Posts tagged with "Yerba Buena Center for the Arts":

Placeholder Alt Text

Boundary-pushing exhibition explores time and scale in architecture and the arts

In slow motion, lightweight forms descend from above to greet visitors to the opening of Slow Dialogues: Time, Space, and Scale at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) in San Francisco.

Black-clad dancers grasp and tangle with the pliable and dynamic forms, opening them up, spreading them across the floor, nimbly interacting, transforming, and reforming the woven bamboo structures. These pieces featured in the group exhibit, Traveling Geometry (2008–16), are the work of Dutch designer Maria Blaisse. Blaisse’s current work carves out the space between architecture, sculpture, and performance, a unique amalgamation of simple materials, complex forms, and a sensitive awareness of balance and flow. As part of the larger exhibition’s themes, Blaisse’s work investigates the movement of both the forms within the larger space of YBCA and its specific location in the upstairs exhibition by curator Carolyn Strauss, who organized this group show under the auspices of her Slow Research Lab, a Netherlands-based, multi-disciplinary research and curatorial platform.

Megumi Matsubara’s It Is a Garden (2016), a site-specific piece developed exclusively for this exhibition and the YBCA, slowly and quietly proposes a meditative response to the Yerba Buena Gardens where the center is located. Her collection of photographs of local flora and mirrors reflect both visitors and the interior space of the building. Matsubara’s piece harkens back to Robert Smithson’s Photoworks and engages the flexible upstairs corridor and main atrium space designed by Fumihiko Maki in a shifting context that involves both the spectator and the architecture in a new and original way of seeing. Through the doubling action of the mirror, the bystander and the surrounding space enter into a larger dialogue that slowly shifts between dimensions, while the precisely-detailed, macro photographs of local flowers reinforce location, reminding the visitor of the soft, magical garden surrounding the hard walls and geometric architecture of the YBCA.

The final part of the group show is a spectacular latex cast of the old United States Mint created by Jorge Otero-Pailos as part of his ongoing series The Ethics of Dust. Layers upon layers of latex are actively gathered by Otero-Pailos’s team as they extract the actual dirt and dust that has accumulated over time on the mintmaterials that have become a part of the makeup and history of the building. What would normally be thought of as the opponent in the preservation process—the visible and unwanted pollution and grime of the building—becomes a thickened, draped, semi-translucent form echoing the multidimensional themes of the exhibit in phenomenological and poetic harmonies. Visitors pass between these “newly” hung walls of the existing building, walls that have been translated and dispossessed of their physicality. Somewhere in the middle of painting, installation, and architecture, this series of experimental preservation artifacts is able to capture an unspoken essence, an architectural potential, and an environmental actuality with a deft hand and an elegant spirit of means and materiality. By cleaning the walls in this profoundly contrasting style to how traditional conservation would act to erase the traces of dirt, the passage of time and pollution are able to reveal an intrinsic truth concerning the aging process of buildings, allowing the copy, both interpretation and original, to move to the forefront.

Overall, Slow Dialogues: Time, Space, and Scale engages the viewer in contemporary conversations regarding the blurred lines between the disciplines of art and architecture in expressive and inspired moments of tension caught between the poetry of action and inaction, invisible and accumulated experiences, moments of human profundity and nature’s ability to mark and trace man’s perilous attempt to create meaning. Each protagonist in this exhibit is able to comment upon the universal themes of time, space, and scale in unique and specific ways marked upon by its individual style and ethos. As individuals they work at the boundaries and extremities of these disciplines, somewhat unknown voyagers chasing meaning and conventions to produce novel bodies of creation, integrating and investigating extraordinary themes through familiar yet destabilized versions of the what could be thought of as the original.

