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SUBTLE CONSTRUCTION EDITED BY MARTA JECU LUÍS SANTIAGO BAPTISTA DANA BENTIA CARLOS BUNGA FORMLESSFINDER (GARRETT RICCIARDI & JULIAN ROSE) PEDRO GADANHO HIRONARI KUBOTA MATIAS MACHADO MANUEL AIRES MATEUS CRISTIAN RUSU SANCHO SILVA JOÃO SILVÉRIO YUKIHIRO TAGUCHI SINTA WERNER

BYPASSEDITIONS

SUBTLE CONSTRUCTION EDITED BY MARTA JECU

BYPASSEDITIONS

Title: Subtle Construction Editor: Marta Jecu Authors: Luís Santiago Baptista, Dana Bentia, Carlos Bunga, FormlessFinder (Garrett Ricciardi and Julian Rose), Pedro Gadanho, Hironari Kubota, Matias Machado, Manuel Aires Mateus, Cristian Rusu, Sancho Silva, João Silvério, Yukihiro Taguchi, Sinta Werner Design: Flatland Design Proofreading: Helen Carter, BYPASS BYPASS Editions Álvaro Seiça Neves + Gaëlle Silva Marques Lisbon and Malmö www.bypass.pt info@bypass.pt Print Run: 500 copies Printing: Textype Artes Gráficas, Portugal Legal Deposit: 337 500/11 ISBN 978-989-97189-1-3 Cover image: Sinta Werner, What Remains Foreign I, 2011. Photocollage, 28 x 37 cm. © 2011 Sinta Werner © 2011 Marta Jecu © 2011 The Authors © 2011 BYPASS Editions All rights reserved

Acknowledgments The editor and publishers would like to thank The Japan Foundation for their kind support in making this book possible and for all those who contributed and supported it. Many thanks to Victor Pinto da Fonseca, Plataforma Revólver and Largo Residências.

CONTENTS 6

INTRODUCTION MARTA JECU

8

DREAMS AND PROTO-CONCEPTIONS OF SPACE IN GREEK THOUGHT UP TO ARISTOTLE: A SELECTION OF QUOTES WITH A LEXICON SANCHO SILVA

22

P ERCEPTUALITY AND P ERFORMATIVITY IN C ONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE LUÍS SANTIAGO BAPTISTA INTERVIEW

40

ARCHIVE VS. (MUTATING) ARCHITECTURE: NOTES ON THE EMPTY CUBE PROJECT JOÃO SILVÉRIO

48

EDIBLE ARCHITECTURE: A PORTRAIT OF SENSUOUS TRANSFORMATIONS DANA BENTIA

58

IMAGINARY STUDY LABORATORY CARLOS BUNGA

66

UNTITLED SINTA WERNER

74

HIRONARI KUBOTA: THE SPINNING IDOL ~ 千手観音 SENJYU-KANNON HIRONARI KUBOTA INTERVIEW

86

THE GHOST GEOMETRY CRISTIAN RUSU

94

ZIMMER YUKIHIRO TAGUCHI

102

OHNE TITEL MATIAS MACHADO

110

SUBTLE CONSTRUCTION

120

MANUEL AIRES MATEUS INTERVIEW

130

FORMLESSFINDER (GARRETT RICCIARDI AND JULIAN ROSE) INTERVIEW

138

SOME IMAGINED ARCHITECTURES: A REFLEXIVE INDEX PEDRO GADANHO

INTRODUCTION This book is meant to look at architecture considering its invisible side – connected to its intensity, to its unmanifested potentialities, to the spatial and temporal superpositions that it carries and that infuse places, situations, objects with a specific cultural memory. Identified as a capacity to temporarily manifest a virtual potential that architecture carries, this intensity is seen as a regenerative and transformative dimension, which the real carries. In visual and written forms, the explorations of space and construction processes that are gathered here show and reinforce the effectiveness with which this virtual potential of our immediate experience manifests itself. At the same time, this book intends to gather possible directions of understanding and concrete approaches of the virtual, which do not rely on digital media. Accompanying the exhibition Subtle Construction, taking place in Lisbon in November 2011, at Plataforma Revólver, this volume continues the lines of thought that the artists Carlos Bunga, Hironari Kubota, Matias Machado, Cristian Rusu, Sancho Silva, Yukihiro Taguchi, and Sinta Werner set in motion. Their works – where space is progressively dramatized, documented, re-enacted and architecture emerges from unexpected self-generating parcourses that the involvement of different media take – aggregate performative spatial presences. Therefore, this volume also contains a dossier with images that, in a condensed manner, resituate or recall their works. Along with their works, theoreticians, architects, and curators respond in specific ways to the question of virtual and imaginary architecture. In this sense, Sancho Silva gathers fundamental concepts for both a geographical and a spiritual mapping of space, immersing the reader in Aristotelian and pre-Aristotelian thought and offering the chance of being in contact with original texts. Luís Santiago Baptista composes a solid and grounded theoretical corpus that offers historically informed insights in the contemporary thinking of the virtual connected to architecture. João Silvério, in his own curatorial project Empty Cube, opens a curatorial perspective in dealing with the capacity of space to self-generate a conceptual substance that transiently articulates into form. Dana Bentia vividly brings us close to the edible architectures, the famous pièces montées of the grand French chef Marie-Antoine Carême and the period following the French Revolution of 1789. Carlos Bunga and Yukihiro Taguchi construct a visual convergence of images, which both document and amplify their proximate living and working space with a supplementary dimension of sensory references and information layers. Sinta Werner and Cristian Rusu work with a graphic dimension of space that flattens space and brings it back to its surface, where the line or the fold —6—

create an image, by conceptually intervening directly on its support. Matias Machado gathered images from his previous projects in which, by literally transposing spaces into other spaces, he has built architectures of the absence, which reject any type of content formation and qualities and present themselves in an immobile, imponderable state. Hironari Kubota talks about a little known Shinto festival in Japan and the forces that move objects and let the categories that separate them blur. Manuel Aires Mateus discusses his vision on art’s specific and architectural way of creating meaning in space, and describes a profound architecture, exploring what for him constitutes the lived dimension of a construction, and ways to open experienceable possibilities that a house carries. The duo of New York curators and architects Garrett Ricciardi and Julian Rose show their interest in the formless and their understanding of the virtual as a rematerialization of architecture. Pedro Gadanho masters a variety of approaches and literary styles in his systematic and influential confrontation with imaginary architecture. When I come across a building that has developed a special presence in connection with the place it stands in, I sometimes feel that it is imbued with an inner tension that refers to something over and above the place itself.1 Buildings that have a strong impact always convey an intense feeling of their spatial quality. They embrace the mysterious void called space in a special way and make it vibrate. 2

Marta Jecu

1. 2.

