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Installations by Architects “In some way, an installation is a distillation of the experiences of architecture.” Mark Robbins

Over the last few decades a new practice has emerged in the art world that invites the public to touch, enter and experience works of art that are purpose-built for a short time only — in galleries, on city streets or in the landscape. Influenced by land art, happenings, conceptual and performance art, these temporary works of art have become known as installations. An installation is a three-dimensional work of art that is site-specific. In this sense it is a type of art that shares in the aspirations of architecture. So what happens if an architect creates an installation? How might the work be different from one made by an artist? The answer lies not in the work itself, perhaps, but in what it offers to the field of architecture. For architects, installations are a way to explore ideas without the limitations imposed by their professional discipline. An installation differs from a building in several ways: it is temporary, that is, its demise is planned from the outset; its function turns away from utility in favor of criticism and reflection; and it foregrounds the content, rather than the end use, of architecture. Like competitions, installations allow architects to be critical of the status quo, stimulate public discourse, imagine new forms of construction, and project ideas about architecture. Because of their rhetorical and discursive power, installations are now being viewed by museums as vehicles for exhibition, commissioning, and educational programs. This has contributed to the success and visibility of installations. They breach the walls of the institution, bringing artistic and architectural expression to far-flung locations, reaching diverse audiences. Young architects use installations as a way to gain profile, and give form to their ideas in an affordable and accessible way. More experienced offices continue this form of practice to experiment with, and reflect on, architecture without the constraints of budget or client. Yet often, the free-wheeling architectural ideas developed in installations find their way into subsequent built work. This exhibit and the accompanying book are the product of the first comprehensive survey of installations by architects. Although the projects included here were developed independently of each other, when presented together, shared concerns are revealed. We identified five themes: tectonics, body, nature, memory and public space. These categories are not meant to be exhaustive or exclusionary, but are intended to promote a conversation and perhaps inspiration for future forays into the space between art and architecture. — Sarah Bonnemaison and Ronit Eisenbach, curators

We wish to express our gratitude to Michael Fischer, Peter James, Lisa Lacharité-Lostritto, and Christine Macy for their assistance in making this exhibition a reality.


Tectonics “God is in the details.” Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

The term architects use to describe their interest in construction details is tectonics. The word architect itself is derived from this term, which suggests that tectonics is at the very core of the profession. Tectonics has maintained its central place in the discipline as architects innovate with new materials and assemblies. This type of exploration is usually investigated with a full-scale “mock-up,” which has a long tradition in architectural offices and can be tested for strength and performance or evaluated for appearance. Architectural installations that take tectonics as their subject build on this tradition. Although every architectural installation necessarily involves tectonics, the projects shown here push the boundaries of materials and assemblies, ranging from building elements such as columns or facade skins, to complete enclosures, such as pavilions.

Evan Douglis, Auto Braids/Auto Breeding, New York, New York, USA, 2003. Photograph: Evan Douglis.


Mark West

Fabric-formed concrete Various Locations 1991-2006

1 Photograph: Mark West

Over the past two decades, Mark West has worked with fabric-formed concrete, exploring its material, formal, and structural potentials. He is interested in revealing the aesthetic possibilities of concrete in columns, beams, vaults and slabs. Pouring wet slurry into textile forms that are bound and restrained with rope, West creates entirely new geometries of concrete that reveal extraordinary nuance of detail and evoke the hydrostatic form of living things. “The form decides what it wants to be — it physically makes itself.”

“On the street people stopped. They looked, walked toward it, and then reached out with their hand and touched. They were always surprised that it was hard, not soft. It happened all the time.”

Photograph: Mark West

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Testing 1-2-3, College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, Maine, USA, 1992.

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Pressure Buildings and Blackouts, Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York, New York, USA, 1991. Pressure Building Studio Constructions, Carlton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 1992.

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(With Victoria Jolly, Miguel Equem, David Jolly-Monge), Bulge Wall, Open City, Ritoque, Chile, 2006.

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Photograph: Mark West

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Photograph: Victoria Jolly

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Filum Ltd., Sarah Bonnemaison & Christine Macy

Gestures Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada 2006

1 Photograph: Christine Macy / Filum Ltd.

Gestures pavilion is an exploration of movement and its translation into architectural form. It began with observations of everyday activities on the waterfront, such as a sailor fastening a rope on a cleat. A dancer translated these mundane gestures into a whole body choreography that was digitally recorded through motion capture. The final armature — a record of frozen movement — was built using traditional boat construction techniques such as steam-bending, lamination, riveting, and joinery. The nets were developed as minimal surfaces spanning the wooden armature. 1& 6

Panoramic photomontage taken from the interior of the structure shows the continuity of line derived from the dancer’s movements. Gestures, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 2006.

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The structure was exhibited in the courtyard of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Its compound curves made new demands on materials and technology traditionally used in the craft of boatbuilding.

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The knot, an element of Gestures, shows how pliable freshly-cut oak can become after steaming. Rivets added mechanical strength to the lamination.

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Tracings of the dancer’s movements recorded on a motion-capture stage; tracing of the choreography translated into a computer model.

Photograph: Christine Macy / Filum Ltd

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“People come in the museum and find it easy to understand–motion leading to design, leading to something that is concretely there.“ John Hennigar-Shuh, Director, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic Photograph: Kirsty Bruce

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Photograph: Joel Dauncey / Filum Ltd.

Photograph: Joel Dauncey / Filum Ltd.

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Photograph: Christine Macy / Filum Ltd.

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Mette Ramsgård Thomsen

Vivisection Copenhagen, Denmark 2007

1 Photograph: Anders Ingvartsen

In order to increase interaction with a building, architects explore new ways to integrate communication technologies and robotics in structures and materials. As visitors approached Vivisection, the delicately suspended diaphanous fabric “breathed” in response to their movements, activated by mini-robots that adorned and animated the surface of the membrane. The textile made of silk and steel conducted electric current across its surface, making it a “sensing skin” which, when coupled with antenna-equipped sensor chips, was able to detect the presence of viewers. Three airtight chambers formed within the body of the fabric served as “lungs,” altering the shape of the structure with each inhalation and exhalation. “My research focused on building an installation that had qualities of an organism.”

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A fabric of woven silk and steel threads was used for the entire structure, but some areas were structural, some conductive, and others airtight. The black dots in the background are fishing weights that counterbalance the sculpture. (With Simon Løvind), Vivisection, Charlottenborg Autumn Exhibition, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2006.

Photograph: Anders Ingvartsen

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“The three lungs were independent, but they knew about each other.”

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Computer chips were fed electricity through the wires embroidered on the fabric.

