New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Hurricane Maria Memorial Commission have put out a call for architects and artists to submit memorial ideas that honor the victims and survivors of the deadly hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico in 2017. Upon selection, the winning design will be placed in Lower Manhattan’s Battery Park City neighborhood along the Hudson River waterfront. “Hurricane Maria claimed thousands of lives and destroyed countless homes in Puerto Rico, yet the resilience of the Puerto Rican community has shown the world anything can be overcome when we stand together in solidarity,” said Governor Cuomo in a statement. “We want this spirit of strength and community to be reflected in the Hurricane Maria Memorial, and we look forward to seeing how the experts capture it in their designs.” Interested architects and artists are invited to submit a response to the RFP online by Monday, September 9, 2019, before 11:59 p.m. EST. Designers can submit one design for either proposed sites (the Esplanade and Chamber’s Street Overlook in Battery Park), but only one will be chosen. All submissions will be reviewed by the memorial commission, a 10-person group formed late last summer on the one-year anniversary of the hurricane’s landfall, and led by Congress members Nydia Velazquez (D-NY 7) and Jose E. Serrano (D-NY 15), Assemblymembers Marcos Crespo and Maritza Davila, and New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. Members include local leaders of Puerto Rican descent such as Edwin Meléndez, director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College; Casimiro D. Rodriguez, Sr. president of the Hispanic Heritage Council of Western NY; Hilda Rosario Escher; Former president & CEO of Ibero American Action League; Brenda Torres, executive director of Corporation for the Conservation of the San Juan Bay Estuary; and Elizabeth Velez, president of The Velez Organization and resident of Battery Park City. Per Governor Cuomo, the memorial will serve as a physical reminder of the love and respect Americans have for Puerto Rico and will be part of the state’s ongoing support efforts both locally and abroad. In the last two years, New York State has dedicated $13 million toward 11,000 displaced victims living in New York and service organizations that can help them regain their footing. According to the Pew Research Center, New York boasts the most amount of people of Puerto Rican origin of any state, with over 1.1 million residents—that’s 21 percent of the total 5.1 million living in the mainland U.S. It’s the second-largest Hispanic population in the U.S. with just over half of people concentrated in the northeast region, while 31 percent reside in the South and 19 percent are located in Florida. Due to the recent political and economic turmoil in the territory, the mainland U.S. now has more Puerto Ricans than the island does itself, at 3.2 million residents. Recent migration patterns reveal that people are moving away due to lack of basic resources and frustration with systemic government corruption. The memorial solicitation opens just after weeks of protests resulted in the resignation of Puerto Rico’s former governor Ricardo Rosselló. But the fight to overturn the powerful Puerto Rican government isn’t over: the territory's Supreme Court just took up a lawsuit this week which aims to take down Pedro Pierluisi, who was sworn in as governor last Friday without proper consent from the Senate.
The Tanks are tanked. The City of New York has nailed the coffin shut on one group's idea to turn massive abandoned oil tanks on the Brooklyn waterfront into a postindustrial playground. Instead, the parcel is being cleared of its industrial relics, cleaned up, and returned as an extension to Bushwick Inlet Park, the green space on the East River at the border between Williamsburg and Greenpoint. The demolition of the tanks marks a victory for area residents who want a park with ample wide-open space. For a newer group of designers and real estate professionals, however, the demolition represents a missed opportunity for a creative reuse of distinctive industrial infrastructure. For years, Williamsburg and Greenpoint residents fought for a park on the East River waterfront as the area transitioned away from its industrial roots. Many saw the future green space as a counterpoint to decades of pollution. In 2005, Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a deal with residents and area stakeholders to rezone the waterfront for residential uses in exchange for a 28-acre park. One prominent stakeholder, Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park, pushed for a park with ballfields, wide-open lawns, and the spectacular view of Manhattan that goes with it. Since the groundbreaking a decade ago, the city has acquired land piecemeal and at great expense. The current controversy centers on a seven-acre parcel that supported