Zumthor, Peter. Thinking Architecture. Basel, Boston and Berlin: Birkhäuser – Publishers for Architecture, 1999, p. 36. Ibid., p. 21.

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DREAMS AND PROTO-CONCEPTIONS OF SPACE IN GREEK THOUGHT UP TO ARISTOTLE: A SELECTION OF QUOTES WITH A LEXICON SANCHO SILVA

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SANCHO SILVA

In the dialectical image, what has been within a particular epoch is always, simultaneously, “what has been from time immemorial.” As such, however, it is manifest, on each occasion, only to a quite specific epoch – namely, the one in which humanity, rubbing its eyes, recognizes just this particular dream image as such. It is at this moment that the historian takes up, with regard to that image, the task of dream interpretation. [N4,1] Benjamin, Walter. The Arcades Project. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999, p. 464.

Lexicon1 αἰθήρ (aither): air, aether, ether, theoretical medium of great elasticity and extreme thinness of consistency supposed to fill all unoccupied space and transmit light and heat, the upper or purer air as opposed to aer (αέρας), the lower air, the clear sky. ἀµυδρὸν (amudron): dimly seen through water, scarce legible letters, obscurely, faint, weak, vague, indistinctness. ἀτελεύτητον (ateleuthton): not brought to an end, unaccomplished, interminable, impracticable (of a person). ἕδραν (edra): sitting-place, stool, bench, seat of honor, abode, quarters of the sky in which omens appear, sitting-still, inactivity, delay, fundament, position. ἐνύπνιον (enupnion): things seen in sleep, dreams. ἀπατηλόν (apathlon): trick, fraud, deceit, treachery. ἄπειρος (apeiron): boundless, infinite, countless, indefinite, endless. διάστηµα (diasthma): interval, distance, difference, ratio, extension, dimension, distinction of style. δόξαν (docan): expectation, notion, opinion, judgment, conjecture, imagine, suppose (wrongly), fancy, vision, estimation, repute, external appearance, glory, splendour. θαῦµα (thauma): wonder, marvel, puppet-show, astonishment. φαντασία (phantasia): appearing, appearance, imagination. φάος (phaos): light, daylight, light of a torch, window. φάσµα (phasma): apparition, phantom, phenomenon. κενός (kenos): empty, fruitless, void, destitute, bereft, devoid of wit, vain. 1.

Source consulted: Liddell & Scott. A Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996.

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PERCEPTUALITY AND PERFORMATIVITY IN CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE LUÍS SANTIAGO BAPTISTA INTERVIEW

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Marta Jecu: How would you define the virtual and how would you interpret its relevance in connection to architecture? Luís Santiago Baptista: I think some clarification is needed here. There are several concepts of the virtual, and for the concerns here I will call for a particular one. In Différence et Répétition, Gilles Deleuze said that one cannot oppose the real to the virtual, but only to the actual. He also affirmed that the virtual should not be confused with the possible. Two main ideas derive from this notion in respect to the theory of architecture: on the one hand, it presupposes that we cannot ground architecture simply in materiality and physical reality, in as much matter and idea, reality and memory, are somehow undistinguishable and cannot be understood as autonomous since they depend structurally on experience; on the other hand, it functions as a critique of the emerging idea of the virtual as a separate or parallel field to the real, therefore doubling reality, even taking into account that the new digital technologies have a strong connection to this issue. Additionally, differentiating the virtual from the possible, Deleuze breaks the relation with the already known, opening it up to the unpredictable and even the inconceivable. In this sense, our relation with the world is structurally founded on potential, in open experience and the release of the new. In fact, I am interested in this idea of Deleuze because it can shed some light in the diffuse field of contemporary architectural theory. Not that it can justify and legitimate a particular tendency or a specific historic time. The virtual was not discovered nor invented; it is intrinsic to human nature and existence. But the fact that it was thought and conceived from a particular moment, even by several thinkers through different concepts, has a determinant value and importance. In philosophy this moment was the 60’s with the emergence of post-structuralist thought, developed by philosophers like Michel Foucault, Jean-François Lyotard, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, among others. Post-structuralism addresses the fracture or gap between the subject and the world, turning this problematic relation into something positive and productive. It is significant that all those thinkers theorized the concept of ‘difference’. In the field of architecture I really think that the consequent paradigmatic change occurred later at the end of the 70’s. The approximation to the issues of contemporary art and the spirit of free experimentation were the ideal environment to replicate the changes in contemporary thought. Naturally, with the yet to be named deconstructivism, this effervescent research in architecture found in Derrida’s deconstruction idea its theoretical background, that was then translated to architectural theory by Derrida himself, Peter Eisenman, Mark Wigley, Andrew Benjamin and Jeffrey Kipnis. However, we have to be careful here with direct correspondences between different fields of knowledge: — 23 —