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The lung was constructed like a box kite with chambers. Diagram describing the multiple systems.

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Movement sensors triggered inflated chambers to change the shape of the hovering cloud-like fabric.

fans controlled by microcontroller

longitude nervepath inflatable lungs (silicon coated)

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Drawing: Mette Ramsgard Thomsen

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Photograph: Anders Ingvartsen

sensor bands

counter weights


Chris Bardt

Sun Box Providence, Rhode Island, USA 1995

1 Photograph: Christopher Bardt

Sun Box is a device for measuring and translating celestial geometry into architectural form. The aim was to record the path of the sun with an instrument that worked much like a sundial, but cast beams of light instead of shadows. The location and size of the openings in the 13ft (4.3m) high box were calculated so that the path of the sun would cast sunspots at predetermined locations on the ground. Aperture depths were controlled by fins surrounding each opening, much like a shutter on a camera. The angle and depth of these fins prevented light from spilling and their angle and depth created a meticulous record of the sun’s changing path over the course of the year.

“The longer we were there, the more we were accepted. The tough kids got used to it; they began to own it. There was one place to squeeze in, and people found it right away.”

Photograph: Christopher Bardt

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View at dusk. Sun Box, Roger Williams Park, Providence, Rhode Island, USA, 1995.

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Bird’s-eye view with ceramic discs on the ground locating where light falls on the twenty-first day of each month.

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Some openings allowed the sunlight to penetrate five minutes a day, which other gave hourly or monthly markings.

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Photograph: Christopher Bardt

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Photograph: Christopher Bardt

The sequence of a light spot moving across a ceramic disc was about five minutes from the initial appearance of light to its disappearance. The sunspot fell on the disk twice yearly, on the spring and fall equinoxes at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Sunspot at 2:58 pm / sunspot at 3:00 pm / sunspot at 3:02 pm.

The sunlight fell through the east, south, and west walls onto markers located on the ground at the center of the Sun Box.”


Kourosh Mahvash

Albedo Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada 2002

1 Photograph: Kourosh Mahvash

This installation addresses the philosophical and spiritual dimension of light through a layering of reflections. Albedo refers to the reflection of sunlight off the surface of the moon. Here, the paths of moonlight are traced onto the earth and then represented by colored electric light, itself reflected off hundreds of filaments stretched in a room. Their shimmering emanations retain a mere hint of the sun’s original power. Like spiritual awareness in Sufism, all the world’s manifestations are but weaker reflections of the prime creative force of God. Over seven days, Albedo offered different colored environments corresponding to Sufism’s seven steps towards enlightenment.

“The third subtle organ is the spiritual heart, which exists in an embryonic form in the potential mystic as the pearl within a shell. It is none other than true I, the personal individuality. The spiritual relates to Abraham of one’s being as Abraham was the intimate friend of God. This stage is red...” ‘Ala’ al-Dawla al Simnani, 14th-c. Sufi poet

Drawing: Kourosh Mahvash

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The colored light illuminated fishing lines stretched to create screens. Albedo, Dalhousie University School of Architecture, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 2002.

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Diagram showing the path of the moon from moonrise to moonset on June 26 and its transcription into a curved veil of light.

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Each day had a residue of the dominating color of the previous day.

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Photograph: Kourosh Mahvash

Photograph: Kourosh Mahvash

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Photograph: Kourosh Mahvash

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Body “Our reality is shaped by patterns of our bodily movements, the contours of our spatial and temporal orientation, and the forms of our interaction with objects.� Mark Johnson

The figure of the human body has been inscribed on building surfaces from the very beginnings of architecture. The Athenians modeled their architectural orders on men, matrons and maidens. The plans of cathedrals and baptistries often integrated the body of Christ. The body is no less present in the modern era. Measured, mapped, traced and ergonomically codified, the human body was pressed into the service of functionalism and Taylorism. In exploring the legacy of motion studies in the present era, one encounters the seemingly inevitable downside of such methods, leading toward human engineering and exploitation. Many architects in this section share a fascination with mapping, tracking and measuring of the body, while retaining a critical view on the implications of these activities. Others aim to push the boundaries of spatial experience — working with dancers and athletes to bring greater physicality, or materials and surfaces that open up new realms of sensation.

Dan Hoffman, Recording Wall, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA, 1992. Photograph: Dan Hoffman.


Dan Hoffman

Recording Wall Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA 1992

1 Photograph: Dan Hoffman

By systematically photographing each step in the construction of a masonry wall, this project offered a re-reading of time-motion studies, mechanical reproduction processes (such as photography), and repetitive labor. As each block was set into place, cameras positioned on both sides of the wall were activated by a remote shutter release. A photographic image was projected onto a light-sensitive emulsion painted on the two faces of each block, and then developed. The process was repeated until all 105 blocks were assembled into a wall that literally recorded its own construction.

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Photograph: Dan Hoffman

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Photograph: Dan Hoffman

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Photograph: Dan Hoffman

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Photograph: Dan Hoffman

“People got it. They got that each block contained an image of the whole and that they were sequential. They realized that architecture could talk about itself.”

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Stacked concrete blocks form the wall. Eight ft (2.6 m) high and 16 ft (5.3 m) long, the wall’s proportions corresponded to those of a single block. Recording Wall, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA, 1992.

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As each block was set in place, Hoffman photographed the wall. The image was then printed on the block using photosensitive emulsion, and the process repeated until the wall was complete.

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Evoking the early 20th century motion studies of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, Hoffman’s systematic photographic recording revealed how the placement of each block required the mason to perform a different motion.


Diller + Scofidio

Bad Press, Dissident Ironing Traveling Exhibit 1993-1998

1 Photograph: Courtesy of Diller & Scofidio

Bad Press takes on the button-down rigidity of modernism, represented through a starched white shirt, and aggressively subverts it with a hot iron, in an act of willing dissent that has surrealist and feminist overtones. The installation of 18 men’s shirts ironed into mangled and twisted shapes and displayed on ironing boards revisits the attraction of modernist architects to time-motion studies and ergonomics, and their love affair with efficiency, modularity and standardization. It stands as a criticism of the scientific analysis of the body at work and the illusory promise of a better world through human engineering. 1

A model wears a white shirt that has been perfectly ironed for retail packaging.

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The shirt’s connection to the human body disappeared as it went through different transformations. Viewers redeemed the mis-ironed shirts by creating their own associations.

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Bad Press created new forms in believable, yet disturbing, ways. After the difficult task of unfolding, a shirt would be full of creases.

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Mis-ironing highlights the rituals of ironing by perverting them. In a negative dialectic, the shirts revealed social conventions and the work involved in maintaining them.

