faith that technology creators have our interest and enjoyment in mind. However, the technology sector (like architecture) often doesn't care about its unintended effects. Although Greenfield rarely touches on the specific ways that these technologies inform architectural practice, each of the areas he covers has major implications for our field—whether to open up new job specializations or market opportunities, or how they will radically transform our aesthetic tastes and disrupt our belief systems and ethics. Technology's impact can be seen everywhere from Patrik Schumacher’s declaration of “parametricism as a philosophy” to the way that nearly every large design firm now has a technology wing and research groups, spinning off tech startups wildly into the ether. The ubiquity of digital fabrication, IoT, AR/VR, and smart phones has already reshaped huge portions of the AEC industry and will continue to shape it in technology’s image. Inherent in being a critic of technology is that one can be wildly wrong in a very short amount of time. Technologies often change rapidly (sometimes within months), fall into disuse or disappear as they are superseded. What this means for writing about technology is that observations will easily feel dated. Criticism of technology remains at its most useful when it contextualizes the ways that technology is everyday life—the ways that is it is part of society. Greenfield’s guide to the everyday after the iPhone and technologies like it is an important piece of critical thinking that should resonate widely. Greenfield will be speaking about Radical Technologies in NYC on September 14th-16th. Thursday, September 14th 7-9pm: Verso Loft Friday, September 15th 1pm: Columbia University GSAPP with Laura Kurgan Saturday, September 16th 7-9pm: McNally Jackson Books with Aimee Meredith Cox
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Review> Jonathan Louie's Big Will and Friends created visual delight with graphic wallpaper
ON VIEW - BIG WILL AND FRIENDS 01 Wallpaper is no longer the enhancement of choice in most contemporary domestic environments, but it emerges as the focal point of a recent installation in Syracuse, New York, designed by Jonathan Louie. ON VIEW - BIG WILL AND FRIENDS 02 The exhibition at the Roger Mack Gallery in the Shaffer Art Building at Syracuse University closed February 18th. Big Will and Friends was comprised of a 21-foot by 7-foot shotgun-style house tightly wrapped in scrim. The white scrim has been ornamented with an abstracted Morris & Co. wallpaper pattern—“Thistle,” designed by John Henry Dearle. The structure is constructed with PVC piping and custom-designed, three-dimensionally printed fittings. Adjacent to its long edge, the graphic adornment slipped off of the scrim envelope onto the floor and climbed up the neighboring gallery wall. This created an immersive, narrow corridor where visitors were enveloped in a heterogeneous tiling of the obscured and screened thistle arrangement. Louie’s particular abstraction of the Morris & Co. wallpaper balanced the mechanical with the manual, a strategy employed by William Morris in his early designs, where intricacy and elaboration were used to disguise repetition. ON VIEW - BIG WILL AND FRIENDS 03 “Since its domestic popularization, wallpaper design has leaned on its’ mechanistic structure and optical devices found in art practice: from the Flat Pattern to Visual Deceit to Forced Perspective; casting aside the material honesty of the wall for sham and show,” Louie claimed. In Big Will and Friends, the application amplified the ability for wallpaper to produce an aesthetic experience through its visual deceit. Louie’s installation maintained the decorative aspect of the conventional application of wallpaper, but reimagined this architectural element as a more ethereal and diaphanous material that produces a sensation of indeterminate depth and leads viewers to question the thickness and even the presence of the material. Of significance is the absolute legibility of the typical house form, used not only to host the featured element, but also to remind the viewer of the relationship between wallpaper and the domestic environment. The three-dimensional figure that comprises Big Will and Friends played into a larger generational interest in figural form where association to an external symbol—in this case, the single-family home—is prioritized over celebration of formal technique or material expression, and where graphic immediacy is privileged over prolonged and difficult visual access. ON VIEW - BIG WILL AND FRIENDS 04 Big Will and Friends is part of a larger body of research being developed by Jonathan Louie that explores the ability for conventional architectural elements to, through their reinterpretation and imagination, alter the visual experience of domestic environments and “flavor” our social relations. This body of research calls on architects to “embrace the temporal qualities of domestic decor that value appearance over substance, and the ephemeral over the secure and lasting.” Cumulatively, Louie’s work links art, architecture, and pop culture to suggest novel assemblies of conventional materials and everyday images. Jonathan Louie is an assistant professor within the School of Architecture at Syracuse University and co-director of Architecture Office. Louie recently took up residency in Peterborough, NH, as a MacDowell Colony Fellow. Big Will and Friends was made possible by generous support from the MacDowell Colony, Syracuse University School of Architecture, and Syracuse University College of Visual Performing Arts. Exhibition Design: Jonathan Louie with Gabriel Boyajian and Nicolas Carmona Installation Team: Staci Bobbi, Gabriel Boyajian, Chen Jung Kuo, Tom Arleo, Sarah Beaudoin, Scott Krabath, John Mikesh, and Trey Gegenfu Photography: Ioana Georgeta Turcan Video: Adam Greenberg Choreography: Stephanie White Music: “Bowspirit” by Balmorhea