PERCEPTUALITY AND PERFORMATIVITY IN CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE

on the one hand, Derrida enigmatically alerted that “there is nothing more architectural than deconstruction, but also nothing less architectural”1, emphasizing the structural differences in “writing” between the architectonics of thought and the architectural built substance; on the other hand, Wigley affirmed the problem of the translation between architecture and philosophy saying that “within each there is at least an ongoing architectural translation of philosophy and a philosophical translation of architecture”2 and that this relation is grounded in incompleteness and undecibility. Nevertheless, something happened from the end of the 70’s to the middle of the 90’s when art and philosophy met in architecture as a powerful fuel for experimentation in the discipline. I am aware that nowadays this can be somehow polemic, in a moment when deconstruction is a non-issue or even for some the origin of all evil. It is true that these radical architects have been tested and seduced by the market capitalist ideology, and we have to say sometimes with not so good even dubious results. But I believe that the general incrimination of stararchitecture, however pertinent and relevant, is also misguiding because it conceals the fundamental breakthroughs that deconstrutivist architects have made essentially in their early work. MJ: How did these philosophical concerns develop into further projects, theoretical approaches, architectural manifestos/credos? Could you please name some concrete examples? How do you interpret the concrete possibility of “actualization” of this virtual potential, in these architectural proposals? LSB: First of all, after the influence of Derrida in architectural theory, some architects started to develop a design methodology based on Deleuze’s ideas. The so-called “projective architecture” of the end of the 90’s, theorized by Sanford Kwinter, Sarah Whiting and Robert Somol and practiced by Greg Lynn, FOA, MVRDV and others seemed like a perfect illustration of Deleuze’s concept of the virtual; it was based on a process of becoming generated by the computer where the relation of the real with the virtual intermingled in an outcome that was highly unpredictable. But I think the idea of the virtual cannot be reduced to this almost literal application. In fact, these projective approaches were in a way responsible for reducing substantially the potential of this concept. The truth is that the crucial transformations in the theory of 1.

2.

Derrida, Jacques. “Architecture Where the Desire May Live (Interview [with Eva Meyer, 1986])”. Rethinking Architecture: A Reader in Cultural Theory. Ed. Neil Leach. New York: Routledge, 1997, p. 321. Wigley, Mark. The Architecture of Deconstruction: Derrida’s Haunt. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1996, pp. 5-6.

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LUÍS SANTIAGO BAPTISTA INTERVIEW

architecture, as I said before, happened earlier with the architects and theorists that the projective architects believed they were challenging, but were in fact continuing. But you asked: what is my point in regard to the experience of the virtual in architecture? In general terms, until the emergence of deconstruction, theory of architecture was always about transparency, presupposing a pure relation between the real and language. Thus, an architectural object could and should maintain a clear relation with the user or spectator. We can see this after World War II when architecture strove for legibility of language, as in the semiological and structuralist approach, and harmony with the context, as in the phenomenological and existential approach. For both of them mediation is essentially the realm of the non-problematic, although reality could be assumed as problematic. For instance, we can see this in Venturi, Scott Brown and Izenour’s Learning from Las Vegas and in Kenneth Frampton’s Towards a Critical Regionalism. What happens with the emergence of deconstruction is the assumption of the problematic nature of the processes of mediation. As Wigley stated: “To translate deconstruction in architecture does not lead simply to a formal reconfiguration of the object. Rather, it calls into question the condition of the object, its «objecthood». It «problematises» the condition of the object without simply abandoning it.”3 Indeed, this questioning of the object’s status affirms that our experience of reality has a structural opacity that is unintentionally and involuntary productive. Neutralizing language and dissipating place, these architects of deconstruction, and some that followed, radically explored our perceptual apparatus through the intentional dislocation and destabilization of space. The dizzy framed and gridded forms of Eisenman, the allusive organic and abstracted surfaces of Frank Gehry, the chaotic oblique and assembled structures of Coop Himmelblau, the dramatic silenced and traumatic spaces of Daniel Libeskind, the dynamic smooth and fluid paths of Zaha Hadid, the schizophrenic technical and electronic installations by Diller & Scofidio, the delirious programmatic and functional connections of Rem Koolhaas, the enigmatic material textures and constructions of Herzog & de Meuron, the ethereal transparent and reflective veils of Sejima and Nishizawa, being all very different creative proposals focused one way or another on a main structural issue. This issue was the opening of the architectural experience and the activation of one’s body in space. Undermining the conventional and the familiar, these spaces constantly challenge our perception of space. It is in this sense that we can understand them as a research of the virtual. It is interesting 3.

Wigley, Mark. “The Translation of Architecture: The Product of Babel”. Architectural Design: Deconstruction III. Ed. Andreas Papadakis. London: Academy Editions, 1990, p. 9.

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PERCEPTUALITY AND PERFORMATIVITY IN CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE

capitalist model and the consequent urgent need to recalibrate and reinforce the future role of the architect in society. MJ: Please discuss your own methodology in treating architecture (theoretically and curatorial) from the point of view of ‘curating’ possible discourses departing not only from the form, the space, but also from its various representational paradigms, from the point of view of embedding visual vocabularies of the present into a historical dimension of the culture of form, which is not referring only to modernist approaches, but travels even further in time and from the point of view of architecture’s structural interference with the user. LSB: This is a tough question for me. I am in fact a multitasking architect. I design buildings, research for my Ph.D. thesis, teach at university, write essays, edit a magazine, coordinate books, curate exhibitions, etc. But I am afraid that I cannot single out a unified position in all these different but related activities. I wonder if that would be possible or even a good thing at all. The truth is that all these tasks are related with specific aims and different conditions and contexts. I believe that theory involves all of them, but beyond that somewhat general statement they do not easily configure a program. But let me move on to the specifics. For instance, in my design activity I usually work in collaboration mainly with architect Tiago Leite Araújo, and try to cross strategies related to the specific client’s needs with a particular reading on the history and theory of the discipline in order to develop active living spaces. On the other hand, as editor-in-chief of a small Portuguese architecture and art magazine, arqa, I tend to adopt a more strategic position. The fundamental target of the magazine is the Portuguese audience, and hopefully soon also Brazilian and Portuguese speaking African countries. With regard to this, we faced two alternatives: to respond to critical and arty niches or to act in a broader field of potential readers. In a conservative disciplinary milieu like ours, we decided to critically engage in a more wide-ranging tactic, trying to expand the interests of a broad Portuguese audience. By not limiting our field of action and by refusing to adopt some trend, arqa opens up the spectrum, launching a challenge to its readers. In this sense, the magazine tries to call the general attention to other perspectives and voices, hoping to have some impact in the slow changing of mentalities about architectural and art issues in Portugal. I would say that arqa more than simply appeals to expert readers, it tries to seduce large audiences to different practices and areas of research. In terms of curating I tend to follow a more critical and structural approach. It is something like setting the rules of the game giving greater freedom to the architects and artists involved. In these terms, the structure — 32 —

LUÍS SANTIAGO BAPTISTA INTERVIEW

1

2

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ARCHIVE VS. (MUTATING) ARCHITECTURE: NOTES ON THE EMPTY CUBE PROJECT JOÃO SILVÉRIO

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JOÃO SILVÉRIO

EMPTY CUBE is basically defined by two main characteristics: it is a nomadic exhibition project, in which the presentation of each artistic work takes place during four or five hours of a single day. The space that defines it was designed and conceived by two architects, Isabel Domingos and João Appleton. EMPTY CUBE’s ‘single presentation’ format combines a variety of protocols between what is transitory and its archival documentation – the website1 –, always considering that this is only a document, not a reproduction of one or more events. We may, then, see the exhibition space as a performative unit that hosts the process of artistic creation in a precise, unrepeatable moment, and the website as a referential destination.