Photograph: Courtesy of Diller & Scofidio

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Photograph: Courtesy of Diller & Scofidio

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Photograph: Courtesy of Diller & Scofidio

“Good pressing of a shirt involves using a minimum of effort to reshape a shirt into a two-dimensional, repetitive unit which will fit economically into standardized orthogonal storage systems — be it a shipping carton or suitcase. The standard ironing pattern always ‘disciplines’ the shirt into this flat, rectangular shape.”


Taeg Nishimoto

Re-f(r)action Various Locations 1994-2000

1 Photograph: Taeg Nishimoto

In his Re-f(r)action series, Taeg Nishimoto explores movement and perception. He begins by imagining he is walking through the gallery — “like a downhill skier who prepares for competition by mentally acting out all the moves beforehand.” The trajectory of movement is further developed on site, as he suspends bent arcs of white poplar, one after the other — their exact position determined by the direction of the original path and the constraints of the gallery space. Weaving in and out of the rooms and around the suspended arcs, viewers encounter Nishimoto’s absent body moving in the space. “I generate the drawing through a set of rules, and within these rules, things happen ... I use the sketch drawing like a map, but the actual construction of the installation evolves gradually as the elements start to occupy the space in a continuous set of actions and reactions.”

Ink drawing: Taeg Nishimoto

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The installation in Paris incorporated a place for people to sit, browse or take a coffee. Ref(r)action #4, La Gallerie d’Architecture, Paris, France, 2000.

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Plan of the first version. Re-f(r)action, Rotonda Gallery, Brooklyn, New York, USA, 1994.

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Curved bows of white poplar were held in place by steel cables. Stainless steel tensioning devices joined the bows and provided a point of attachment for the cables. Re-f(r)action #2, Higgins Hall, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, USA, 1995.

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General view of the installation in Paris. Re-f(r)action #4.

Photograph: Taeg Nishimoto

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Photograph: Taeg Nishimoto

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Kuth/Ranieri Architects

Body in Repose San Francisco, California, USA 1998

1 Photograph: SF MOMA

This project was commissioned for the show Fabrications: BodyBuildings at SFMOMA, which featured installations addressing the body in architecture. Body in Repose created a space for private rest in the public gallery. Thick felt buffered sound and blocked out light to isolate, bracket, and present one’s experience for reflection. Visitors resting in the felt enclosures could glimpse exposed mechanical and structural systems normally hidden behind gallery walls. The intent was to allow people to experience a psychological and physical state simultaneously. Such a goal reveals the enduring appeal of phenomenology to architects, exemplified in such works as Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space or Merleau-Ponty’s The Phenomenology of Perception.

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Layers of soft thick felt were shaped into a series of cubicles for sitting or reclining. The felt absorbed sound and light, permitting visitors to withdraw into a state of contemplation.

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Photograph: SF MOMA

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“Reducing environmental stimulus allows the visitor to rest. The idea was to drop you in an environment that would affect all your senses, tactile, audio and visual. The change of sound level was really profound, nearly ecclesiastical. The environment was entirely accessible, not like a room you need to go into, it was right there, sized to your body.”

Construction detail.

Photograph: SF MOMA

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Frances Bronet

Space in the Making Troy, New York, USA 1997-2001

1 Photograph: Frances Bronet

Frances Bronet designs and builds responsive dance environments, collaborating with many different choreographers. In these projects — carried out in Troy, New York over a several year period — she wished to explore the interplay between the kinesthetic body and architecture set into motion. Fields of inner tubes, bungy cords, and flexible fabrics offered dancers an opportunity to dance in a space that would dance back with them. The result was a fusion of body and space in motion.

“Every movement is, indissolubly, movement and consciousness of movement.” Maurice MerleauPonty

Photograph: Frances Bronet

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“The floor, what a hegemony! … When you want to leave the room you go through the door because that is the way it was designed, but if you go through the window, you might find out something you didn’t even know existed.” Ellen Sinopoli

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Dancer’s shadow projected on elastic textile. (With Terry Creach Dance Company and Bennington College), Dichotomy, RPI Dance Infusion, Design 1, Rensselaer County Council for the Arts, Troy, New York, USA, 1997.

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A necklace of inner tubes gave dancers reactive supports on which to climb between floors. (With choreographer Elizabeth Streb), RPI Embodied, Design 1, Boardwalk Center, Troy, New York, USA, 2001.

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Spill Out was created by hand weaving a thousand strips of spandex into a structural frame.(With Sid Fleisher and Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company), Historic Gasholder Building, Troy, New York, USA, 1997.

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Photograph: Gary Gold

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Photograph: Frances Bronet

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A series of glass platforms moved as dancers shifted their weight across the surface, giving the dance an unpredictable quality. (With Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company), Beating a Path, Storefront, Troy, New York, USA, 1999.


Anna von Gwinner

Trampolinist Karlsruhe & Berlin, Germany 2001 & 2005

1 Photograph: Anna von Gwinner

This project explored the physiological and psychological dimensions of movement in space. It involved a video recording of a man jumping on a trampoline and its projection in two locations: the neoclassical church of St. Stephan in Karlsruhe, and a WWII-era bunker beneath the former Berlin Wall. The video was made with two cameras: one recorded the trampolinist’s upper body as he vaulted into the air, and the other his legs as he landed on and rebounded from the surface of the trampoline. In the church location, only the upper movement was projected onto a screen, giving a sense of flight as the body ascended into ever-higher realms of the dome. In the subterranean bunker, only the lower half of the trampolinist’s body was projected, creating an almostunbearable tension as the body tries to spring free through the cave-like space. “The priest drew inspiration from the video installation and left it running during mass. Some of the heads of the worshippers were moving up and down, following the movement of the trampolinist as he appeared and disappeared on the screen. Oddly enough, their gaze followed the movement implied beyond the screen and onto the floor.”

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The trampolinist was filmed with two video cameras. One framed the movement of the athlete above the net and the other focused on the net.

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Photograph: Anna von Gwinner

Trampolinist 1, Church of St. Stephan, Karlsruhe, Germany, 2001.

Photograph: Anna von Gwinner

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Photograph: Anna von Gwinner

This version of Trampolinist used only the bottom part of the video. The body of the trampolinist disappeared in the most liberating manner through the thick mass of the ceiling of the bunker: each time the body penetrated the concrete ceiling of the bunker, he appeared to achieve the impossible feat of defying the laws of physics. What remained was the slow reverberation of the net, trapped in the bunker . . . until the next jump. Trampolinist 3, Berlin, Germany, 2005.


