Posts tagged with "Installations":

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Making Buildings Dream

From Germany via Dangerous Minds comes this stunning 3-D architectural illusion: A square building appears possessed, its facade rippling, segmenting and mutating. Giant hands manipulate the building's surface and then dissolve. A wave ripples through the building's bricks as if it were shivering. It's called "How it would be, if a house was dreaming," and it's a trompe-l'oeuil video projection by Hamburg-based creative collective UrbanScreen. The title's perfectly apt, as these look like nothing so much as disjoint visions flitting across the subconscious of a slumbering building. The building in question is O.M. Unger's Galerie der Gegenwart in Hamburg, completed in 1997 as the final wing of the Kunsthalle Hamburg art museum. Its facade is flat, gridded, and largely windowless, severe by day, but a perfect pixellated canvas for UrbanScreen's fantasies by night. A steady stream of passers-by on the sidewalk below—some stopping to watch, others simply going about their business—make the metamorphosing building behind them seem all the more surreal.

Going Up

During our interview with André, the renowned hotelier talked about how he likes to give each of his hotels its own personality, a reflection of himself. Well, as the hotel continues its soft opening, it has gotten another personal touch, namely the above video by Marco Brambilla installed in the elevators. If you can't already tell, it's a trip from hell to heaven in concert with the elevator's ascent up the Standard New York's 20 stories. Which begs the question: If you're staying on the lower floors, are you trapped in purgatory?
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Welcome to Biodome

Architect and man about town Kevin Greenberg sends along this dispatch from Kenmare Street. Reef, a new kinetic installation at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, exists at the intersection of “the super-exclusive and the trite,” according to its creators, Rob Ley and Joshua Stein. Composed primarily of densely-packed rows of lightweight fins anchored by Shape Memory Alloys (SMAs) across a metal armature, Reef simulates the unmistakable movement of muscle on bone, eschewing the jerky mechanical inelegance of a previous age in favor of bio-mimesis and the “semi-conscious willfulness” of a school of startled guppies or a field of flowers in thrall to the sun. The materials that afford Reef its movement profile (each fin commands a 160-degree range of motion) have previously been applied to both military technology and cheap toys—Stein and Ley initially were inspired by a $10 plastic butterfly—imbuing the system with a pleasant friction between the high and low. Reef’s ambiguity extends beyond its material composition. By design, Reef occupies a grey area between sculpture and structure, and its subtle, fluid movements evoke a basic form of life. Stein and Ley hope that those who encounter Reef will be forced to engage it in an unfamiliar way—to, in their words, “befriend” the softly undulating fins, or to be repelled by them. For its creators, Reef represents a new model for architecture: sidestepping usefulness, it is a study for environment as companion, or at least co-presence. Stein and Ley envision users eventually experiencing a biokinetic environment like Reef in the same way one might approach an encounter with a domestic robot or other form of semi-sentient intelligence. “It’s a type of movement that connotes consciousness,” Ley told us. “Like a Venus flytrap, or a sea anemone.” And Stein added: “We asked ourselves, could you get the average person to project consciousness onto the installation?” Depending on your perspective, the elegant palpitation of the fins is, according to Ley, “creepy, sexy, friendly, or bizarre.” It’s also capricious. “We were very conscious that we were treading in a territory that’s the realm of novelty toys,” Stein says. At a glance, it’s clear that Reef’s moving parts are not in any sense functional. Although the architects concede that the technology that animates Reef could be tailored to a more practical application (they’ve been approached to conduct façade studies and climate control modeling), for Ley and Stein such concerns are beside the point. Reef is an attempt to create a new kind of relationship between structure and end user. For Stein and Ley, who both have training in the visual arts as well as architecture, Storefront was the perfect setting for Reef. From the street, Reef’s long, sinuous profile, with its rows of translucent plastic fins, contrasts beautifully with the hard angles of Storefront’s signature swiveling apertures. Lit from above, the installation takes on the luminous quality of an alien form nestled in the ocean’s silent depths. On Tuesday night, as curious visitors filled the space and (as is often the case at Storefront events) spilled out into the humid evening air, Reef’s fins billowed coolly beneath the lights, seductively evoking a quality of animal potential. Reef will be on display through August 1. And next Thursday, June 4th, Ley and Stein will make an appearance at Storefront to discuss Reef and their collaborative practice.
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MoMA and Taniguchi Get Comfortable (with a little help from Pipliotti Rist)

When the Modern reopened its Yoshio Taniguchi-designed doors in 2004, critical opinion of the new building was split. Some critics and museum visitors complained that the building, and the institution it housed, seemed to lack a point of view, and that it was geared more toward moving hoards of tourists than to contemplative art viewing. One longtime MoMA watcher, however, cautioned me, “We always hate the new MoMA. Then you get used to it and grow to love it.” While hoards of tourists have not gone away, recently the museum seems to be getting more comfortable in its skin. In the architecture and design galleries, small thematic exhibitions have helped to focus the viewing experience, breaking down the Greatest Hits approach that has made so many design galleries indistinguishable from showrooms. Currently on view are strong capsule exhibitions on Jean Prouvé, the graphic designer George Lois, and a group show called Rough Cut: Design Takes on a Sharp Edge (which is a bit of a rehash of Safe: Design Takes on Risk, but is full of interesting work). Perhaps the most challenging area of the new building is the vast five story atrium, currently, and pleasantly, inhabited by a massive video installation, Pipliotti Rist: Pour Your Body Out (7354 Cubic Meters), commissioned by the Museum specifically for the space. While large-scale installations have become common in museums, and are geared to spectacle hungry cultural travelers, there is something joyful and welcoming about Rist’s piece, especially during the holidays in congested midtown. Pour Your Body Out invites you to recline on a massive circular couch, embedded with speakers, to take in the color saturated show and immerse yourself in what chief media curator Klaus Biesenbach called an image “pool.” Rist has said she wanted the installation to “kiss Taniguchi.” Even at 25 feet high, Rist’s video only begins to fill the atrium, though she cleverly covered the high catwalks with pink curtains, containing the sound and providing some much needed warmth and intimacy to the vast white space. In the video below, Biesenbach discusses the installation and how it is meant to work in Taniguchi’s gallery. Pour Your Body Out is on view through Feburary 2.