Placeholder Alt Text

With lawsuits settled, TEN Arquitectos' Mexican Museum moves forward in San Francisco

Lawsuits stalling construction of San Francisco’s Mexican Museum and 706 Mission Street high-rise have been settled. Earlier this year AN reported that the museum designed by Mexico City–based TEN Arquitectos and housed in the first four floors of a Handel Architects–designed 47-story condo tower at 706 Mission Street and the restored 1903 Aronson Building, was expected to break ground over the summer. Fights over the height of the tower held construction up of the 54,000-square-foot, $43 million facility and the $305 million, 510-foot-tall condo tower developed by Millennium Partners. Now that the lawsuits brought by neighbors in the nearby Four Seasons building are resolved, a building permit has been issued and the projects can finally move forward. Socketsite reported on the settlement, “Millennium Partners will donate $100,000 to the City to offset the costs of installing a new crosswalk at Third Street and Stevenson and revising the signal timing on Third, assuming the improvements for the residents of the Four Seasons, and others, are approved.” When complete, the Mexican Museum, which sits on a site next to Daniel Libeskind’s Contemporary Jewish Museum, will feature some 14,000 objects related to Mexican and Mexican-American art and culture. These artworks and objects will fill the cantilevered main galleries—a boxy structure clad in a reflective metallic skin, designed with artist Jan Hendrix.
Placeholder Alt Text

On View> Architecture & Design Films showcased in San Francisco Festival

All month the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) will present its Architecture & Design Films Showcase 2015 in downtown San Francisco, hailed as the West Coast’s largest showcase of architecture and design films. The New Rijksmuseum, a 2013 film directed by Oeke Hoogendijk opened the festival. With clarity and precision the documentary followed the ten year ordeal that was the renovation of the Amsterdam museum and the challenging battle and drama surrounding its reopening. Joel Shepard, YBCA’s film curator, said “this is the second year we’ve presented this very engaging series and it was such a hit last year that we decided to do it again. This time we have even more outstanding films, which were all selected for their diversity as well as because they represent a wide variety of new architecture, design, and related subjects.” Some titles that stand out are Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art, focused on what it’s title straightforwardly lays out, land art, and includes rare footage and interviews of storied artists Robert Smithson (Sprial Jetty), Walter De Maria (The Lightning Field), and Michael Heizer (Double Negative) on October 29 and November 1. Maker, with the director Mu-Ming Tsai in person to present a film that looks into the current maker movement in America—a new wave of do-it-yourself and do-it-together fueled by passion and powered by new technologies, a topic particularly ripe for the Bay Area crowd. Two other titles to take note of are Christiania: 40 Years of Occupation and Making Space, a film that looks at five women changing the face of architecture. The showcase runs through November 8 and takes place at the YBCA Screening Room in San Francisco. A list of the films can be found at on the museum's website. Most show times are Thursday evenings, and Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
Placeholder Alt Text

San Francisco's "Murmur Wall" installation tells your secrets in public

We’ve all heard a lot about “smart cities” and “responsive architecture,” by what about architecture that tells secrets? Murmur Wall, designed by Jason Kelly Johnson and Nataly Gattegno of the experimental design practice Future Cities Lab, does just that. The pair describes their site-specific installation at the main entrance to Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco in as “artificially intelligent architecture.” “We are interested in exploring how data can become visceral, tangible, and poetic,” Johnson explained. “We’re experimenting with its potential to create meaning and a sense of place within the contemporary city.” Murmur Wall harvests local online activities—via search engines and social media—and broadcasts select phrases back into public space. Visitors to the wall can also contribute anonymous secrets, rumors, and gossip to the wall at the website Unlike many interactive artworks that rely on screens to share information, the sculptural installation uses a steel tube armature and illuminated fiber optic rods. LED lights embedded in the acrylic tubes illuminate the stream of whispers along the length of the Murmur Wall. When the real-time data reaches the 3D printed “pods” embedded with LED display, the small, embedded screens display a brief text before the data continues on as a light stream. This integration of digital and architectural strategies comes from Future Cities Lab research and teaching practices. Both designers are faculty at the California College of the Arts where Gattegno is Chair of the CCA Graduate Architecture program and Johnson coordinates the CCA Digital Craft Lab. Their work embraces the booming tech culture all around them in the Bay Area and then grapples with potential architectural applications, finding solutions that go beyond smart city catchphrases. “There is a lot of talk these days about how the Internet of Things will make the city more efficient, informed, and productive,” said Johnson. “We are more interested in its potential to connect people, to help them share ideas and experiences, and create communities in the physical world.” Revealing secrets is the first step. The installation is open and accessible to the public 24/7 at the Mission Street entrance the museum. A second Future Cities Lab piece, Lightswarm from 2014, is on view on the south facade of YBCA’s Grand Lobby.
Placeholder Alt Text