Yolande Daniels

FEMMEpissoire Various Locations 1996

1 Photograph: Yolande Daniels

FEMMEpissoire, shown here set up in a room of the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City, explores the sexual politics of the public toilet, a site continually at the flashpoint of changing societal norms and practices related to gender, sexuality, class and religion. Her interest provoked by the long queues women face at public restrooms, Daniels wondered “why not stand”? Is standing then, an essential personal freedom for men? Her proposal included a stainless steel straddle-style urinal, fitted with water spray and hair dryer, as well as a mirror and a pair of rubberized black pants tailored especially for a woman to use while standing.

“The politics of exposure: the mirror, lipstick, pants. Outside the female water closet, we risk immodesty and lose privacy Perhaps we will be liberated as well.”

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Rubberized black pants designed to be worn by a woman standing at the urinal.

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Drawing: Yolande Daniels

Drawing: Yolande Daniels

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Elevations showing user’s posture at the fixture.

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The FEMMEpissoire temporarily installed in a bathroom in the Gramercy Park Hotel.

Photograph: Yolande Daniels

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Nature “I found myself suddenly neighbor to the birds; not by having imprisoned one, but having caged myself near them. I was not only near to some of those which commonly frequent the garden and the orchard, but to those wilder and more thrilling songsters of the forest which never, or rarely, serenade a villager — the wood-thrush, the veery, the scarlet tanager, the field-sparrow, the whippoorwill, and many others.” Henry David Thoreau

Nature has been a constant source of inspiration to architects, from the crystalline geometries of the Renaissance and the curved forms of Art Nouveau, to biomimicry today. In the 1970s, land art transformed landscapes through giant earthworks; the issues these artists raised continue to influence installations today. The installations in this section remind us that architecture can help shape a more responsible attitude toward nature, recasting the relationship between the built and natural worlds as one of symbiosis and interdependency, rather than mastery and exploitation. This relationship is explored in many ways in these installations, including large-scale interventions that mark the land; controlled instruments that provide a point of view into the landscape; and contemporary reinterpretations of the primitive hut.

Philip Beesley (with Caroline Munk), Erratics Net, Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada, 1998. Photograph: Philip Beesley.


Pierre Thibault Architecte

Winter Gardens Charlevoix, Québec, Canada 2003-2004

1 Photograph: Pierre Thibault

The Winter Gardens installations took place in Grands-Jardins National Park in northern Québec, in a landscape of lakes and taiga, on the border of the arctic tree line. Wanting to draw from the collective experience of the park, Thibault invited dozens of people to participate in creating these installations. They cross-country skied for at least 10 miles (16 km) through the arctic landscape in the peak of winter; they arrived with an open mind as to what the intervention will be. Like land art, these installations involve a strong sense of ritual.

Photograph: Pierre Thibault

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“The process is very important for this kind of installation — it is like a large choreography. For example, it transforms our perception of the sunset. At the beginning the lights of the candle are nothing and then it becomes like stars in the landscape.”

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Iceberg. Monoliths of ice are cut from the surface of a lake and erected adjacent to the voids made by their removal.

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Constellations. Each candle was protected from the wind by a small well dug into the snow. Blue Line. Fires illuminated a fence built from ice blocks extracted from the lake.

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Caravan. Fifty camping tents pitched in a line (photograph and rendering).

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Photograph: Pierre Thibault

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“Sometimes at night the temperature is extremely low, so we have to physically be close to one another to survive. We get very close as we share this extreme experience.”

Photograph: Pierre Thibault

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Photograph: Pierre Thibault

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Marianne Lund

Speaking to a Stone West-Agder, Norway 1997

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Photograph: Jane Hoholm

Historically in coastal Norway, stones were used to build defensive fortifications. This project began with a boulder of great size, a mammoth rock outcropping that “called out” to Lund and she decided to talk back. In Speaking to a Stone, Lund covered this rock with sheets of lead, protecting it from the effects of weather “to stop time.” Every weekend over the summer-long course of the installation, she read the local newspaper to the rock, directing her voice through a cone into the heart of the stone, where a microphone picked it up and transmitted it to an adjacent military barracks for people to hear.

“One giant rock next to the fort was never used for war, because it was too big. It was a silent witness for all ages.”

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Photograph: Jane Hoholm

2 General view with the barracks in the background.

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As Lund reads from a local newspaper, the cone carries the sound of her voice into the center of the boulder, where it is picked up by a microphone.

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Visitors standing inside the former barracks could listen to what the stone “heard” through speakers transmitting the sound from the boulder’s core.

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Photograph: Jane Hoholm

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The boulder was wrapped with lead.

Photographer: Jane Hoholm

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Philip Beesley Architects Inc.

Geotextiles Various Locations 1998-2007

1 Photograph: Philip Beesley

These installations explore the idea of textile at an architectural scale, drawing visual, sensual and metaphorical parallels between the mesh and net-like structures of the biological world and spaces that people can inhabit and experience. Beesley is interested in the psychological dimension of expanded space, and the blurring of boundaries and edges that such space effects. His geotextiles series are assemblies of aggregated individual elements that form ground surfaces and cloud-like forms. While his earliest installations of this kind were set in natural landscapes, and his more recent projects have been located in gallery settings; they all pursue the same desire to create an expanded layer of earth that people can experience and inhabit.

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Photograph: Philip Beesley

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Photograph: Philip Beesley

“I loved the idea of geometry having at the root a life force, rather than a dry, cutting quality that I associate with Platonic absolutes. That gave me a certain attitude towards engineering geotextiles — using a generative approach rather than a controlling one.”

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Detail of breathing column showing a mesh populated with pores. Hylozoic Soil, Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, Québec, Canada, 2007.

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Flexible tubes attached each link of the net, crafted with metal wire and joints, to its neighbor. (With Caroline Munk), Erratics Net, Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada, 1998.

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A diffused cloud of interlinked elements hovers in space. The upper layer is a lightweight skeletal structure of interlinking rhombic units with active pores collecting airborne organic matter. The lower layer is a quilted Mylar filter populated with whisker-sensors. (With Will Elsworthy), Implant Matrix, Interaccess Gallery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 2006.

4 Drawing: Philip Beesley

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Plan, Implant Matrix.

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Visitors could inhabit the slowly moving expanded matrix of the geotextile. Hylozoic Soil.

Photograph: Philip Beesley

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Mark Robbins

Utopian Prospect spect Woodstock, New York, USA 1988

1 Photograph: Mark Robbins

Located on a bluff facing the Catskill Mountains on one side and the ruins of a turnof-the-century arts colony on the other, Utopian Prospect consisted of a series of freestanding structures that framed views and oriented viewpoints. For Robbins, these pavilions were not only fragments of architecture, they were a distillation of the experiences possible in, around, and of architecture. One cannot help but recall the English picturesque tradition of the pleasure garden punctuated by small pavilions, that was based on Italian landscape painting. This installation works off this tradition by adding a pleasure pavilion as an instrument for viewing.