the Bayside Oil Depot, a petrol storage facility distinguished by ten five-story tanks that loom over the south side of Bushwick Inlet. The city bought that piece of land in March 2016 for $53 million. For those who want the oil tanks to go, the infrastructure is an ugly reminder of the environmental degradation brought on my heavy industry. For others, the tanks are a canvas for postindustrial regeneration that would draw on north Brooklyn's creative reputation. Three years ago, professionals in architecture, design, and real estate banded together to propose repurposing the tanks as galleries, gardens, and an oyster farm. Group leaders Stacey Anderson and Karen Zabarsky assembled a team that includes architect Jay Valgora of STUDIO V Architecture and landscape architect Ken Smith of Ken Smith Workshop. Together, they put forth a vision called The Tanks (formerly Maker Park) that pushed back on the idea that the industrial relics needed to be eliminated for the park to be a success. Ward Dennis, a member of the Friends group and a partner at New York's Higgins Quasebarth, dismissed The Tanks as a non-starter from the get-go. "The alternative proposal has never really gotten a lot of traction in the community. Open space was the priority," said Dennis. Another issue at play in the tanks debate centers on public safety; the ground around and underneath the tanks is toxic and needs remediation. The Tanks group hired an outside environmental consultant who determined that remediation can be accomplished with the tanks in-situ, but the city contends that the tanks must be removed for a full clean-up. A NYC Parks Department spokesperson told The Architect's Newspaper (AN) that demolition work began in July.
New York's New Museum, which has already launched a fair share of tech-forward initiatives like net-art preservation and theorization platform Rhizome and NEW INC, has teamed up with Apple over the past year-and-a-half to create a new augmented reality (AR) program called [AR]T. New Museum director Lisa Phillips and artistic director Massimiliano Gioni selected artists Nick Cave, Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg, Cao Fei, John Giorno, Carsten Höller, and Pipilotti Rist to create new installations that display the artistic potential of AR and help advance the museum’s own mixed-reality strategy. Each of the artists will create interactive AR artworks that can be viewed via iPhones with the [AR]T app on “choreographed” street tours that will begin in a limited number of Apple stores across six cities. Users will be able to capture the mixed reality installations in photos and video through their phones. Additionally, Nick Cave has created an AR installation titled Amass that can be viewed in any Apple store, and the company has worked with artist and educator Sarah Rothberg to help develop programs to initiate beginners into developing their own AR experiences. This announcement comes on the heels of much industry AR and VR speculation regarding Apple, in part encouraged by recent hires from the gaming industry, like that of Xbox co-creator Nat Brown, previously a VR engineer at Valve. While some artists, institutions, and architects have embraced AR and VR, many remain skeptical of the technology, and not just on artistic grounds. Writing in the Observer, journalist Helen Holmes wonders if “Apple wants the public to engage with their augmented reality lab because they want to learn as much about their consumers as possible, including and especially how we express ourselves creatively when given new tools.” The [AR]T app will drop on August 10th in the following cities: New York, San Francisco, London, Paris, Hong Kong, and Tokyo
Over time, everything is romanticized and appropriated as nostalgic pastiche. Whether it be pastoralism—the idealization of rural life by a privileged elite in search of perceived simplicity and retreat—or the age-old bourgeois aspiration of emulating bohemian culture. For contemporary Europe, this sentiment comes with the mitigation of its manufacturing past. While, the glamorization of rustic life is indulgent, ignoring the harsh realities, the desire to rhapsodize the aesthetic qualities of machine-age architecture comes out of necessity: what does a society do with vast swathes of a crumbling postindustrial landscape. For some, the answer has been to convert old factories into sprawling cultural complexes. For others, it has been to raze these depilated zones and develop new architecture. A handful of historical industrial buildings, throughout Europe, have received a listed or heritage status in recent decades. Strict governmental regulations determine how these landmark-sites are renovated and adapted for new use. But what should happen to the rest of Europe’s less-glamorous industrial architecture? And what have studios, such as AMAA, done to adapt them? Read the full story on our interiors and design site, aninteriormag.com.