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Review> Lessons from P! Gallery's recent exhibition on East German designer Klaus Wittkugel
Ost Und oder West [East and West], Klaus Wittkugel P! Gallery Ended February 21 How does one do good work for bad people? This oversimplified question is especially relevant for architects, and one that the recent exhibition of work by East German graphic designer Klaus Wittkugel at P! Gallery asked us to consider, while simultaneously while treating us to some modernist visual pleasure. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall we have been taught that capitalism is the end-all-be-all system to structure our society, and consumption is the answer to our desires, overwhelmingly influencing our aesthetics and our ethics. But looking at the oeuvre of this little-known figure, Klaus Wittkugel, who was the head designer of the German Democratic Republic’s Socialist Ministry of Information, we find an alternate reality: a sense of aesthetic purpose that, while firmly modernist, shows a softer, more figurative and less abstract approach to design. And yet at times it can be reminiscent of Socialist Realism propaganda, today usually met with finger wagging and dismissals of kitsch: the prefered visuals of dictators, with smiles beaming sunshine and 150 percent worker productivity embodied in a visual image. Yet what this show, Ost Und oder West [East and West], revealed is a more complex relationship between design and power, and the extent of artistic freedom under Soviet Communism in postwar Germany. The exhibition is not only impressive for the work it contains, but also for how it was assembled. P! founder and director, Prem Krishnamurthy, spent more than seven years assembling Wittkugel’s work into a thorough survey of books, posters, exhibitions, and signage, found in auspicious moments at used bookstores and by scouring eBay. The work of Wittkugel displayed in the gallery was in a visual style that positions him as an heir to the legacies of early 20th Century design legends El Lissitzky and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, like a long-lost East German cousin of the earlier German Bauhaus and Russian Constructivist diasporas. The judicious use of mis-en-abyme—the graphic technique of creating an infinity mirror, a recursive visual trick of an image containing a smaller version of itself in a window in a window in a window in a…—we might describe today as being very “meta.” Krishnamurthy acknowledges that “one of the things that really attracted me to his work is there’s a strain of self-reflexivity about the production of graphic design. So you have a poster, for an exhibition of posters, that is a freshly-postered poster column,” which the P! exhibition continued, recreating the poster column on the gallery facade. All of this is juxtaposed with a companion exhibition at OSMOS Gallery on the work of Anton Stankowski, a former classmate of Wittkugel’s from the Folkwangschule Essen, who went on to work in West Germany and Zurich, designing many corporate logos, most notably the minimal Deutsche Bank slash-in-square, still in use today. While Stankowski designed symbols of Western capital, Wittkugel designed the visual manifestation of the political and cultural ambitions of Soviet East Germany in the form of an elegantly embellished cursive visual identity, dinnerware, and signage for the now-demolished Palast der Republik. While works like Wittkugel’s signage for the Kino International relate more literally to architecture, the conceptual lessons the exhibition has for architectural practice speak more to architecture’s inevitable collaborations with people whose values may not align with one’s own. You can refrain from designing prisons if you object to incarceration, but it doesn’t mean some architect somewhere won’t design that prison, so why not engage and attempt to design a more humane prison? The importance of critical engagement is shown in Wittkugel’s 1957 exhibition Militarism without Masks, a polemical, anti-West German exhibition featuring former Nazis who became part of the West German government, displayed on a cleverly designed rotating vertical triangular louvered wall, just one example of very compelling exhibition design. Any serious international cultural institution would be remiss not to consider exhibiting, or even adopting, this collection of thought-provoking work from a precarious moment in design history.