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Photograph: Mark Robbins

“The line is where the station points and horizon line are fixed and all the activity happens like a kind of tennis game over and above that net. The wall acts as a sort of seam, affecting what you can or can’t see.” “The simplicity of the wall was somehow adjusted or changed by the ability to move the shutter device and the mirror. One moved with human agency; the other, more mercurial, moved with the wind.”

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Lower frame. Utopian Prospect, Byrdcliffe Art Colony, Woodstock, New York, USA, 1988.

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There were ruins of the artists’ colony present all around the site. Photograph: Mark Robbins

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Rotating frames and mirror.

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The stair descending to one side of the wall allowed for different positions in viewing and in being viewed. Here, dancers improvise in and around the installation.

Photograph: Grant Taylor

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Ronit Eisenbach

filum aquae:

The Thread of the Stream Windsor, Ontario, Canada 2000

1 Photograph: Ronit Eisenbach

In order to examine relationships between phenomenological, geographical and political understandings of space, Filum Aquae began with the consideration of a dashed line on a map, the international border between Windsor and Detroit that cleaves the Detroit River in two. To further this enquiry, Eisenbach embarked on a voyage to inhabit and trace this invisible line from the mouth of Lake Erie to the mouth of Lake St. Clair. The installation at the Art Gallery of Windsor featured photographic montages, video, maps, daily newspapers and sound to convey the line’s ephemeral and contradictory qualities—as an end and a beginning, thick and thin, logical and illogical-a cultural, political and economic fissure drawn through a body of water. “What does the world look like when one inhabits and traces an idea?”

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Photograph: Glen Moon

Map: Ryan Sullivan, underlay courtesy of NOAA

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A line of tape led visitors on a journey along the border and through the gallery.

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Map of the Detroit River from Lake Erie to Lake Saint Clair, with an inset of the motorboat’s wake drawing the boundary line in the water.

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A video (taken from the stern of the boat as it motored up the Detroit River) was bisected by a white tape, allowing visitors to “straddle the line” by standing in two countries at once.

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Daily news from both sides of the river — the Windsor Star above and the Detroit Free Press below. Photograph: Ronit Eisenbach

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The term filum aquae is used in the definition of territorial boundaries that lie in water. In the photomontage, it divides the upper (USA) and lower (Canada) halves of each image. It is also the deepest channel and international shipping lane for maritime traffic along the Great Lakes.

Photomontage: Ronit Eisenbach

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Allan Wexler

Gardening Sukkah Traveling Exhibit 2003-2009

1 Photograph: Ellen Wexler

Although trained as an architect, Allan Wexler is better known as an artist. His work plays with commonly-held expectations about furniture and buildings, mobility and stasis. Gardening Sukkah takes on the small ritual dwelling erected for the Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot, to revisit and rework the original “primitive hut” of architectural theory, expounded by Abbé Laugier in the 18th century. Unlike many minimal dwellings that modernize the primitive hut, Wexler is more interested in evoking the rituals that take place within it, and the transformation it undergoes each year, as it blossoms from a little outbuilding to a sacred place. “In order to complete the cycle between growing and dining, this gardening Sukkah is a portable structure that contains all of the equipment for gardening and all the utensils for dining. So the gardening shed has the shovels and a wheelbarrow as part of the shed.”

Photograph: Ellen Wexler

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Opening the roof. Gardening Sukkah, Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut, USA, 2000.

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Interior view showing gardening tools stored in position.

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Table for a rustic feast, with dining utensils arranged on the right and gardening tools on the left. Evergreen boughs are visible through the open roof.

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Roof in open position for the holiday.

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Photograph: Aldrich Museum

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Photograph: Ellen Wexler


Memory “Change and recurrence are the sense of being alive — things gone by, death to come, and present awareness. The world around us, so much of it our own creation, shifts continually and often bewilders us. We reach out to that world to preserve or change it and so to make visible our desire.” Kevin Lynch

The installations in this section explore the relationship between memory and place as both intimate and profound, to use the philosopher Edward Casey’s phrase. They call on collective memory and employ ritual to deepen our understanding of the ways in which architecture conveys the past. Architects interested in the relationship between memory and place reject the notion of the tabula rasa, or blank slate, believing instead that history burdens places with complex and conflicting meanings. These installations are meant to be political actions — efforts to generate a public discourse leading to societal change. In so doing, they also reveal the stories societies tell themselves about change, the effects of change on cultural and physical landscapes, and the interconnectedness between collective memory and the built world.

Atelier in situ, Projections, Montréal, Québec, Canada, 1997. Photograph: Jean-Francois Lenoir.


Marco Casagrande & Sami Rintala

Land(e)scape Savonlinna, Finland 1999

1 Photograph: Heikki Leikola

In Land(e)scape, Casagrande and Rintala speak about Finland’s history of rural depopulation, using abandoned farm buildings to evoke a disappearing way of life. Purchasing three dilapidated barns and relocating them to an abandoned potato field near a highway, they lifted the structures 15 ft (5 m) above the ground and supported them on “legs”, as if they might join their former owners in a migration to the metropolis. This is the “escape” implied by the project title. The installation ended on St. Michael’s Day, the traditional day for slaughtering animals, when the barns were burned to the ground.

Photograph: Jussi Tiainen

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Like a torch held aloft, the spectacle of burning buildings was amplified in their elevation above the ground.

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The “walking” barns were an evocative reminder of a disappearing rural life and the pull of the city.

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On the final day, dancer Reijo Kela gave an evening performance that ended with a sacrificial burning of the barns.

Drawing: courtesy of Marco Casagrande & Sami Rintala

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Photograph: Heikki Leikola

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Photograph: Heikki Leikola

“One day, I awoke having dreamt that the barns in the area had begun to follow their owners to the city. They had long splayed out legs that elevated their torsos up above the abandoned fields.” Sami Rintala


Detroit Collaborative Design Center

Firebreak Detroit, Michigan, USA 2001-ongoing

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Photograph: Dan Pitera

The Detroit Collaborative Design Center, directed by Dan Pitera since 2000, is an arm of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture that engages faculty, students and community activists in responding to the decline of the city’s fabric. In one community meeting, participants complained, “I have a burnt-out building next to my house, what can I do about that?” “The city certainly isn’t doing anything...” FireBreak, born of this frustration, was a series of installation-performances created by students, faculty, and residents in burnt-out homes on Detroit’s East Side. The four installations included here used simple acts of habitation and socializing to animate these houses. Drawing its name from the clear cuts that stop the spread of fire in a forest, FireBreak aimed to prevent the blight of abandoned dwellings from consuming whole neighborhoods.