1.

<http://www.emptycube.org>

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ARCHIVE VS. (MUTATING) ARCHITECTURE: NOTES ON THE EMPTY CUBE PROJECT

Carlos Bunga, EMPTY CUBE Project, October 2009. Appleton Square, Lisbon, Portugal. © Empty Cube/João Silvério, Carlos Bunga. Photo: Carla Cabanas

Carlos Bunga Project vs. Performance The project/performance displayed at EMPTY CUBE can be viewed as a dividing moment in his work. The space being subjected to the performative act was not built by the author, whose direct, physical intervention at the moment of demolition is still unknown – whatever happens will be the fruit of an individual, spontaneous decision. Another distinctive feature of this action is the fact that it takes place during the usual “single presentation” that characterises this exhibitive project, which opens for a single period of three to four hours and then closes its doors, never to be seen again. Bunga puts into question the project’s duration, one of its essential conditions, along with the fact that the exhibitive space is the object itself of this deconstruction process, thus giving material form to ephemerality and impermanence. It is during the carrying out of this irreversible act that the transformation of the artistic project as performance becomes memory, as if each movement implied a definitive, final action. What is left is the gallery’s space, devoid of what once was the stage for a performance.

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JOÃO SILVÉRIO

Ana Anacleto, The Most Accurate Distance Between Me and Some Other, March 2010. Video (detail of the installation), double projection/DV-PAL (576i) 4:3, b&w, 180’. Appleton Square, Lisbon, Portugal. © Empty Cube/João Silvério, Ana Anacleto. Photo: Ana Anacleto

Ana Anacleto The Most Accurate Distance Between Me and Some Other And that is what makes Ana Anacleto’s Moleskine notebook a nearsimulacrum device, as if video editing had created a bridge between the notebook’s contents and anyone who had been given the possibility of leaving through it, in close connection with the data collected there. It is as if we had been given access to her archive and to the way in which it is organised. The use of double projection mimics the notebook format to replicate moving from page to page, via a succession of images or their absence. Thus the piece becomes disruptive, obliterating our expectations regarding the possibility of a narration, which had been suggested by the “index page” for the various pictures that opens the work. It is actually a false index, since it lacks chronological order, as well as information on the pages of the facsimiled notebook. All we are given is a list of the sets of collections that make up this archive, which I will now detail:

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EDIBLE ARCHITECTURE: A PORTRAIT OF SENSUOUS TRANSFORMATIONS DANA BENTIA

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DANA MARTA BENTIA JECU

1

Marie-Antoine Carême1 (1784-1833) is considered a landmark reformer of food preparation and techniques of display and he marked a defining stage for the crystallization of what today we call modern/haute cuisine. What is referred to as ‘grand cuisine’ is associated with the celebrated chef Antoine Carême and the period following the French Revolution of 1789. He is called the founder of classic French cuisine since he codified and ordered its principles and thus enabled their adoption and implementation across France and beyond. To the extent that the crystallization of modern gastronomy (and with nouvelle cuisine in particular) presents similarities to the debates unfolding in France between the Ancients and the Moderns, 2 there is one sense especially which tends to assert itself above the others: vision. Sight is related in a particular way with the creation of standards of preparation and styles of presentation (both of dishes as well as cookbooks) and resonates with the rational, materialist, and scientific Weltanschauung emerging since the 1. 2.

Marie-Antoine Carême or Antonin Carême. See Spang, Rebecca. The Invention of the Restaurant: Paris and Modern Gastronomic Culture. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000.

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EDIBLE ARCHITECTURE: A PORTRAIT OF SENSUOUS TRANSFORMATIONS

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DANA BENTIA

Carême’s haute cuisine pièces montées showed that in the eighteenth century in France a common trait in the formation of tastes was the use of theatrical modalities of deception, irony, dissimulation, and ostentation. One period (before Carême) reminded the eaters of the organic and beastly origin of food, and the other related food to the aesthetics of form, architecture and art, thus pointing to food’s ‘cultural’ propensity to transcend its ‘natural’ bounds and reach the realms of the mind. In spite of the seeming opposition between these two modes of perceiving foods, they did not sever the relation between food and people but rather sealed a relation through attesting to the embodied nature of taste and the tactility of vision. The end of the nineteenth century was to see a continuation and a further elaboration of the principles introduced by Carême and marked a new stage in the spectacle of cooking and dining in many cultural centers of Europe, including London, Paris and Rome.

Images 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Carême, Antonin. Le Pâtissier Royal Parisien, ou Traité Élémentaire et Pratique de la Pâtisserie Ancienne et Moderne. Vol. 1. Paris: Jules Renouard & Cie, 1841. Courtesy of Maison de l’Outil et de la Pensée Ouvrière 1

Architectural confections. Planche 10: Grosse meringue à la parisienne, croquante en pâté d’amandes à l’ancienne, gâteau de mille-feuilles à la moderne. 2

Planche 8: Gros pâté froid dressé et garni à la moderne; un buisson de petits pâtés à la gelée garnis de cailles; un pâté chaud-froid garni de perdreaux rouges aux truffes; un carton pour soutenir les gros pâtés à la caisson. 3

Planche 11: Gros gâteau de mille feuilles à la royale: croque-en-bouche de divers genres; un popelin historié de feuilles de biscuit aux pistaches; un croque-en-bouche à la parisienne. 4

Planche 12: Gros nougat a la turque orné de sucre filé; un gros nougat formant melon à la française, orné de gros sucre et de pistaches; un gros nougat à la parisienne, orné de sucre filé. 5