Shattering The Glass Ceiling
New Glass Now paints a full picture of contemporary practice at the Corning Museum of Glass
Capturing the zeitgeist of contemporary glass practice, the New Glass Now exhibition at the Corning Museum of Glass brings together work from 100 emerging and established talents across 32 nationalities. Exhibited pieces, ranging from large scale installations to delicate miniatures, were democratically selected based on an open call submissions process by a curatorial committee comprised of leading culture-makers and experts Aric Chen (Design Miami Curatorial Director), Susanne Jøker Johnsen (artist and head of exhibitions at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation, Denmark), and Beth Lipman (American artist). Susie J. Silbert (Corning Museum of Glass Curator of Modern and Contemporary Glass) headed up the jury and exhibition curation. Addressing relevant themes such as gender inequity and environmental degradation, the highly-curated exhibition reveals what glass can achieve through various expressive and conceptual interpretations, as well as new translations of age-old techniques like flameworking, glassblowing, and casting. Exhibition sections :in situ, :(infra)structures, :body politics, :embodied knowledge, :011001111 01101100 01110011, and :phenomena incorporate works that transcend disciplinary conventions. On view are sculptures, functional objects, photographs, videos, technological speculations, scientific experiments, architectural maquettes, and full-scale mockups. Through various strategic stagings, Silbert sought to establish sharp dialogues between different, seemingly unrelated, works. Fredrik Nielsen's "macho" I was here installation sits in the direct vicinity of Deborah Czeresko's emphatically feminist Meat Chandelier sculpture, a piece very similar to the final work she created during the Corning Museum of Glass-supported Netflix competition series Blown Away. Pieces such as Liquid Sunshine / I am a Pluviophile by Japanese artist Rui Sasaki reveals how glass can be implemented in expressing conceptual meaning, while Smokey Comet Installation I by Toots Zynsky challenges the perception of what the medium can physically achieve. The Bahá'í Temple of South America project by Jeff Goodman, and Crystal Houses (Chanel Flagship Store) by MVRDV showcase glass's potential in an architectural application. Reservoir by C. Matthew Szösz and Promise by Nadège Desgenétez demonstrate how far the material properties of glass can be pushed. Other notable artists, designers, and outright creatives represented in this comprehensive survey include Miya Ando, Atelier NL, Ans Bakker, the Bouroullec Brothers, Monica Bonvicini, Mathew Day Perez, Martino Gamper, Katherine Gray, Jochen Holz, Helen Le, Erwin Wurm, Dustin Yellin, Dafna Kaffeman, Bohyun Yoon, and Mark Zirpel. The main show is joined by New Glass Now | Context, an annex exhibit that explores the changing nature of glass-specific curation through the history of two past iterations of the New Glass exhibition series, in 1959 and 1979. Historic documentation, period-specific works, and related ephemera are displayed in the Corning Museum of Glass's Rakow Research Library and collectively reveal some clear differences in terms of method and focus but also socio-political and cultural influences.
Nonuments to the past
The Nonument database is saving forgotten 20th-century buildings
Nonument is committed to not only recording but celebrating the 20th century’s most important non-monuments. Founded in 2011, the multidisciplinary artist and research collective has amassed a record of built spaces that stand, if barely; forgotten by time through decay, technological or political changes, Nonument is preserving them even as they fall out of favor in a changing 21st-century society. Rather than present “a glorified collection of obscurities” or focus purely on architectural styles, founders Neja Tomšič and Martin Bricelj Baraga seek to develop a deeper understanding of public space and art, and how politics shape these spaces in our world today. In partnership with Mapping & Archiving Public Spaces (MAPS) project, the collective has a goal of cataloging more than 120 forgotten sites around the globe and bring them back into the public eye. Created by the Museum of Transitory Art, MAPS shares many of the goals of Nonument: its mission “aims to identify, map and archive public spaces, architecture, and monuments which are part of our cultural heritage, but are not yet identified as such.” And that’s where Nonument began. NONUMENT01 was a response to the demolition of a Brutalist icon, the McKeldin Fountain in Baltimore. A decision made with limited public engagement or input, the fountain had been an important gathering point for protestors and creatives, and the visual centerpiece of McKeldin Square. Upon its removal in 2016, Lisa Moren, a professor of visual arts, enacted the first art installation of Nonument, debuting an augmented reality app that allowed users to recreate the fountain on their screens, and interact with memories like protest signs and koi fish to discover their stories. The app and its launch event at the site continued the legacy of the lost monument and its role within the city, setting a precedent for Nonuments of the future. The database is just one component of Nonument. Case studies on architectural theory and live art, and performance events like Moren’s, are also an integral part of the collective’s mission, making it more than just an encyclopedia of degrading buildings. While the act of listing the monuments breathes back a certain degree of life, critical discourse and real-life opportunities for interaction with the listed structures completes a circle of study and renegotiation with the space they occupy—aligning with the overarching goals of the group. From nuclear power plants in Austria to stone sculptures in Serbia, the database is set to become a comprehensive collection and research resource for the 20th century, and continue to unearth the stories that matter, and rewrite the rules for sustainable management of our cultural heritage.