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Review> AN's William Menking looks back on Miami design week 2015
Large fairs like Art Basel/Miami always include a few galleries selling works by master architects as well as younger artists whose concerns cross into architectural, urban, and spatial territories. The just-concluded 2015 Miami fair didn’t have a great deal of architectural work this year but enough to keep architects pushing through its seemingly endless hallways of gallery stalls. In the first case Sao Paulo gallery Bergamin & Gomide has a beautiful collection of objects and drawings by Roberto Burle Marx, including his organic free flowing gold jewelry colorful renderings of the 1938 rooftop garden design for the ministry of education and public health. But if I were a (wealthy) collector I would have gone for his playful hand made wooden model for a mural in the 1954 Pignatari house. The other master who has been a staple at recent art fairs is Jean Prouve, whose small prefabricated metal, glass, and wood pavilions have sold for high prices. In 2015, galleries seem to be reduced to stripping off panels and ventilating grills from his remaining buildings to sell and these were in both Art Basel and Design Miami fairs.   The most intriguing architectural work this year was from Italian Gruppo T artist Gianni Colombo. His 1968 Intermutabili wood maquette that is part of his Spazio Elastico cycle was a thrill to find in the fair. It was created to explain a full scale room installation for the 1967 Gratz Trigon 67 exhibition and then was re-installed at the 1988 Venice art biennale. The London gallery selling the Grupp T artist Robilant & Voena claims the model described an environment that was “a walk-in cube divided into spatial volumes by tense elastic cords treated with fluorescent paint.” The cords were apparently lit with ultraviolet light and subjected to deforming rhythmic horizontal and vertical tension by four electric motors that changed the configuration of the spaces according to predetermined rhythmic variations in the motors themselves. It allowed visitors to move from one cube to another, and within each cube to observe the other “deforming” cubes. A central theme in this series of works was Colombo’s intention for the viewer to become an active participant, indeed a "technician," partaking in a game whose rules were defined by the artist. But Colombo also believed that “viewers must start to feel an intellectual understanding of the concept on which the design is based and of the artistic set of rules and methods governing the conception itself" and its “game-rules,” or the taut cords, were constantly present in the experience that the project-object offers at every level of its “consumption.” It is a brilliant example of what artists can bring to the investigation of space and time. A younger generation of artists that grabbing the attention of architects included the multi media artist Sam Durant who gallerist, Sadie Coles, showed his 2015 Epistemologies that “questions the role culture plays in the development of formal communities” of an early pre-modern frontier settlement. New York’s Essex Street gallery showed two artists who made powerful connections between form, urbanism and art: Cameron Rowland and Park McArthur. Rowland’s 2015 Lashing Bars, Lloyd’s Register Certificates that made seductively beautiful connections between metal lashing bars which physically (while its certification is established to insure the value of the goods) secures goods to the deck of the ship that often included slaves being shipped across the sea and were insured by Lloyd's, and form that appears "sculptural." miami-done-07 Essex Street also showed nine columns of stacked street signs that are taken from those often contradictory examples all over New York City streets and then empties them out of their written content. McArthur’s signs demonstrate the ways that authority and guidance are manifested physically and spatially. Even without language, there is a set of rules and prescriptive power in the signage, for instance in the use of the color red as a warning. McArthur’s work attempts to dislodge and reconfigure the signs’ command. The works are indicative of McArthur’s overall project of “doubting normative jurisdiction and combatting the imperceptible and presumably ostensive role of format.” The Art Basel art fair is not the Venice Biennale and skews to the commercial side, but there are, in its endless hallways, brilliant example of what artists can bring to the investigation of space and time.