Photograph: Dan Pitera

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As homes were razed, residents transformed vacant lots into urban farms and crack houses into barns. Hay House represented this renewal with tufts of alfalfa fastened to the siding of this burned-out residence. Hay House, Dan Pitera and Andy Sturm, 2001

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In this house, Cajun music overpowered the wind whistling through the empty shell of the dwelling. Motown’s citizens gathered to listen. Billowing orange drapes in vacant window frames shielded the home’s interior from view, restoring in some small measure a sense of decorum and privacy. Sound House, Pitera and Sturm, 2001.

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A coat of liquid latex was applied to this house just before it was demolished, creating a shroud that bore the traces of its battered and decayed surface. Skinned House, Pitera and Sturm, 2004.

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Photograph: Dan Pitera

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Working from a composition by Detroit poet Denise Sedman — which challenged the American Dream of single-family home and white picket fence — participants were asked to write a line of the poem with lighter fluid on fabric. The torched words were then draped like prayer flags around the perimeter of the burned-out dwelling. Poem House, Jessica Schulte and Sara McDuffee with Ronit Eisenbach, 2002.

“When we placed the voices reading the poem inside the house, it was as if the house was reading to us.” Sara McDuffee and Jessica Schulte

Photograph: Dan Pitera

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Photograph: Dan Pitera

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Richard Kroeker

Eye Level Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada 2002

1 Photograph: Mike Dembeck, courtesy of The Halifax Daily News

The Atlantic Canadian city of Halifax, built by the British in the 18th c. as their primary military outpost in North America, has its share of fortifications. It was not until 2002 however, that it witnessed a siege machine — directed not at the city walls (long since destroyed) — but at the more durable edifice of the city’s colonial memory. The target was a heroic bronze statue of Edward Cornwallis, memorialized as the city’s founder while being reviled by the indigenous Míkmaq as the official who instituted scalping in a genocidal war against their people. Eye Level is Kroeker’s attempt to set the record straight, speaking eye-to-eye to this oversized figure, bearing witness and exposing the truth.

“The higher you climbed the shakier you felt. When you looked into Cornwallis’s little bronze eyes, it felt like you were confronting the person, like he was really in there.”

Photograph: Sarah Bonnemaison

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The structure made a monument of the person climbing it. When the challenger looked back, she saw the world from the statue’s viewpoint.

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Like a medieval siege weapon ready to breach a city wall, the “countermonument” was wheeled up to the statue.

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The installation made front-page news in Halifax, bringing the debate to the wider public. Photographer: Mike Dembeck, courtesy of the Halifax Daily News

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Participants wheeled the folded structure from the architecture school down to the park. Photograph: Mike Dembeck, courtesy of The Halifax Daily News

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“When we folded up the structure... it felt slightly unfinished. There should have been another version to pull behind a vehicle to confront figures like this one in cities all over the world.”

Photograph: courtesy of Dalhousie University

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William Daryl Williams, curator

Places of Refuge

The Dresser Trunk Project Craig Barton, Nathaniel Quincy Belcher, Lisa Henry Benham, David Brown, Yolande Daniels, Mario Gooden, Walter Hood, Scott Ruff, William Daryl Williams, & Mabel Wilson Traveling Exhibit 2007-2009

1 Photograph: Jane Haley

This project, conceived by William Daryl Williams, chronicled the experiences of Black Americans traveling the Southern Crescent rail line down the eastern seaboard of the United States in the era of segregation. Ten participating designers each created a dresser trunk as a “memory box” — to tell the story of a particular place of refuge and strength for black travelers in the Jim Crow era. The goal, according to Williams, was not only to preserve memory, but to pass it on as an “inheritance upon which communities can build and in many cases rebuild.” “The rich interior is ‘electric’ with the remnants and remains of the ‘sounds and smells of happenings’ calculated to suggest the Hotel Coleman at its heyday in 1944.” Mabel Wilson

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Photograph: Scott F. Smith

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Photograph: Scott F. Smith

“Once opened, the trunk reveals the story of the Whitelaw [Hotel] by coming apart like a puzzle whose interlocked pieces mirror the complex relationship between race, space, memory, and place.” William Daryl Williams

Photograph: John Li

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1, 3 & 4 Mario Gooden’s Calhoun: Clemson trunk

focused on the black-owned Littlejohn Grill, a welcome rest stop for blacks passing through the all-white university town of Clemson, South Carolina.

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Using the city of Philadelphia as its conceptual origin, Yolande Daniels deFacto/deJure trunk was designed as an interactive traveler’s manual presenting the shifting laws and customs that defined segregation.

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William Daryl Williams’ Whitelaw Hotel trunk commemorated the first luxury apartment hotel in Washington DC to serve black travelers and the Pullman Porters who stayed there.

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Photograph: Jane Haley

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Photograph: Scott F. Smith

Overview of the exhibition at the Elmaleh Gallery of University of Virginia’s School of Architecture. From left to right: Craig Barton’s Rickwood Field [Birmingham], Gooden’s Calhoun: Clemson, Walter Hood’s Charlotte Analog, Lisa Henry Benham’s The Carver Inn [Charlottesville], and Mabel Wilson’s Hotel Coleman [Newark] trunks.


John Hejduk & the Architectural Association

The Collapse of Time London, United Kingdom 1986

1 Photograph: Hélène Binet

Hejduk’s paper project The Collapse of Time consists of three elements: a clock tower, a security structure and a poetry booth. These are placed on wheels, so they can be moved from town to town for the performance of a prescribed ritual. In the ritual, a townswoman in the booth reads Hejduk’s poem, “The Sleep of Adam,” while the clock tower is slowly lowered from an upright to a horizontal position. The clock’s rotation represents time in the modern era — collapsing and becoming simultaneous, with memory lost. Students, faculty and staff from the Architectural Association realized this conceptual project as an installation on the occasion of Hejduk’s visit to their school.

“I am obsessed with time and have recently created time pieces... clock towers. One of my recurrent persistences is that present time cannot be seen...present time has an opacity...present time erases...blanks out time.” John Hejduk

Drawing: Courtesy of the Estate of John Hejduk

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Drawing: Courtesy of the Estate of John Hejduk

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“It was a clock that slowly descended... even the elements had a temporal relationship.” photographer Hélène Binet

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The installation was built of unfinished timber, steel wheels from a locomotive, and a thick rope used to guide the tower’s descent.

