If the adage is true that “God is in the details,” then the current exhibition at Christopher W. Mount Gallery in West Hollywood might grant the venue some status as a holy site. On view through January 20, 2016, in the second floor space of the Pacific Design Center’s “Blue Whale” and entitled Mapping the Information Age, the exhibition is comprised of a collection of thirteen large, intricately detailed and color-coded microchip circuitry diagrams, framed and accompanied by a projected slideshow of historic imagery from the companies that produced many of the prints, such as Intel Corporation, Synaptics, Inc., and Hewlett-Packard, among others. “The complexity is appealing,” said gallery director Christopher Mount, as he discussed the strong impression conveyed through the diagrams. “There’s rigor here, even if we don’t understand it.” The diagrams, upwards of four to six feet wide, were used by microchip engineers and designers if something went wrong in the development process. “If you were designing a chip and it just wasn’t working, you’d bring these out,” said Mount. “Somebody would make sure that the memory was connected in the right way. You would spend days with them.” Mount, who has curated exhibitions at MOCA and LACMA, and held directorial positions at the Pasadena Museum of California Art and Parsons, first became interested in the prints while working on an exhibition at MoMA in 1990 that was organized by Cara McCarty, titled Information Art: Diagramming Microchips. The prints currently on view at Mount’s gallery were culled from that show. The collection engages with a discussion about the status of the drawing in contemporary design practices. The idea that such visually substantial prints, which are well suited to the gallery context, are the outcome of technological troubleshooting or routine “debugging” processes on the part of the microchip makers, raises questions about the expectations that we generally have of drawings. Designers and architects often use drawings to present idyllic possibilities, usually before the constraints of reality have come to bear on the design. The visually intricate microchip diagrams, however, are themselves the outcome of an error, a means to visualize and correct a problem. “These were not intended as art,” Mount noted. “But as functional design drawings.” For Mount, the question of authorship is another complicating factor: “People walk in here all the time and say, 'So, who’s the artist?' And I have to explain: 'Well, it’s Hewlett-Packard, or it’s Intel, or it’s Rockwell Technologies.'” The visual abstractions captured in the diagrams suggest a number of interesting and alternative readings. Mount recalled that some visitors see patterns for textiles, others see architectural plans. “They look like cityscapes, or any kind of urban complex.” he said. “They have the spirit of Corbusier.” In the precisely ordered, nanoscale grid of the plans, the viewer can read systems and interactions at a scale that is more relatable to everyday life; imagining some processor components as parking garages, others as apartments, and the green spaces in-between as parks. “The colors are all particular to the companies,” he explained, but are generally used to convey the visual depth and order of how the components would be stacked. “The lightest colors go deeper, the darker colors are higher up on the chip.” The diagrams might also reveal a sense of collective anxiety about how little we actually understand about computational processes. As smart devices occupy more of our time and attention, how important are the inner workings that these “black boxes” obscure? “We all use a computer every day, but you forget that this is the thing inside,” Mount said of the processor components. “People forget that in 1990 these were brand new.” Because desktop computers and microchip processors were less common twenty-five years ago, there tended to be a greater appreciation for the efforts and outcomes in the development of computer hardware.“Now, I think everybody comes in and recognizes them as microprocessors.” The computational complexity seems to be taken for granted, which means viewers are more interested in the formal qualities of the diagrams. Perhaps the shift from technological wizardry to mundane ubiquity is the neglected aspect of the information age that demands a more detailed mapping. As such, the diagrams on display might also reveal something about how we relate to designed objects more broadly. “I think everyday things aren’t appreciated,” said Mount of the objects that we often take for granted. “I’ve always been a real advocate for design.I like the fact that it’s available to everyone. I like the idea of a calculator that’s wonderful to look at and makes you happy, and can sit on your desk for twenty-five dollars.”
Posts tagged with "West Hollywood":
When the Future had Fins: American Automotive Designs and Concepts, 1959-1973 Christopher West Mount Gallery, Pacific Design Center 8687 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, CA Through May 20 Once upon a time the American car industry was king. Nothing captures the prestige, aspirations, and mythology of Detroit’s heyday quite like the working sketches and drawings used to develop and promote the land boats we used to call automobiles. A new show at Christopher W. Mount Gallery focuses on sketches from designers at the “Big Three”—General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler—from 1959 to 1973, when those companies were as important as Google, Apple, and Facebook. The sleek, colorful cars with their dynamic angles and large hoods capture the sexiness and muscle that is long gone in today’s car culture. Visionaries like Ford’s John Samsen and GM’s Bill Michalak had a mastery and an expressive craftsmanship on paper that is far removed from the digitized and sanitized world of 21st century rendering.