There is a cultural aversion to cycling in New York City. At least, that’s the belief of one Lower Manhattan-based engineering firm with a plan to upgrade the network of biking opportunities in the city. Though recent news has reminded New Yorkers that cycling here is dangerous, there seems to be a less-than-friendly approach to changing the inefficient system despite it. Mayor Bill de Blasio has advocated for Vision Zero since he took office in 2013 and continues to push for net-zero carbon emissions across all five boroughs, yet the build-out of safe bike lanes has been incredibly slow and not very innovative. Buro Ehring, a local studio that specializes in structures, facades, and fabrication, has envisioned a world where all this is different: New Yorkers can cycle underneath the Brooklyn Bridge instead of on top of it; an elevated bikeway lined with trees runs above Canal Street; 31st Street is completely and solely dedicated to pedestrians—no cars allowed. These speculative improvements, created under a masterplan called CycleNYC, would decrease commuting times, separate cyclists from vehicles, enhance air quality, and in turn, add joy to the art of bicycling in a major metropolis. It’s not a far-reaching proposal. In fact, some of want they want to actualize is very doable. "CycleNYC at its core simply seeks to repurpose last century infrastructure and elevate it to meet the growing needs of New Yorkers," said Andres De La Paz, a designer at Buro Ehring. But in order to make a series of infrastructural, cultural, and formal moves that turns that aversion upside down—as the team at Buro Ehring aims to, it will take the help of city agencies, local community boards, alternative transit advocates, other design professionals, and maybe even CitiBike. Here’s what they propose: Greenways Arguably the most construction-heavy part of CycleNYC, greenways would require the build-out of elevated bike infrastructure above the city’s busiest east-to-west corridors. In a study, Buro Ehring found that the bike network running north to south in New York is much stronger than its perpendicular counterpart. To fix this problem, those busy axes would be relieved with an above-the-street cycling track. Remember Foster + Partners’ raised bike path for London? It’s like that, but possibly with less glass. Buro Ehring reimagines New York’s most traffic-ridden (and most deadly) thoroughfares with this unique infrastructure. For context, Canal Street’s cycling track would span 5,843 feet starting from the Manhattan Bridge, Delancy Street's path would stretch 9931 feet from the Williamsburg Bridge westward, and there would be similar structures on Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City, Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, Houston Street in Manhattan, as well as Myrtle Avenue and Sunset Park in Brooklyn. By calculating the exact measurements of these potential bike highways, Buro Ehring outlined the amount of material needed to build these greenways as well. One of the biggest benefits to this idea—besides the increased safety of cycling out of sight from cars—would be the advanced purification of the surrounding atmosphere. Buro Ehring proposes that the sustainable materials used to build these greenways include titanium-painted panels that absorb respiratory pollutants, as well as self-cleaning protective rain screens. Artificial LED lights also installed along the way could help grow the tree screens that envelope the legs and walls of the tracks. Pathways Just as buildings get expanded and retrofitted to accommodate new programming, so can New York’s bridges and elevated subway lines, according to CycleNYC. The goal is to increase interborough connectivity and remediate air pollution that cyclists experience when they cross the East River next to idle cars and their heart rate rises due to the gradual incline. Buro Ehring proposes using existing pieces of infrastructure and building cycling tracks underneath them in order to provide healthier links. Think: Manhattan Bridge with a bike path hanging below the highway instead of structured on its northern side as it is now. In another example, the Queensborough Bridge could feature a pathway that’s 6561 feet long and creates a smoother connection to Roosevelt Island and Cornell Tech. The bike path would spiral down onto the small island and stop commuters from having to cross into Queens before taking the pedestrian bridge or the tram from Manhattan. Pedestrian Walkways This idea doesn’t include building anything, but instead, paving over everything. Buro Ehring sees some of New York’s most packed streets as pedestrian- and cycling-friendly only. A 14,540-foot-long, green-covered walkway on 30th Street could increase the desire to be in Midtown, while a similar car-free space across 61 Street and through Central Park could be a new east-to-west axis. With all these solutions, Buro Ehring also sees the construction of cycling-specific hubs placed on the edges of the boroughs for commuters and advocates to join forces, and create solidarity. Not only that, but there could be a serious placemaking effect from the integration of these healthier cycling options. Just as the High Line spurred both high-design and community-based development along it and underneath, so too could these greener, cycling-centric spaces help influence growth throughout New York. "A simple idea like improving the bicycle network can have a domino effect of positive impacts on the city," said Ryan Cramer, a project manager. "The infrastructure is all in place. It's now just a matter of implementing the solutions."