A Set Design That Moves

Every architect has a mental file of unusual client requests, but few, if any, have been asked to make a wall dance. Yet, in essence, that’s what San Francisco architect Christopher Haas created—not for a client, but for a collaborator, Alonzo King, the San-Francisco-based choreographer. For King’s LINES Ballet company’s spring season that premieres April 15-24 at the city’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Haas created a wall that performs,  but not as a soloist. The set's recycled cardboard walls, some 10-feet high and 32-feet wide, are pushed and pulled by the dancers. The performers also literally climb the walls. Playing off the classical pas de deux, the wall both supports and spotlights a male dancer (instead of a ballerina), who is suspended horizontally by the wall. At one of the most spellbinding moments, the wall practically overtakes a male soloist and then completely envelops the company. Historically, sets created by architects for dance companies have been sculptural backdrops that may be sublime, but nevertheless static. Even the recent and much anticipated backdrops by Santiago Calatrava for the New York City Ballet and Herzog and de Meuron for the Metropolitan Opera fell into that category. So Haas—best known as the project architect behind Herzog and de Meuron’s de Young museum—was taking a huge leap. This is the second time that Haas and King have worked together. They met in 2004 when Haas’ wife, Corinne, was a dancer in the company, and King was looking for sets for his “Before the Blues” production. Haas quickly answered the call, creating what he calls “simple, Donald Judd-looking boxes” out of copper and blackened copper scraps left over from the de Young, which had been lying around his studio. “He did them so quickly, and we hadn’t had much dialogue,” said King. “I thought, if there was that much artistic sympathy when we hadn’t spoken, how interesting would it be if we had a real conversation?” For this collaboration, that conversation between Haas and King began two years ago. Contrary to what you’d expect, the choreographer envisioned something large, heavy and architectonic and the architect wanted something that would respond to the dancers. “I really wanted to do something where we could explore the intersection of architecture and movement and see how the two relate to each other. If you configure space in a particular way, how does that affect the dancer? If the dancer can change the space around them, what opportunities do they create for themselves? I was really looking at the relationship between the body and movement and the built environment in space," said King.   Both ended up getting what they wanted. King got a sculptural backdrop and Haas got his movable, interactive set. Haas created between 20 and 30 study models before ending up with a design that allows the walls to be manipulated into a variety of forms. About half of the cardboard planks—each about four feet long, eight inches wide and four inches tall—have a hole with two dowels and a rod going through them, enabling the walls to be folded. The rest of the planks have slots that run almost the whole length of the board, which allows the boards to hinge and the slotted pieces to slide through. The wall can expand to 50 feet wide and contract. Prototypes were made from the cardboard alone. Since the walls are so manipulated by the dancers, they don't wear well. So Haas sandwiched the cardboard between layers of 1/8-inch chipboard for added strength. Haas has also created another interactive set for this production: several thousand elastic cords attached at the top and bottom to aluminum tubes some 40 feet wide and 50 feet high. The intention is the same: the company “dances” with the cords. Haas chose recycled cardboard and elastic cord to illustrate the surprising beauty that can be found in such simple, light and inexpensive materials. And while King may be the first choreographer Haas has worked with, Haas was not the first architectural collaborator for King, who’s made dances with Shaolin Monks, central African pygmy singers and a sextet of Moroccan musicians, among others. King worked with Frank Gehry for a set to accompany Wagner’s “Tannhauser” in 2004 until the funding fell through. King said some of the same ideas discussed with Gehry are being explored in these sets: “How do you manipulate energies? How do you get involved in risk taking? What shapes don’t move? What shapes move through space? When do you feel cloistered and protected and when do you feel imprisoned?” For architects, Haas says its unusual to work in such a collaborative, changeable and organic fashion, in which changes may be made right up until the curtain rises.  “It’s very different from an architectural project where you have a very finite static result,” he says. “That’s a really interesting part of this—the allowance for architecture to change and the end user to change it.”