Groundswell: Guerilla Architecture in Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake MAK Center 835 North Kings Road West Hollywood, California Through January 4, 2015 The Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 devastated the island nation, setting off a tsunami that destroyed over 300 miles of coastline, causing the failure of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, and leaving more than 20,000 people dead and 470,000 without homes. The severe damage from the catastrophe propelled architects to take action, swiftly and creatively, as illustrated in a new exhibit, Groundswell: Guerilla Architecture in Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake. Faced with the slow moving bureaucracy of the government response, a number of architects—including Manabu Chiba, Momoyo Kaijima and Yoshiharu Tsukamoto (of Atelier Bow-Wow), Senhiko Nakata, Osamu Tsukhashi, and Riken Yamamoto—decided to take matters into their own hands and work with local communities to rebuild, using a myriad of design solutions. Through this grassroots movement, the show explores how architects can jumpstart and participate in recovery efforts following a natural disaster.
What's a cross between a green roof and a living wall? IAC, the company that brought you Frank Gehry's billowing building by the High Line in New York, is commissioning Rios Clementi Hale to "drape" its white brick building on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood with a six-story sculptural steel lattice—like a living roof turned 45 degrees— containing native plantings irrigated by recaptured underground water. Tall vertical troughs will protrude as much as 14 feet from the building face. At ground level a public space will be added to the building's entry plaza, fitted with steel-plated benches and bike racks. On the west side of the structure, the grid will flatten to become a green roof over a new restaurant. The installation's native plants will be chosen by Paul Kephart of planted roof specialists Rana Creek. At night the gridded structure will be lit from behind, so light will shine through the plants. The project, already under construction, is expected to be completed later this year.
Are you an architect seeking a growth sector? How about billboards? A trailblazing firm in this field is Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects (LOHA), who recently designed a new 68-foot-tall sign at Sunset and La Cienega on the Sunset Strip for the City of West Hollywood and Ace Advertising. Instead of the usual featureless, boxy armature, LOHA has designed a blue, wishbone-shaped, steel structure that one could even call (gasp) sexy. Its meandering, tubular shape also brings to mind snaking traffic in the area. The structure's torque was achieved using massive gas pipeline bending machines. "Infrastructure doesn't have to be marginalized," O'Herlihy said. "Why not glorify the structure?" The firm is now planning two more signs in the billboard-heavy area, at 8462 Sunset and 9015 Sunset. One tall and thin sign folds like origami and incorporates seating into its bottom-most curve; the other bends back forcefully as if trying to escape from the street. Coincidentally LOHA is collaborating with SOM on a large mixed-use project (containing residential, hotel, and retail) just across the street from their new billboard, Sunset-La Cienega. Between the signs and the buildings, we've considered nicknaming the area Lorcan-ville.
While it was approved by the city of West Hollywood back in 2009 (and again in 2010), it looks like Eric Owen Moss' large hotel on the Sunset Strip might be in trouble. Curbed LA reports that the property containing the 11-story project, which was also to include condos and retail, has been bought by Marriott hotels' "Edition" brand of luxury hotels, which WeHo Patch has said "doesn’t seem inclined to use the Moss designs." Our calls to Marriott were not returned. The Moss scheme was originally proposed by developer Richard Weintraub (with no hotel operator), and Marriott's involvement became clear when the West Hollywood planning department approved the company's modifications (slightly increasing size, adding a nightclub) to the project last Thursday. But wait. According to West Hollywood Planning Manager John Keho, Marriott has not yet told the city who the architect of their proposal will be, nor have they given a timeline for when they might submit architectural plans. According to Moss principal Eric McNevin, "Nothing has been confirmed yet. It's not known yet. What was reported was speculation." Stay tuned.
There's nothing that'll kill the buzz on your birthday faster than rumors of the Rapture coming on the same day. But we think John Chase, the beloved urban designer of the City of West Hollywood, would have handled it in stride. Chase, the oft-celebrated "King of Public Space," was a tremendously outspoken presence in planning and politics and was responsible for transforming the scruffy city into one with attractive public spaces that are both progressive and respectful of the city's past. To remember the late urban designer, de LaB, a group of Chase's friends, family, co-workers, and collaborators, is leading a walking tour on the anniversary of his birthday, Saturday, May 21, across the city. Architects and city leaders will guide the participants through various projects and share their memories of Chase and discuss his urban spaces. Stops include Formosa 1140, Plummer Park, The MAK Center, Habitat 825, Holloway Park Veteran's Memorial, Sierra Bonita Affordable Housing, 8140 Sunset Boulevard, and West Hollywood City Hall, among others. The tour will conclude (hopefully with the world still intact) with drinks at one of Chase's favorite places in the city, Barney's Beanery. Presented by KCRW's DnA: Design and Architecture, design east of La Brea and The Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design, the day's speakers include Frances Anderton, Christopher Hawthorne, John Keho, Jennifer Davis, Katherine Spitz, Deborah Murphy, John Kaliski, Margaret Crawford, Lorcan O'Herhily, Richard Loring, Merry Norris, Andy Liu, Wade Killefer, Pat Smith, Bruce Kaye, and more to be announced. John Chase's West Hollywood: An Architectural Walking Tour Saturday, May 21, 2011 10:00 a.m.: Tour departs from the West Hollywood Gateway, 7100 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood. Meet in front of the Starbucks in the courtyard. 5:30 p.m.: Drinks at Barney's Beanery, 8447 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood. You can take the 704 or 4 bus back to the start. Please visit AN's diary for more info.