In Memoriam: I. M. Pei
Ieoh Ming Pei—everyone knows him as “I. M.”—is a name that will live on in the annals of great people, talented architects, conceivers, gentlemen, and good friends. I see him through eyes that were always critical… and always respectful, admiring, and loving. I might start with his family. I. M. and his wonderful wife, Eileen, created a family of talented children who grew to be stalwarts in their own ways. When I visited their home in Manhattan, Eileen would often pull me into her kitchen, where she taught me to shuck oysters, peel potatoes, and the like. These personal relationships were a defining quality of working with I. M. But, of course, I. M. earned his position as one of the world’s leading architects through a dedication to his work, and by tackling that work with creativity, an inborn curiosity, eyes that perceived beyond what was known to the rest of us, and skills as a communicator. Preferring direct communication, he was not one to peruse a three-page letter. Indeed, I. M. and I exchanged countless sketches, but not writings; I have not a single piece of paper with his written thoughts. As a part of his early university education, he studied engineering, so it was easier for me to explain to him what I wanted to do in ways other than words. It was well into his career, around 1975, when I. M. called me regarding the Kapsad Development in Tehran. Before departing for Tehran, I read all that I could about the earthquake risk in the area and learned that the British had conducted a significant survey. As we drove north out of the city, we passed a construction site burdened with a vertical seismic fault, perhaps 60 feet exposed—and with new buildings to be constructed across it. I. M. understood perfectly that our construction could not be built across such a fault. In any event, we continued our journey and were able to hike into the area of our proposed site. There, I discovered a small hole in the ground; dropping a stone inside revealed that the area below our feet was deep and hollow and contained standing water. It was a remnant of Tehran’s aging water tunnels. Believing it prudent, I suggested that we return to the car, but discovered a pack of wild dogs glaring at us. We beat a hasty retreat—without I. M. being aware of either the cistern or the dogs. On returning to New York, we were able to develop a construction system that incorporated the fault, but the time and cost parameters were just too strict. I collaborated on several projects with I. M. Pei & Partners in the years that followed. In 1980, I. M. called regarding the Center for Arts & Media Technology at MIT, and in 1982, about the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong. For BOC, I. M. asked that I come to his offices to discuss a very tall building. While I had worked on buildings in Hong Kong, none were tall. Armed with my careful research into the city’s high winds, I met with I. M., who presented a large model demonstrating the shape of the proposed building, which later withstood proposed changes. We discussed the reality of the winds of Hong Kong, with I. M. completely cognizant of their impact on the design of the building. I proposed the use of large-scale diagonal bracing, which he accepted with knowledge and enthusiasm. In short, we were off down an uncharted path allowing I. M. to create a new aesthetic in very tall buildings. His BOC design set the stage for a series of tall buildings by other architects and engineers. Indeed, in my view, BOC is outstanding in the vast field of high-rise buildings. Afterward, I. M. produced incredible designs for a one-room studio (in the United Kingdom), for the Joy of Angels Bell Tower (in Japan), for schools, modest laboratory facilities, research centers, museums (in both the United States and abroad), high-rises, and so much more. I. M. came to us often with “his last project”; knowing full well that Eileen Pei was pushing for his retirement, we accepted each one as “the last.” But it was the Miho Institute of Aesthetics chapel in Shigaraki, Japan, that finally proved to be. He called for a luncheon meeting for the two of us to discuss the project. For the overall shape of the chapel, he proposed a kind of extruded ellipse, but with a top rim that is offset rather than concentric. I. M. described its corrugated form as taken from a Japanese fan. Softly, I suggested to him that, to reduce costs, the roof could be