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Architects confront global warming at Columbia GSAPP's Climate Change and the Scales of Environment
On Friday, December 4th—while hundreds of officials gathered in Paris for the COP21 UN climate change conference—scholars, historians, scientists, architects, and designers came to Columbia GSAPP’s Avery Hall for a similarly urgent conference, “Climate Change and the Scales of Environment.” The urgency lies in the fact that buildings are accountable for approximately half of energy consumption and CO2 emissions in the United States today. At the December 4 conference, the range of experts discussed this issue across multiple scales—ranging from a single molecule to the planet as a whole. At what scale should architects engage? And how do the different scales tie together? Dean Amale Andraos explained to AN that using these disciplinary questions of scale to enter a cross-disciplinary discussion on climate-change kept the conversation focused.

HISTORY

The first topic of the day, History, was moderated by Reinhold Martin (Columbia GSAPP) and included presentations from Daniel A. Barber (University of Pennsylvania, Architecture), Deborah R. Coen (Barnard College, History), Gregg Mitman (University of Wisconsin, History), and Eyal Weizman (Goldsmiths, University of London, Visual Cultures). Addressing different moments in history, the speakers collectively unveiled how ecological understandings dictate societal development. 

POLITICS

The second topic, Politics, was moderated by Laura Kurgan (Columbia GSAPP) and included talks from Michael B. Gerrard (Columbia University, Earth Institute and School of Law), Saskia Sassen (Columbia University, Sociology), Richard Seager (Columbia University, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory), and Christian Parenti (New York University, Liberal Studies). Each presentation addressed environmental failures, which Kurgan called “sobering,” and the related risks facing architects, planners, and builders. Before heading to COP21 to represent the Marshall Islands, Gerrard told the audience in Wood Auditorium, “Architects might be legally liable for failure to design for foreseeable climate change.”

UNCERTAINTY

Jesse M. Keenan (Columbia GSAPP and CURE) moderated Uncertainty, which included talks from Radley Horton (Columbia University, Earth Institute and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies), Adrian Lahoud (Royal College of Art, London, Architecture), and Kate Orff (Columbia GSAPP and SCAPE). The presentations unveiled each profession’s individual roles and how they overlap. Horton works with quantitative climate science; Lahoud uses the qualitative method of narrative; and Orff works in both realms. Keenan concluded, “Architects and planners are mediators. They are helping make that translation to define values and vulnerabilities and to weigh what that really means.”

VISUALIZATION

The final section, Visualization, was moderated by Mark Wasiuta (Columbia GSAPP) and included presentations from Heather Davis (Pennsylvania State University, Institute for the Arts and Humanities), Laura Kurgan, Emily Eliza Scott (ETH Zurich, Architecture), and Neyran Turan (Rice University, Architecture). Again, the presentations covered a wide spectrum of curation, ranging from Davis’s discussion of subject-object relationships to Kurgan’s video visualization of climate change data, EXIT, currently on display at COP21. Wasiuta, said in the panel discussion, “Laura’s work produces a different type of knowing, or knowability. Fascinating, the idea of curating a dataset: curating as the construction of a political form.” The day’s presentations ended with keynote speaker Dipesh Chakrabarty (University of Chicago, History). Chakrabarty’s talk, “The Human Significance of the Anthropocene” was a fitting way to pull together the wide-ranging but interrelated disciplines contributing to the conference. Videos of the conference will appear on Columbia GSAPP’s YouTube channel in the coming weeks.
