Posts tagged with "Ball-Nogues Studio":

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P!LA: Painting Sound, Ben Ball, Vampires, & MMOs, Oh My!

Though I already gave Mike the Poet pride of place, he was far from the only show in town Thursday night at Postopolis! LA. When I walked into the conference room--things had moved inside because the roof bar had been buffeted by a freezing wind all day--I saw a cluttered screenshot from World of Warcraft, something that had my inner-geek (aren't we all?) terribly excited. Indeed, Ben Cerveny of Stamen Design was talking about, among other things, deriving real life planning and tracking systems derived from more mediated sources, like MMOs. The talk was rather technical, and combined with my tardiness, I was kind of lost. Still, the potential is intriguing, especially after poking around Stamen's website. One of the examples Cerveny gave was the potential of cellphone apps. He proposed a program that would project one's preferences onto a wall, usually calibrated to some set of sounds and colors. When one person comes into proximity with another, it would create a cacophony or a melody between the two, depending on their settings. Another was a replacement for the personal library. As books decline in the digital age, Cerveny proposed a projection, ironically or not, the projection of one's digital self. "We're losing out real digital culture," he said. "Book-lined walls are being replaced with blank white ones, maybe a few modernist baubles." Whereas Cerveny and Stamen's work is about as technical as it gets, Steve Roden's is almost ambivalent to its very existence. A trained painter, Roden is seemingly obsessed with transforming one mode of experience, one sense, into another. His first, and probably best, example is how he found a piece of sheet music in his grandmother's attic. "I've never been able to let go of it," Roden said. But Roden does not play the music. Instead, he meticulously broke it down into its component scale--E-G-B-D-F, etc.--and then came up with a numbering scheme. That then gets plugged into a paint-by-numbers system that developed dozens of paintings. "I don't know how to read or play music," Roden emphasized. And yet, another major project was his installation for Alvaro Siza's Serpentine Pavilion in 2005. Roden, with the help of lay assistants working at the pavilion, mapped the structure in a rainbow of five colors, then transformed it into a painting, which, when he looked at it, resembled the scheme on a Tyco xylophone. He decided to turn the painting into a "player piano strip" that led to a recording played over an hour in the space. He played a minute of the composition. It had a haunting beauty for someone who seemed as though he could care less about what he was doing. Perhaps that was the genius of his art. Someone who cared very much, perhaps too much, was Gary Dauphin. An LA resident, Dauphin apologized for giving a presentation largely about New York, namely his home-hood of Fort Greene. As a gentrifier myself, Gary's talk about the cultural vampirism of gentrification really hit home. Dauphin argued that gentrifiers, specifically in Fort Greene but also beyond, are not always (white) outsiders, but generally ethnic (black/Latino) educated returners who make way for their new friends and thus feel guilty for it. The same goes for vampires, at least in the popular culture of Buffy/True Blood/Twilight/Blacula. More often than not, the story is about the "good vampire," the vampire who is trying to get beyond his vampirism, drinking synthetic blood or animal blood and not that of humans. When I asked if there was a solution to either problem, the answer was no. Finally, Benjamin Ball of Ball-Nogues Studio. I shared a beer with Ben afterwards--more on that later--but his talk was mostly on what he's done and everyone knows--Maximillian's Schell, P.S. 1, Venice--and what's yet to come--a teepee in Woodstock, a bird installation at Johns Hopkins Children's Hospital.
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Biennale Opens

[Editor's Note: This post was written Sunday.]

It is two days before the opening of the Venice architecture Biennale and as commissioner of the United States pavilion I have been in Venice for a week mounting the exhibition. The Biennale opens on Wednesday for “important media” and the next three days for the rest of the press and anyone else that can find a ticket. This always sets up a huge scrum at the entrance to the grounds between the haves (those with passes) and the have-nots in the media.

But yesterday I was invited to the roof of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection to watch the Venice regatta . The regatta is supposed to be a race of gondolas but is really a great Sunday afternoon passeggiata of colorful boats paddling down the Grand Canal.

Back at the U.S. pavilion we are still not quite finished and I decide to walk around the biennale ‘giardini’ grounds to test the stress levels of other curators. Directly on axis with the U.S. pavilion somebody has constructed a nearly a 40 foot high solid steel building out of scaffolding floor slats. It’s just next to the Spanish pavilion but no one seems to be around to explain the amazing structure?

In the “Old Europe” corner of the giardini the Swiss pavilion will include a brick laying robot named R/O/B but he/she is still in a shipping container. The British curator Elias Woodman shows me through his pavilion which features housing designed by architects that Peter Cooks at dinner last night labeled "the Whisperers.” But Elias has created a fantastic catalog on the history of British Housing--compared with similar events in Europe. In the front of the Brit’s pavilion an enormous yellow steel pipe shoots out of the Russian pavilion and makes it way towards the west. It is apparently the creation of the Estonians who mean it to suggest the connection of oil or natural gas from Russia to the rest of Europe.

The Japanese have created a beautiful glass greenhouse in front of their pavilion but it must have cost as much to fabricate and build as the entire U.S. pavilion’s budget? Next to the ours is the most beautiful pavilion in the giardini--the Scandinavian, created by Pritzker winner Sverre Fehn.

Then lunch at Trattoria dai Tosi where a really good 4 course working mans lunch is 15 Euros--well that’s 12 Euros for Venetians and 15 for everyone else. You can try sitting in the far back of the hot Venetian dining rooms to get the better price but then 3 euros is a small price to pay for this perfect little spot.

Back to the Italian pavilion, curated by Aaron Betsky and EmilianoGondolfi, which is still nearly empty as I walk over the meet ‘Stalker’ Lorezo Romito.Lorenzo is creating an I Ching room to determine the future of architecture. I am supposed to be throwing the I Ching“to determine the future of American architecture.” But Lorenzo is nowhere to be seen, his room empty.

Walking through this enormous pavilion I run into Gondolfi who shows me around the few displays that are in construction. I did come across L.A. architects Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues, alums of last year's P.S. 1 summer pavilion, up on a scaffold carefully weaving draped string into an inverted baroque dome. The crew in the U.S. pavilion must be missing me, so I head back to the building in the center of the giardini. Back to work on Monday and then maybe a trip to the Arsenale.