Planche 13: Sultane à colonnes couronnée d’un dôme formant archivolte; sultane en surprise, orné d’abaisses de pâte d’amandes; sultane formant le turban couronné. 6

Planche 1: Cascade Égyptienne. Carême, Antonin. Le Pâtissier Pittoresque. Paris: Jules Renouard & Cie, 1842 [troisième édition]. Courtesy of Médiathèque du Grand Troyes. © Photo: P. Jacquinot

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IMAGINARY STUDY LABORATORY CARLOS BUNGA

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CARLOS BUNGA

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IMAGINARY STUDY LABORATORY

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UNTITLED SINTA WERNER

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SINTA WERNER

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SINTA WERNER

1

2

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HIRONARI KUBOTA: THE SPINNING IDOL ~ 千手観音 SENJYU-KANNON HIRONARI KUBOTA INTERVIEW

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HIRONARI KUBOTA INTERVIEW

1

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HIRONARI KUBOTA: THE SPINNING IDOL ~ 千手観音 SENJYU-KANNON

4

1st April 2011, Lisbon Marta Jecu: Please tell me about the Onbashira Festival1 and the importance it has for you. Hironari Kubota: Onbashira is a very little known (even in Japan) Shinto festival in the region where I was born and I was part of it during my childhood and adulthood. During Onbashira, the trunk of a tree is transported over a very long distance by the strength of the people involved, down forest slopes, 1.

Onbashira (御柱祭) is a festival held every six years in the Lake Suwa area of Nagano, Japan. The purpose of the festival is to symbolically renew the Suwa Taisha or Suwa Grand Shrine. “Onbashira” can be literally translated as “the honored pillars”. The Onbashira festival is reputed to have continued, uninterrupted, for 1200 years. The festival is held once every six years, in the years of the Monkey and the Tiger in the Chinese Zodiac, however the locals may say “once every seven years,” because of the traditional Japanese custom of including the current year when counting a period of time. Onbashira lasts several months, and consists of two moments: Yamadashi and Satobiki. Yamadashi traditionally takes place in April, and Satobiki takes place in May. “Yamadashi” literally means “coming out of the mountains.” During this part of the festival, huge trees are cut down in a Shinto ceremony using axes specially manufactured for this purpose. The stems are decorated in red and white regalia, the traditional colors of Shinto ceremonies, and ropes are attached to them. During Yamadashi, teams of men drag the logs down the mountain towards the four shrines of Suwa Taisha. The course of the logs goes over rough terrain, and at certain points the logs must skid or be dropped down steep slopes. Young men prove their bravery by riding the logs down the hill in a ceremony known as “Kiotoshi.” The “Satobiki” festival involves the symbolic placement of the new logs to support the foundation of the shrine buildings. The logs are raised by hand, with a ceremonial group of log bearers who ride the log as it is being raised and sing from the top of the log to announce the successful raising. [...] (Source: Wikipedia)

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HIRONARI KUBOTA INTERVIEW

5

until it reaches the temple. They move it with the strength of their arms all together, ride it, while singing certain songs to give them power to move the heavy trunk. The people who are chosen for this ceremony are from the toughest in the village. The festival is six or seven days long and the people have to join efforts and carry the tree every day, so that it finally reaches its destination, the Shinto shrine. There, at the temple it is put in a vertical position again. MJ: Is there only one tree or more? HK: There are more Onbashira festivals, one in each village of the area. All together there are 16 Onbashiras, each with its own tree, that come together. I think that the festival has its origin in the need to build Shinto shrines: the people had to carry the trees to the place where they wanted to build the shrine. But the shrines had a different structure to what they have now. The ruin of a shrine in that area showed that before a shrine consisted just of a tree trunk and a hole. The festival itself also has strong social functions in the community, it creates a social system: people have to cooperate, have to gather power. The festival also creates a hierarchy in the village: a leader conducts the ceremony and people follow him as he has special power. The first records of the festival are from the 7th or 8th century and it continues to take place since then every 7 years, although the population in this area is not so big. The tree, this heavy object, is hard to control and people fear and respect it with feelings connected to reverence to nature. They never use technology to make it easier to move the tree and this total renunciation to â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 79 â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

THE GHOST GEOMETRY CRISTIAN RUSU

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CRISTIAN RUSU

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THE GHOST GEOMETRY

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CRISTIAN RUSU

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ZIMMER YUKIHIRO TAGUCHI

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YUKIHIRO TAGUCHI

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ZIMMER. BERLIN 2011

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YUKIHIRO TAGUCHI

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OHNE TITEL MATIAS MACHADO

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MATIAS MACHADO

1

OHNE TITEL

4

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MATIAS MACHADO

5

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SUBTLE CONSTRUCTION Carlos Bunga, Hironari Kubota, Matias Machado, Cristian Rusu, Sancho Silva, Yukihiro Taguchi, Sinta Werner Plataforma Revólver, Lisbon November 24, 2011 – January 14, 2012

Hironari Kubota, The Spinning Idol ~ 千手観音 Senjyu-Kannon Mobile architecture with perfomance, CCB Olive Tree Garden, supported by Berardo Collection. November 15, 2011 – December 31, 2011

Curator: Marta Jecu

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SUBTLE CONSTRUCTION

Carlos Bunga, Mental Space, 2010. © Carlos Bunga, Galería Elba Benítez, Madrid

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Cristian Rusu, Untitled (video still), 2008. HD video, 2 min. © Cristian Rusu

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Matias Machado, Detail 1 / Detail 2, 2011. © Matias Machado

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SUBTLE CONSTRUCTION

Sinta Werner, Out of Focus, 2011. © Sinta Werner

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MANUEL AIRES MATEUS INTERVIEW