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Sou Fujimoto's search for lightness at the Chicago Architectural Biennial
Just like every other major architectural exhibition, the Chicago Architecture Biennial is a massive undertaking filled with large scale models, full size mock- ups and room sized installations. However, the most light-handed approach in the main exhibition can be found sandwiched between two full scale houses. Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto placed about 40 different found objects on five-inch-by-five-inch plywood bases. The objects range from wooden branches to industrial mass-products like ashtrays, to processed food such as chips or candy. Each plate is populated with white scalies and paired with a line of text. A sponge becomes a “myriad of voids layered on top of another, creating a density of void” and a pine cone reads: “When one thinks about it, this form has been a friend in architecture for thousands of years.” The casual inexpensiveness of the objects is amplified by the way they are displayed, seemingly without attachment. A pile of loosely arranged chips seems likely to fly away with the next visitor brushing by. Clearly there is a relationship to Fujimoto’s search for lightness, literally in the appearance of the architecture but also in the figure of the architect being open to inspiration from unexpected sources. This minimal installation eclipses many of the larger efforts of the show—Aaron Betsky called it the most successful installation in the main building. While the installation brings up questions about the role of ready-mades in the design process and issues of scalability, it also quietly mocks the expensive, time- and energy-consuming efforts of some of the exhibitors. With ease it brings playfulness and the joy of simple discoveries back into the discussion.
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Kenneth Caldwell on designer chatter at the Monterey Design Conference
This year’s Monterey Design Conference could have been titled the "Monterey Design Short Video Clip Festival." For as long as I can remember, most of the presentations at the conference have followed the same formula: show slides of recent work and explain them. But now most of the speakers are trying to tell a more nuanced story, informed by our mobile-app/social-media/you-are-never-offline age. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. I checked in with attendees to get their impressions. Architect Clive Wilkinson was the first speaker. Some hardcore architects didn’t like the idea of an interiors presentation opening the event. But given the amount of interiors work that technology has generated, I thought it made sense. But Clive’s text slides didn’t fit the image slides. I loved the lecture that architect Rand Elliot gave because he linked growing up in Oklahoma to the work he does there, showing how the cars, gas, and big skies of his home state influence his approach to place. Some folks I talked to were snobbish about his presentation, but I thought an Eamesian sense of hospitality pervaded his entire presentation, including a broadsheet of his poetry that he gave to everybody. Attendee and architect George Bradley said that it was his favorite lecture: “His demeanor, his work, ethos, and pursuit for catching light are inspiring. I actually got goosebumps about architecture all over again. He also had the best video, and I wish his was the only video we saw over the weekend.” Merrill Elam of Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects seemed to have more videos than anybody else. About half the people I spoke to loved her lecture and mentioned how it revealed her process. The other half was left unimpressed. As Mallory Cusenbery of Ross Drulis Cusenbery told me, “I think Merrill Elam should get an award in the category, ‘Best Presentation That Nobody Understood.’” Video is here to stay, but it was hard to see what scenes from the film Apocalypse Now had to with anything. Most folks that I chatted with agreed that the stars of the show were Spanish architect Carme Pinós and Japan’s Junya Ishigami. Pinós wandered all over the stage, gesturing and ending almost every sentence with “No?” As designer Addison Strong said, “And Carme Pinós....ah well, I have a huge crush on her! I found myself hanging on her every word and image. Her plan sketches become something ‘other’ as they morph into three dimensions and get extruded first into models and then buildings. You get the feeling she is constantly exploring, even when the project is under construction.” Ishigami was less daring in his presentation style, but his work stunned