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Hejduk’s drawings depict the stages of a commemorative performance for unnamed victims, meant to be repeated in towns throughout Europe. Above, volunteers tow the structure to the next site. Below, the assembled structures await the townsfolk: from left to right, Security, the Clock, the Poetry Booth (for Eve), and a mast equipped with a chair (for Adam, who descends with the clock’s collapse).

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Framing for the massive 20 ft (7m) high clock.

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The installation in Bedford Square, in front of the Architectural Association.

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Photograph: Paul Barnett, courtesy of the Architectural Association, London

Photograph: Hélène Binet

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Lois Weinthal

Berlin: A Renovation of Postcards Berlin, Germany 2004-2005

1 Photograph: Lois Weinthal

This installation was a series of photographic montages installed as advertising billboards on the platform of the Friedrichstrasse U-Bahn station, which was a border crossing between East and West Berlin before reunification in 1990. Weinthal inserted tourist postcards of East Berlin into large panoramas of present-day Berlin. She visited the sites shown on the vintage postcards and asked people what they saw in the cards—often hearing conflicting, politically charged accounts. The postcards and stories she collected demonstrate that the physical environment contains evidence of history, politics and memory—through both presence and absence. 1

While waiting for their trains, passengers could contemplate the effects of time on Berlin.

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The photomontages were installed in the advertising space of the Friedrichstrasse underground station. Strausberger Platz 1971/2003 is visible here between the cars. Weltzeituhr 1980/2004.

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Lustgarten 1912/2003.

Photograph: Lois Weinthal

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Photomontage: Lois Weinthal

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“The postcard acts as a starting point to tell a visual account of Berlin’s changing cityscape. In the 1912 postcard image we see men wearing threepiece suits and women wearing long, heavy dresses as was only proper at the time...the ghosts of these people walk through the site, while the garden paths and the large granite bowl in the foreground are part of the present. Everything in the background has changed as a result of changing political regimes.”

Photomontage: Lois Weinthal

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Atelier in situ

Projections & La Machine à Voir Montréal, Québec Canada 1997 & 2000

1 Photograph: Jean-Francois Lenoir

Montreal’s abandoned grain elevators are monuments to Canadian agriculture. As part of a successful grassroots effort to save them, the architects of Atelier in situ used the surface of Grain Elevator No. 5, located at the end of a major street, as a screen in Projections. Four images — curtains, spiral stairs, caryatids and a waterfall — were selected to create multiple, evocative readings. A second work, La Machine à Voir (The Machine for Seeing), was a guerrilla publicity campaign in which slogans were plastered on billboards all over the city. These projects encouraged adaptive reuse as an alternative to demolition and underscored the iconic and symbolic contributions of the silos to the city’s heritage. “The projections form an ephemeral architectural project-event: the images spontaneously and momentarily appear then disappear.” Photograph: Jean-Francois Lenoir

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On the night of June 19, 1997, the abandoned Grain Elevator No. 5 illuminated the terminus of Commune Street. Projections, Montréal, Québec, Canada, 1997.

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Billboards indicated the importance of the grain elevators as icons and as a critical link between Canada’s west, which produces grain, and the east, which exports it. La Machine à Voir, Montréal, Québec, Canada, 2000.

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Photograph: Guy L’Heureux

“Machine for Seeing was a publicity campaign to promote Grain Elevator No. 5 to help Montréalers rediscover the building.”

“Transient and without physical depth, the projected images successively float on the building’s surface, just as intangible mental images furtively haunt our thoughts.”

Photograph: Nancy Bergeron

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Public Space “How could you participate in the conversation in the culture? ... How do you make things that are physically and emotionally engaging to people who just come upon these things, without the walls of the museum? This [work] was going to be out on the street, and anybody would be bumping into it, sitting on it, sitting next to it.” Mary Miss

The public art movement of the 1970’s has influenced installations by architects in two ways; by positing that art could be found outside of museums and galleries, and by contributing to new views of public space. With public art, artists became active in shaping culture, not just commenting on it. Following the path blazed by these “pioneers,” architects have placed installations in the public realm to explore the nature of public spaces. Some of these projects challenge the boundary between public and private to expose underlying assumptions about each. Some portray urban experience as simultaneous and fragmented to celebrate the city as a place of the unexpected. Some explore ways to involve the public in the design of public spaces.

LAb[au] (Architect of Dexia Building: Samyn & Partners with M. & J-M. Jaspers, J.Eyers & Partners; Lighting engineer: Barbara Hediger.), Touch, Brussels, Belgium, 2007. Photograph: Courtesy of LAb[au].


James Cathcart, Frank Fantauzzi & Terence Van Elslander

Toilets

New York, New York, USA 1992

1 Photograph: James Cathcart

The Storefront for Art and Architecture is a tiny gallery located in New York City’s Bowery district, a neighborhood populated by a large number of poor and homeless people. This project used its shoestring budget to rent a number of portable construction toilets for several weeks at the height of winter. The facilities were inserted into the Storefront’s façade, but they opened onto the street. The goal was to redefine the gallery as an extension of public space. The power of Toilets lies in its directness and simplicity — using economical means, it made a powerful statement that civility begins with a commitment to meet the most basic of human needs.

Drawing: Michael Fischer

“Our work is like a lever: it opens, measures, illuminates, but also creates a connection. It weighs a moment against a place, an event against an object. It finds a crack and widens it.” Terence Van Elslander

Photograph: James Cathcart

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“These toilets … are documents and statements about reality, which art and architecture rarely aspires to be today.” Kyong Park

1 & 4 The architects inserted five port-a-johns into the

exterior wall of the gallery, opening to the outside. “Bless you, boys,” declared a resident of New York City’s streets.

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Pump truck. The toilets were free, open for public use, and regularly serviced over the six weeks of the exhibit.

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Photograph: James Cathcart

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Photograph: James Cathcart

Visitors who walked into the gallery saw only the backs of the toilets’ fiberglass housings, presented like art objects on exhibit. To keep the gallery odor-free, the architects drilled holes in the storefront façade to accommodate extensions of the vent pipes, directing spoiled air to the street.


Arqhé Collective & Blair Taylor

Line of Site Québec City, Québec, Canada 1999-2000

1 Photograph: André Langevin

The Arqhé Collective (Luc Lévesque, James Partaik and Michel Saint-Onges) are interested in the relationship between art, architecture, landscape and multimedia. They created Line of Site as a critical response to the planned demolition of neighborhood houses for an expansion of Quebec City’s Parliament Hill. The installation created a pedestrian throughway bisecting the ground floor of Partaik’s house. Passers-by could walk into, and through, his house, along a passage oriented towards the Parliament buildings in the distance. The dividing line between public and private was reworked in various ways — using cameras, monitors, sensors, spy holes, and amplified sound to mediate this complex distinction.

