I first saw Jimenez Lai‘s work when it was presented at Materials & Applications in LA. Finally he’s put together a website so I thought I’d cover 2 recent pieces of his work. Jimenez describes his work as an exploration of “hypothetical scenarios of experimental architecture. By pressing alternate conditions against our context, the projects aim at interrogating different points of views and broaden the ways we engage conventions. Graphic novels and physical installations are the two primary weapons of choice, and we believe representation is more than half the battle. The drawings often explore storylines of architecture and urbanism that dramatize exaggerated realities. The projects swerve back into the physical world via the interactive installations derived from the stories. These installations are attempts to better understand the spatial implications of the two-dimensional fiction.”
This installation grown from the hypothesizes that in zero-gravity, one can rotate (in) architecture and treat all elevations as plans – i.e., walls, ceilings and floors. Without gravity, all surfaces can be occupied. In essence, the distinctions between orthographic drawings become obsolete. To this end the installation will be a large constantly rotating structure which visitors will be able to approach and use differently every time.
The installation is inspired by a comic book Lai created to assert commentaries regarding the Broadacre City– a 1932 Frank Lloyd Wright vision of a Utopian city where each family own a one-acre agrarian plot and commutes by private automobile. Wright never really took into account that space and natural resources are limited. We are witnessing such an impact today. Wealthier citizens have fled cities for sprawling suburban sub-divisions.
Downtown cores are left to the poor, and cities are becoming increasingly ineffective in controlling energy consumption. Lai takes Broadacre City to outer space. Flipping it on its side and making it an Ark are ways he signifies that resources are finite. It is a world where every man (gets) a dwelling unit and every man (gets) a pointlessly boring job… until the citizen dies.”
This project uses a set of standard modules and simple geometric rules to compose a system. The com- plexity Lies within the softness of the connection points.
When force is applied to one rotary joint, the entire structure will respond with further geometrical transformations. Softness allows the piece to be interactive, as visitors can converse with the impermanence of its form. Affordances, as defined by psychologist James J. Gibson, embody all action possibilities latent in the environment, objectively measurable and independent of the individual’s ability to recognize them.
Dimensions, in this case, has various meanings in the many ways our bodies may instinctively inform actions such as lean, sit, grab, skip or pull. Any storyline of the above appropriations will have a physical morphology in the diagram. Self-illuminating pigments are applied to the control points to highlight its topology at night. This project engages the limits of the body as abstractions of architectural programs and their relationships to the formal resolutions.
Another great project by LAb[au], “fLUX binary waves” is an urban and cybernetic installation based on the measuring of infrastructural ( passengers, cars…) and communicational ( electromagnetic fields produced by mobile phones, radio…) flows and their transposition into luminous, sonic and kinetic rules.
This relation between the installation and the urban activity happens in real time and sets each person as an element of the installation, as a centre of the public realm. The installation fLUX, binary waves is constituted by a network of 32 rotating and luminous panels of 3 meter-high and 60 centimetres wide, placed every 3 meters to form a kinetic wall.
The panels rotate around their vertical axis, and have a black reflective surface on one side, the other being plain mat white. Their rotation is controlled by microprocessors, allowing to determine precisely the rotation speed and angle, while their networking allows to synchronise the movement of the 32 panels.
The microprocessors are connected to infrared sensors, capturing the surrounding infrastructural flows, defining the frequency and amplitude of the rotation. According to this set up, each impulse is transmitted from one panel to the other, describing visual waves running from one side of the installation to the other, and then bouncing back while progressively loosing oscillation. All these principles relate the ‘micro-events’ happening in the area to a unified play of light, colours and sounds directly derived from the rhythm of the city flows.
As such, the installation proposes an urban sign having as subject the ‘urban’ and as message to be a catalyst of urbanity via the transcription of urban flows in a contemporary play of kinetics, lights and sound.
Installation artist Shih Chieh Huang transforms spaces with everyday objects. His most recent project “EX-I-09″ currently on show at the Beall Center for Art + Technology focuses on exploring the unusual evolutionary adaptations undertaken by creatures that reside in inhospitable conditions.
Huang creates analogous ecosystems made from common, everyday objects. “I source my wholly synthetic materials from the mundane objects that comprise our modern existence: household appliances, zip ties, water tubes, lights, computer parts, motorized toys and the like. The objects are dissected and disassembled as needed and reconstructed into experimental primitive organisms that reside on the fringes of evolutionary transformation: computer cooling fans are repurposed for locomotion; Tupperware serves as a skeletal framework; guitar tuner rewired to detect sound; and automatic night lights become a sensory input. ”
Korean artist, Choe U Ram, creates massive, precision engineered sculptures with an eerie organic feel. He uses cut and polished metals, machinery and electronics to create kinetic sculptures inspired by sea creatures and plant life.
Exploring the boundaries of archeological discovery and developmental morphology, Choe’s explanations and Latin titles for these creations follow the linguistic traditions of scientific nomenclature.
Telling stories using gestural transformation and the tracing of imagined evolutionary stages, these pieces take on the silhouette of actual life forms, as intricate automata express a refined delicacy and weightlessness.
Unexpected and fantastical, Choe’s kinetic simulations cyclically breathe with movement that recalls aquatic propulsion, flight and ritualistic courtship displays.