Sunday, August 30, 2009

Transitory Objects

from the article,

“Transitory Objects,” the latest exhibit at Vienna’s influential Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary gallery, features some of the most innovative and splendidly unconventional forms coming out of the architectural world today, including works from Matthew Ritchie, Neri Oxman, Alisa Andrasek, François Roche, Greg Lynn, and Hernan Diaz Alonso. To have these mesmerizing structures together in one exhibit is remarkable in itself, but to have them positioned alongside works of contemporary art, as this exhibit has done, raises a provocative point about how boundaries have collapsed between architectural objects, conceptual art, and theoretical science. The exhibit aims to look at those architectural works that “have achieved an appearance of being autonomous forms,” says curator Daniela Zyman, suggesting that these works are meaningful outside of a specific context or place.

Ritchie, Oxman, Roche, and their colleagues split deeply from the finite, permanent, and utilitarian tradition of architecture. Not to say their end products are not useful or habitable. In fact, their structures are arguably better suited to the constantly morphing, impermanent, and aesthetically driven needs and desires of modern society. Rather than working with an end product or useful context in mind, they focus on the process of producing a structure that follows certain laws or principles. These resulting objects rise from computational models and algorithms whose inputs are being drawn from or at least inspired by some of the most boundary-pushing and abstract ideas in science, like quantum physics or the multiverse theory.

“Transitory Objects” includes two elegant models from Alisa Andrasek/BIOTHING that are part of a design project called “Mesonic Emission,” a reference to mesons, subatomic particles composed of quarks. These designs are made from an algorithm that is based on behaviors of electro-magnetic fields and is sophisticated enough to respond to the shape of the environment and to “grow” around obstructing objects. [For details about the algorithm, click here].

Matthew Ritchie’s two pieces in the exhibit are based on cosmologists Paul Steinhardt and Neil Turok’s cyclic universe theory. Speaking about his modular architecture at Seed’s Design Series last year, Ritchie told the audience, “I want to make a physicalized model of everything in the universe…. [I]t will be a superposed structure in the sense that it has multiple options contained within it at any given time and that it can be rebuilt.” The resulting black-aluminum modules are assembled using the logic of language and form a web-like tangle that can be reassembled in an infinite number of ways. For “Transitory Objects” close to 100 of the pieces have been assembled for an entirely unique 10’ x 20’ x 10’ structure.


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