changed to a smooth curving surface… a suggestion that, by the following morning, he had adopted. I’m attempting to show by example that beyond his incredible talent, I. M. was an informed architect, willing and able to alter his designs as the project developed. For a party celebrating the opening of the chapel, SawTeen See, my wife and professional partner, and I found I. M. and Eileen sitting by themselves. Of course, it is difficult for younger folks to approach a person as exalted as was I. M., a fact accounting for the dearth of others at their table. In front of each of them was an untouched glass of red wine. We knew instantly that the wine was of inferior quality. We suggested to them that the Japanese whiskey was very good, indeed, and we were able to con the bartender into pouring from a bottle of ultra-fine and ultra-expensive Japanese whiskey—which was consumed by the four of us. The other side of this coin came at Christmas, when we nodded to Eileen’s “suggestion” that a bottle of that wonderful and very expensive whiskey would make a fine gift for I. M. I’m just not able to explain the full extent of this imaginative architect’s outstanding talents and meaningful human relationships. His soft smile, his firm control over his own designs, his communication skills… all that made up this incredible person just escapes my ability to capture on paper.
Foster + Partners’ design for a new extension to the Marseilles Airport on a former brownfield site is being scrutinized by France’s environmental agency, which has called for a resubmission of the plans in fear they don’t align with the country’s ambitious plan to go carbon neutral by 2050. The Autorité Environnementale (AE) said that the current plans are “underestimating the project’s environmental impacts and overestimating its socio-economic benefits” in their statement. Areas of concern for the AE include Foster + Partners’ addressing of traffic, noise, air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, and even the impact on local birdlife. The renowned British firm won the competition for this extension in 2017, beating Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners for the chance to add the “missing piece” between the existing buildings of the airport—the original ’60s modernist wing by Fernand Pouillon and a 1992 addition designed by the Richard Rogers Partnership. The winning design features a prominent glazed volume, a space for newly connected departures, and arrivals hall. In addition to the 72-foot-tall windows that will pour light into the building, an array of continuous skylights in the inverted beam roof will add to the naturally-lit "glass box" effect. The goal? “A clarity of layout and expression,” according to the firm, inspired by Pouillon’s project, with the ability to process over 12 million travelers per year. “In regards to the content, the extension project has been thought to be virtuous,” said an AE spokesperson, clarifying that the query wasn’t a question of the design, but of the methodology. While the architects defend their claims that the airport will be sustainable—even exceeding the cutting edge French HQE and E+C- standards—the project's focus on new public transit connectivity and more efficient airplanes seemed to miss the mark for the AE and have muddied the proposal for the agency. The new E+C- standards place a priority on energy-positive and low-carbon emission building projects, ideas that came into effect after pledges at the 2016 Paris Agreement amongst UN countries. France is due to receive the resubmission of more detailed plans for environmental action at the Aeroport Marseilles Provence by September 2019 and has reaffirmed its commitment to environmental action in the face of a growing denial of climate change in international politics. The carbon neutrality plan is seen as being “trialed” by the French, and the government’s attention to the new law, just implemented in June, has sent ripples throughout the international community. Foster + Partners has recently taken several internal steps to address and highlight climate concerns, and have expressed their commitment to the Paris Agreement and movements like Net Zero Carbon Commitment. Foster + Partners has publicly pledged to have 100 percent of their projects be carbon neutral by 2030, and has joined Architects Declare, a collective of UK firms verbal in their recognition and combating of climate change.