the crowd. Architect Cary Bernstein mentioned him and Pinós as the two standouts, as did others. “Junya Ishigami's near-fantastical structures perfectly complemented Carme's tectonic approach,” Bernstein said. Strong added, “His work was more than a little odd, but each project represented a true investigation of something that was of personal interest to him that he hoped would also have meaning for the users. I found him incredibly optimistic, and we can never have enough of that in architecture.” Speaking of optimism, I always find the “Emerging Talents” session of the conference worth attending. Everybody I talked to agreed that architect Casper Mork-Ulnes and Alvin Huang of Synthesis Design + Architecture were highlights. Mork-Ulnes had a clear message that linked his Norwegian roots and his experience in the West. Huang and his firm embrace all kinds of design exploration. As Strong said, “I particularly liked the work of Casper Mork-Ulnes on the first day and Alvin Huang on the last….they represented polar opposites—the analog vs. digital processes of design that demonstrate that either process is valid when done with care.” Every year the conference presents a “tribal elder.” As he often has in years past, architect and historian Pierluigi Serraino introduced the sage. This year, the elder was Claude Stoller. Serraino, who could be Dick Cavett, Italian and California Modern Division, must have known he would be unable to keep Stoller on track, so he began the “conversation” with a brief summary of the work and its significance. Later Michelle Huber, a principal at Studio Bondy Architecture, told me that this session was her favorite. “I felt like I was witnessing modern architectural history before my eyes. “ When I asked folks about why they came, the most repeated words were “inspiration” and “camaraderie.” People told of connecting with old friends from work or school and meeting architects they have long admired. The presentations that resonate the most tell a fresh, authentic, and coherent story—around a campfire, real or imagined. A little bit of wine doesn’t hurt either. Hint: bring your own.
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Review> Paul Gunther on preservation and the ongoing exhibit, Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks
Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks An exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York and Catalog edited by Donald Albrecht, Andrew Dolkart, and Seri Worden Through January 3, 2016 Since the first trace of the species homo sapiens, human evolution only represents four one hundred thousandths of one percent of the earth's age. In proportion to an 80-year life span, that means just 31 hours—less than a day and a half of the 701,280 hours lived. With the existential threat of climate change and ecological ruination gaining traction in collective consciousness—combined with the outsized expectations of breath-holding fundamentalists for whom earth’s rapturous end can’t come soon enough—our sense of what permanence means has begun to shift. If all human culture to date is just four-dozen millennia and we’ve wreaked so much havoc already, “forever” strikes a dubious chord. This temporal dynamic is one prism through which Saving Place and the anniversary it examines can be seen. Another is the end of the post-World War II order and with it a sense that history hasn’t ended after all, including the survival of world monuments (especially amidst the tribal strife in the Middle East) that a united (albeit Western-centric) world had deemed essentially imperishable. It turns out historic places of exceptional human accomplishment can disappear as readily as an endangered species can; the risk of disorientation resulting from the obliteration of common orthodoxies is always high. Such sobering reflection informs this worthy stock-taking anniversary enterprise, which focuses more on the role of the preservation movement as part of the plodding, existential course of civic engagement, rather than some celebratory juggernaut tied only to the singular examples of past excellence like Grand Central Terminal or the Guggenheim Museum. Among the most valued places saved are those of daily routine that most identify as the common bonds of a vibrant community. Only with such coherence can change occur in ways that succeed—and that hold value.   