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7th October 2011, Lisbon Marta Jecu: To start with, I’d like to ask how you work with a dimension which every construction carries, but which is not necessarily visible: for instance the time that is accumulated in a building, connected to a certain history but at the same time oriented to the future – the potential that a building has and which can make it develop in unexpected ways, invisible, but nevertheless real? Manuel Aires Mateus: I am extremely concerned about the whole perception that you can have, that you can add to what you can build in reality. I have the idea that reality is a connection between a more physical reality and a kind of cultural, historical set of information, all the information that you have to superimpose this kind of reality. We do not read the world based on what we have as an experience but based on how we transform this immediate experience, based on our personal experience. So reality is not only reality, it is something that starts before the moment we perceive it. For me, this is very important in connection to architecture, because I am increasingly starting to think that architecture has to deal with the idea of life: the way you use it, the kind of possibilities it opens, the kind of spaces it opens. This dimension is very important to help us understand that we carry a lot of things that we add to this experience. Because architecture is not about the image or the visual aspect it is more about the way that we live. So this idea of living for me is very important. And also the question: What is cultural, in the way in which we perceive architecture? One of the things that I very much like to work with is an image, one that goes directly into your memories – a connection that can be established between reality and the connection to reality through everything that you already know. Archetypes, for instance, but not only those – things that you recognize and that could amplify this new reality that you are suggesting. Because you see this, you understand that you see this because of another experience from another context, and you do not only see this but you have another experience, including the distance in between the two experiences. And I am interested in this distance between experiences and these possibilities that are expanded in that sense. MJ: So this is all mediated through the individual? MAM: Yes, this is like a common thing that we say about art: art is not only about what is exhibited but is more about your personal experience, it is not only about the reality that you see, but about what you understand from what you see. So the experience is not of the artist but of the person who sees — 121 —

MANUEL AIRES MATEUS INTERVIEW

the work of the artist. I am interested in this kind of reflection because I see its relevance in architecture, too, and in connection with architecture it becomes very clear. So our work is more about the experience that the individual has, about all the individual experiences that people could have in establishing these relationships. We are proposing possibilities that have to be fulfilled in different aspects. MJ: On the other hand, architecture itself is also a result of an accumulation of all of these personal experiences and thoughts. MAM: Yes. This idea of relation with time is crucial for us. I remember that when we started building and designing we were pretty much concerned with the result, and the result for us at that time was a moment. The moment of the opening, when the building was finished. But now the result is more and more a distance in time, the way a building is going to change, the way a building is going to sustain the way it is going to be used, even the way the building will be perceived from different aspects, because you understand that your perception of a building also changes. There are buildings that are too much an image, and your perception of those buildings evolves in a very strange way. And some other buildings are more focused on the way you use them, and your perception of them will also change in a different way in time. So our way of conceiving the idea of the result changed very much throughout our work. When I think about the idea of accumulation, something else comes to mind: the way in which an architect really works. Architecture works with very simple things; more than simple, they are basic and everyone knows what they are: everyone knows what a window is, a bathroom, a door… this is our material. But I would like to compare that to the work of a poet, someone who also works with very common notions, everybody knows what they mean, everybody knows how to write them, but that does not make everybody a poet. And architecture is about that, about dealing with very simple things, things that everybody is capable of dealing with, but adding sense, giving them a meaning. That meaning is precisely making those very common aspects of our life become more meaningful, ensuring they carry a meaning. So when you talk about this idea of adding, of superimposing layers, it is about being able to transform banality into something that carries a meaning. And what I think that we are very often doing is adding this layer of significance to very common things. MJ: I also want to ask you concretely how you interpreted the transformations that some of your buildings went through, from the moment you — 122 —

MANUEL AIRES MATEUS INTERVIEW

finished them and then seeing how they evolved and transformed through use and throughout time? MAM: I used to take photos of the buildings when they were finished and then I didn’t take any other photos of them after that. My idea was that: “this is my building and it is here and after that the building has to be adapted, to have an influence on everybody that will use the building, but the life of the people will also have to change living in this building.” Now I know that in reality, for me to read the building, I have to learn from the building, I have to see how people use it, because I still believe that our work is to provide possibilities. I am very interested in this: when I imagine the space, when I imagine building a house, solving a problem, I always imagine trying to suggest ideas, possibilities that could then be used, that can then be changed. I am not interested in controlling people’s lives, but in providing possibilities. Now I very often use this experience of seeing how people are using the buildings in reality. And one of the experiences that was very powerful for me was using ourselves a space that we had designed – it was an existing building which we transformed a little. Being on both sides of this process was very interesting for me because I very much believe in this sense of use, sense of adaptation, sense of the way you understand the space, but I think that what an architect has to do is to always be very open. I remember that once I was visiting a house by Frank Lloyd Wright and Wright had designed the house, then the furniture, then the objects, and then the clothes inside… and for me this was really, really strange because you have to understand when to stop your intervention, and from there you have to allow reality to fulfill the task, to allow other realities to fulfill the space. Otherwise I think that the experience is very, very shallow. Hence, I think that the work of an architect has to show an understanding of his own possibilities. These limits are always different, sometimes we go slightly further and sometimes we stop a little before what is usual. The limits are not the same for every project, but I think that for each project we have to understand where its particular limit is and how far it is possible to go so that the situation does not freeze the situation. Because if you freeze the situation, you will not be letting anyone have any kind of experience inside, and that is obviously less interesting. MJ: In art, as opposed to architecture, often there is not a visible or material outcome, the building processes often do not have a clear purpose, or result in something that can be ephemeral or invisible. Regarding this, I wanted to ask you about the points where art and architecture meet and if you find the need to establish these references? — 123 —

FORMLESSFINDER (GARRETT RICCIARDI AND JULIAN ROSE) INTERVIEW

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FormlessFinder (Garrett Ricciardi and Julian Rose), Ground, 2010. Š FormlessFinder