ARTECHOUSE's Chelsea Market space will let visitors experience architectural hallucinations
ARTECHOUSE, a technology-focused art exhibition platform conceived in 2015 by Sandro Kereselidze and Tati Pastukhova, has been presenting digitally inspired art in Washington D.C. and Miami. Now they’re coming to New York, “a clear next step for [their] mission,” with an inaugural exhibition by Refik Anadol. The Istanbul-born, Los Angeles-based Anadol is known for his light and projection installations that often have an architectural component, such as the recent animation projected on the facade of the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall. For ARTECHOUSE in New York (also Anadol’s first large exhibition in New York), he’ll be presenting Machine Hallucination. The installation will create what he calls “architectural hallucinations” that are derived from millions of images processed by artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms. “With Refik, it’s been a collaborative process for over a year and a half, bringing a new commission, Machine Hallucination to life,” explained Kereselidze and Pastukhova. “We have worked closely with Refik to develop the concept for this exciting new work, thinking carefully about how to most effectively utilize and explore our Chelsea Market space.” ARTECHOUSE is especially suited to visualizing Refik’s “data universe” with a floor-to-ceiling, room-wrapping 16K laser projector that the creators claim features “the largest seamless megapixel count in the world,” along with 32-channel sound from L-ISA. The more than 3 million photos, representing numerous architectural styles and movements, will be made to expose (or generate) latent connections between these representations of architectural history, generating “hallucinations” that challenge our notions of space and how we experience it—and providing insight into how machines might experience space themselves. It makes us consider what happens when architecture becomes information. Of the work, Anadol said, “By employing machine intelligence to help narrate the hybrid relationship between architecture and our perception of time and space, Machine Hallucination offers the audience a glimpse into the future of architecture itself.” Machine Hallucination will inhabit the new 6,000-square-foot ARTECHOUSE space in Chelsea Market, located in an over-century-old former boiler room which features exposed brick walls and a refurbished terracotta ceiling, which according to its creators, “supplies each artist with a unique canvas and the ability to drive narratives connecting the old and new.” ARTECHOUSE will be opening to the public early next month.
Sounding resonantly across the dimly lit atrium that houses the Queens Museum’s 1964 Panorama of the City of New York, the voice of Guadalupe Maravilla (born Irvin Morazán in San Salvador) shifted seamlessly between Spanish and English as he recounted a formative childhood experience: In 1984, he migrated from El Salvador to Texas to escape the violence of the Salvadorian Civil War. At ten years old, Maravilla had traveled without an adult save for the coyote who had been hired to escort them across the border. The performance was a crowning moment for an equally powerful exhibition, Mundos Alternos: Art and Science Fiction in the Americas, on view through August 18. Clad in a billowing polyester costume that cartoonishly mimicked a person being carried by a lime-green alien, Maravilla recited the monologue while accompanied by three other players, two of them dressed metallic silver bodysuits and faux taxidermied bear heads, and the third in a white balaclava and a cape adorned with sculpted rabbit heads. Such regalia is typical of Maravilla’s performances, which combine Mayan cosmologies with the artist’s personal history. For this performance—intended to “cleanse political phobias and blockages of New Yorkers”—the actors alternately sat, moved about, and chanted among the panorama’s rivers and bay, thereby enacting the title of the piece, Walk on Water. Bringing together over thirty Latin American and Latinx artists, Mundos Alternos focuses on works that engage the many allegorical lenses afforded by science fiction to examine the multitude of possibilities for the ongoing struggle of Latinx immigrant populations. The works on view encompass a sprawling array of mediums—from video, to sculpture, to installation—and take on an equally wide range of approaches to addressing the shared, thematic subjects of colonization, alienation, and diaspora. Curators Robb Hernández, Joanna Szupinska-Myers, and Tyler Stallings originally organized the exhibition for UCR ARTS at the University of California, Riverside, as part of the larger Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA presentation that opened in September 2017 and ran through January 2018. According to the Queens Museum’s website, they hope to extend the run of Mundos Alternos either within or outside of the U.S. in order to continue a “conversation about speculative aesthetics at a time when immigrant futures are facing a crossroads.” Among the many highlights of the presentation are a reading room where visitors can peruse classic and contemporary works of science fiction published in