Fifty years ago, New York City Mayor Robert Wagner signed into law the first landmarks designation statute in the nation with the creation of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. With its advent came new public authority and civic duty to adjudge the aesthetic and historic value of elements of the built environment, including privately owned or nonprofit properties, whose future disposition affects the commonwealth of all citizens. It was as controversial then as it continues today, whether held as the basis for NIMBY battles by the privileged few or the evergreen bane to developer dreams clipped by what they sometimes assert are its onerous and subjective restrictions blocking the growth and change endemic to sustained livability.   That is not an easy distinction for a metropolitan region. Since first launched by the colonizing Dutch, the bonanza of real estate development has been the golden egg of the regional economy. It is the essential cornerstone of New York commerce and the obsession of dwellers from those born and bred to those beckoned by its promise of opportunity and fresh beginnings.   This relatively recent chapter of local land use policy and its record of impact are the inspirations for Saving Place, delivered with a welcome sobriety of tone and presentation calmly sharing its results along with the means and personalities that made it happen. An underlying intent born of civic pride stays in lively focus. Like any thorough history show, gray wins out over black and white: The movement started far before the generally shared crucible of the 1963 demolition of McKim, Mead & White’s uplifting Beaux-Arts Pennsylvania Station (giving way to the peerless bathos of Penn Plaza by designer and businessman, Charles Luckman, whose clients took the train users of 1968 to be some dying breed of rodents) and has learned as much from its failures and occasional compromises as from its best known victories.   The movement’s roots took hold not so much against change, but against failed progress when the exchange of present conditions for some promised social gain fell short and urban well-being emerged impoverished. Like the l965 law, the 1978 majority ruling by the United Sates Supreme Court, written by Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. (upholding the City’s designation of Grand Central Terminal and thus laying to rest once and for all any lingering assertions that landmark designation was unconstitutional), is far more nuanced than its friends and foes would have New Yorkers believe. The preservation work done, like the battles to come, are perpetually a collective work in progress. The places and leading players presented in such a context emerge more as dynamic case studies than as fixed heroics. The commissioned photographs by Iwan Baan (whose work is characterized as usual by the vehicles, people, and quotidian activity of such places, so often absent in studies of planning and architectural design). Like the exhibit installation by Wendy Evans Joseph and her firm Studio Joseph, record individual designations are not just bright beacons of superior significance but indispensable, stabilizing place holders that bind community even when hidden in plain sight. Saving Place respects the value of landmarks by gently reminding its audience of what we take for granted and by offering (without insisting) on a greater depth of meaning for sites both individual and district-wide. And yet its overwhelmingly beneficial impact on all corners of today's five boroughs, not to mention the quality and measure of visitor appeal (like it or not, tourism means jobs), cannot be denied or scoffed away as a Luddite blockade to change.   Whatever else New York may risk in 2015, a dearth or loss of dynamic change is not one of them. Saving Place shows instead how traces of the past can at best stand alongside the new for at least the relatively small measure of time that our present civilization can endure. Like the natural world, today we know that the built world also demands balance as a basis of sustenance. The exhibit’s iconic original architectural models and array of primary artifacts are brought to the fore as the landmark’s legacy of material sensuality in historic terms both material and artisanal. The society we keep is well served by some record of past beauty that for all kinds of reasons simply cannot be replicated, and how that should be done. These strands tie a knot of quiet reflection for the Saving Place initiative that bodes well for a landmarks movement pausing only briefly to recall the reasons its work will never end in the messy marketplace of a healthy city. Coexistence is the key; landmarking works best as one part of the overall planning process, not the bejeweled hobbyhorse of some nostalgic elite. In a world with a foreshortened sense of permanence, the longer we can maintain this democratic equilibrium the better off we all will be.