FORMLESSFINDER (GARRETT RICCIARDI AND JULIAN ROSE) INTERVIEW

27th October 2011, Lisbon Marta Jecu: How would you define the virtual, and how would you define the imaginary? In general, how would you state this difference in relation to architecture and construction? FormlessFinder: The imaginary is not something we would typically associate with our ways of thinking about or making architecture. One of our primary interests is the formless, and we spend a lot of our energy trying to figure out how we can move beyond the limitations and constraints that form (in all its various manifestations) has historically imposed on architecture. The imaginary, to us, seems very closely related to form. On the one hand, this connection is indirect, coming through the image. The imaginary tends to work through and toward the production of images (the image-inary). Images are also the primary venue for form, because the singularity of an image, its static quality, makes it easier to fix form there than in the messiness and complexity of physical material or experience. On the other hand, the connection between form and the imaginary is much more direct; form itself is imaginary. Think of the Platonic notion of form: an imagined ideal opposed to the shortcomings of material reality. Idealism and the imaginary are not always about escaping reality as much as they are about ordering or structuring reality, trying to give clarity to the sometimes overwhelming complexity of real life, real materials, real structures. Form is primarily a figment of the architect’s imagination that he or she projects onto the world. In contrast, the virtual is something we would associate with the formless. Although there has recently been a tendency for the virtual to be conflated with simulations (and digital technology, but more on the digital below), for us the virtual is not at all about opposing the real (“reality” versus “virtual reality”). Instead, we understand the virtual as multiplying and augmenting; it opens up reality to new possibilities, enables multiple registers or trajectories of experience to unfold simultaneously. The virtual can work through material or through media – it could as easily be a result of construction as of projection – but its goal is always to disrupt and explode the limitation of a singular space and time imposed on architecture by image and form. MJ: How can we think of virtual architecture that is not made using digital technologies? If it has not been translated through digital means, how can virtual architecture be real or experienced? Could you name some concrete examples that interest you? FlF: We should begin by emphasizing that to us virtual does not have to — 132 —

FormlessFinder (Garrett Ricciardi and Julian Rose), Load Test, 2010. © FormlessFinder

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SOME IMAGINED ARCHITECTURES: A REFLEXIVE INDEX PEDRO GADANHO

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Story Telling1 Since at least as far back as the 18th century utopias, architects, as much as writers and philosophers, have frequently dealt with astonishing future scenarios. And more than describing them, they have even pictured them with brilliant accuracy. Often, however, these findings were sooner taken to the discipline’s archive rather than included in the general encyclopedia or Malraux’s imaginary museum. Chernikhov’s architectural fantasies became a repertoire from which architects could later feed so as to take the latest formal novelties out of their hats. And Archigram’s walking cities keep coming back in a vicious circle, while still awaiting for the world at large to accommodate the corresponding technological dream. Architects keep producing in-depth research into specific possibilities attaining to the near future, and are increasingly acknowledging soon coming social and environmental problems in their mind-blowing architectural concepts. And yet all this production of knowledge seems to be doomed to storage oblivion, as each and every one of these concepts readily goes through its ghostly 15 minutes of blog fame or, more deadly, finds its resting place in the ultimate academic journal. While the economy of attention is getting tougher, architects are also face to face with a resilient, traditional communication problem. Maybe architects do need to get a crash course in story telling so as to get their prospective messages across. The future may be a prisoner of the present tense, but it is also its escape route. And while synthetic images may now provide the instant reward of an immediate glimpse into the yet unbuilt, we still have to be able to tell people about our plans for tomorrow. Castles in the Air2 Be it in the first, the second, or the third world, eco-autarchic towers are being devised for the thousands, and even sections of cities are being developed as huge private condos for the hundreds of thousands. There they are: efficient huge buildings and whole city slices growing one after the other, from the deserts of Dubai to the dense grids of Western and Eastern metropolises – as if suddenly stepping out of forgotten futuristic scenarios onto the 1.

2.

Excerpt from “Fictional Futures and Untold Plans” in Shrapnel Contemporary, Lisbon, 2010, url: <http://shrapnelcontemporary.wordpress.com/archive-texts/fictional-futures-and-untoldplans/>. Modified excerpt from “Taken to Extremes” in Gadanho, Pedro (ed.) Beyond, Short Stories on the Post-Contemporary #1, Scenarios and Speculations. Amsterdam: Sun Architecture, 2009.

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SOME IMAGINED ARCHITECTURES: A REFLEXIVE INDEX

dirty realism of a gritty, homogenised worldscape. Even amidst apparent financial arrest, pieces of a technological utopia are rising around us to enter the imagination of the everyday banal. What had once been restricted to specialised visionaries is now the subject of Guinness world records and has made gospel TV. Emphatic documentaries feed us with the amazing features and the heroic characters behind accomplishments in height, dimension and efficiency. But as skyscrapers bloom and new instant cities flourish, one may sometimes wonder what will be the ultimate destiny of these again immensely fashionable mega-structures. I can’t but start imagining these constructions as last resorts for the elected few – as the dejected many riot and turn suburbia and feral city centres into the announced urban slums of the near future. In a fictional mix of Buñuel and Ballard, we can easily picture these enclosed, autonomous structures soon being cut off the surrounding debris. It’s almost as if, knowingly, technology has indeed been thoroughly oriented to create this specific building autonomy for the world to come. The harvesting of rainwater and humidity, the workings of superlative solar and kinetic energy recycling systems, the agricultural exploration of hanging gardens, the filtering of pollution through the building’s multiple skins – you name it: they are all wonderful tools leading us towards a brave new autonomy. Moreover, get these together with rooftop heliports and high-tech wi-fi communications systems and you will achieve that autistic sense of perfect social being that today is already possible in otherwise profoundly unbalanced cities like São Paulo. Architecture’s aesthetic autonomy may have been many times criticised as the perpetrator of a social divide. But this was peanuts, if compared to the message enclosed in the possibility of real physical autonomy. What we read today as the optimistic promises of ecological efficiency may as well provide tomorrow the perverse solution for the ultimate social segregation between rich and poor. If the disintegration of regional and federal nations indeed takes place, maybe it is not really city-states what we are again looking into. We may rather be envisaging concentrated architectural typologies that adequately fit the coming social organisation. Whether as a surrealist update of the horizontal fortress firstly envisaged by Le Corbusier, or as a cynical vertical remix of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis work divisions, we can already extrude the physical forms of the post-contemporary from current conditions. And until these architectural structures are also laid siege and taken over, we may be then looking at the brief return of the building-state itself. As such, it is only strangely appropriate to call skyscrapers the new castles in the air.