English and Spanish. Inside a small theater, Alex Rivera’s film Sleep Dealer (2008) is screened on a loop, which astutely revises the heroic protagonist tropes of Blade Runner and The Matrix to apply to the plight of migrant workers. Indeed, the exhibition is aptly divided into an array of physically and conceptually linked realms—or “constellations,” as the curators refer to them—where viewers are free to enter, peer into, or ignore a diverse array of interior spaces. The museum’s central, sky-lit foyer is dedicated to a kinetic sculpture by Chico MacMurtrie and Amorphic Robot Works (ARW) titled Organic Arches (Time Traveler) (2014/2017). Here, sixteen tendrils constructed from electric valves sheathed in diaphanous white fabric hang just above the floor. When “closed,” each cylinder is coiled into loops and the structure constitutes a static, impenetrable scaffold until it is activated at predetermined times, when a computer system slowly expands the contracted limbs of each tube. Extending into the archway of its title, the “opened” sculpture briefly allows visitors to pass through its ribcage-like tunnel before curling back into stasis. By far the most immersive work in the exhibition is Rigo 23’s multi-room installation, where manifestos of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation are scrawled among emblems of the movement, which take the form of snails, butterflies, balaclava-clad activists, and ears of corn. Queremos un mundo donde quepan muchos mundos, states one of the paintings hung in the final vitrine of the installation: “We want a world in which many worlds fit.” Maravilla’s July 21st Walk on Water performance came at an especially pertinent moment in the realm of New York cultural institutions; four days earlier, an Artforum Slant garnered widespread attention for calling on artists participating in the 2019 Whitney Biennial to withdraw their contributions to the exhibition as a form of protest against the museum’s refusal to remove billionaire Warren B. Kanders from their board of trustees. Kanders is the owner of Safariland Group, a distributor of law enforcement equipment including the brand of tear gas that has been used on Central American refugees attempting to cross the U.S.–Mexico border. By the time Maravilla entered the panorama in his human-alien costume, eight artists had demanded the removal of their work from the biennial, and tens of others had publicly advocated for Mr. Kanders’s resignation. While Kanders eventually resigned from his position and the eight protesting artists will remain in the biennial, the renewed discussion regarding the stewardship of public art collections by progenitors of state violence has galvanized many facets of an art world known for its implicit insularity. With its terminus yet to be determined, Mundos Alternos thus constitutes a prescient landscape of possible dystopias that remain unrealized yet highly possible, should the populations in positions of power succumb to the forces of greed or inertia. The spectators lining the panorama for Maravilla’s soliloquy were faced with the traumas inflicted by such dystopic scenarios. Maravilla’s performance, the calm narration of his own transience and pain, reminds us that the retention of our humanity is a choice we must actively pursue, and that the struggle for survival increasingly required of globally marginalized demographics will be fought not only at far off borders but within the private and public spaces of our own cities.
Behin Ha Design Studio has created Coshocton Ray Trace, a site-specific installation in downtown Coshocton, Ohio, made of scrap material from a coated mesh fabric manufacturer. The project illustrates how a temporary installation can help a small community move towards the revitalization of its declining downtown. Behin Ha was founded by the New Jersey-based duo of Behrang Behin and Ann Ha. Together, they work on a wide range of design challenges from architecture, interiors, and installation projects to make “meaningful, creative interventions in the built environment.” The Pomerene Center for the Arts commissioned Behin Ha to design the temporary shade structure at the site of a burned-down hotel building near the Coshocton town square, coined artPark. Created and maintained by the Pomerene Center, artPark is a space to engage the community with the arts in areas affected by blight. According to the team’s website, the design aims to “work around and with the various interventions that had been made over the years at the artPark.” The installation was built with the help of community members and is now an unexpected, new point of attraction for the town. The construction jumper-orange fabric was sourced from Snyder Manufacturing, located in a nearby town. The fabric trimmings, which are typically recycled, were turned into the bright, tensioned ribbons contrasting between the existing balcony and the ground. Anchoring the fabric at predetermined points creates a twist in the fabric and the installation becomes more transparent at eye level and more opaque toward the south. The 650-square-foot installation will come down at the end of the summer and the fabric will be returned to Snyder’s and recycled back into their manufacturing process.