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This Friday, catch the world premiere of "Modern Ruin" all about the New York State Pavilion from the 1964 World's Fair
World Premiere of Modern Ruin: A World’s Fair Pavilion Friday, May 22nd, 2015 Cocktails 7:00–8:00p.m., Screening 8:00–9:30p.m. Queens Theatre, 14 United Nations Avenue South Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens Philip Johnson and Lev Zetlin's New York State Pavilion for the 1964 World's Fair in Queens' Flushing Meadows Corona Park should be more than an eyebrow raiser as those curious, disc-on-pole structures seen when driving to JFK airport. It was Munchkinland, the starting place for Dorothy's journey to Manhattan—correction, Oz—in the 1978 film The Wiz. It was an alien spacecraft tower in the original 1997 Men in Black which crashes into the nearby Unisphere. And it was the site of Tony Stark/Ironman's confrontation with his adversaries in Iron Man 2 on the grounds of Stark Expo 2010, a digitally updated 1964 World's Fair grounds (director Jon Favreau's childhood home overlooked the park). And it will appear in the new film Tomorrowland starring George Clooney that opens May 22. But the common current perception of what Ada Louise Huxtable called “sophisticated frivolity" when the buildings opened is one of dereliction, decay, and outmodedness. That is, except for a number of dedicated citizens called People for the Pavilion and architectural simpaticos, who rightly see this as a preservation issue. What results is a new documentary called Modern Ruin: A World's Fair Pavilion by Matthew Silva and executive produced by the makers of Modern Tide: Midcentury Architecture on Long Island (2014), Jake Gorst and Tracey Rennie Gorst, which will premiere the same day as Tomorrowland. The towers were a favorite of master-builder and fair impresario Robert Moses, who saw these structures as one of the few 1964 World's Fair buildings intended to live beyond the event. Paul Goldberger said it used "advanced engineering combined with a very exquisite sense of architectural composition, to make something that was both aesthetically and structurally quite beautiful and fully resolved." The pavilion consists of three components made of reinforced concrete and steel: the "Tent of Tomorrow," the Observation Towers, and the "Theaterama." The elliptical “Tent of Tomorrow” measured 350-feet by 250-feet with sixteen 100-foot-tall columns supporting a 50,000 square foot roof of multi-colored fiberglass panels—like a Rose window over a circus tent—once the largest cable suspension roof in the world. The Observation Towers are three concrete structures, the tallest at 226 feet high, with observation platforms once accessed by two "Sky Streak capsule" elevators. The adjacent “Theaterama” was originally a single drum-shaped volume of reinforced concrete where pop artworks by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Indiana, and Ellsworth Kelly—plus art from local museums—were exhibited alongside a display from the New York State Power Authority featuring a 26-foot scale replica of the St. Lawrence hydroelectric plant. A 360-degree film about the wonders of New York State, from Jones Beach to Niagara Falls, was screened inside. Warhol’s specially-commissioned Thirteen Most Wanted Men series depicting criminals' mug shots straight on and in profile, displayed on the exterior had a fate reminiscent of Diego Rivera's censored murals at Rockefeller Center: Nelson Rockefeller had it covered over, here because too many Italian Americans were depicted as criminals. (In 2014, the complete series was displayed at the Queens Museum, just 200 yards from the New York State Pavilion.) The Theaterama was converted to the Queens Playhouse in 1972 and is now the Queens Theatre where Modern Ruin: A World's Fair Pavilion will be screened. Connecting the complex was a floor made of 4-foot-by-4-foot terrazzo panels that formed a map of New York State. In fact, it was a Texaco roadmap and was a great hit with people finding their home towns and navigating across the state. At the end of the fair, the floor was supposed to be moved to a building in Albany, but instead was left and became a roller rink—terrazzo is a great skating surface. The site was largely intact until the mid-1970s (the Grateful Dead and Led Zeppelin performed there), but its fate was part of New York City's downslide. The roller rink closed, the roof was taken out. Left open to the elements, the mapped floor was destroyed. Since that time, the complex has continued to deteriorate, but a handful of dedicated citizens have devoted themselves to resurrecting the space. Volunteers for the New York State Paint Project are sprucing up the tent with a fresh coat of paint. CREATE Architecture Planning and Design came up with an idea to make it into an Air & Space Museum—that plan went nowhere. In 2014, New York City government announced a pledge of $5.8 million towards rehab of the structure, and Governor Cuomo’s office pledged $127,000, but estimates for the complete rehabilitation have climbed to a staggering $75 million. The film is a loving portrait with intelligent interviews with Frank Sanchis (World Monuments Fund), Robert A.M. Stern, and Paul Goldberger laced among those who created, remember, and are saving the site.