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PEDRO GADANHO

UFO3 I still keep a blurry photo of a UFO I once found lying in a forest. I was driving my old Peugeot 205 and I was looking for a place to slumber. It was around 2.30 am. I was somewhere in the southern coast of Croatia. I wanted to sleep by the sea. As I headed north, I had taken a left along the main thoroughfare to what seemed like a fairly secondary road onto the coastline. I passed small agglomerations of unexceptional summer cottages. After a while the road started to swing wildly left and right making my auto screech with disturbing regularity. Pine trees got denser and the road got darker. I started to wonder if this had been a clever move. I had no idea how far I was from the seashore. There had been no other travellers on sight for the last twenty minutes. But I had been going down for quite a while, so I had to be nearing the sea. It was then that my headlights flashed on something. A white curved surface appeared and disappeared in a blink. I first thought it was a building. But the shape wasn’t right. Bewildered, I braked and reversed until my headlights were again on it. There was definitely a huge flying saucer sitting afar in the middle of the forest. It looked empty, abandoned and heavily silent. I stayed in the car. Along the curved surface showing between the foliage there were a few dark windows. But it all seemed positively deserted. I stood there for a few minutes with my hands on the wheel, with obtuse images of Rod Steiger crossing my mind. I left the car hesitantly leaving the headlights on. I tried to get a better look at it. However, the thing was pretty far. It was lying in what looked like a fairly inaccessible ravine. Beyond it I saw water glimmering darkly from starshine. The large object was landed by a beach. I got back to the car and moved down the road again. I soon confirmed that the end of the road was pretty near to where the thing should be sitting. As I parked the car at the end of the asphalt, I couldn’t see it. But I could sense where it was, just where the black coastline inflected to the left. I walked on gravel and got nearer to the object’s supposed location. After a few dozen meters, I could glimpse it. This thing was the height of a two-storey building and it seemed to float above a dark mass. From what I gathered in the gloom, it was something like a very wide flat doughnut. And it was definitely forsaken for what seemed like many years. Even though I felt both curious and excited, I also felt a growing awe. I 3.

Excerpt from “Escape, They Said” in Redstone, Elias (ed.) Emergency Exit. Warsaw/Berlin: Zacheta National Gallery of Art and Sternberg Press, 2010.

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SOME IMAGINED ARCHITECTURES: A REFLEXIVE INDEX

when an architect responds to the needs of the present, he or she is also inventing necessities from a near future? Is it not true that when an architect plans his or her answers, a fiction is also forwarded on uses that are still to come? When one projects – as the word points out – one also devises the modes in which a building or a city stretch will be employed in a context and a time that have not yet arrived. And when one designs – as the word points out – one creates the design, the fate, of something that does not yet exist. However, it may happen that while entangled in the setbacks and problems of the everyday, architects loose sight of this generous perspective of their own profession. Visualizing the future is a very human will and both architecture and science fiction contribute to fulfil that aspiration. This shared legacy becomes more manifest as our capacity to generate images that outdo reality significantly augments. Moreover, when technological possibility allies with economical growth, or reversely, when doubts on progress and its sustainability collaborate with a sense of crisis, architecture has almost always turned to its more fictional vein. Thus, as architects expect less and less to erect their buildings, they are using the powerful visualisation capacities of the latest architectural 3D renderings to again conceive expressions for “brave new worlds” that would more adequately belong in the domain of science fiction.10 Lisbon, October 2011

10. Previously unpublished English translation of excerpts from “A Arquitectura do Futuro e o Futuro da Arquitectura” in Bang! Magazine #9, February. Lisbon: Saída de Emergência, 2011.

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This book accompanies the exhibition Subtle Construction (November 24, 2011 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; January 14, 2012) at Plataforma RevĂłlver in Lisbon, Portugal. Artists: Carlos Bunga, Hironari Kubota, Matias Machado, Cristian Rusu, Sancho Silva, Yukihiro Taguchi, Sinta Werner Curator: Marta Jecu, zarzarii@yahoo.com

BYPASSEDITIONS

BYPASS EDITIONS

Filipe Rocha da Silva Variações Sobre o Maneirismo: Estudo Comparativo entre o Século XVI e o Presente Marta Jecu (ed.) Subtle Construction Luís Santiago Baptista, Dana Bentia, Carlos Bunga, FormlessFinder (Garrett Ricciardi and Julian Rose), Pedro Gadanho, Hironari Kubota, Matias Machado, Manuel Aires Mateus, Cristian Rusu, Sancho Silva, João Silvério, Yukihiro Taguchi, Sinta Werner

BYPASS BYPASS #1: Architecture 2009-2010 Álvaro Seiça Neves + Gaëlle Silva Marques (eds.) Álvaro Seiça Neves, Amadeo Guadiana, Ana Tecedeiro, Carlos Bunga, Carlos M. Guimarães, César Parreira, Claude Schmitz, Cristina Cavallotti, Daniel Malhão, Duarte Krüger, Duarte Lobo Antunes, e.e., Emanuel Nevado, Gregório Carboni Maestri, Hiroaki Umeda, Julian Mayor, Julieta Cervantes, Lucien Zell, Luís Royal, Manfred Pernice, Mikkel Hermann Sørensen, Nils Wogram, Ozias Filho, Pavel Braila, Pedro Levi Bismarck, Pedro Clarke, Pedro dos Reis, Pedro Jordão, Pedro Ribeiro Dias, Pedro Sena-Lino, Ricardo Tércio, Rui Aristides, Simon Critchley BYPASS #2: The Infinitely Small and The Infinitely Large 2010-2011 Álvaro Seiça Neves + Gaëlle Silva Marques (eds.) Adrian Hornsby, Ana Cardim, André Sier, Bjørn Andreassen, Catarina Alfaro, Edwin Pickstone, Federico Pedrini, Francesco Scavetta, Francisco M Laranjo, Isidro Paiva, Jeffrey Ladd, João Farelo, Nathan Boyer, Neville Mars, Pedro Russo, Rafael Gouveia, Ricardo Cabaça, Rute Cebola, Seth Cluett, Taylor Ho Bynum, Vasco Gato

This book is meant to look at architecture considering its invisible side â&#x20AC;&#x201C; connected to its intensity, to its unmanifested potentialities, to the spatial and temporal superpositions that it carries and that infuse places, situations, objects with a specific cultural memory. Identified as a capacity to temporarily manifest a virtual potential that architecture carries, this intensity is seen as a regenerative and transformative dimension, which the real carries. Marta Jecu

www.bypass.pt


Subtle Construction (extract), edited by Marta Jecu