Photograph: André langevin

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View of 955 Scott Street, showing entrance to the public thoroughfare.

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Video footage of a rotating kitchen table was projected onto a screen hanging in the picture window, making the domestic space visible from the street.

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A temporary demising wall on either side of the passage separated “private” areas of bedand bathrooms from the more “public” realms of kitchen, office, and dining room.

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The public passage was aligned with a view of the Parliament building several blocks away, as a reminder of politicians’ control over the fate of neighborhoods slated for “urban renewal.” Line of Site explored the interface between public and private, virtual and real. Cameras and sensors — actuated by pedestrians moving through the passage — transmitted streaming video to monitors inside the apartment, and a website. Web browsers could also control actuators within the house, like the rotating table.

Drawing: Michael Fischer, plan courtesy of Arqué Collective

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Photograph: James Partaik

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4 Photomontage: André langevin

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fieldoffice, Martha Skinner & Doug Hecker

NY A/V New York, New York, USA 2001 & 2005

1 Photograph: Martha Skinner

The installation NY A/V was developed in two phases. The first was documentary, and entailed an audiovisual mapping of the entire length of Broadway over the course of a week, as it bisects Manhattan from south to north. The technique chosen was to use the zoom tool on a video camera, incrementally advancing up a section of the street in the flow of pedestrian traffic. The resulting 636 clips were assembled into a continuous narrative. The second phase took place four years later, when Skinner and Hecker retraced their steps in a mobile van, fitted out as a theater on wheels. The public was invited inside to view the footage. The work revealed urban patterns of activity, time, and geography unavailable through lived experience.

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Drawing: Martha Skinner with the assistance of Michael Fischer

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“By walking the city slowly, minute-by-minute, block by-block over a period of seven days, from sunrise to sunset, a series of stationary takes using the zoom feature of the tool were collected in a process that measured the city.” Martha Skinner

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The mobile theater on axis with Broadway at Union Square (14th street and Broadway), 2005.

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Diagram connecting the documentation and presentation phases of the project. To the left, units of time and distance used to “measure” and “section” the city in 2001; to the right, seven sites where the mobile theater was parked in 2005.

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Photograph: Martha Skinner

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Photograph: Martha Skinner

The video was replayed at three speeds: accelerated, natural, and slow motion.

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People were invited to share their thoughts on changes to Broadway since the video was made four years earlier. Straus Park (106th street and Broadway), 2005.


Leonardo Mosso

Structures of Light Vlissingen, the Netherlands 1995-2000

1 Photograph: Leonardo Mosso

Leonardo Mosso employs his nocturnal Structures of Light to bring attention and energy to neglected urban spaces and buildings throughout Europe. He has been working with the city of Vlissingen located at the junction of the Scheldt River and the North Sea for more than a decade. In 1995, Mosso was invited to create Transparent City, which involved the installation of neon light structures on six towers in the town. Enthused by this project, the city asked Mosso to develop and overall strategy for illuminating other of their significant buildings. Mosso designed Transparent City to be visible from the highways and the ocean, intriguing visitors who might come for a closer look. Within town, special buses went from tower to tower, narrating the city’s history along the way.

Map: Leonardo Mosso

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“Starting from the landscape where the Watertower CHK stands in isolation, all the way to the main buildings of the city, the city gets woven into a single urban entity through a visual triangle with luminous spots on … urban towers [that] date from different time periods.”

“Neon reflections on stainless steel combine with the building materials that the structures rest on to create colors that didn’t exist before.” “For Mosso, a joint … makes possible the construction of his world, its molecules and clouds. Through such joints pass the energy that generates sparks and tightrope walks to the sky.” Attilio Stocchi 1

The structures are made of stainless steel, plexiglas, cold cathode lamps, argon gas, and electrical transformers. They are carefully placed to enhance the dialogue between light, tower, and city.

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A guide map showing the bus itinerary indicated the locations of the towers: (1) Watertower CHK, (2) Arsenal Tower, (3) St. Jacobs Tower, (4) City Hall Tower, (5) Water Tower Vlissingen, and (6) Admiral Tromp Tower.

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Lichtwolke Willem 3, 1999. A permanent installation commissioned four years after Transparent City, this “light cloud” illuminated the details of the neoclassical Willem III Kaserne, once a naval barracks and now an art center.

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Watertower CHK was lit from the inside as well as the outside, the light structures saturating the masonry surfaces with color and articulating volumes of light in the space.

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St. Jacob’s Tower. On this clock tower dating from the 14th c., Mosso’s lightwork marked time in another way.

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Photograph: Leonardo Mosso

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Photograph: Leonardo Mosso

Photograph: Leonardo Mosso

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Photograph: Leonardo Mosso

Arsenal Tower on the harbor offers a panoramic view of the city. Mosso’s delicate structure of pink and blue neon suspended beneath a window underscores the scale differential between a person looking out and the massive structure supporting the observation deck.


LAb[au]

Touch Brussels, Belgium 2007

1 Photograph: Courtesy of LAb[au]

Laboratory for Architecture and Urbanism LAb[au] specializes in a digital architecture they call “Meta-Design.” Touch was an interactive installation that utilized the façade of the Dexia Tower in central Brussels. Architects Philip Samyn and Partners designed a façade in which each window could be independently lit and computer controlled. A nearby kiosk with a view of the building enabled passersby to control this system remotely, in real time, via kinetic gestures. The people who made their mark on the building felt a sense of pride and connection to the city, and the building achieved the owners’ original goal of becoming a landmark. “Touch [used] real-time interaction not only [to] offer citizens the possibility to experience a new form of interaction with buildings and public space, but also to be part of the creation of the city image.”

Photograph: Courtesy of LAb[au]

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From a touch screen in the plaza, passers-by can manipulate the pattern of colored lights illuminating the 38 story Dexia Tower. “Touching the facade” alters not only the Dexia Tower directly, but also transforms the character and color of the surrounding buildings and public spaces through reflection and light emission.

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The ever-changing façade added to urban nightlife on Rue Neuve/Nieuwstraat.

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Each of the 4,200 windows on the building are equipped with independently-programmable RGB-LED bars, turning the tower into a giant display surface. Architect: Samyn & Partners with M. & J-M. Jaspers, J.Eyers & Partners; Lighting engineer: Barbara Hediger.

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Each customized illumination could be captured on camera and printed as a digital postcard, for members of the public to keep as a memento or share with their friends.

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Photograph: Courtesy of LAb[au]

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Photograph: Courtesy of LAb[au]

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